Pedal Technique benefits

I’m interested to know about the possible benefits of improving pedal technique. It’s clearly a focus of SUF plans however it’s hard to know: -

A) is my technique improving?
B) how many watts can I gain focusing on pedal technique?

Whilst I appreciate this topic is a bit like ‘how long is a piece of string?’, I’m interested to know if there’s any way to quantify power gains via improved technique. And in my training how much focus should be on pedal technique?

I’ve scanned the forum and seen lots about cadence, but not technique specifically.


Have you done the Elements of Style workout? It has a nine point checklist for pedal technique that you can do anytime you are on the bike. I run though it sometimes during recovery sections, and sometimes during the, ahem, more vigorous sections of a workout.

The problem with quantifying changes to power from technique is that you are not changing one thing at a time. You are doing workouts, perhaps strength training, learning how to control your breathing, etc. as well as pedal technique. It is a non-linear improvement progression where it is difficult to attribute changes to one particular modification.

I suppose you could try to improve pedal technique while keeping everything else constant, but I doubt that is a productive use of limited training time.

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OK thanks for this. I have done Elements of Style a few times as per my plans since i started Sufferfest last March and it is a helpful workout. Prior to using Suf i used a Wattbike and also had some pedal technique sessions from a coach. WB has a pedal technique display on the headset that you probably are aware of. There were claims from my coach of a 10-30 watt potential FTP improvement due to technique. Whilst my FTP has increased from 255 - 259 using Suf I somehow doubt that (modest) gain is due purely to technique!
And you’re right, it’s almost impossible to isolate individual improvements if doing a full Suf plan including yoga, strength, MTP etc. and focussing exclusively on technique is most likely not the optimal prioritisation of training time available!
Improving technique can only benefit performance, however i guess it falls into the ‘marginal gains’ category rather than anything more significant.

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You can think of technique as a necessary, but not sufficient condition for cycling success.

The benefits of technique depends on how bad your technique is to begin with. Somebody who has horrible technique (pedaling in squares, bouncing in the saddle, etc.) might find it difficult to achieve reasonable improvements as well as causing strain on the body. If your technique is good or has become good, the law of diminishing returns comes into play.

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I find the cadence drills useful for improving technique. Also just simply pedalling 5-10 rpm above your comfort zone for a few minutes at a time helps too. Most SUF videos include those as a matter of course, which is great.

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This week is recovery week in my all-Road plan so I had a Cadence Builds and Holds session yesterday and did elements of style today. This is my 4th sufferfest plan and I’m starting to get more familiar with the cadence drills. Certainly more focus on cadence changes using sufferfest than on my old Wattbike sessions.
Thanks for the comments !

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Yeah SUF introduced me to a much wider range of cadence than I was previously using, especially at the higher end. I think it’s all good for building a better, smoother technique.

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Yes - Looking back at my old Wattbike sessions, emphasis was on pedal smoothness, L/R balance etc rather than cadence. I get similar metrics from my power meter pedals out on the road - not something I take in too much though when I’m riding!
MAP, AC and NM seem to be improving using sufferfest so maybe cadence drills etc are better to focus on for improvements rather than all the pedal metrics. And simpler to get your head around!

My MAP and NM have certainly improved with SUF. Not sure about FTP yet, but have a FF coming up this weekend.

What I have noticed is that when doing group Zwift rides I now rarely get dropped with sudden surges in power like I used to. I now have a much wider power curve and can quickly recover from big efforts. I suspect my FTP is about the same, but that’s okay as I’ve only been using SUF for 3 months on the All-Purpose road plan.

I think my pedal technique has also improved and I’m now much more comfortable spinning at 100+ rpm without HR ramping up too much. Again I find this provides additional options when the going gets tough.

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Interesting to hear about the Zwift rides. I haven’t tried zwift, just stuck with Suf so far. Should check it out I guess!
Good luck with the FF.

There is a setting on the Tacx Neo called ‘isotonic’ mode. Despite owning one for ages I’ve never used it. I think you have to access it from the Tacx Utility App. Never seen it elsewhere. Essentially you have to apply constant force around the stroke.

To do it I disconnected the computer from the trainer and just measured power and controlled the trainer with a phone. It’s just like cycling up a steep hill. Surprisingly useful though. Main benefit I can see so far is maintaining a smooth pedal stroke even when it is hard. Would be good paired up with GOAT or Power Station. Felt smoother cycling today in ERG.

I personally don’t think a smoother pedal stroke has boosted my power much, although it was combined with other stuff so can’t be sure. For running after I feel a benefit from a looser more fluid style though. I think there is also probably a benefit in really long sessions.

There is another mode (constant speed aka ‘isotonic’). May be better than slope mode for Violator etc. Haven’t tried it though. Full Frontal is another possibility.

Here is an explanation: