So here's the story on pedaling correctly, as I understand it. Your muscles get tired when they're used. The simplest way to keep them from getting tired at the same output (wattage) is to have bigger muscles. But bigger muscles weigh more. So the most efficient way to keep your muscles from getting tired is to spread the workload out among the muscles you already have. In other words, pedal circles. Each muscle exerts much less force if you use them in sequence during the stroke.
Which is tricky, because you have to develop the neuromuscular coordination to get the different muscles to contract just the right amount at just the right time. That's what one-legged pedaling develops. You can also pay about $800 and get a set of Powercranks (http://www.powercranks.com/
) for your training bike. Each crank of a set of Powercranks is on its own ratchet, so you have to keep power on both cranks all the way around the circle to be able to pedal at all. Or you can get close to duplicating this for free with one-legged pedaling drills (OLP).
This is what I do: warm up for 15 minutes with both legs, then 2 minutes of OLP in about a 42X15 with each leg at 50-55 cadence. Then 2 minutes legs together, same gear, at 90-95 cadence. Then 2 minutes of OLP in about a 42X23 with each leg at 80-85 cadence, then 2 minutes legs together, same gear and cadence as the first time. Repeat until legs are no longer operable or you get to the end of your planned session. Cool down for 15 minutes zone 1.
Don't try OLP at high cadence because you can mess up your legs doing that. You may need to start in lower gears than these or in higher, depending on strength. I don't think there's much point in trying it with gears lower than say 42X25 for the fast set and 42X17 for the slow set. When I'm in shape, I'll use a 42X12 for the slow set and a 42X17 for the fast set, but I'm a climbing wuss. You youngsters can probably big-ring it for both sets. You need the momentum of your rim to help you a bit, hence the need to not use too small a gear.
For the same reason, don't do this particular drill on the road. It's much too easy! Just use the trainer or rollers. Wedge the "lazy foot" in the frame triangle. Try to keep the "whirrr" noise constant. Try to maintain your normal balanced position on the bike. Hold the bar tops, like you would climbing. Keep your back straight. Keep a tight chain throughout the circle. Your hip flexor may hurt like the very devil the first few weeks. The first minute may seem easy, but the last 15 seconds of the 2 minutes may be absolute torture. It's not supposed to be easy.
When you can do the 2 minutes in a particular gear without stressing yourself, go to a harder gear. Start with 15 minutes of this drill and gradually work up to 45 minutes. Don't rest during the drill. Keep at it.
I start this drill once a week in about mid-January and do it until the season really starts going. I find it the best pedaling drill for improving seated climbing ability.
If you want to do OLP on the road, do much longer intervals with each leg.