For All Spinning® Enthusiasts

Drilling Time

I often get asked by participants how they can improve their power and speed.   After some further conversation with the participant it usually comes down to how can put achieve a higher power rating at the same or lower effort.  I think part of the answer comes from improving the efficiency of the pedal stroke. 

Now I don’t have the smoothest pedal stroke by any stretch of the imagination but being somewhat of an analytical type, I am forever fascinated by how to improve it.  I am happy to spend hours on the bike searching for the one perfect turn of the pedal, that perfect balance between smoothness and power.

I have read quite a few opinions on what constitutes the perfect pedal stroke.  Some say there should be an even application of power throughout the entire pedal circle, others state this is not possible and that the majority of the force is produced on the push phase.  While not all are in agreement they do agree that in order to become more efficient you have to practice.  Practising any new movement allows the body to develop the muscle memory of that movement.  Working on pedal technique early on in a training plan allows the body to learn and continue to improve that skill in later stages.   

  

When discussing pedal stroke we often hear the term ‘pedaling circle’, but what does that mean? It can often be a difficult concept for the novice cyclist to understand because they think, yes of course the pedals are turning in a circle.  They can’t turn any other way!  What I think the pedaling circle really refers to is at what point and how much force is applied as the pedals are being turned.  For simplicities sake there are two phases to the pedal stroke, the push/power phase, moving the pedal from back to front and the recovery phase.   Elite cyclist apply force throughout most of the pedaling circle, with the greatest force being applied during the push phase, but also continue to carry the momentum created by the push phase from front to back through the bottom of the pedal stroke. They start the push phase before the pedal reaches the top to maximize the amount of power and lengthen this phase.  Compare this to novice cyclist who tends to pedal in a square, pushing down on the pedal and then pulling up from the bottom.  This type of pedaling is extremely inefficient. 

Novice or not there is always room for improvement and incorporating pedal stroke drills into a training session is a great way to help all participants improve technique.  With improved technique comes greater efficiency and with that comes the joy of mastery.   

Types of drills to consider:

1. Pedaling mechanics – Break it down and focus on each phase of the pedal stroke

2. One leg drills – Focus on achieving balanced power between each leg.  For safety always keep both feet in the pedal cages or stay clipped in. Simple allow one leg to do most of the work.

3. Speed drills - You’re looking for a smooth, fast, yet effortless motion at a faster cadence. 

 When we master something we enjoy it more so drill ‘em’ and let the energy flow!     

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