Improving Your Pedal Stroke

author : mikericci
comments : 0

Although a computrainer can be a great asset to any athlete, it’s not the only way to improve your pedal stroke. I’ll list a number of pedaling drills below and how you can incorporate them.

Member Question

How do you work on improving your pedal stroke when you do not have a Computrainer?

Answer from Mike Ricci
D3 - BT's Online Coach 

Although a computrainer can be a great asset to any athlete, it’s not the only way to improve your pedal stroke. I’ll list a number of pedaling drills below and how you can incorporate them into your training.

All workouts should start with a good warm up and then some fast spinning in an easy gear to get the legs primed for the main set.

Here are a short list of my favorite pedaling drills that can be done year round, on the road or on the trainer:

High RPM Spinning

This drill is used to smooth out your pedal stroke by forcing you to pedal quickly and efficiently at the same time. I like to see athletes pedal at 100 rpms for 4 minutes, 110 rpms for 2 minutes and then 120 rpms for 1 minute. After you take a short break of 5 minutes, do 5x max spin outs – meaning spin as fast as you can until you can't pedal any faster.  A good goal for this can be 140 rpms all the way up to 175 rpms. When you first do this drill you may fail very early in the set at say 130 rpms, but after a few sessions, you’ll notice less bouncing on your seat and you’ll feel your pedal stroke smooth out. Continue to challenge your self with this drill throughout the season. You will get faster and your pedal stroke will get more efficient. 

Big Gear Spinning

This drill is pretty much the opposite of the drill above. After a warm up, you’ll want to find a gear that you can pedal at 55-65 rpms. You can start with 4x5 minutes of big gear training, with a short rest in between each repetition. You can build up to 4x15 minutes of this drill and if you can progress to the aero position, even better. This low cadence pedaling not only builds strength, but also perfects your pedal stroke at a low cadence and a lot of tension on the legs.

Single Leg Drills, clipped in

This is a fairly simple drill. You can start with 4x1 minute per leg, and while both legs are clipped in, you focus on one leg while letting the other leg be a ‘dead’ leg. While this doesn’t sound very challenging it will help you in the progression to single leg drills with one leg unclipped. 

Single Leg Drills, unclipped

This drill isn’t easy but doing them provides benefits to the bike and the run. Unclip one leg and then put it up on a chair or the bike trainer behind you. Pedal quickly with the other leg and try to keep the cadence in the 88-92 rpm range. Start with 20 to 30 second efforts, with 1 minute spinning with both legs, and then switching off to the opposite leg. Building up to 10x30 seconds, and eventually 10 x 1 minute will make your pedal stroke strong and efficient.

Single Leg Drills, unclipped, in the aero position

This is the grand daddy of pedaling drills. You will follow the same progression as above, but you’ll do so in the aero position. This drill replicates your race position and puts quite a bit more stress on the top of your pedal stroke. You have to focus hard to get that pedal stroke up and over the top of the 12 o’clock position.

By using these drills, not only will your pedal stroke be more efficient but that increased efficiency will lead to more power overall.

Incorporating these drills into your workouts

My recommendation is to incorporate these drills into your cycling workouts twice per week. In as short as a month’s time you will notice improvement with your cycling efficiency and your overall power.

Good luck!

Head Coach Mike Ricci and his coaches provide the support for BT's Online Coaching option - an add-on to any Silver or Gold Membership.


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date: July 2, 2013