Rob Wakefield, coach with propello.bike, has some tips for you on how to focus on the whole pedal stroke and improve your technique.
1. Take turns
The key to perfecting your technique is ensuring the entire 360-degree turn of the pedal is as effective as it can be.
“Eliminating dead spots in your pedal stroke can begin by visualising the roundness of the cranks you’re turning, trying to ensure that you apply consistent pressure,” says Wakefield.
“Initiate the down strokes with your glutes and then quads and calf muscles, while recruiting the muscles in the back of your leg to help rotate the pedal back up.”
2. Practice big time
To further ensure each stroke is efficient, take your bike into a slow zone or uphill climb but switch to a larger, less comfortable gear.
“Focus on utilising all the leg muscles so that you can feel the entire motion — at a steady rpm. This will help spot ‘surges’ in your pedal turn and dead spots where the muscles are not effectively engaged. Using a turbo or Wattbike, which will provide power data on each stroke, will help detect wasted efforts too.”
3. Make a stand
Standing when riding out of the saddle brings in a new dynamic, as you’re not performing that upward motion in the same way as when seated and not feeling that muscle pull in the same way.
“Think more about your hand grip and upper body,” says Wakefield. “As you perform the upstroke lift your foot a little to lighten it and make the motion as smooth as possible. Do specific pedal drills, on hills while standing, as part of your training to perfect this.”
4. Assess your set up
“Do simple checks to ensure your bike, body and pedal motion are in sync,” advises Wakefield. “Have a professional bike fit or make adjustments to the saddle so that it’s the right height to recruit your power muscles through the entire turn of the pedal.”
On a stationary bike especially develop your ‘muscle memory’ by trying single leg drills — pedalling with a single foot and letting the other hang free. These drills are an ideal way to highlight dead spots and leg imbalances.