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The Pedal Stroke – You’re Doing It Wrong!

Power Distribution of Your Peddle Stroke.

You shouldn’t be surprised to hear that your workout is absolutely defined by your ability to push power using your leg muscles, and how we harness the power of every inch of your pedal stroke is through a very focused peddle stroke technique.

“Pedaling is what most of us do without even thinking about it”.

Now, if this is you, you might just be missing out on the most powerful technique / trick for when you’re sitting in a SpinCycle spinning class. Like most things in cycling, there is a technique to doing this very well.

There is a famous phrase in the cycling world: “Pedal in circles” which effectively means you should pedal with full 360 degree of the pedal stroke… not just pushing down at the beginning of the stroke.

“If you’re feeling your quads tightening up and your hamstrings, glutes, or hip flexors not feeling anything, chances are you’re missing out.”

Want to push more watts?

The key here is to not have any ‘dead-space’ in the circle by peddling all the way through.
This means, in practice, that when your foot is at the bottom of the circle, you pull your foot back, then up. This techniques can be described as scraping the bottom of the circle. This effort should be felt in the hamstrings at the back of your leg.

When you bring your foot up near the top of the circle, you have a feeling if your knees being lifted, and you can feel this in your hip flexors. This portion of the stroke doesn’t produce much power per-se, but is fundamental in the circle to keep the power distribution working.

You can finish this circle off with a powerful downstroke that we all are accustomed to. This is the opposite action as the bottom of the circle where the pedal is pushed down with the quads at the front of your leg to the bottom position where hte hamstrings take over and begin the upward pull.



Want to practice proper stroke before a class?

Bring your bike to a slow RPM (cadence), say at around 40. Now add on resistance until you can really feel your legs starting to slow down. When you’re there, keep your upper body absolutely still as you feel where there are dead spots in your circle. Start to focus on where the gaps are and fill it with another part of your leg. You’ll begin to notice that it begins feeling ‘lighter’ and you start to see your pace pick up. Counter this with more resistance. It’s very important to make sure your upper body is staying still as all the power is going to be driven by the lower body.

Another tip is that when you’re riding, your feet should feel like they’re ‘floating’. If you are newer to cycling, you will notice that the bottoms of your feet are the parts with the most power put on them. When you employ the proper power techniques, you’ll feel like there is no distinguishable pressure points in your feet giving the feeling of your feet floating.

So… Do I need cycling shoes to make this all work? In short, yes. Check out this article to see our take on cycling shoes at SpinCycle.

Come into the studio today and try out the pedal stroke drill to get more out of your workout! Still need help? Drop in and have your instructor challenge you on every inch of your circle!

-SpinCycle Team.

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