Something I got into many years ago after my first session of Spinning at the gym but just had to evaluate my pedalling technique.
For those who are wondering what it is--It is aswell as pushing down on the pedals- you also pull up on the pedals to give a wider range of power going in on the bike. Yesterday at the gym we had a session where the instructor spend about 10 minutes explaining it and getting us to use it. And it is not very easy to do with ordinary platform pedals without toe clips and straps.
When you push down on the pedals you effectively put in power between about 12 O-clock and 5 O-clock. With a bit of practice you can lengthen this power stroke to around 7. To do this- as you reach the bottom of the stroke you pull back on the foot to pull the pedal past 6. Takes some practice and is easier to do on a stationary bike where you can concentrate on how you are moving the feet without the worry of traffic or steering. It wasn't long before everyone was able to do it and we did a flat road (Moderate resistance at a cadence of 90ish) for about 10 minutes doing this. He then started on the next bit of instead of pushing down on the pedals- we were pulling up on the backstroke.This is an alien movement and takes a lot more thought initially. Movement on the pulling up comes in at about 7 up to around 11 and uses a different set of muscles. It also hurts after a while if you are not used to it. Took a while for everyone to get it but he got us doing a flat road again alternating between pulling up and pushing down. That is where another technique of pedalling circles came in called pedalling squares but most got it in the end. The next stage is to push on the pedals- pull back on the foot at the bottom of the stroke and then pull up on the foot to increase the length of time that power is going in to a full circle. That takes a lot of thought initially but after a while it becomes natural.
It is not something that can be acquired easily and does take practice to perfect but it does add performance to your riding. It is not something that I do all the time either but once I hit that comfortable cadence - for me around 90 to 95- and no hills are involved then this is what I find I am doing. However slogging away up those steep hills at low cadence and I don't even think about doing it. I have enough problems just turning the pedals at this stage and to try to do it when out of the saddle and the legs are already screaming does not come into it.