Let’s get something out of the way before we dive in: there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all, perfect pedal stroke!
But, everyone has their own “perfect pedal stroke” and adding drills to your cycling sessions will help you find it. Drills are an opportunity to focus your efforts on one aspect of your ride. Working on pedal stroke promotes fluidity and leads to maximizing your efficiency and power on the bike.
You can do drills on easy rides or before or after a workout 2-4 times a week (professional cyclists and triathletes do these drills before almost every indoor ride).
So, let’s get to it! Here are three exercises to help get that smooth, pretty, and powerful pedal stroke.
Spin-ups are a great way to learn how your body is moving on the bike. The intention with this drill is to be able to pedal as smoothly as possible without bouncing in the saddle.
To perform this drill, set your bike to a low resistance and aim for a cadence of about 100-110. Start slow with a smooth pedal stroke and keep your upper body still (i.e, no bouncing or rocking your hips in the saddle). Increase your speed while keeping your pedal stroke smooth. If you feel yourself start to rock, slow yourself down to the cadence where you were pedaling smoothly and pedal there for 1 minute. Take a minute recovery.
For your next rep, try to increase your cadence while still holding that smooth pedal stroke. Do 3-6 reps before or after a cycling session or during an easy ride.
2. Single-Leg Pedal Strokes
This exercise is ideal to practice on your indoor bike rides. The goal is to discover where your weaknesses are in each leg within the 360 degrees of pedal rotation and smooth out those weaknesses.
To perform this drill, have one leg clipped in to your bike and hold your other leg, unclipped, out of the way of the turning pedals. This will force your single clipped-in leg to do all of the work. Ensure that you are still balanced in the saddle when you work on this drill!
Once you are set up, pedal at a cadence of 70-90 on one side at low to medium resistance with the clipped in leg. Try to find your “perfect pedal stroke”. Keep in mind where your weaknesses are and focus on making micro-adjustments to your body so you can achieve a smooth pedal stroke throughout the entire 360 degrees.
Try 3 rounds of :30-60 on each leg.
3. Toe Touch
The intent of this drill is to mentally focus on your pedal stroke so that you can move faster on the bike.
To perform this drill, you will want medium resistance and low speed. When you are moving your foot through your pedal stroke, as you come through the top of your stroke, visualize pushing your toes to the front of your shoe. As you come to the bottom of your stroke, imagine pushing your foot back in your shoe. In other words, visualize back and forth, rather than up and down for your pedal stroke.
Increase speed as you get the hang of this drill. You should feel you are getting more power out of your pedal stroke.
Also, keep in mind that these drills are infinitely easier if you are riding a bike that fits your movement style. If you feel any instabilities while pedaling or the drills feel very difficult, check in on your bike fit or schedule a Team Wilpers bike fit. Our bike fitters are expert cyclists and can watch you pedal, analyze your pedal stroke and coach you through the drills.