How to Improve Pedaling Technique for Faster Cycling

By on November 15, 2012

Faster cycling starts with learning how to pedal correctly

Click below on the 6 minute video I made on exactly what you need to focus on this winter, to reap the rewards in your cycling for next season and beyond.  Let me know if the video was useful to you and if it was, do share it amongst your friends!  And yes, before you ask, I am cycling on the Tacx Fortius turbo trainer – state of the art :-).

In addition to the video below, I suggest the following further reading: Are You Pedaling Efficiently Or Wasting Energy?  and Pedal Technique: Pedal in Circles, Not Squares


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  1. Alasdair

    November 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    I’m interested in how much your foot appears to angle down during the entire stroke. I’ve always felt more comfortable and perhaps a little more powerful if I try to keep the foot flat. Is this concept incorrect?

    Anything that helps me squeeze some extra help out of the pedal stroke would be great.

    And I’m a bit worried about my ability to concentrate on the pedalling action while I try to avoid all the hazards out on the roads. My brain isn’t that big. And I’m a bloke, so multi-tasking is way beyond me!


    • Rebecca

      November 17, 2012 at 4:28 pm

      Hi Alasdair – The most important thing here is NOT to get bogged down on the ins and outs of where your ankle is etc…you’ll get bogged down in analysis paralysis and indeed get distracted from your bikr ride and you may undo a perfectly good technique. The key to begin with, as I’ve mentioned in the video, is to focus solely on ‘finding a smooth’ pedalling action and work on your cadence when you can – that’s it…if it feels smooth, then it’s most likely efficient for you…hope this helps.

      • Alasdair

        November 18, 2012 at 11:20 am

        Thanks Rebecca.

        I’ve been working on spinning rather than grinding for a long time now. Depending on the ride I average somewhere between 85-90 rpm. Along the flat and downhill I often have a cadence of around 100. Without everything bouncing around.

        What I’m interested in now is making the most of the whole pedal stroke. I’ve always felt I’ve had a bit of an up-down stroke with none of the feeling of scraping something of the sole of my shoe. Yesterday I was trying to feel I was pedalling in circles and found myself with the feeling that to do so I had the feeling of pushing the pedal forward off the top of the pedal stroke, and then almost back-heeling a ball at he bottom of the stroke. Without much effort I found my average cadence for the ride was 92. With a better than average speed for me too.

        So maybe, just being aware of it is important.

        Thanks again.

  2. Tim

    December 4, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Thanks for your video and website that I have just discovered. I’ve tried to improve my pedal stroke today on the turbo trainer but discovered a couple of issues. Firstly when trying to produce the scraping effect on the downstroke I feel as if my toes are clawing to produce the effect. I presume this is not correct?

    Secondly there seems to be a real difference between my dominant and non dominant sides. I think I can get the action much easier on my (R) dominant leg but really struggle on the (L). Would one legged drills be of any value?

    • Rebecca

      December 4, 2012 at 10:50 am

      Hi Tim, thanks for your question. The ‘scraping effect’ should be a smooth movement between the bottom of the downstroke and transitioning into the upstroke. You say you are clawing your feet – I presume this is meaning you are scrunching your toes somewhat and forcing the movement. If this is the case and I’ve understood correctly, you need to relax your toes. You should be focusing more on the balls of your feet, rather than the toes for the whole scarping motion. As you pedal the main force to the pedals should be ideally through the balls of your feet…not from your toes. I perhaps should have mentioned that in my video. So, focus on that part of the foot and relax your toes completely…and I think this should help. Again, the motion should be very smooth.

      It is absolutely normal in the beginning when learning a new skill like pedalling to have one leg more dominant than the other. Yes, if you can do some isolated leg work this will help to iron out flaws – however, when I’ve done isolated leg work myself I’ve found I don’t stick these trainings very long – they are tedious and I’m not enough time on the turbo trainer to truly sort the problem!

      The best way Tim really is to focus on the weaker leg when actually cycling along the road pedalling with ‘both’ legs. This way you can ‘compare’ legs etc and overtime you can correct ‘a lot of’ the problem. You’ll find you’ll always have one leg slightly stronger or better at pedalling than the other – I have this and I’ve never got both legs to be identical – just a human thing. But, as I’ve said, you can get a long way to sorting the weaker leg by practicing each time you are out cycling, specially in the beginning.

      Hope this helps,


      • Tim

        December 4, 2012 at 12:01 pm

        Thanks for the speedy reply. I’ll take note of your tips. I guess it’s a case of practice makes perfect. I’ve only been road cycling for two months and can average 16mph on the gentle landscape where I live, but hope with your tips to increase this to 17 -18mph over the next year in anticipation of a charity 100mile sportive I’ve entered in the summer.

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