By: TGB Training

With the off-season comes a time to relax and get back to the basics. Drills provide an easy, comfortable way to recover from a taxing race season, while still making gains towards those goals I know you have in mind for next year.

Want to go fast? First perfect going slow.

Easy right? Not for those of you who have had the pleasure of using a device called PowerCranks. These specialty bike cranks are designed to spin independently of each other, forcing the rider to control his, or her legs all the way through the pedal stroke and quickly making you aware of how complex an action pedaling can be. Fortunately we don’t all need to go out and buy new equipment to reap the benefits of this equipment. Perfecting some common drills can instill more efficient technique for free while helping to alleviate many common muscular imbalances.

Cycling drills for better cycling, but cycling drills for better running? As many of these drills also help to strengthen and increase coordination in the hip flexors and hamstrings the gains can also translate well to running. Since cycling is a low-impact, aerobic activity these drills can easily be substituted for an easy running day or recovery workout.

Sign me up! What do I do?

I recommend doing the majority of your drills on a stationary trainer. Not only is it safer, but you can put more focus into the technique that would otherwise be used on navigating the roads. Being stationary also gives you the opportunity to use your sense of hearing. Listen to the whirl of the wheel as it spins. Is the sound consistent? Does it vary up and down? If it varies there are inefficient points in your technique where the wheel is slowing down and then speeding back up. Lets see if we can smooth those out eh?

Isolated Leg Drill

What to do: Unclip the left leg and set it on a chair next to your trainer or any other comfortable position that is out of the way. Using easy gearing, pedal with your right leg and focus on a smooth pedaling motion. Pay attention to areas where you get “stuck” or loose the rhythm. Keep a relaxed upper body and use a cadence similar to your normal speed. Pedal for 20 seconds and switch. Remember the focus is on pedaling SMOOTHLY for the given time period, not just pedaling. If you can’t hold form switch legs or pedal with both legs to recover before trying again.

Goal: Get to where you can perform 1’ or more per leg without losing form

High Cadence Spinning

What to do: Pedal using easy gearing, with a cadence much higher than normal. Those with cadence pickups you should definitely be above 100rpm. I generally do these at 130-140 rpm. Your speed should be just below the point where you begin to bounce on the saddle. If you are bouncing, you are not being smooth.

Goal: Maintain a higher cadence without bouncing

High Knees

This is a good drill that strengthens and improves coordination specifically in the hip flexors, the main muscles which lift your leg.

What to do: Maintain a normal cadence. With easy gearing focus your effort where your knee is at the highest point (10-2 o’clock). Let the knee drive the stroke. Focus on bringing it up, over the apex and forward as if you were trying to knee the handle bars. If you are actually able to hit the bars, you need to take a second look at your bike fit.

Goal: Perform 5 minutes or more with good form

Scoop the Poop

This drill focuses on another forgotten section of the stroke, the pull through.

What to do: Maintain a normal cadence. With easy gearing focus your effort where your leg is at the lowest point (6 o’clock) until 11 o’clock. All effort should be put only into the pull through section of the stroke. The motion should feel like you are trying to scrap something off the bottom of your shoe. Begin with 20 seconds focusing all effort on the pull through. Make sure to take enough recovery to perform the next rep with good form.

Goal: Perform 5 minutes or more with good form


There you go. Four four ways to get faster and they don’t involve gut busting intervals.

Stay smart and healthy!


Photo by: Rob Annis