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10+ Tips On How to Improve Your Power on the Bike

Wondering how to improve your power on the bike and become a stronger cyclist? Here are 10+ tips that will help you boost your power and take your riding to the next level.

No, you aren't the only one. Many cyclists find themselves asking how they can improve their power on the bike.

More power means more speed and better performance. But it isn't always easy.

If you get stuck in the same old routine or aren't putting your effort into the right kinds of training, it can be hard to make real gains.

However, there are a number of things you can do to boost your power and become a stronger cyclist. Here are 10+ tips on how to improve your power on the bike.

How to Measure Your Cycling Power

The first thing you need to know before trying to improve your power on the bike is how to measure it. Measuring your current power output can help give you a benchmark for where you're starting.

When measuring your cycling power, the goal is to determine your Functional Threshold Power, commonly referred it as your FTP. Your FTP is the average power you can hold for one hour.

You'll use this information to determine training zones, create training plans, and measure your progress over time.

Here are a few ways to measure your cycling power:

  1. Use a power meter: A power meter is the most accurate way to measure your cycling power. It measures the amount of power you're outputting in real time and can be a great tool for tracking your progress over time.
  1. Use an online calculator: There are a few online calculators that can estimate your cycling power based on your weight, bike weight, and speed. These aren't as accurate as a power meter, but can still give you a good idea of where you're starting from.
  1. Use an app: There are a few apps that track your cycling power, though they tend to be less accurate than power meters and online calculators.
  1. Use your bike computer: If your bike has a built-in power meter or you're using a smart trainer, you can usually view your current power output on your bike computer. This can be a good way to get real-time feedback on your power output while riding.
  1. Use a heart rate monitor: While not as accurate as a power meter, your heart rate can give you an idea of how hard you're working while riding. If you have a heart rate monitor with built-in cycling-specific features, you can usually view your current power output.

10 Tips to Improve Your Power on the Bike

Once you have a good idea of your current FTP, you're ready to start working on improving your cycling power. Here are 10 tips to help you do just that:

1.) Ride in Bigger Gears

The first tip for improving your cycling power is to ride in bigger gears. Riding in bigger gears forces you to put more effort into each pedal stroke It can help build leg strength and power.

Tyrone Holmes, Ed.D., CPT, Level 1 cycling coach, from Training Peaks suggests you practice this by "spending progressively longer time in a bigger gear during a typical ride." You can do this by increasing the gear during a hill on one of your normal rides a little at a time.

First, increase the gear for 3 minutes at a time, then 4 minutes, 5 minutes, etc. Eventually, you'll ride the entire hill in the bigger gear.

Over time, you'll get stronger and be able to ride in bigger gears for longer periods of time.

2.) Contrast Training

Another tip for improving your power on the bike is to do contrast training. Contrast training helps improve your strength and speed, which translates to more power on the bike.

According to Cycling Weekly, contrast training works because it "relies largely on a physiological principle called Post Activation Potentiation (PAP), which means that the explosive capabilities of a group of muscles is greatly enhanced after they have been subjected to near maximal contractions."

In other words, when you do a heavy lifting set followed by a sprint, your muscles are better able to produce power during the sprint.

To incorporate contrast training into your cycling routine, try doing a few sets of heavy lifting or plyometrics before your interval workouts. The effects of PAP last for about 30 minutes after the heavy lifting, so you'll want to do your interval workout within that time frame.

3.) Embrace Hills

Hills are another great way to improve your power on the bike. They force you to ride in bigger gears and work harder than you would on flat terrain.

Riding hills can also help you build leg strength and power, which will translate to more power on the flats. To make the most of hill training, try incorporating some hill repeats into your rides.

Find a hill that takes you about 2-3 minutes to climb. Ride up the hill at a hard, but sustainable effort. Then turn around and ride back down. Repeat for a total of 4-6 climbs.

4.) Ride Into the Wind

Another good way to help improve your power on the bike is to try riding into the wind. Just like with hills, riding into the wind will force you to work harder than you would on flat terrain or with a tailwind.

Riding into the wind can also help build leg strength and power. To make the most of wind training, try doing some intervals with a headwind.

Ride for 2-3 minutes into the wind at a hard, but sustainable effort. Then turn around and ride for 2-3 minutes with the wind at an easy effort. Repeat for a total of 4-6 intervals.

5.) Use Block Training

My next tip for increasing your power on the bike is to use block training. Block training is when you do very tough workouts for 2-3 days and then take 2-3 recovery days.

According to Tyrone Holmes, Ed.D., CPT, Level 1 cycling coach, from Training Peaks, "Block training works by producing a greater overload on your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems than is possible with many other forms of training. This facilitates the physiological adaptation process that leads to improved performance."

When performing block training, it's important to make sure you don't skip your recovery days. These days are just as important as the tough workouts because they allow your body to recover and adapt to the overload from the previous days.

6.) Use the 75 Rule

The next tip that you should be incorporating to help improve your power on the bike is the 75 rule. The 75 rule states that throughout the week, 75% of your training should be done at 75% below your maximum heart rate (MHR).

This means that the majority of your training will be done with your heart rate in Zones 1 and 2 and only 25% with your heart rate in Zones 4 and 5.

Although it can be tempting to go all-out for all of your rides, it can actually lead to overtraining and injuries. Following the 75 rule will help you stay healthy and improve your power on the bike.

7.) Improve Your Pedaling Technique

An often-overlooked tip for improving your power on the bike is to focus on improving your pedaling technique. Having a smooth and efficient pedaling technique can help you ride faster with less effort.

That means that all of the power you already have will be more efficiently and effectively transferred into your riding. Improving your pedaling technique doesn't create more power per se, but it does help you get more use out of the power that you currently have.

Some things you can do to improve your pedaling technique are:

  • Get your bike properly fitted.
  • Try different cadences.
  • Focus on even power distribution between both legs.
  • Practice single-leg drills.
  • Keep your ankles loose while pedaling.
  • Strengthen your core to help improve balance and provide stability while pedaling.

8.) Long Rides

My next tip for improving your power on the bike should come as no surprise. Long rides are essential for building endurance and power.

Long rides help build your anaerobic fitness, improve your pedaling technique, and increase your leg strength. All of these factors will help improve your power on the bike.

Drew Hincapie from Hincapie recommends "maintaining a consistent pace throughout your ride. Over time, work on gradually increasing your sustained power."

9.) Cadence Intervals

Another good tip for increasing your power on the bike is to do cadence intervals. Cadence intervals consist of switching between different cadences for set periods of time during your ride.

For example, you might start at a cadence of 90-95 rpm and then bump up to 100-110 rpm for a hard push. Then drop back down to 90-95 rpm as you recover.

You would repeat the interval a few times throughout your ride.

You could also use cadence intervals where you drop down into a lower cadence for your hard push and then pick back up for your recovery.

Difference cadence drills will improve your power in different ways. A high cadence, which requires a smaller gear, will help improve your pedaling efficiency and technique.

A lower cadence, which requires a bigger gear, will help improve your leg strength and power. Either way, cadence drills will help improve your cycling power overall.

10.) Strength Training

Another good tip for improving your power on the bike is to do strength training exercises. Strength training, especially with weights, helps improve the force production of your muscles.

This means that you'll be able to produce more power when cycling. Strength training also helps improve your cycling economy helping you ride faster with less effort.

It's important as a cyclist to train not just your legs, but your whole body as well. Having a strong core and upper body helps prevent injuries and provides more balance, stability, and better handling of the bike.

Some good exercises to include in your strength training routine are:

  • squats
  • lunges
  • deadlifts
  • single-leg Romanian deadlifts
  • leg press
  • step-ups
  • box jumps
  • push-ups
  • pull-ups
  • rows
  • bicep curls
  • triceps extensions

11.) Proper Nutrition

Last but not least, when working to improve your power on the bike it's important to pay attention to your nutrition. Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of healthy carbs, protein, and healthy fats will help improve your power and performance on the bike.

Cycling is a physically demanding sport and your body needs the proper fuel to perform at its best. Eating right will help improve your recovery, prevent injuries, and give you the energy you need to train harder and ride longer.

Conclusion

There are a number of things you can do to improve your power on the bike. By following the tips in this article, you can make some real gains in your cycling power and performance.

So get out there and start training! And remember, consistency is key. The more you ride, the more improvement you'll see.

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