One Leg Drills

I’ve been an avid cyclist for 14 years now, and never heard of the “one leg drill” before.  I’m hanging around the right people on Twitter, and just learned the term. After Googling “one leg drill cycling,” I learned plenty.  Recommended in the early weeks of base training, a one leg drill is performed on the trainer and is made to build strength.  Watch this great video to illustrate how it’s done.

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I’ve been reluctantly spinning on the trainer from time to time lately, no more than an hour–I just can’t take the tedium of a longer time period.  The weather coupled with my work schedule hasn’t allowed riding outside.  I last rode outside almost 2 weeks ago, and before that, another 2 weeks.  This weekend looks highly questionable for outside cycling; as I type even more snow swirls and falls outside.  It is 8 degrees.

So OK, I want to do the work, and the work will have to be on the trainer.  I unclipped, spun for .3 mile, re-clipped, then repeated on the other side another .3 mile.  Guess what?  It was HARD.  I should have done more.  More importantly, I should have done it in an easier gear. I went back to the Internet (after I finished spinning) and got the following instruction:

Unclip one foot and rest it on a chair next to the bike so you are left to pedal with only one leg. With the bike in a low (easy) gear turn the crank at a comfortable cadence. The first thing you’ll notice is that getting through the top of the stroke, the 12-o’clock position, is difficult. Focus on smoothing this top transition. At first you may only last a few seconds before the hip flexors fatigue. When that happens switch to the other leg. When it fatigues clip both feet in and pedal for a few minutes applying what you have learned in the single-leg pedaling. Repeat the drill several times throughout the workout.

I did notice the “dead zones” in my pedal stroke they discuss in the video.  I can see how this engages more muscles and works the leg much more specifically.

I’m really having a tough time with the lack of real riding over this winter, and there is no end in site.  I am trying to stay active in the evenings, but oftentimes I am not free to workout until after 9PM, and let me tell you, that just ain’t happening.  So I’m going to try and do the one leg drill thing, at least once a week, and several times during the workout.



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About Karen

Mid-life female amateur athlete focused on cyclocross, mountain biking, and road cycling.

4 responses to “One Leg Drills”

  1. Samantha says :

    I went to a coach for a bike fitting a few years ago. She hooked me up to some kind of stroke analyzer. She promptly asked me why 75% of my power output was coming from my left leg and only 25% from my right. I said, “no way!” She had me unclip my left foot, and I could barely even do one complete stroke with my right leg. I’d gone years not knowing this!

    • Karen says :

      That’s interesting. I definitely noticed my right leg was strong that my left, although I wouldn’t venture to guess by how much. It makes me wonder how much faster I’d go with equal power in both legs. Worth doing the drill. I have to see drills like this as “homework” the stuff you have to do just to “pass the test.”

    • velovoiceblogspot says :

      Samantha — Wow. Did she set you some exercises to work on that?

      I’ve got arthritis in both knees and following surgery on the left knee really noticed how weak that leg got. At my first bike fitting approx. 6 months after the surgery, the fitter (and my physio, who was there) remarked on the imbalance — similar to yours!. That was in the summer of 2011. This past summer, I was back for another fitting and was very happy to see it’s more like 55/45 now.

      Karen — I’m not getting much outdoor work in this winter either. I’ve been thinking of getting rollers specifically to use this “down time” to improve core strength (cycling-specific, I already do Pilates) and pedalling technique. I’ll be sure to try one leg intervals!

  2. OutsideKMA says :

    I’m pretty anti-indoor trainer as I live in Florida. HOWEVER, I had forgotten about the one-legged drill. I might have to revisit this. Thanks for the reminder!

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