Power to the Pedals

News & Results

03/10/2003| 0 comments
by Kathy Zawadzki, CTS Certified Coach

Power to the Pedals

Building Strength and Power for Time Trials

of the power delivered from your legs to the pedals comes during the first half of the pedal stroke. The muscles that are active during this phase include the quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus maximus (your rear end). The gluteal muscles are used to a much greater extent in the time trial due to the aerodynamic position. These muscles are most active during the first half of the down stroke, providing substantial power when it is most needed. The following drills allow you to target these muscle groups and transfer the strength gains made in the gym to specific on-the-bike applications.

One leg pedaling. This strength and skill drill will help to increase power through the top center and bottom dead center of your pedal stroke. This drill is best when done on an indoor trainer and should be ridden at a moderate intensity level. To specifically target the muscles used in a time trial, complete the drill in your aero position. After a thorough warm-up, pedal with only one leg at 50-60 rpm in as hard a gear as you maintain for 30 seconds to one minute. The pedal stroke should be made as smooth as possible. Alternate and ride with your other leg for the same time period. Rest for 2-4 minutes between efforts by riding with both legs at a faster cadence (95 - 110 rpm). Repeat the drill 4 to 8 times for each leg.

Muscle Tension Efforts. These workouts can be performed on a steady climb (5-8%), against the wind on flat roads, or on a stationary trainer . The idea is to maintain a low cadence (55~65 rpm) while pushing against a high resistance. The purpose of the lower cadence is to allow you to limit heart rate, increase the muscle tension and force you to concentrate on your pedal stroke without the benefit of pedal momentum. It is important to stay seated and in your aero position during the entire effort. Try to get an even amount of power output throughout the entire pedal rotation. Initially, pedaling this slow with this amount of resistance is going to cause your pedal stroke to be uneven. If these are done on an indoor trainer, you will hear the wheel surging and slowing through each pedal stroke. Try to eliminate this surging by "scraping the mud off your shoes" at the bottom of the stroke, then pulling up through the back, and extending over the top into the downward push back to the bottom. These high muscle tension efforts can be ridden for 10 to 15 min, allowing the same time for recovery. Start with 2 or 3 repeats and increase up to 4 or 5.

Power Starts. Designed to help increase your power to the pedals, this workout needs to be done on a flat section of road. Select a large gear, possibly a 53 x 12-15, but adjust accordingly depending on your level of development. You want to begin this drill at a very low speed (3-5 mph). When you begin, JUMP on the pedals, out of


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