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Any Tips for Proper Spinning Technique?(17 posts)

Any Tips for Proper Spinning Technique?TNSquared
May 20, 2003 6:41 PM
Circumstances forced me indoors to the stationary trainer this evening. :( Since there was absolutely not one frickin' thing to occupy my mind while creating a small lake of sweat in my garage, I tried to concentrate on my form.

As a result, I realized that my entire involvement in the pedal stroke seems to occur during the downward phase from just past the top of the stroke to somewhere just short of the bottom. The entire "back" half of the stroke from the bottom back to the top, my foot is just along for the ride and I don't think any muscles are engaged at all. I'm a newcomer to cycling, but I'm guessing this is not good form and I'm probably inefficient and wasting alot of opportunity to increase my cadence and/or power. However, when I tried to pull up through the back stroke, my pedaling became very herky jerky.

Can someone describe what proper spinning technique "feels" like, or suggest some workouts that will help improve my pedal stroke? I realize this is probably a subtle thing that can't be precisely described, but any help would be great.

Thanks much - Todd
One-legged spinspitt83
May 21, 2003 4:08 AM
Best idea to smooth out your stroke. Add just enough resistance to "feel it" when both feet are in. Un-click your weak leg and keep cadence for 2-3 minutes. Switch legs and repeat 5X. It will even out leg strength and smooth out your stroke. You should notice work effort everywhere through the arc.
Keep cadence for 2-3 minutes?dzrider
May 21, 2003 5:13 AM
Wow, I doubt I can do 1 minute. Am I incredibly clumsy? I count my revolutions and seldom make 90. My foot slows and then the clunking starts and I gradually come to a stop. 2-3 minutes sounds like a fantasy for me!
Do what you canpitt83
May 21, 2003 5:31 AM
It's especially difficult at the top of the stroke where you're using almost nothing to push with. Make sure your resistance is considered "easy" when using both feet. Perceptable, but not difficult. For me, that would be 42x15. A comfortable flat road gear where I felt like I wanted to gear up another tick. Try it there

PS: Most Beatles songs are 2:30 +- 5 seconds.
Beatles are a good idea, but think I'll go with the Pixies....TNSquared
May 21, 2003 7:24 AM
Their songs, at least the older ones, are more like 1:30 and better suit the mood I need on the trainer! :)
so dizzy!JS Haiku Shop
May 21, 2003 5:41 AM

three words: fixed gear. ok, those are just two, but they're a mouthful. fixed gear riding will improve you spin and *everything* else.

lonefrontranger posted either here on on the racing forum a set of exercises to better form and fitness. one of them was an overgear interval or jump from a slow or standing start. i've been recently taking those hills on our regular thursday & sunday routes in 52x11 from a standing stop (to the top). that's a good way to even out your entire spin, if the ol' knees stay intact throughout. i can only do it one time per week. the wisdom behind it (which seems much less than wise during and after execution) is that at that high gearing, you have two choices: pull through the entire revolution, or fall over.

last time i tried single-leg sessions on a trainer was an immediate precursor to 3 months of physical therapy. not that it was the sole precipitant, but it isn't without blame. in my zeal to stay fit and improve form through winter 2001-2002, i went overboard and landed off the bike for quite some time.

don't injure yourself. i've also noticed that--in the early stages of learning this cycling thing--the beginnings of "form" come with just riding lots and trying to stay up at the front. the things you need to do will arrive naturally, if you're trying hard enough (or if your IQ is as low as mine).

Ya know, running was so much simpler....TNSquared
May 21, 2003 7:36 AM
I just had to remember to alternate feet!

Ah well, good advice J. Thanks. More time on the bike with sufficient effort will cure alot of ills, I'm sure. I just get real impatient.

I'll see if I can find lonefrontranger's post. The only thing that concerns me about the hill interval is that even in 53x19 or 53x21, I can only stand while climbing for about 15 seconds before my quads suffer major meltdown I am forced to return my butt to the saddle. No doubt another weakness of rookiedom that will improve over time.

Is your 600K this weekend? If I ride Saturday, it will be really early, but I was curious about the Sunday noon ride. If you do 600K Satuday, maybe I'll have a chance of staying on your wheel Sunday.
If you're new, there is no way you should be attempting hillbill
May 21, 2003 8:00 AM
workouts in the big ring. IMHO. You will hurt yourself for sure.
You need to go slow and work up to such things. Or else you'll be in the Physical Therapy waiting room with the other knuckleheads (right JS? tell the truth to the man.)
One-legged drills are great. A fixed gear, I've heard, will make a man out of anyone, although, afraid of unleashing my full masculinity, I've never tried it. It also entails cobbling together another bike.
My panacea? ROLLERS are fantastic for spin. I learned spin and pedaling in circles from rollers. There is no hiding. You do it right, or you don't do it at all.
Start by thinking circles. Do the one-legged drills (low gear, low speed). Think about getting rollers. Think about getting a fixie. I would think, about in that order.
correctamundoJS Haiku Shop
May 21, 2003 8:12 AM
specific intentisity without a sufficient base is recipe for PT.

yes, a fixed gear will easily double the hair on your chest.

Ah, base mileage.......a concept I understand, and one last QTNSquared
May 21, 2003 8:33 AM
The need to build a base layer of fitness before moving into intensity workouts is no different in running, and your'e right I'm not ready. Again, just getting impatient.

I keep wanting to pretend that all those running miles from marathon training mean something here, but different muscles groups, different physiological demands, etc. You guys just keep smackin' me when I get ahead of myself.

Anyway, I can avoid hill workouts, but I can't avoid hills altogether. Should I even by trying to stand for climbs at this point, or just do all seated climbing? I have no ego problem with using the 39 ring, but then there almost isn't enough resistance to stand against.

Fixie? Hmmmm...sounds "fun," but oh the conversations with the wife that acquisition would generate.

D*mn, I talk alot.

Thanks again guys.
free fixie = don't shiftJS Haiku Shop
May 21, 2003 8:49 AM
but it takes shutting off a part of your brain.

never avoid hills, unless it's a recovery ride.

all hill workouts are valuable, including spinning them in your smallest gear. again--check for LFR's posts about form & fitness. another of her drills is to climb out of the saddle in a small gear without getting too anaerobic. i've read and heeded her words and am reaping the benefits a thousandfold.

btw i have no ego problem using the 30 ring, but there's no call for the "suffer ring" in elvisville.
yepJS Haiku Shop
May 21, 2003 8:19 AM
(btw, listen to Bill--get a solid base in your legs before pushing dinner plates around.)

the 600k is saturday, but i won't be on the ride sunday. my ride starts at 4 AM and i'll probably be on the road 28-32+ hours. i'd need a ride home and a motorcycle to keep up with you fellas on sunday.
Duh, I'm wasn't thinking. Good Luck! Look forward to ride report. (nm)TNSquared
May 21, 2003 8:40 AM
re: Any Tips for Proper Spinning Technique?ukiahb
May 21, 2003 8:23 AM
fixed gear works for me too, after a few months of FG riding I now have a better spin and am also waaay stronger on my geared bike on weekend club rides. It does require another bike, but finding an old bike and converting it is a lot of fun, and not all that expensive....check out some of the bikes on the FG forum for inspiration.
Spinning can and should become second natureLive Steam
May 21, 2003 8:40 AM
Trainers are notorious for creating a choppy pedal stroke. Developing a nice spin is as much mental as it is physical. The best place to practice and develop a "round" pedal stroke required for efficient spinning is on a moderate hill.

The first step is to develop a mental image as to what a round pedal stroke should look and feel like. A round pedal stroke is just that "round", so you should envision yourself pedaling circles and not "up and down". To do this you need to pull your aft or rear foot up and over as you are pressing down and through with your other foot. Imagine that the cranks are made of rope and that one foot must move in an opposing direction from the other in order to keep tension on that rope.

The second step is to have proper foot angulations. At TDC (top dead center) and BDC (bottom dead center) your foot should be parallel to the ground. It should only deviate from this slightly during the remainder of the pedal stroke. When pushing through the stroke your foot will angle slightly upward and your other foot, which is pulling up and through the stroke, will angle slightly down. You need mental imagery to begin to practice this.

I said above that the best place to practice rounding out your stroke is on a moderate hill. To do this you need to know how to ride "no hands". When you are on an incline and riding "no hands" you will see that having a round pedal stroke will help you keep a steady ascent without wobbling or losing balance. When doing this your upper body should be pressing forward. Your shoulders should be moving forward to align themselves over your knees, with your arms hanging down to your side. This exercise helps your muscles learn how to pull through the pedal stroke. The more you do this the better muscle memory you will develop.

You must remember that both legs are working together at the same time and not individually at the top of each stroke. A smooth, round pedal stroke is what give a pro cyclist the ability to practically do anything while in the saddle - like pulling on a rain jacket, or slipping a jersey on or off. It keeps their lower body still with no jerky movements. Just smooth pedaling. I hope this helps!
Thanks much! Mental imagery always helps me tremendouslyTNSquared
May 21, 2003 8:53 AM
You quickly uncovered one thing I'm doing wrong, which is angling my foot slightly down while pushing through the stroke. Maybe that's why my toes keep going numb!
You are probably putting pressure on ....Live Steam
May 21, 2003 9:11 AM
your toes by forcing them into the front of your shoe. With the proper foot angle and stroke you will feel some strain in your calf as it is being stretched on the forward (down) stroke and contracted on the pull through (up) stroke. The "no hands" drill really helps, but be careful and have some forward momentum. Riding no hands is an indispensable riding skill as far as I am concerned. It helps with balance and bike handling abilities. We need to do so many things while in the saddle like eating and signaling for obstacles or removing garments. I always tell people I have taught to get this down quickly so they can feel confident on their bike.