5 Simple Ways to Increase Power on the Bike

Power is the Holy Grail of cycling. The more of it you have, the faster you can ride a bike over a given distance. Of course, developing your cycling power requires a lot of hard work, but there are five simple ways to do it.

Ride in Bigger Gears

Riding in bigger gears at the same cadence in a given set of conditions makes for a consistently higher power output. You can apply this tip by spending progressively longer time in a bigger gear during a typical ride. For example, if you normally ride up a local 3-mile hill in a gear combination of 39 x 19, you can increase your gearing to 39 x 17 for three minutes. The next time, ride in 39 x 17 for four minutes and then five minutes, etc., until you can ride the entire hill in 39 x 17 at the same cadence you previously held in 39 x 19. This would indicate a significant increase in power.

More: 5 Reasons to Train With a Power Meter

Ride Uphill

Riding uphill is a great way to increase muscular endurance, which is the ability to pedal a relatively large gear at a moderate cadence for an extended period of time. It's effective because cyclists tend to reduce cadence and increase average effective pedal force when riding uphill (i.e., push harder on the pedals). One way to significantly boost your power output is to progressively overload climbing distance.

For instance, start by doing hilly rides with 1,000 feet of climbing and slowly add distance until you can complete 3,000 feet of climbing in a single outing. Another way to enhance power is to do short, high-intensity sprint intervals up steep hills. These sprints should last for 60-90 seconds. Simply ride downhill to recover and then sprint up again. Build up to 12 sprint intervals in a single workout.

More: 5 Bike Climbs Worth the Pain

Ride Into Headwinds

If you live in flatlands, riding uphill is not going to work for you. Fortunately, riding into the wind can be just as effective. As with riding in bigger gears and riding uphill, it's a great way to improve muscular endurance. Of course, you can't plan a headwind ride in advance, but you can take advantage of a windy day by riding a rectangular circuit about two miles in length. This will provide you with consistent periods of headwinds, tailwinds and crosswinds. Your objective is to accelerate into every headwind. Pedal a moderately large gear at about 90 rpm and hold that effort for the duration of the headwind. Recover when you have a tailwind and crosswinds.

More: Tips for Cycling Into the Wind

About the Author

Tyrone A. Holmes, Ed.D, CPT, is a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise and a Level 2 cycling coach through USA Cycling. He provides Cycle-Max Coaching for cyclists and multisport athletes who want to improve their performance on the bike and Healthy Life Coaching for individuals who want to lose weight and develop healthier lifestyles. His latest book is Developing Training Plans for Cyclists and Triathletes. Visit his website at www.holmesfitness.com and his Fitness Corner blog at www.doctorholmes.wordpress.com.

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