4 Drills to Improve Pedaling Technique

You can do this drill outdoors by relaxing and unweighting one leg while the other leg does 90-percent of the work. Change legs when fatigue sets in or set a specific time interval to prevent excess fatigue. Work your way up to a work interval of 30 to 60 seconds per leg. After doing a work segment with each leg, spin easy with both legs for a minute and then return to single leg work.

Stop pedaling with one leg when form becomes sloppy or jerky. Do not worry about achieving any particular heart rate, smooth pedaling form is most important. Begin with a cumulative time of 3 to 5 minutes on each leg throughout the workout and build time as you become stronger.

Spin Step-Ups

Warm up on an indoor trainer with low resistance and a pedaling cadence of 90 rpm. After 15 to 20 minutes of warm-up, increase cadence to 100 rpm for three minutes, followed by 110 rpm for 2 minutes and then 120+ rpm for one minute. If time allows, spin easy for five minutes to recover and repeat a second time. If you're just beginning to increase pedaling speed, it may be best to cut all of the suggested times in half, in order to maintain the recommended speeds. It is important the resistance is low, to allow a focus on speed of the movement and not force on the pedals.

You can do this workout outdoors if the road is flat or slightly downhill.


This is another workout designed to work on leg speed. Warm up well, then complete 30-second accelerations, spinning an easy two minutes and 30 seconds (2' 30") between each acceleration. The end of the 30 seconds should be faster rpm than the beginning. Begin with four to six accelerations and increase the number as you improve coordination and fitness.

Sprints, Getting Started

Do this workout after you have mastered spin step ups and accelerations. Begin with a warm-up of 15 to 20 minutes. After the warm-up, complete several sprints between 10 and 30 seconds in length. Spin very easy, with a low load and high cadence between each sprint to recover. A convenient interval format is to begin each sprint on a five-minute mark, recovering after the sprint until the next five-minute mark. For example, sprint 10 seconds and recover for four minutes and 50 seconds.

For these particular sprints, begin with moderate force at the beginning of each sprint and end each sprint with high power output. The power output at the end of each sprint should be very similar.

Efficient Movement Saves Energy on Race Day

Spend some time on pedaling technique and efficient cycling movement and you just might improve your race performance this season.

One thing is certain: coordinated movement won't hurt you on race day.

Note: Text for the drills was adapted from the book, Training Plans for Cyclists published by VeloPress.

Gale Bernhardt was the USA Triathlon team coach at the 2003 Pan American Games and 2004 Athens Olympics. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Games in Sydney. She currently serves as one of the World Cup coaches for the International Triathlon Union's Sport Development Team. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow cycling and triathlon training plans. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.

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