Strategies for Strength: Counting Pedal Strokes

The first Strategy for Strength is counting pedal strokes. Not you counting…but your students. Believe it or not, it’s a wonderful way to get your students to take responsibility for their climb, and it even serves as a kind of mantra to help get them into a zone.

Let me explain.

In my introductory post to this series on climbing strategies, I told the story of how I rode my heavily laden bike around Europe and New Zealand, and crossed some pretty big mountains in the process. On one occasion, I really needed a distraction, so I started counting pedal strokes. I noticed it had a calming effect on me and even made the time pass more quickly. Then I started alternating seated with standing while counting my pedal strokes—100 seated, 100 standing, 100 seated, 100 standing, and so on. I would keep track on my fingers, and when I got to 1,000, I gave myself a virtual pat on the back and started over. I eventually lost track, but the point was I was totally immersed.

Application in your classes

This strategy really works for me, both indoors and out. Let me know if it works for you and your students.

Other articles in this series:

Strategies for Strength: Benchmarks and Rewards, Pt. 1

Strategies for Strength: Benchmarks and Rewards, Pt. 2

Strategies for Strength: A Sprinter’s Take on Climbing Strategies

Strategies for Strength: Climbing at Tempo

Strategies for Strength: What’s Your Mantra?

Strategies for Strength: The Cheek to Cheek Technique

Strategies for Strength: The Wisdom of Yoda

Strategies for Strength: Activate Those Hip Flexors

Strategies for Strength: Projection into the Future

Strategies for Strength: Synchronized Breathing



  1. I’ve used this strategy on the road, when I am really suffering on a hill. (I also use small distance markers – “just make it to that lamp post . . . [then, after I pass the post] and now you only have to go as far as that tree,” etc.) and it helps so much, because you force your mind to focus on just accomplishing what you are doing NOW on the bike, at this very small moment in time. And that’s so much easier than contemplating the entire hill. I’ve never thought about translating that tool to indoor cycling – looking forward to trying it! I think I will try it to Flatlands by Delerium.

  2. Can you offer a song suggestion? Thank you!

  3. Thanks for the tip. I like engaging the brain that is when being focussed comes to play a good role. I always stress the need to be in the present with a clear goal. I am surely counting to 100 when I do my own thing!


Leave a Reply

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