Riding your bike involves many different techniques which combine to produce an action which propels you and the bike forward hopefully in balance and harmony. Most cyclists don’t give enough thought to their bicycle pedaling technique. Pedaling is something they do automatically . By only concentrating on the downward power stroke their pedaling action consists of two power strokes. The correct technique is to pedal in a 360 degree circle. As well as power on the downward stroke you should be pulling on the upward stroke and pushing across the top so effort is going in all the way around the pedaling circle
To teach yourself a better pedaling technique
Firstly make sure you have the saddle set at the correct height. Incorrect saddle position will result in poor pedaling technique and strain on your body.
Practice one legged pedaling. On a flat section of road, unclip one leg and rest it on the bike. Pedal with the other leg. Practice pedaling 360 circles. You will get a better idea of where the dead spots are that you need to concentrate on. Once you’ve done some practice one each leg and become familiar with pedaling in smooth circle try it with both legs.
Find a small hill and change into a lower gear. Slow down to about 40 rpm and practice smooth pedaling in circles rather than mashing the stokes.
When you get out of your saddle it will be harder to maintain a smooth circle but concentrate on pulling up on the backward stoke. Try to keep your core and upper body motionless and don’t pull on the handlebars
Exercises to improve your pedaling
The big pedal pushing muscles of the legs, the glutes and the quads get plenty of workout even if you haven’t got the best pedaling technique. Cyclists who work out at the gym do squats and leg presses to develop these muscles but usually neglect the hamstrings which are engaged when you pull the pedal on the upward pedal stroke. These muscle are weaker as a result. To have a consistent strong pedal stroke all the muscles involved need to be contributing their share.
Swiss ball leg Curl
This exercise will strengthen your hamstrings and strengthen and stabilizes your hips and glutes which keep you well positioned as you are pedaling hard.
Lie on a floor on your back with your legs extended and heels resting on the top of the swiss ball. Tighten your your abs, back, and glutes and press your heels into the ball so your hips lift off the floor and form a straight line from your heels to shoulders. Roll the ball towards you by pulling your heels towards you. and use your heels to roll the ball toward your butt, so your knees bend . Do three sets of 12 repetitions with 30 seconds rest in between. When you become proficient at this exercise you can make it more difficult by doing the exercise with one leg at a time.
Its not difficult to improve your pedaling technique, check you are completing full circles and do some exercises to strengthen the muscles for those upward strokes.