Question: While riding, I sometimes feel my left leg drop off significantly in its contribution to powering the bike. Is there a training technique for dealing with this? – Don B.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Yes, try one-leg pedaling on an indoor trainer to increase the strength of your weaker leg.
Warm up for 15-20 minutes while pedaling with both legs. Then unclip your strong leg’s foot and hook it over the trainer near where it connects to the rear wheel. Or, you can place it on a chair or stool just to the side.
Pedal at about 90 rpm with your weak leg. Use an easy gear at first until you get accustomed to the unusual feeling.
You’ll probably find it difficult to pedal for more than 2 or 3 minutes. The muscles that lift your thigh and push the pedal over the top of the stroke will fatigue quickly.
Don’t worry. You’ll improve rapidly. And as you do, increase the gearing and the amount of time you pedal. Aim for 3 sets of 5 minutes.
Do this drill 3 times a week. If it doesn’t help in about a month, you might want to check with your physician to see what’s causing one leg to be significantly weaker than the other.
John Greenler says
Hi Coach Fred,
It is my understanding that most riders who use a dual-sided power-meter (cranks or pedals) find some level of left/right leg imbalance. (Mine seems to average around 45/55%.) Can you provide any data on what is typical, and when does this become a significant concern that should be addressed by the drill you recommend?
Ian Russell says
On a Watt bike, my leg imbalance is around 48% (Left) 52% (Right). I read various suggestions for gym exercises which basically entail doing more work with your “weaker” left leg. to my surprise I found that in the gym my left leg was generally the stronger of the two!
What is happening here? I don’t have any significant leg length discrepancy that I am aware of.
Road Bike Rider says
Consider adding some one pedal drills, because pedaling technique also makes a difference. I do them on the road sometimes during my ride to the start of a group ride, where I’ll unclip and pedal for a block with one leg, and then switch legs for the next block. I’m back to 50/50 according to my power meter.