Workout Wednesday – Pedaling Smooth Like Butter

Happy Wednesday! Welcome to another edition of Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I will post a new Triathlon specific workout. If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (HAHA)

This week’s workout: One Leg Isolation Drills (Pedaling Efficiency)

Leg Speed

Have you plateaued in your cycling speed gains? If you are pounding the pedals like you are stomping grapes, we need to work on your pedaling efficiency. Working on your pedaling efficiency will eliminate dead spots in your pedal stroke, and increase your cycling power.

When you are cycling with a group, you can tell the riders that have an efficient stroke. Their legs look smooth like butter through the whole stroke. It’s not just about looking good, you can save some serious energy. Most cyclists will pedal 5000 – 6000 strokes an hour, and efficient pedaling can produce energy savings up to 15 – 20%. That is some serious free speed.

Here’s the best part, working on some simple drills a couple times a week will get you quick gains. The focus of these drills is to turn on the correct muscle groups with the right timing. The coordination of these muscle groups will increase your pedaling efficiency. After the first workout you will feel a difference, and within a few weeks make some serious progress. Here’s the bonus; these drills only take around ten minutes, and can be done in conjunction with another cycling workout. (I’m starting to sound like an infomercial).

Here’s a quick video on pedaling efficiency:



On to the workout:

One Leg Isolation Drills

  • Warm up – 10 minutes
  • 5 X 1 min on with heavy gear/ 1 min easy gear (spin)
  • 3 X Right leg 30 secs/ Spin 1 min / Left leg 30 secs / Spin 1 min
  • 5 min Spin
  • 3 X Right leg 30 secs/ Spin 1 Min / Left leg 30 secs/ Spin 1 min
  • 5 min Spin
  • Cool down

*Focus Points: Smooth circles, Medium tension, Muscle group timing and activation

This workout is best done on a spin bike or trainer. Pedaling with one leg can cause some balance issues, and we don’t want you in the ditch.  During the one leg intervals, keep medium tension on the bike. Don’t use heavy tension, as you will rely too much on the down stroke, and can jack up your knees. Focus on making the smoothest circular pedal strokes you can. There should be constant pressure on the pedal throughout the entire stroke. During the spin intervals, keep a cadence of 90 rpm or higher under light tension, and feel the muscle groups working together. The one leg intervals will force the upstroke muscle groups to activate. When you go back to pedaling with both legs you will feel smoother immediately.

This workout is not meant to be super intense. Keep the intensity down, and focus on great form. The workout above is laid out as a stand alone workout. If you are throwing this in at the end of another workout, just do one set.

Now, go and make some pretty little circles!



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