21.         Pedalling Pointers

Pedalling is not just pushing down or pulling up.  Developing a correct flowing pedalling action improves efficiency.  Research shows that many cyclists do not transmit power during the full pedal revolution in a similar way that many lap swimmers don’t maximise their arm strokes by not reaching out at the start of the stroke and not pulling right through to scrape their quadricep muscle at the end of each stroke.  In fact, many cyclists only push down from top to bottom of the pedal stroke. This only utilises a quarter of the pedal revolution, albeit an important quarter.  


Focus on achieving an efficient flowing pedal action by -


(i)           lowering the heel and lifting the toes at the top of the pedal revolution; and


(ii)          lowering the toes at the bottom of the revolution whilst pulling backwards and then upwards.



The aim is a complete round action applying power (by pushing and pulling) throughout the complete stroke. The body, other than the legs, should be motionless.


Think of –

(a)             pulling across the bottom stroke with your hamstring muscles (like “scraping chewing gum off the bottom of your shoe”) thereby triggering muscles that are not being used much and have more left in them.

(b)             the down-stroke of the non-dominant leg, as this leg will tend to be underutilised for power generation compared to the dominant leg.

Listen to the pedal stroke and try to get rid of any rhythmical thud, thud, thud at top and bottom stroke.  Focus of smoothing out each pedal stroke with no “jolt” between the left leg/right leg transition. 


Maintain a ‘stable’ pelvis, with a constant relationship between the saddle and your contact point on the saddle.

More information in “Power to your pedals