Ask the Expert: My Student Puts Too Much Resistance and Pedals Too Slow

I’ve had several inquiries about how to get students to reduce their resistance and increase their cadence. This is an important issue because pedaling with too much resistance has a high risk of injury. Some riders do this with the misguided belief it will “strengthen” the legs (like leg presses). It also usually has a high ego component to it, so it can be a challenge to get them to listen to you.

How do you tell them to pedal faster? In my last Ask the Expert discussion, I answered a question that Margaret had about her student moving her upper body while she climbed. Margaret had a second question about her student:

She has indicated to me at an earlier time that her knees are not in the best shape and I have noticed that she always adds too much resistance.

Along the same lines, earlier in the week ICA member Beth asked:

I have a student who puts on far too much resistance. I can tell because he always looks like he’s pulling so hard to turn the pedals. It hurts my knees just watching! I try to cue less resistance, but he never does it for long, and always goes back to heavy resistance.

Very heavy resistance can lead to joint and musculature injuries, so this is an important issue to address. First, let’s examine why some students want to add a lot of resistance. They usually believe it will make them “stronger,” and unfortunately, ego often comes into play.

I’ll start with an excerpt from my e-book, Keep it Real in the chapter on climbing resistance:

6 Responses to “Ask the Expert: My Student Puts Too Much Resistance and Pedals Too Slow”

  1. love2spin910 says:

    Thanks for turning me on to this great site. Some of these songs are straight from high school. Nice walk down memory lane.

  2. love2spin910 says:

    That’s my comment …. “I like it!”

  3. love2spin910 says:

    great beat – I am cycling in my seat! Just downloaded – can’t wait for next class. Thanks

  4. love2spin910 says:

    I find the biggest challenge for me with both my clients and my students is that their cardio system outlasts their legs. I recently did 2 talk tests with 2 separate clients and the results were the same as the LT tests I ‘ve done in past. They could work harder cardiovascular lay, but their legs begin to slow down significantly where they begin contorting upper body and also begin mashing the pedals. What type of profile should I put together to help in these situations?


  5. Jennifer says:

    Thanks Pru for the idea. I’ll put one together.
    for this as well as for some other issues instructors encounter.

    BTW, I missed seeing you in London!

  6. Myriadgreen says:

    I get a few grinders in my Wednesday night class, and having a short handout about cadence to pass out would be fantastic. I’ve explained it and explained it (the health issues, the ineffectiveness), offered to hold the mic up to my right knee to hear what knee damage sounds like, but perhaps a short handout to read once the class has ended may get the message to sink in.
    I guess the issue is that there are several different reasons why low cadence/high resistance cycling is not a wise thing to do so to get it all into one short handout would be tricky!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *