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How Can I Remedy a Weak Leg?

Road bike rider logoQuestion: 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, and you don’t have to use a leg-press machine or any other special equipment. Try one-leg pedaling on your 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 back 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 if there is a medical reason one leg is significantly weaker than the other.

During more than 30 years in cycling journalism, Fred Matheny has written hundreds of fitness & training articles for top bike magazines and websites. Many of his best eBooks and eArticles are on sale in the RBR eBookstore. As a rider, he has raced to medals in state and national championships, plus a senior world record in the Team Race Across America. As a coach, he has worked with hundreds of riders at PAC Tour Training Camps, Carpenter/Phinney Bike Camps, and Dirt Camp.

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