4 Drills Every Indoor Cyclist Should Do

Fast, effective techniques that will help you refine your riding style.

If you want to excel at indoor cycling, it’s not enough to just push the pedals around and around, day after day. You’ll want to refine the efficiency and power of your pedaling, develop the ability to accelerate smoothly (in or out of the saddle), and engage different leg muscles to maximize your efforts and prevent fatigue. To achieve these goals, here are four pedaling drills everyone should do in indoor cycling.

Single-Leg Pedaling

This is a great exercise to do as part of your warm-up routine. After you’ve been pedaling steadily with moderate resistance on the bike for 2 to 3 minutes, transfer all the work to your right leg for 30 to 60 seconds; simply let the left leg go around for the ride. Then, switch all the work to your left leg for 30 to 60 seconds, while the right leg completely relaxes. Along the way, focus on making your pedal strokes smooth, hitting every point on the circle all the way around, eliminating any dead spots. Besides improving the efficiency and fluidity of your pedal strokes, this drill will help you improve your ability to boost your pace (cadence) and drive your pedal strokes with either leg, particularly on breakaways or attacks.

Power Pedaling

In a seated position and with moderately heavy resistance on the bike, pedal steadily for 30 seconds, with proper posture; then push your pace as hard as you can for 30 seconds.

Take a break for 30 to 60 seconds (whatever you need to catch your breath) then repeat the sequence two more times. Next, drop the intervals to 15 seconds each and do three repetitions of this power-surge circuit. With regular practice, this drill will help you improve the power behind your pedaling, your stamina, and your peak power output.


The goal with this technique is to enhance your ability to increase your cadence range relatively quickly—without bouncing in the saddle—and be able to accelerate smoothly. (This is also a great interval workout!) With moderate resistance on the bike, start at a pace of 70 to 80 RPMs and increase your pace by 10 RPMs every 10 seconds until you reach 100 to 110 RPMs after 30 seconds. Hold this fast pace for 30 seconds then back down to your starting pace and recover for 30 to 60 seconds. Then, repeat the series of spin-ups; if you want an extra challenge for your third set, add an additional gear. For a variation, you can do spin-ups in a higher (climbing) gear by starting at a pace of 50 to 60 RPMs and accelerating to 70 or 80 over a span of 30 seconds.

Floating Legs

When pedaling, many indoor cyclists have heavy down-strokes—it’s all about pushing, not pulling, to them. To eliminate this habit and develop smooth, even pedal strokes, spend a few minutes pedaling in a seated position with moderate resistance on the bike: As you pedal, forget about the pushing motion; instead, concentrate exclusively on pulling up on the pedals as your feet come around at the bottom and imagine your knees floating over the handlebars when they reach the top of each pedal stroke.

This will cause your pedal strokes to be fluid and light, which will help improve your pedaling efficiency over time.

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