Training without shoes

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Anonymous's picture

I had a thought that it might be beneficial to occasionally (i.e 3 or 4 time per month) ride my bike without the bike shoes (i.e regular sneakers)- probably safest to do this on the trainer or via spin class. The thought is to make the legs work harder on the downward strokes and strengthen legs and balance overall.

Any thoughts? Anyone heard of this kind of training? Or is this just totally stupid?


Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)

"The legs are already overbalanced in favor of the quads. People work extra hard to learn how to pull up on the upstroke.

An exercise that I sometimes do is to try to ""forget"" to push down, just concentrate on pulling up. You'll still push down as it's just natural to do so, but you'll work on the pull."

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)

While it is great to ride whenever and however you can, I myself would not train for an extended period without cycling shoes. A quick rde here or there in sneakers is fine. But a regime of training without shoes is self-defeating, especially if I have the shoes and plan to wear them in a few months.

First, there is compression. The harder your down stroke, the more pressure to press the sneaker rubber and have it sponge your power. Next is foot position, which you will not maintain at its most efficient in sneakers.

Then there is experience – memory, habit … call it what you like. Every year when starting my season again, I get little aches here and there. It’s my form and I have to adjust. Whether it is a new position, a weak muscle, tendon or ligament, or a combination, spin time works it out (maybe with some weight training, stretching and position alteration). If I were to switch shoes, going from running shoes to carbon-soled cleated cycle shoes, I would again have to adjust, making the time in sneakers a waste.

Please do not misunderstand. Riding in running shoes is better than no riding. But your training should approximate your goals and riding style for the year. If you will be using cycle shoes, start with … cycle shoes.

If you go for a bicycle fit, paying $150-200, you show up with your chammy and your shoes – because that is how you will be riding. The fit will set you up with the gear you will be using. Don’t show up in jeans and sneakers and then complain later that your cleat position is incorrect. Shoes and chammy also affect saddle height.

Train in the manner you will be riding for the bulk of the year – use your shoes.

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
Per Dr. Coyle

"I always thought this very interesting:

""Responses while cycling with and without toe clips and
shoe cleats.
The blood lactate, heart rate, perceived exertion, and ventilatory responses to three cycling intensities ranging between 60 and 90% of V02max were not different when pedaling with toe clips and shoe cleats as opposed to when cycling with a standard rubber pedal while wearing general athletic shoes. 60, max was also notdifferent under the two conditions.""

In essence, don't sweat it...

Anonymous's picture
Rob Marcus (not verified)

"SO, Why wear clips? I would assume there is some advantage other than the ability to also ""Pull Better""


Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
Short Answer

"1) Clips provide a continuous physical connection in non-laboratory conditions;
2) The amount of propulsive force generated by pulling up isn’t that great anyway;
3) The ultimate performance limiter in a given individual is cardiovascular, not neuromuscular (except for sprinting).

This does not mean one should not use clipless pedals; it just means performance gains with them are not particularly substantial.

Anonymous's picture
Ted (not verified)
locks you down

It keeps your feet from slipping off the pedals. Very obvious benefit to the mountain bike, but in sprints, potholes, etc, it also works to keep you in control on the road.

Anonymous's picture
Walter Lindsay (not verified)
training without shoes

It is generally accepted that the use of cleated cycling shoes on pedals with toe clips or the more recent clipless pedal system, permits propulsive torque generation over a greater portion of the pedalling cycle than regular sports shoes.

It has been demonstrated that toe clips, independent of shoe type, enhance efficiency early in the pedalling cycle because of improved normal (vertical) pedal load utilisation, and that cleated cycling shoes give a further boost to efficiency by permitting effective shear (horizontal) force utilisation near BDC and throughout recovery.

The use of pedals with toe clips (seen on many exercise cycles) or clipless pedals (based on the ski binding system) increases the muscular activity in the rectus femoris (hip flexor), biceps femoris (hip extensor) and tibialis anterior (ankle dorsiflexor) muscles, with a corresponding decrease in activity in the vastus medialis, vastus lateralis (knee extensors) and soleus (plantarflexor) muscles.

In other words your correct, although pulling is minimal, unweighting is more prevalent.

Anonymous's picture
gasp (not verified)

I had SPD cleats surgically implanted in my feet. Who need shoes!

Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)
As a recent convert, I say use 'em whenever you can.

WITHOUT cleats it felt like I had two or three ways to work the pedals

WITH 'em, it feels like I have five/six.

Practicing with, I can exercise the range.

cycling trips