Apparently I suck at one legged drills

So tonight I did Goddard my first workout with one legged drills. I f@#$ing hate them. I suck at them. I can’t cat more then 10 revolutions before getting the crank knock. once it starts knocking I can’t get it back under control. there was much, much swearing and a huge rage driven urge to get off of the bike and throw the trainer across the room.

Apparently I have much work to do. Any tips?

I even added 5 minutes to the cool down to practice. I finally got pissed enough to stop trying.

Am I a doomed cyclist?

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Good thing they provide dubious benefit

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What trainer are you using?

If a smart controlled trainer, what mode (ERG or Resistance/Standard)?

What gearing are you using?

@mcneese.chad I am using a Kickr and was in ERG mode. Drills were about 50 percent of ftp. I wondered if ERG was having an impact.

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Same thing here the first few times. They are super hard and I figure it is totally normal to not be good at them early on. Just focus on doing 10 reps and then move to the other foot and do 10 there. Do what is manageable but also controlled and build into longer periods with them. You’re not a bad cyclist because you can’t do them. Just like anything new, it takes practice to get good at it.

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ERG may well be more difficult. I suspect it might be affected more by gearing too, but not sure which way.

  1. Lower gearing and flywheel speed could allow the drivetrain to match your input by accelerating and decelerating to mimic your input.

  2. Higher gearing and flywheel speed might keep the drivetrain more consistent.

Either way, I think flipping your gearing to the opposite end could be an interesting experiment.

Next I would consider a half step of doing the isolated focus, with an emphasis on one leg while keeping both clipped in. Nail this as best as you can and then reintroduce the unclipped leg.

Switching to Resistance could also be worth a test. This might be the smoother flow option.

No matter the mode, trying not to overpower the downstroke is important. If you do, the wheel picks up speed and you can get the gap on the back of the stroke, where we are weaker and slower.

I think the main goal of these is to try and even out power delivery and avoid a big spike. Slower, smoother and steadier are the feel you want to grow.

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I started doing single leg drills (more commonly known as ILTs, isolated leg training) about 20 years ago - long before smart trainers and ERG mode existed - and personally think it is easier to learn and progress using ERG mode than old fashion resistance mode.

My suggestion for learning is to use a recovery workout or extended warmup for practice. Find a % of FTP that is easy enough to turn over the crank without being so easy that you will create an erratic spin. This % might be as low as 30 or 40%. Try doing it for 30 secs and then back to both feet for similar amount of time before going to the opposite leg. Overtime, you can build up to 60secs, then 90sec and so forth. Sort of like a new swimmer learning the butterfly stroke (although this is a lot easier), there’s mind-muscle coordination that needs to be learned (and hence the benefit of the intermediate break between legs). As the coordination gets built, in addition to the length of time, so will the ability to do it at higher cadences and/or high wattage.

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I personally have gotten a lot out of single leg drills. (So I feel, at least.) A crazy endurance athletics coach taught it as part of a form and strength program.

I haven’t tried in Erg mode, only on a dumb trainer. I would be really wary of trying in Erg mode.

Gear matters. A long gear is muscularly challenging. Tiring out or forcing things hard makes your form go to hell and then it doesn’t go well. A short gear makes you really prone to knocking. We always were supposed to use a really short gear and it was super hard.

You avoid knocking through finesse. Forcing things makes it knock.

It’s hard. If you practice, you get better.

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Stick on a pair of flat pedals. You’ll be surprised at how well your body will adapt to smoothing out your pedal stroke if you force it.
Yes. You can do them on flats.

I’m pretty sure everyone sucks at them the first time. Stick with it and it becomes second nature.
Personally, I find them easier at higher resistances. It’s the 40% FTP jobbers that have me overpowering things with my quads on the downstroke.

I feel that as my ability to maintain traction on loose climbs has improved, my ILT’s have improved on the trainer.
A bit like the way my leg imbalance decreases the more I train. Stuff knows if it’s any faster, but you can be sure my body finds it more efficient.

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I suck at them too. I just slow the cadence right down and ignore the target watts until I can consistently stop the knocking.

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Thanks for the replies guys. I’ll keep at it. I’ll try changing the settings on the trainer to see if I can find a mode/resistance/ftp percentage that allows me to work on it. I’m just stubborn enough that I’ll probably be doing 1 legged drills every day until I get it down. :slight_smile:

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It’s helped me a lot when i’m commuting and have to clip on and off… the one-leg drills make it more comfortable for me to push only with one leg for 4-5 revolutions while i clip in

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As it would have it I had “ILTs” in my workout Ericsson today, it was my first time doing them (Kickr Snap in ERG). Apparently I am good at them, :rofl:. I casually swapped between each leg every 30 seconds for the full 5 minutes. Cadence dropped into upper 70s and 80s, where my 2 legged cadence is normally 95+. I felt the cue of focusing on the “kick and pull” of the pedal stroke was all I needed if I encountered any knocking. Contrary to advice above, I found that as the intensity increased 47%, 50% and 55% it became easier to control the pedal stroke. I think you need some pressure on the pedals or it can get a little wild.

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STUPID QUESTION KLAXON

What do you do with the inactive leg - do you just let it dangle to the side away from the pedals, in front, hooked behind the seat stay?

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For wheel-on trainers, I would swing the free leg back and hook my toe over the side of the axle support.

For wheel-off trainers, I just let the free leg dangle slightly wider than the pedal for clearance.

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let it hang. Or you can get a stool or small chair to rest it on.

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Personally I’ve never really seen the value in doing them, others may disagree but I see little use for them. I find it leads to over emphasising the active part of your pedal stroke to over come the dead spot, in other words I mashed down on the pedal to have enough momentum to carry the pedal on the upstroke. I find far more benefit pedalling in circles, scrape your foot and an active pull without the over the top action of single leg drills.

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Funny enough, I posted yesterday (after doing Goddard, which has a pile of them) how I hate ILT. I’ve been doing them forever, on a dumb trainer, a wheel-on smart trainer (remember the Tacx iMagic?), a wheel-off smart trainer, ERG mode, resistance mode - I quickly end up knocking, and I hate them. More load and slower cadence help. Taking the time to clip back in, spin 30 seconds before starting the next one helps (if only because you end up with less overall ILT over the same period of time). I rest my unclipped foot on the axle end.

Did I mention I hate ILT?

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Persevere with the drills and you’ll find a real world benefit when you are cycling on the road again.

I found I have a much smoother pedal stroke and can turn the pedals with less force.

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In my experience, this is not the correct approach to single-leg drills. If you power your way into having a lot of momentum to bring your leg around again, you’ll easily get knocking – especially if you try this at low resistance.

I think the quadrant drills and the other pedal stroke drills in the TR workout text are pretty helpful, too, though.

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