Improving Pedaling Technique

By following these tips, you will improve your pedaling technique, pedal perfect circles, and produce more power with less energy.

For the most part, competitive cyclists are keenly aware of how they can improve their performance. Iconic cycling legend Eddy Merckx summed it up when saying…

“Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short as you feel. But ride.”

While the focus is primarily on improving our cycling endurance and strength through time in the saddle spent training and just riding in general.  Weight training, plyometrics, flexibility exercise, and other off-the-bike modalities are essential in improving cycling performance. Improving your pedaling technique is another item on the competitive cyclists wish list.

Many Factors Affect our Race Results

When it comes to racing and results, strategy, positioning, drafting, course selection, equipment choice, and teamwork are significant factors.  There is also bike handling and experience, making up for deficiencies in other areas and masking our weaknesses.


Virtual cyclists and esports competitors do not have that luxury.  


The relatively static nature of most indoor trainer setups, even the more dynamic rocker plate designs, allows for an advantage not realized on the road or trails.

The Advantage Virtual Cyclists Have When Improving Pedaling Technique

The ability to focus on improving your pedaling technique without the distractions to safety found when riding on a varied course in the presence of other racers is a unique element of virtual cycling and can be utilized to improve performance.  

The technological advances in this area that allow detailed observation and analysis of the multiple metrics and components of the pedaling cycle enhance this virtual cycling advantage.

In our previous posts on this topic, an overview of the phases of the pedal stroke, the muscles used at each point during the cycle, and related external factors which can be of effect, were described in essential detail.  In the following, take the opportunity to use that knowledge and translate it into performance gains through improvements in pedaling technique.

The Importance of the Pedal Stroke

A foremost expert in the science of pedaling, Dr. Barney Wainwright of Leeds Beckett University, UK, gives his authoritative opinion on why it is essential to refine your stroke.

“Poor pedaling can be very performance limiting. It can be very metabolically inefficient, increasing the energy cost for any given distance. An ‘energy-efficient’ pedal stroke is one where for any given power output, there is minimal energy required.”

Through his work with elite cyclists, Dr. Wainwright demonstrated that improving pedaling efficiency can produce gains without requiring a change in power output.

Cyclist on indoor stationary bike
Other studies have shown as much as a five bpm decrease in heart rate at the same power after pedaling efficiency was refined.

Steps You Can Take To Improve Your Pedaling Technique

Get a proper bike fit

An analysis of your positioning by a certified professional knowledgeable in how varying it can produce increases in power and efficiency and equipped with the technology to measure it objectively.

Strength and Flexibility Exercise

Perform an exercise program designed to address your strength and flexibility weaknesses and limitations, emphasizing maximizing core and glute strength, and decreasing hip flexor tightness.

Perform Pedaling Drills Designed to Refine Efficiency

Pedal Stroke Drills to Improve Your Pedaling Technique


In an easy gear, progressively increase your cadence to as fast as possible while retaining proper position, a fluid stroke, and without bouncing.

Single-Leg Pedaling:

With only one foot clipped in, pedal in a light gear and focus upon smooth transitions and elimination of dead zones in your stroke.

bicyclie crank and pedal
Pull Back:

Concentrate on pulling your foot backward as the pedal approaches the bottom of the stroke, and as you improve, combine with a more forceful push-down.

Push Forwards:

Concentrate on pushing your foot forwards as the pedal approaches the top of the stroke, and as you improve, combine with a more forceful push-down.

Pedaling Drill Tips


For me, paying particular attention to pedaling efficiency and effectiveness is a ‘no brainer’!  The potential to improve my performance, even increase my power production, without any extra effort. What could be better? Improving your pedaling technique, of course!

Your thoughts and experience

What tip, trick, drill, or fit suggestion has improved your pedaling efficiency the most?  Your fellow virtual cyclists would like to know.  

To subscribe to the Zommunique and receive more informative and entertaining articles like this one sent directly to your inbox, click here!
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Do you want to join the VVN team? Tap the logo for details!

Virtual Velo Podcast Ep. 34-WTRLs Martin Carew Talks Zwift Racing League
Check out Episode Thirty four here!

The Zommunique’ Community gets 10% off at with coupon code “TheZomm gives 10% off”   

Click to get your Zwift Hub smart trainer here and support our work.

Broadcast Partner to The Virtual Velo Network!

The DIRT Dad Fund

Contribute to a great cause!

The DIRT Dad Fund

Share the power of The DIRT Effect

Click to get the Zwift Cog & Click!

Jaclyn Long, MFT

Certified Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher

Marriage & Family Therapist in CA

Sports Anxiety Therapy

Purchase your Zwift Play controllers here!

Drink Coffee and Do Good!  

Click the Image and Shop now!

Related Articles

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x