full circle pedaling

How To Pedal With More Power

Pedal with power!

Let me give you a super quick and easy tip that will not only make you faster and more efficient on your bike ride, but it will also make you faster with your run and will save you that much needed energy to finish your run strong.

How to Pedal Full Circle | TwoTri.comIt’s called full circle pedaling and you’ve probably heard of it before.

Pedaling “full circle” means that you’re not just pushing down on the pedals (like how you learned to ride a bike when you were a kid), but you’re also pulling up as well so that you apply force to the pedal in all directions, which gives you a more powerful pedal stroke.

But it’s funny how fast and easy it is to fall back in old pedaling habits. When you were a kid you just pushed harder to go faster. Now that you’re a triathlete, it’s all about speed and efficiency.

So let me tell you the best way to make sure you’re doing it right, and then how to practice it so that you’ll do it correctly without even thinking about it.

It starts with just listening, believe it or not.

How to see if you’re pedaling correctly:

You’ll need a bike trainer or a stationary bike to do this best, however, you can possible do it outside in a quiet area… during your next workout.  Listen carefully to the rhythm of your pedal cadence.


Notice how my pedaling sounds choppy… like RAR, RAR, RAR. That’s because I’m mashing – or only applying force downward on the pedals. This is not how to pedal.

Now listen when I pedal full circle. The sound smoothes out to an even hum. That’s because force is being applied evenly to all directions of my pedal stroke.

Full Circle Pedaling:

Learn How To Pedal Full Circle

Here’s an easy exercise that will help you implement full circle pedaling into your regular training, even without thinking about it.

Get on your trainer and ride for awhile focusing on only pulling up on your pedals. Try not to push down at all. This will really help you become in tune with what it feels like, and after a few sessions, you’ll be well on your way to better pedaling, naturally.

Another way to help you get the hang of pedaling full circle is to hop on a spin bike or a stationary bike, crank up the resistance and stand up and pedal. The key here is to not bounce up and down. I know it’s hard and your legs will burn, but when you bounce you’re using momentum to pull up your foot instead of using your muscles to pull up.

This is also a great way to strengthen your leg muscles so that full circle pedaling is a breeze! Try a few 30 second-1 minute sets of this exercise this during your training rides, and you’ll be pedaling like a pro in no time!

How To Pedal Full Circle | TwoTri.com

So why is full circle pedaling so important? Like I said it will make you faster and more efficient on the bike and you’ll find that you are able to run faster and stronger as a result.

When you “mash”, you primarily use your quads… the same muscles you use for running. So by pedaling full circle, you’re involving other muscles, like your hamstrings and calves, and that will not only make you pedal with more power, but it will help your quads stay fresh and that will make you faster during your run.

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Posted by Trainer +Davey Anderson 

About Author

Trainer DaveyTrainer Davey is an Orange County personal trainer at heart, but has since moved to Nashville and taken on the new challenge of triathlon training. Of course, he misses his home of Surf City...but Music City ain't so bad either!View all posts by Trainer Davey →

  1. Gaz @ Best Triathlon Gear
    Gaz @ Best Triathlon Gear02-22-2014

    Nice tips here. Have tried this myself and makes all the difference.


  2. Pat

    There is a lot of scientific research on effective and efficient pedaling technique, starting with the Coyle study. It would be nice if you cited some support for the suggestion that you should pull up on the pedal with any more force than unweighting the pedal.