Do you spin or hammer? Pedal in circles or squares?
This is a controversial subject. Elite cyclists use both techniques with similar success. Some hammer a larger gear using their quads mostly. Others spin a lower gear at higher revolutions engaging not only the quadriceps but the buttucks (gluteal muscle group), hamstring and calves. No one way is best.
Personally, I prefer to spin at a higher cadence in a lower gear. I learned the hard way. It is easier on my knees, just as fast and I can maintain the pace for longer periods of time. Also, I like to engage all of the leg muscles and have them share the load. I find this technique less tiring and consistently delivers more power.
You’ll hear cyclists say, “imagine you are scraping mud off the bottom of your boot”. I like this image. When I lose sight of how I am pedaling, I concentrate on pulling my foot back at the bottom of the stroke. I immediately feel the stroke is more powerful. It is particularly helpful when I am climbing. I am able to maintain a faster cadence in a higher gear.
If you haven’t already, try it next time you are cycling and let me know what you think.