Performance Articles — 24 April 2011
Cycling for Triathlon – technique explained!

Many of us are aware there is a large technique component to swimming and running, but think that cycling is just ‘riding the bike’. Right?

Definitely not! Many cyclists, from my experience especially strong males, have a ‘push’ mentality, often riding with low cadences and muscling their way through a triathlon – these are also the triathletes who usually run far under their potential. Coincidence? Again – definitely NOT!

When we have a ‘push’ technique, we are only focusing on the down phase of the pedal stroke, which is only 1/3 of the entire circle – from 12 O’clock to 4 O’clock. This results in the cyclist over using their Quad’s and under using their glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors.

The reason that this is especially important for triathletes is that we need our quads to be as fresh as possible for the run, as they play a major part in our running gait. If you have destroyed them in the cycle, all that happens is the athlete falls apart a lot earlier than they should have.

On the other hand, by developing good technique  and having a smooth pedal stroke throughout (and having a correct bike fit!) you will be recruiting the correct muscle groups, in particular the glutes. Our Glutes during cycling can work as power muscles – by extending the hip – from 4 O’clock to 8 O’clock on the pedal clock! This will also then assist the hamstrings to work from 8 – 12 O’clock. The importance of this is exaggerated in the TT position, when the cyclist is in an optimal position to utilise the strong gluteal muscles.

Our glutes are potentially the most powerful muscle in the body, but for many of us they are far under utilised. They also use less Oxygen per unit of ‘work’, thus being more economical than other muscle groups.

There are several way that we can work on developing our technique. These are written below, with a focus on not only improving your awareness of pedalling in ‘circles’, but also getting your glutes and hamstrings stronger, facilitating your form by a correct bike fit and improving neural firing (how your body contracts the muscles and when!)

will not only eliminate a ‘dead spot’ in your pedal stroke and make you more powerful. It will also mean that you are using your glutes more and quads less, thus getting off the bike in a fresher state to run well!

Cycle technique


– Reduce quad fatigue

– Improve glute and hamstring fascilitation

– Make use of entire pedal stroke

– Get off the bike ‘fresher’


– Get a dynamic bike fit by a triathlon/TT Bike fitter – who understands biomechanics not just the bike

– Think about scraping something off your cycle shoes at the bottom of the pedal stroke

– Do glute activation exercises regularly and prior to cycling (CHECK BACK ON AP10.COM.AU SOON, AS WE WILL HAVE A VIDEO LIBRARY UP WITH THESE EXERCISES!)

– Practice 1 legged pedalling and high cadence drills on your Wind Trainer – regularly!

– Climb seated up hills, with very good form

– Get a Musculo-skeletal screening done if possible, to identify ‘your’ individual weaknesses

Enjoy your Easter break!!

Alex Price

Bach. App. Sc. (Physio)

NSWIS Accredited Physio
F.I.S.T. Cert. Bike Fitter

Triathlon Level 1 Coach
W: 0422 365 375

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(1) Reader Comment

  1. I agree! Do you feel a more aggressive aero position focuses on this even more? My bike is setup quite aggressive, I almost changed it but thought I’d try and get used to it; after being a little uncomfortable at first I feel it has helped rest of body be utilized more (I’m a newbie so still learning). Any thoughts on what is too aggressive and/or is it ok for someone starting out to be in such an aggressive position? My back is sore but I was told I had shingles by my doctor and I believe it may just be from all my intense training…thanks!

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