So, all my life I've pedaled by simply pressing down on the pedals. I had no idea how any cyclists got big calves or hams from it, only my Glutes and quads were ever sore.
Then recently I'd heard of the concept of spinning versus mashing the pedals. Now I feel like my hams are doing all the work-- what?!? I don't know how to alternate so quickly between using quad and hams on higher cadences, or where the calves even come into play. I want to become a sprint cyclist too, so this must be pretty important! Please kindly lend me a few pointers. Thank you! -Michael
Then recently I'd heard of the concept of spinning versus mashing the pedals. Now I feel like my hams are doing all the work-- what?!? I don't know how to alternate so quickly between using quad and hams on higher cadences, or where the calves even come into play. I want to become a sprint cyclist too, so this must be pretty important! Please kindly lend me a few pointers.
Well, that's one of those cases when practice makes perfect. Once you make your legs to learn the kinematics of spinning the pedals at lower cadence, you'll be able to proceed to higher cadence. A classic exercise that is often recommended in such cases is spinning your pedals with one leg only (after unclipping the other leg), alternating the sides.
I don't know what to believe regarding the mashing vs. spinning theories. There seem to be two schools of thought that I have read about.
Now before anyone flames me for what I am about to write, I just want to say that this is what I have read (others wrote it), and I have also read some who are for spinning.
And, again I don't know who to believe. I have tried both, and my average speed seems not to differ. However, mashing makes it easier for me to stay in a higher gear longer, and this helps propel me up hills better. Spinning makes me keep downshifting to a level of comfy spinning up the hills, and this slows me down on the ascents. So, for now, I am back to mashing, not circling through the stroke.
I have read that, in studies of pro riders with electrodes or something attached to their leg muscles, they are not really powering thru 360 degrees of the pedal stroke, but just mashing on the downstroke and lifting the foot that is going into the upstroke so that it doesn't fight against the foot going into the downstroke. But there is no power through the 360 degrees of pedal circle. They say none of them are doing that. Just mashing and lifting.
I don't know if this is true, or if what the pro spinning peeps say is true that you can power thru the whole pedal stroke.
Try both approaches and see what works better for you.
I have heard people say you can try acting like you are scraping mud off your foot when pedalling and this gets the spinning stroke going good.
I have tried thinking about it like moving my feet in fluid, tight little circles, as well as focussing on moving my feet forward and back, like shuffling them horizontally forward and back. Not thinking up and down.
Never could tell if I got it right. But I felt like I was spinning, and got into higher cadences than the mashing when I do it. But I am no pro. Just ideas to think about.
Maybe if there is a pro or cycling coach on the forum they could drop some knowledge here.
It takes a few things to develop a good pedal stroke. First, a properly adjusted bike is important. The saddle height and fore and aft position should be correct. Next, is the correct pedal stroke itself, and then lots of practice doing it.
The best way to develop a good pedal stroke is to practice on rollers. A correct pedal stroke uses the entire leg, from hip to foot. When using most types of rollers (particularly those with resistance accessories) you can hear if your pedal stroke is smooth or not. When using a poor pedal stroke the whirring sound rises and falls as each foot presses down. When you pedal in circles the whirring sound is consistent, and does not rise or fall.