How To Develop Proper Cycling Form
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If you’ve cycled for any length of time, you’ll know it isn’t quite as easy as it looks. It isn’t as simple as saddle up and pedal; while this can make for a pleasant casual ride, you won’t improve your skills as a cyclist this way. Just like any sport or practical skill, you’ll need to practice, and developing a proper cycle form is the best place to start.
While this might sound complicated, it isn’t as difficult as it might seem at first. There are several key components to a proper cycle form, from posture to efficient pedaling, and mastering any will be a major improvement to your cycling ability. If you put the time into building a proper cycle form early on, you’ll thank yourself for it later.
How To Develop Proper Cycling Form
The question is, how exactly should you go about developing a proper cycle form? In this article, we’ll answer this very question, offer a few tips on how to work on your form, and get you on your way to becoming a strong cyclist in no time.
First up is arguably the most important part of developing a proper cycle form – posture. A good posture is vital in pretty much every physical activity, and it’s just as true for cycling as anything else. It’s also one of the most common stumbling blocks for newer cyclists, as a bad posture will do its work regardless of whether you’re physically fit and confident in the saddle or not. A bad posture will make you tense and uncomfortable, tire quicker, and weaken your control over your bike. Worse still, being too tense can lead to more serious injury in the event of an accident. The good news is that your whole body impacts your posture; improving in one area will benefit you everywhere else. With a good posture, you’ll be rid of all these negatives and more.
Relax your grip
There are a few significant pressure points that will make for a tense posture. Two of the most obvious are hands and shoulders, especially for newer cyclists that aren’t too confident in their ability. Having a tight grip on your handlebars while cycling might seem more comforting and controlled, but this is not the case. While it can certainly be useful during a sprint, most of the time, a tight grip is only going to make you stressed, uncomfortable, and drain your energy. Loosening your grip will go to great lengths to improve your cycle form, as it will have a positive knock-on effect on much of the rest of your posture. A loose grip will get rid of these negatives and put less pressure on your shoulders, making it easier to relax them, too.
Also Read: What Is a Tabata Ride?
Once you’ve loosened your grip, you can work on your shoulders. Keeping your shoulders low, rather than pushing up to your ears, will stop them from being tense and stiff. You’ll have an easier time doing this if you keep your elbows bent also, as this position should naturally bring your shoulders lower and put less pressure on your arms entirely. With bent arms, relaxed shoulders, and a loose grip, you will have the foundations for a good posture.
Keep in line
Your legs are, understandably, a very important part of your cycling posture. It can be common for new cyclists to not think about what their legs are doing, focusing only on pedaling and whatever might be in front of them. This can lead to knees falling out of line with the rest of their body, making for inefficient pedaling, and possibly an uncomfortable ride. Thankfully, the fix for this is pretty simple; keep your knees in line with your feet and shoulders. Dedicate a few rides to specifically noting what your knees are up to, and bring them back in line should they ever pop up. Before long, it’ll be second nature, and you’ll have another aspect of good posture under your belt.
Angle your back
If you’ve ever observed professional cyclists, you’ll notice that their backs aren’t hunched, but they aren’t perpendicular to their seat, either. Instead, it’s positioned at a straight angle, supported by the arms and, to a lesser extent, the legs. This position means the back isn’t put under much stress, and it is a very good habit to develop early. Your rides will be much more comfortable, and you won’t risk developing any back issues down the line. Better yet, you’ll be able to enjoy cycling even if you have back issues!
Also Read: How Long Does It Take To Bike a Mile?
Practice efficient pedaling
Although posture is vital to a proper cycle form, it isn’t the only aspect you need to consider. Efficient pedaling is another big element, one that should be your next priority after you’ve developed a good cycling posture.
You’ll first want to make sure your bike fits you well. Naturally, your bike needs to be the right size, but so do your seat, handlebars, and so on. If your bike is a good fit, both your posture and pedaling efficiency will benefit because of it. Assuming your bike fits you well, you should next work on making your pedaling as smooth as possible. A good pedaling pattern should be circular and without any sharp motions. Being too rigid or sporadic with your pedaling will tire your legs out much quicker, making certain motions harder than others. Admittedly, this isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially once you start to tire. It’s natural for your legs to start pedaling in jerky movements, even more so on gradients. That said, you’ll need to keep this in mind during your ride to maximize efficiency.
The last tip is to find the right speed for you and stick to it. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever change your pace; including a sprint here or slowing down there is more than fine, but having a general speed you stick to is a must for efficient pedaling. This is called your cycling cadence. If you find it necessary, you can practice building up your cadence and your ability to stick to it using cadence drills. During a drill, you’ll alternate your pedal speed for about 10 minutes, starting at a higher speed, then down to a lower one. A few of these exercises will help you maintain a suitable cadence during your ride, and make your pedaling much more efficient.
Although there is a fair bit to developing a proper cycle form, you don’t have to tackle it all at once. Breaking things up into more manageable steps, especially when developing your posture, will make things much easier. With enough practice and dedication, you’ll notice a massive improvement in your cycling ability in no time.