Forget about forcing your pedal stroke to fit someone else’s form, it may be best to follow your own inclinations.
SWEATING OVER THE EXACT MECHANICS of your pedal stroke may be for naught. A new French study found that how you pedal isn’t nearly as important as how well you do it. Sound confusing? The basic idea, explained study author François Hug, Ph.D, is that muscles can be employed differently but produce similar power.
For the testing, the researchers from France’s National Institute for Sports and Physical Education recruited 11 elite cyclists who on average had been biking for 8.5 years and logged 14,000 km in the previous season. The cyclists were then monitored pedaling at two intensity levels to measure muscle use and pedal forces.
Despite the highly trained nature of the cyclists, Hug found a wide variability in how the cyclists used their muscles and how much each muscle was called to work. At the same time, the cyclists worked nearly as hard as each other with their differing pedal strokes to produce the same power.
“The results show that may not be a correct way to pedal, said Hug, Ph.D. “Different coordination strategies lead to the approximately same mechanical pattern.”
While the study shows there may not be a pedaling ideal, the research doesn’t mean you should forget about your form and start mashing away. Working on establishing a smooth and comfortable pedal stroke will still improve your speed by optimizing the muscle coordination, Hug found in his study. If you want to start developing your stroke or just refine it a bit, check out our ideal pedal stroke developed by cycling biomechanics experts.