Long Course Coach Q&A Session #3: The 360-Degree Pedal Stroke

150 150 Rich Strauss

We get email and Twitter questions regarding our training plans all the time. We strive to answer each one, and it occurred to us that maybe sharing this information could be good for other self-coached triathletes out there. Enjoy!

Rich and Patrick

Looking for info on pedal stroke technique. ½ iron athlete and have always kept an even down/up power stroke and sliding across top/bottom of the stroke. Trying to keep circles but seems something is missing. Seems that there would be a hole in the power in  the top/bottom…Any references / thoughts/ suggestions ???

Ron, there are tons of great resources out there on proper pedaling techniques and drills. A quick search of YouTube should give you more than enough fodder. The particular deadspot you are talking of is pretty common for triathletes, especially in the aero position. Good on you for noting it’s top and bottom…most only notice it on the bottom side. These folks are forgetting that the cranks are fixed, and that your ability to pull through the bottom of the stroke is only as good as your ability to push the other foot over the top of the other side!

This could be a flexibility or strength related issue (or a combination). I suggest two approaches.

#1, work on hip flexor flexibility. Consider doing some lunge stretches, where you really push your hips forward to open them up. Perhaps even consider arching backwards to really do a number on your hips. You can also do this as you stretch your quad on that side. Holding your heel to your butt, stand erect and push that hip forward as you hold the stretch. You’ll feel it!

#2, work on strengthening the area. The hip flexors and psoas muscles can be a bit weak and fatigue easily, especially if they are tight. Once you have started stretching, consider adding in some cycling-specific strength work. I prefer to do single leg pedaling while on a trainer at about 60-70 rpms. Load the wheel up to the point where you really need to slow down – but not so hard so as to put undue strain on your body. Work on a smooth transition from 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock. As you build up confidence and skill, add more speed (less resistance). Do this each leg for 45-60 seconds, alternating sides. So six minutes of that plus 4 minutes of regular pedaling with both legs as recovery, done a few times a week, should help you out!

Keep us posted!

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