If you’re serious about biking, you should consider evaluating your cycling technique. Many cyclers are making serious mistakes during riding or training, which can easily be fixed by a couple of tweaks here and there. If you’re using the proper technique, you’ll get the best performance and most fun out of all of your cycling. When evaluating your performance and technique, consider reviewing the following:
Did you know...?
Did you know that its best to practice cycling technique on real bicycles, not stationary bikes.
Outdoor cycling can be a pain in the neck when the weather is gloomy and the temperature plummets. However, simply put, stationary bicycles can never hone your cycling technique in the same way regular bicycles can.
You need to learn to deal with the natural sway of the bicycle, undulating landscapes and other factors that will affect your technique. Thus, try to cycle outdoors as much as possible.
Cycling Techniques for Peak Performance
Peak cycling performance depends heavily on proper technique.
- Start slow - Whether you're cycling for competition, exercise, strength, endurance, or just for fun, we all want to be as efficient as possible. If your heart rate is too high during the first 30 minutes of your cycling, your metabolic rate begins to burn sugar instead of fat. Since sugar burns in half the amount of time, you're going to run out of energy reserves too quickly. Start slow, only increasing intensity after the first 30 minutes, and you'll train your body to use fat reserves instead of burning sugar, and we all want to burn extra fat right?
- Climb some hills - If you want to truly improve, it's important to incorporate hills into your regular routine. Make sure to do a few easier, lower-gradient hills, and at least one really hard hill per workout. Before you know it, you'll be seeking out the hills instead of avoiding them.
- Total body training - Cycling a lot of miles will definitely improve your cycling technique, but you can't ignore the rest of your body and overall fitness. Cycling does not give your upper body muscles the workout they need, so it's important to supplement your riding with upper body workouts and core stability training.
- Proper Fueling - Before racing or competing, only eat food you are familiar with, and don't introduce anything new to your body. This could lead to upper GI irritation. Also make sure you properly fuel your body before a big event, and eat and drink often while riding. Eat more solid foods at the beginning of a race, and save bars and gels for later. Also, drink extremely often. It's very difficult to drink too much while cycling.
For more information you are invited to read the article about cycling nutrition.
The Right Posture
Proper cycling technique depends heavily on proper posture.
- Pedal - You should pedal with flat feet. Avoid lifting your heels or toes toward the sky. Also, start pushing forward on the pedals before you reach to top of the pedaling arc to get more power.
- Hands - If you ride with your hands on top of the handlebars on the flat portion, always wrap your thumbs all the way around the bar. Far too many riders slip off their bars and risk injury.
Also, change your hand position on the bars every few minutes. This allows your muscles to adapt for times when you need the necessary power when riding through a head wind or climbing.
- Head - Keep your head up and relax your shoulders and elbows. If your head is lifted too high, unnecessary tension will be in your hands, neck, arms, and shoulders. If you lift your head just high enough to have relaxed shoulders and elbows, this tension will be released and you'll have a more natural technique.
You are invited to read this article about neck muscle pain.
Use Your Bicycle Correctly
Proper cycling technique also relies heavily on the proper bicycle and the proper use of your bicycle.
- Seat Position - Make sure your seat is flat or slightly pointed upward to prevent you from sliding forward, and to give you the proper support you need while cycling. Having your seat in the proper position will relieve a lot of undue stress in the shoulders, neck, and lower back.
Read the article about bicycling and pain.
- Switching Gears - Know when it's time to switch gears. You should always be pedaling at a rate of 90 -100 rpm to be the most efficient cycler. If you're any lower than that, you're in too high of a gear. If you're faster than that, you're in too low of a gear. Also, it's important to let off of your pedals a little bit when switching gears.
Final Word on Cycling Technique
Don't become overwhelmed with all of the techniques listed. Many of them come naturally to most riders, and those that don't come naturally to you are the ones you can concentrate on working. With a few tweaks and concentrated practice, you'll soon see a major improvement in your bicycling technique.