Why your cycling technique is important


23 August 2020

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The word "technique" intrigues some and makes others yawn. But there is a lot to be said for the technique. It is the basis for all sports performance functions.

The technique involves enhanced skills. In the broadest, most general terms, that means eliminating unnecessary movement; make movements in the right directions; applying the necessary power, but not more than that; use the right muscles for the activity; and use the optimal speed if time is not a factor.

Okay, that's a dry list. Still, the benefits of good technique, and the consequences of a bad one, affect training and performance. The last thing I'm going to do is describe cycling technique; Very superior riders have done it on too many stages. (See the great videos online).

Instead, I'd like to list some of the benefits of good technique.


The main benefit of good technique is efficiency. Efficiency is the ratio of work output to energy expended. If labor production increases OR energy expenditure decreases, efficiency has improved. Efficiency and technique are closely related because the principles of efficiency are quite similar to the principles of technique.

Many activities have an optimal rhythm. The higher and lower rates cost more energy. The mechanism behind that is stored muscle elasticity, which requires the shortest time between relaxation and muscle contraction to prevent energy loss in the form of heat.

Good technique reduces the energy required for the pedal stroke, reduces energy loss as body heat, and retains more mechanical energy for the next stroke. Strength increases, functional type strength.

Practice reinforces cycling technique, thereby improving efficiency.

Constant velocity

Constant speed also affects technique. Unintentional speeding up or slowing down due to poor technique wastes energy. Obviously, maintaining a single cadence during a trip or a class is not usually part of the training plan.

But staying consistent for a specific period, during a song or segment if you're indoors, is an important technical skill that can increase efficiency. Beatmatch (pedaling accurately to musical rhythm) is an excellent training tool for developing consistency.

What else affects efficiency?

Efficiency may involve factors other than technique. For example, it may depend on the contractile properties of the muscle: slow contraction is more effective than fast contraction. It may depend on training, which can increase strength and endurance by increasing muscle efficiency. Training with large gears, for example, can improve efficiency on fast-twitch fibers.

Other benefits of good technique

Doing something with the right technique feels good, probably because the body is being used in the right way.

Correct technique also makes you look good on the bike. In my master's thesis, I compared the principles of technique and efficiency with the principles of the aesthetics of movement. It turns out that what makes a movement correct and efficient is also what makes it beautiful.

So technique leads to efficiency and that wastes less energy. The less we waste, the more energy is left for the demanding parts of the trip or class when it really counts. And we better see ourselves and feel on the bike.

Who could argue with looking and feeling good while riding a bike, completing the ride successfully, and wanting to do it again?

My coach always said, "Endurance athletes don't mind wasting energy, but they never want to waste it." Good cycling technique is the key,


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