Pedal Technique?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by theodoros, Sep 18, 2003.

  1. theodoros

    theodoros New Member

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    G'day all I have been riding now for about 3 months, im learning all about cadence etc which is great.
    Now im wondering about the pedal stroke technique. I have cleats and im wondering
    When pedaling do I apply pressure for the whole revolution i.e. pushes down and pull
    Back at the bottom Etc, id really appreciates some feed back.
    Thanks
    Theo.
     
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  2. shaneo

    shaneo New Member

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    yes is the answer....I was told to imagine you are trying to scrape mud off the bottom of your shoe while pedalling.....it gives you more of a supple technique as opposed to just stomping on the pedals.....good to practice when spinning training.....
     
  3. patch70

    patch70 New Member

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    This is a controversial area if you care to read around various other threads on this site!
    I am of the school of thought that you should not concentrate on pulling the pedal up on the upstroke but certainly others will disagree.
     
  4. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    I agree with patch70. As with running and walking, your body is likely to chose the most efficient techinque at any speed (cadence or power output); the choice of technique also gets better as you train. So train at a range of cadences and power outputs and don't worry about how you are pedalling too much, it will sort itself out in the end.
     
  5. tourdelivermore

    tourdelivermore New Member

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    There are many schools of thought when it comes to technique. My thinking on technique now is much different than it was when I began cycling about 18 months and 5,000 miles ago. It does tend to sort itself out.

    For interest, right now I 'feel' an angle of the leg and timing with the crank resulting in maximum power and acceleration through the stroke with little percieved effort. There was know way I could have experienced these 'feelings' 5,000 miles ago.

    Some of my earlier stroke thougts were 'spin circles' and 'stroke all sides of the box'.

    This probably wasn't very helpful. I agree with 2LAP
     
  6. pekingese

    pekingese New Member

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  7. theodoros

    theodoros New Member

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    Thanks again for your help.
     
  8. old&slow

    old&slow New Member

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    theodoros, you're doing the right thing in researching theories but try to recognise them as just that .... what suits one rider may not work for another. Personally, I'm a very big believer in practicing each of the techniques and incorporating them into your rides as required ...... on long climbs it's very useful to alternate the focus on your pedalling from push to scrape and pull to provide a short term muscle relief and/or an acceleration .... when you're pushing a big gear as in a time trial using an ankling technique can help you roll over hills .... most times you'll feel best by just letting your natural technique do the work BUT most less than elite level riders only use a part of their leg, back and glute muscle capacity ..... consciously using some of the other techniques (and the different muscle groups they emphasise) can be an excellent aid in not getting dropped when you're feeling fried and your legs are burning.
     
  9. veloguy

    veloguy New Member

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    I agree with 2lap and patch 70. All of your power comes from pushing down during the pedal stroke. There have been studies done on the pedal stroke of elite cyclists, one in particular used national class track pursuiters. To sum up the research, all of the cyclists produced ALL of their power on the down stroke. No power was applied on the up stroke. The researchers determined that using the upstroke to recover is more beneficial than trying to apply force. The best you could hope to do is to "pull up" on the upstroke to unweight your leg so that you aren't lifting the weight of that leg during the downstroke of the opposite leg. Kevin

     
  10. Feanor

    Feanor New Member

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    Though with my limited experience I would concur with Velo, 2, and patch...

    I've read in many places that the upstroke is better served as a recovery and preparation zone with lifting effort confined to eliminating the need for your opposite leg to have push up the dead weight of that leg...

    As an addition and only because I feel a slight increase in power when I do it, the horizontal fore to aft motion at the bottom of the stroke generates a small amount of extra power... This is that area of the stroke where people have said to pull back as if you were trying to scrape something off the bottom of your shoe.

    When I first started using clipless pedals I was under the mistaken notion that it was to allow for the pulling up on the pedal to increase output... I know now after using them for quite a bit (starting with MTB's) that they are mainly for maintaining correct and consistent positioning of the feet on the pedals (particularly under duress) and eliminating the need and distraction of constantly having to worry about your that. Toe clips of course started the trend, but clipless have the great advantage of allowing you to "escape" from the pedals without a lengthy and often tedious requirement to bend down and loosen the straps...

    Good luck to you!

    Feanor
     
  11. Spider1977

    Spider1977 New Member

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    In most sports you aim to use your big muscles as much as possible to get power, whether it be swinging a bat, golf club, throwing a ball, shooting a basket, rowing a boat or pedalling a bike. Watch Tiger Woods, all his power comes from the turn of the hips and drive of the legs, his upper body movement is really quite passive in that it responds to the force coming from these big muscles.

    Logic would then say that it is easier and more efficient to use the big muscles (glutes and thigh) to apply pressure on the downstroke and use the upstroke for recovery. Otherwise if you are working on the upstroke, that means the other leg is passive on the downstroke, so those bigger muscles aren't making much of a contribution. This means that you'll get tired more quickly.

    In rowing, which is my other main sport, we don't have the luxury of being able to apply power constantly as in cycling. The power is applied using those big muscles while the blade is in the water, while the blade is out o the water and the rower moves forward on the slide, which is called the recovery for good reason, the rower is preparing to apply the power for the next stroke. I think the same principle can be applied to cycling one leg at a time. Think of preparing the leg for the next power stroke during the recovery. Although at 90 cadence, you don't have to think, just do it.
     
  12. dhk

    dhk New Member

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    Well said; agree learning to use all the muscles will pay big dividends when the workloads go up.

    Dan
     
  13. crowley

    crowley New Member

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    How does the time of oar out of the water compare to the active
    time in the water, in for example a 10 minute period of rowing?
     
  14. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    Increasing the muscle mass used will increase the oxygen cost of the exercise. Given that at times cycling performance is limited by oxygen uptake, any increases in power gained by using a technique that uses more muscle mass may be limited/reduced by the oxygen uptake. As such its unlikely that an eliete rider will be able to alter their technique to improve performance; as the body tends to find the optimum technique on its own.
     
  15. crowley

    crowley New Member

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    It did not find the optimum high jump technique on its own.
     
  16. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    That's a different matter all together, try comparing like with like.

    Walking and running become more efficent over time; voluntary changes in walking and running technique usualy make it less efficent (i.e. increases the energy cost for a given amount of work).
     
  17. retrogeek

    retrogeek New Member

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    To add to the above threads.....From my observations and reading I have found that riders use a wide variety of pedalling techniques which may or may not be influenced by height, weight, level of experience, general fitness, bicycle size, frame geometry, bicycle set up, body structure, etc, etc.....

    When I started racing in the 70's I was told, or I read (I can't remember which) to think of pedalling in circles to be smooth and efficient. I think that visualizing pedalling in circles helps young or new riders from getting sloppy when they are tired or excited during a race. Of course pedalling in circles shouldn't be taken literallly because the amount of force changes so much during a single revolution (as others have already stated), but it is none the less a great visualization technique that helps me from time to time when I feel that I am not being as smooth on the bike as I should.

    If you can get a hold of some of the old Tour de France videos or of some old classics videos you will see that even the top level pros have differences in pedalling styles. Jacques Anquetil used a pedalling style that no one has used since that I know of, toes pointed down all the time. While Merckx and other classics riders would pedal "squares" while aggressively attacking. And, in our own time, Lance Armstrong pedals very smoothly and at a very high cadence even when climbing.

    There are so many different techniques to consider and so many variables. Good research and a lot of trial and error are the only way to come to your own perferred happy medium. Use a video camera or mirrors while you are on a set of rollers to get an good idea as to how you are really pedalling, not what you feel like you are pedalling. Many times when you look at videos of your riding you will see yourself doing things or making mistakes that you didn't realize you were doing.

    Good luck with the research and have fun with the "trial and error", at least you'll get a lot of time on the bike while you are learning. And find experienced riders to ride with, ask questions...
     
  18. Roadie_scum

    Roadie_scum New Member

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    That may be so, but I don't think it's yet clear whether you can put cycling in the walking/running natural efficiency improvements category, or the high jump/rowing (for an endurance example) category of learnable/refinable technique. You may be right that we tend to the most efficient cycling action, but check out: Sanderson DJ, Black A. "The effect of prolonged cycling on pedal forces." J Sports Sci. 2003 Mar;21(3):191-9. Suggests that "[t]raining the pattern of force application to improve effectiveness may be a useful strategy to prolong an endurance ride".

    As is always the case, more work needs to be done.
     
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