Cycling: side effects include sweating, euphoria and general awesomeness”
What’s the best pedaling style? Cyclists have debated this eternally. And unfortunately for us, there’s still no conclusive evidence. But don’t lose hope. We’ve made all the efforts to compile these amazing tips that’ll help you pedal like a pro.
Unlike running, biking has limited movements as they are only controlled by the circular motion of your legs and feet. This means that movement patterns between professional bikers are much closer compared to a group of elite runners.
What does this mean for me?
This means that if you follow these tips diligently, you’ll be cycling like a pro in no time!
10 Tips on How to Pedal Like a Pro
1. Set up your bike correctly
Can’t stress this enough. Your ability to pedal is affected by how your bike is set up. Make sure your bike fits you perfectly. This allows your muscles to function properly and avoid that dreaded left-right imbalance that’s been a bane for many cyclists. Ideally, you must book a session with a qualified bike fitter who can help you get that perfect set up. If you can’t find one, check out our guide.
2. Experiment on your cadence
Your cadence or pedaling rate will depend entirely on you. According to experts, if you are just starting out, don’t push your cadence rates too high. Instead, keep it a manageable level and look to increase it further as you gain experience and develop more leg power. A good target for starters will be 90 to 100 rpm.
You don’t want to tire your body. There’s no need to rush. Forcing yourself to pedal faster will not help you pedal like a pro. Start small until you can sustain biking for longer periods of time.
Do you know “souplesse”? Most professional cyclists boast this fast, smooth, and effortless pedaling technique. You can develop this skill by practicing spin-ups. Start with light gear, pedal as fast as you can, and hold for 30 seconds. This simple routine will gradually improve your cadence.
3. Focus on even power distribution
Equal power distribution (meaning 50% power production from each leg), will greatly improve your biking efficiency. Thus, increasing your power and speed. Mountain bikers are experts at this as traversing technical terrain often requires an even distribution of pedaling power.
If you’re just starting out, invest in a turbo trainer which will help you develop a stamping, piston-like leg action. There are also bike computers that monitor your pedaling power and provides you immediate feedback on how to achieve even more.
4. Single leg drills are helpful
Single leg drills make sure that your legs are equally powerful as this will greatly affect the power distribution we’ve discussed on tip number 4. Single leg exercises work out each leg individually instead of being carried by the other.
For starters, focus on one side then the other. Don’t try to focus on both sides at once as this can be confusing. With practice, you will eventually gain that ability to focus on your left and right leg at the same time.
5. Stretch your muscles
Building leg strength is not enough. You must improve your muscles’ flexibility too. The more flexible your pedaling muscles are, the more efficient they become. Regularly stretching your key cycling muscles will do wonders for you!
6. Pedal in semicircles
We all get that tendency to push on our pedals. But according to experts, if you want to pedal like a pro, focus on pulling your pedals in a semicircular motion. How to do this? It’s quite simple but it takes some practice till it becomes a routine. You do this by switching from a pushing down movement to a pulling back motion at the bottom of the pedal stroke. With constant practice, you will eventually perfect this seamless transition from pushing and pulling.
7. Develop your core muscles
If you want to maintain a good posture when riding and a smooth pedaling style, then focus on strengthening your core muscles. Your glute muscles are powerful, however, they won’t be able to go all out if your pelvis and trunk can’t support them.
8. Improve your aerodynamics
Wind resistance is a force to be reckoned with when cycling. Spend some time riding in the drops, invest in tight-fitting biking clothes, and use aerodynamic helmets. If you can slice through the wind effectively, your pedaling power and overall speed will definitely increase.
9. Use fixed gear bikes
Fixed gear bikes are great for perfecting your pedaling game. This traditional way to train can still do wonders despite the innovations in the biking industry. For starters, train on a small gear until your pedal stroke gets smoother and more balanced.
10. Find your sweet spot
Every cyclist is different. What works for Lance Armstrong in 2013 and for Chris Foome when climbing the slopes of Mont Ventoux at high cadence may not work for you. Your sweet spot is a cadence that you’re really don’t have to think about too much.
Find the balance of rpm and power that’s most efficient for you as a biker. For some it’s 82 rpm, for others, it’s 90. For you, it depends on your style, comfort level, and background. If you are not into competitive biking, then there’s really no need to push yourself too much.
It’s quite ironic when we hear people say “Oh it’s just like riding a bike!”. Well, that might be true if we are talking about the type of biking you did as a child. Truth is, there’s a lot of science involved in serious biking. And I hope these amazing tips you’ve read today will help push you forward in your goal to pedaling like a pro.