Bonus Points for Technique – Part 2/3, The Bike

Riding a bike seems like something that just comes naturally, but if you want to improve your efficiency and speed, drills are the key! If you ride your bike or trainer and you don’t pay attention to how your body is moving, you will still make gains in your endurance fitness, but if you actually focus on the technique of your movement, you’ll make experience much more progress overall. For this week, we are going to focus on my favorite drills for cycling. These drills will emphasize the various parts of the pedal stroke to help you learn to apply an even effort throughout the pedal stroke and with both legs.:

  1. Top Only Drill – This helps to emphasize the back and top part of the pedal stroke. Pedal the bike by keeping the top of your foot in constant and firm contact with the inside, top of the shoe. Try not to push down on the pedal at all. The actual pedaling is done just with the upstroke. Make the pedaling movement gentle and smooth. Do 30 seconds, rest 1 minute, repeat 5 times.
  2. Toe Touch Drill – This helps to emphasize the front half of the pedal stroke, the push, using the quads and glutes. Every time your foot approaches the top of the stroke imagine that you can push your foot forward in your shoe, touching your toes to the front end of the shoe. Of course, you won’t be able to do this, but trying will cause you to transition more smoothly through the 12-o’clock position. Pedal in an easy gear going slowly as you learn how to make this movement. As you master the drill you’ll be able to turn the pedals faster. Do 30 seconds, rest 1 minute, repeat 5 times.
  3. Scrape the Mud – This drill focuses on the back half of the stroke, or the pull through, using the hamstrings. With easy gearing focus your effort where your leg is at the lowest point (6 o’clock) until 11 o’clock. All effort should be put only into the pull through section of the stroke. The motion should feel like you are trying to scrap something off the bottom of your shoe. Begin with 20 seconds focusing all effort on the pull through. Make sure to take enough recovery to perform the next rep with good form. Do 30 seconds, rest 1 minute, repeat 5 times.
  4. Isolated Leg Drill – This helps identify any dead spots in your pedal stroke or asymmetries. After a warm-up, with light resistance, relax and unweight (unclip on a trainer) the left leg while the right leg does 90-percent of the work. Using easy gearing, pedal with your right leg and focus on a smooth pedaling motion. Try to pedal perfect circles, applying equal force around the entire stroke: Pull up on the back of the stroke, sweep forward at the top of the stroke, press down through the front of the stroke, and sweep back through the bottom of the stroke. Pay attention to areas where you get “stuck” or loose the rhythm. The bottom of the stroke is similar to the motion of scraping mud off the bottom of your shoe. The top of the stroke can be improved by driving your toes and knees forward. In all positions, keep the toes relaxed. Do not allow them to curl-up and clinch the bottom of your shoe. Keep a relaxed upper body and use a cadence similar to your normal speed. Pedal for 15-20 seconds and switch. Work your way up to an interval of 30 to 60 seconds per leg. Start with 5 times per leg (alternating).

Relax and have fun with the drills, and email me if you have any questions!