Exercises to Improve Your Standing Pedaling

In this video I show you what I consider to be the most important lower body exercise to improve your standing pedal stroke – the Airborne Lunge. I also show you the exercise progressions I use to help riders learn how to do this difficult exercise and increase their power and endurance when standing up to pedal.

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  1. Tony says:

    Coach…good tip…I’m on it.

    Reply • September 7 at 5:18 am
  2. John (aka Wish I Were Riding) says:

    I like it. I noticed that when you do the full air squat your weight has to be over your foot more (so your knee is well forward of your foot). If you don’t do this you will fall over. But in the demo where you hold onto the TRK, your form looks SO much better and your shin stays move vertical. What do you think about the difference in these two? Is the full airborne squat likely to cause more knee damage? I personally will do the one with the foot back, and progress to the one while holding something. They look more fluid.

    Reply • September 7 at 10:41 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      The real trick is not the knee position so much as knowing how to drive the movement from the hip and not the knee. Your knee can travel forward like that, just watch what it does when you walk up stairs. So you should be able to tolerate some forward movement of the knee as long as you are not driving force through it like so many people do. The TRX version allows you to really focus on the hips and keeping the core strong and applying those lessons to the Airborne Lunge is the goal.

      Reply • September 7 at 11:24 am
    • Vaun says:

      Keen eye John! Ideally in any version our shin and trunk are on parallel lines to each other; same for a bilateral squat. The stagger stance squat in the video was a perfect example of the parallel alignment. It is likely the external support of the TRX that allows for an altered pattern in torso and shin (both more vertical) compared to the air version.

      Ankle mobility issues will be the limiter of success in any version of lunge because the shin and torso will not be on parallel lines to each other at the bottom (and the bottom won’t be as deep as it should be). Lack of ankle mobility will also cause knee stress. James’ ankle and hip mobility are keeping the stress off his knee in the air version and thus allowing the stability demand of the knee joint to be maintained.

      Riders who are quad dominant in their recruitment pattern as opposed to hip dominant will be pulling themselves too far forward over their front foot on the way up out of the movement. As Mr Wilson is subtly pounding into our heads the key is trying to go more vertical in the ascent from bottom so it is hip dominance that is fueling the movement. A gluteal on fire after a set of 12-15 reps is excellent; only a thigh on fire, not so much.

      Reply • September 7 at 8:06 pm
  3. TR says:

    This post is timely because I have noticed I need more endurance while standing because I get gassed quickly. Any progression advice if you don’t have a TRX available? Also, I’ve been doing weighted spilt squats to help me out in this area. Would weighted staggered squats be better? Are Bulgarian split squats better? Should bilateral weighted squats be eliminated from my workout in favor of these body splt varieties? Sorry for all of the questions. Just need some advice because standing pedaling endurance is easily the weakest part of my riding. Thanks James! Your training tips have made a huge difference!

    Reply • September 8 at 3:08 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      You can loop a piece of rope around a pull up bar or tree branch to help you with the TRX exercises. I don’t like the split squat as much becuase it is too easy to power with the back leg and the leg position is less specific to how we stand on our pedals. I don’t really do a lot of real heavy bilateral exercises in my workouts, although you should retain your ability to do them at a decent level.

      Reply • September 10 at 2:32 pm

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James Wilson