How to Improve Pedaling Efficiency

Slow-frequency Revolutions

Many pedaling exercises require concentration and repetitive, deliberate movements so that, during the big race, efficient pedal strokes will come naturally and without hesitation -- thus ensuring a smoother, faster ride. When a dancer first learns a new routine, he or she doesn't just glide through it the first time. Memorizing the new dance requires slowly and repetitively going through each series of steps, acquiring form and accuracy. As a cyclist, you don't have to worry about complicated routines and unusual footwork, but you and a dancer do have something in common in your training: You must commit your movements to muscle memory.

Slow frequency revolutions are a great way to make efficient pedaling natural to every ride. Practicing in this way allows you to focus on the entire rotation of your pedal stroke. Imagine how you should ideally pedal during a race and then set that vision to slow motion. That, essentially, is what slow-frequency revolutions will do: slow your rotations so that each pedal stroke is deliberate.

You will want your slow frequency revolutions to hover around 40 to 50 RPM. Set your grade at 3 percent to 5 percent, or lift the front wheel of your stationary trainer a few inches. Each set should last two to five minutes, and you should keep your heart rate low throughout. This exercise is primarily designed to focus on the form and power of your pedal strokes, not pure speed. So instead of building up your heart rate, keep it steady and put your concentration toward applying equal force throughout each entire pedal rotation. As you continue training, you can eventually increase the time or distance you spend practicing these revolutions.

Now that you know the techniques to mastering the cycling leg of your triathlon, learn how to improve your swimming and running as well. Check out our other triathlon articles and lots more information on the next page.

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