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How to improve your pedalling efficiency

12 May 2016 - Anthony Laplagne

If you have ever watched professional cyclists, you might be envious of their smooth pedal technique. It looks like it has been finely honed to make sure every last bit of motion is translated into power. And it looks effortless. 

At Europe Active – the adventure cycling holidays specialists - we are definitely envious of the professionals’ pedal stroke! So we spent some time analysing how we could have the same style and we thought we’d share it with you in our blog: 

Motivation to improve your pedal stroke
It’s not just about looking effortless or looking like a pro, if you improve your pedalling technique you will benefit in a number of ways:  
It will improve the level of power you produce because you’ll make the most of each revolution
It will give you more staying power because you’ll be able to make better use of this increased power and use up less energy 
It will reduce your chance of picking up an injury because it will put less stress on your body. 
So, whether you are commuting, doing the odd weekend cycling trip or heading off on your cycling holidays, it’s something that can make all the difference to your time on the bike. 

Pedalling efficiency

Check how efficient you are at the moment
To see if you have an efficient pedal stroke, cycle a bit slower than you would normally and check whether it feels smooth. Are you getting what’s called a ‘push/stop’ effect? Are you feeling like you need to re-apply the effort with every revolution? If this is the case, then it is possible to get a better technique going. 

Similarly, another way to tell if you can improve your pedalling technique is to do more revolutions than you would normally. If you are finding that you are bouncing or lifting up from the saddle, then you can get more efficiency going with your pedalling. 

Push around not just down
Think about how you pedal. Visualise your feet pushing the pedals around a circle. 
From 0 to 90 degrees, you are pushing your efforts downward. 
At 140 degrees you are almost fully pushed down. 
From 180 degrees onwards you now need to be pushing around the other side of the circle. 
So, make sure you are not just pushing down. To do that alone is inefficient. Push around beyond 180 degrees. 
But, make sure you are not pulling the pedal up as you get beyond 230 degrees as then you are working against your other leg. 

Make sure each leg is doing equal work so you are pedalling symmetrically. This avoids fatigue. 

It sounds simple, but double check that your bike fits you in the best way it can. Is the saddle in the correct position? Are the handlebars in an optimum place? Having all this in the right place will help your pedalling technique too. 

Pedalling efficiency

Muscular endurance
It can help to develop your muscular endurance off the bike. You can do slower speed exercises with your legs and feet to develop control of the pedal movement. You can also do lunges and split squats to develop your core – and this will improve your pedal technique. 

Master your gears
Make sure you know how to get the best from your gears so you are riding and pedalling at optimum cadence. It’s also a good way to minimise fatigue and get the most from your leg work.

So, pedalling efficiency will obviously make a difference to what you can achieve on the bike. It’s a mixture of technique and core fitness. If you are ready to put this into practice and book your own adventure cycling holidays in some of the best destinations in Europe, then take a look at the Europe Active website:

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