Forum home Road cycling forum Road beginners

Cadence

murcomurco Posts: 14
edited June 2008 in Road beginners
:) Hi can anyone tell me whats the best way to start training using cadence, as i have tended to ride using low revs in high gears and find spinning feels awkward. just done a 42mile ride in 2hrs 12 on a taxing route between Gloucester and Newport along the A48 and would like to be able to do this again but with something left in my legs.
«13

Posts

  • CrapaudCrapaud Posts: 2,483
    I've been trying to do the same thing. In the past I've always ground along at, I now know, 70-75rpm. My solution to upping my cadence was to get a computer with a cadence sensor so that I can see exactly what I'm doing.

    I still find it awkward; it seems very strange to have my legs twirling round not achieving very much, but I'm going to stick with it for a while and see if it makes as much of a difference as is claimed.

    So far, 90 rpm seems to be about optimum for me, even though my training prog. says 100.
    A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject - Churchill
  • SCR PedroSCR Pedro Posts: 912
    Hello,

    I have a Cateye Strada Cadence computer on both bikes. It's a good computer, except it can be quite annoying to set up because the magnets aren't so good. I've been meaning to try a stronger magnet, but haven't yet got around to doing it. The computer can be had for around £30 from most online retailers. But I'm quite sure that someone else can recommend a similair computer. For example: some will give you average and maximum cadence for an entire ride. The Cateye gives only your current cadence.

    As far as cadence training goes. I had a vague understanding of it when I started out, so I just watched the pro's on TV and tried to copy them. After fitting my computer I was surprised to see that I was holding 90 throughout most rides. The best way to find your ideal cadence is to experiment. I've found that I'm more comfortable at 110 on the flat and 90 on the hills, but again I'm sure others will tell you that they are comfortable with lower figures.

    Cheers
    Pedro
    Giant TCR Advanced II - Reviewed on my homepage
    Giant TCR Alliance Zero
    BMC teammachineSLR03
    The Departed
    Giant SCR2
    Canyon Roadlite
    Specialized Allez
    Some other junk...
  • CrapaudCrapaud Posts: 2,483
    SCR Pedro wrote:
    ... I've found that I'm more comfortable at 110 on the flat and 90 on the hills, but again I'm sure others will tell you that they are comfortable with lower figures.

    Cheers
    Pedro
    There's no way that I could cycle at 110 rpm! 100 feels ludicrous to me. In my imagination 110 would look and feel comical, but each to their own I guess.

    I've used the Strada's predecessor, the Astrale, and had similar problems - the cadence wouldn't register even if the magnet and sensor were almost touching. At the time I wasn't sufficiently interested in finding a solution, so it never worked. I'm now using a Polar CS200.

    Oh, and a belated welcome to the forum.
    A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject - Churchill
  • oldwelshmanoldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    Crapaud wrote:
    SCR Pedro wrote:
    ... I've found that I'm more comfortable at 110 on the flat and 90 on the hills, but again I'm sure others will tell you that they are comfortable with lower figures.

    Cheers
    Pedro
    There's no way that I could cycle at 110 rpm! 100 feels ludicrous to me. In my imagination 110 would look and feel comical, but each to their own I guess.

    I've used the Strada's predecessor, the Astrale, and had similar problems - the cadence wouldn't register even if the magnet and sensor were almost touching. At the time I wasn't sufficiently interested in finding a solution, so it never worked. I'm now using a Polar CS200.

    Oh, and a belated welcome to the forum.

    Get a track bike, put a brake on it and go down a steep hill, you will soon learn how to pedal at high cadance :D
  • murco wrote:
    :) Hi can anyone tell me whats the best way to start training using cadence, as i have tended to ride using low revs in high gears and find spinning feels awkward. just done a 42mile ride in 2hrs 12 on a taxing route between Gloucester and Newport along the A48 and would like to be able to do this again but with something left in my legs.
    There is no best way of training with cadence (as a variable on its own).

    That's because cadence only tells you the rate you turn the cranks over and nothing about how hard you are going. Cadence is simply an outcome of your power. Not the other way round.

    Focus on the effort level in your training. That is the path to improved fitness (IOW - sustainable aerobic power).
  • CrapaudCrapaud Posts: 2,483
    ... Get a track bike, put a brake on it and go down a steep hill, you will soon learn how to pedal at high cadance :D
    A drastic and scary proposition. :D
    There is no best way of training with cadence (as a variable on its own).

    That's because cadence only tells you the rate you turn the cranks over and nothing about how hard you are going. Cadence is simply an outcome of your power. Not the other way round.

    Focus on the effort level in your training. That is the path to improved fitness (IOW - sustainable aerobic power).
    Alex, are you saying to ignore cadence? The reason I ask is because I've been trying to follow a training plan from Polar Personal Trainer (see screenshots) ..

    2572675620_92dc953a2b_o.gif

    2571891567_be9c8d4188_o.gif

    2572715158_fe70eaeb77_o.gif

    ...and trying to keep to both the cadence and HR without success. I don't know if there's some knack to it, but it seems impossible. My gut feeling - because proper training is new and alien to me - is that the HR zones are too low for the cadence. Any thoughts, pointers and / or suggestions appreciated.
    A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject - Churchill
  • pneumaticpneumatic Posts: 1,989
    I bought a computer with cadence on it last year. I spent the whole year looking at that rather than speed as my main measure.

    I was told that 92.6 is the optimum but, on the flat or a drag, I'm happy to be running at 80. On hills it drops down to 70 or even 60.

    Aiming for 80 on my training rides (but without obsessing about it) really improved my average speeds, stamina and fitness. My guess is that it had something to do with a better use of the gears, i.e. not wearing myself out by grinding away on the little end of the block all the time.

    As you can see, I am no sports scientist, but it seemed to help!


    Fast and Bulbous
    Peregrinations
    Eddingtons: 80 (Metric); 60 (Imperial)

  • SCR PedroSCR Pedro Posts: 912
    Crapaud wrote:
    SCR Pedro wrote:
    ... I've found that I'm more comfortable at 110 on the flat and 90 on the hills, but again I'm sure others will tell you that they are comfortable with lower figures.

    Cheers
    Pedro
    There's no way that I could cycle at 110 rpm! 100 feels ludicrous to me. In my imagination 110 would look and feel comical, but each to their own I guess.

    Oh, and a belated welcome to the forum.

    Hello, I was out earlier today, and I was watching my cadence throughout. I was only really hitting 110 when I was going pretty hard with a tailwind on the flats. At other times, I was comfortable at 100. I'm also battling tendonitis, that's why I'm keeping the cadence pretty high. I don't want to aggravate the problem.

    I would actually like to try one of the computers with average & maximum cadence readings. It would be quite interesting, but I couldn't justify buying a new computer just for that.

    Cheers
    Pedro
    Giant TCR Advanced II - Reviewed on my homepage
    Giant TCR Alliance Zero
    BMC teammachineSLR03
    The Departed
    Giant SCR2
    Canyon Roadlite
    Specialized Allez
    Some other junk...
  • AidocpAidocp Posts: 868
    I got a cadence monitor 7 or so weeks ago looking at the Garmin TC the average seems to be around the 79 mark. I'm told the ideal is around 90, perhaps on a short flat I could hit that. :shock:
  • Garry HGarry H Posts: 6,639
    Been using cadence for the last three months or so, but have now taken it off. I was becoming too obsessed with it I think. I read somewhere that the optimum for "most" people lies between 85 and 90 though. I now use speed.
  • Denny69Denny69 Posts: 206
    I've been toying with cadence training and it is hard to get used to (I'm still trying) but I know when I'm in 8th gear (my bike has 16) I can do a cadence of [email protected] and 40mph in 16th flat out, I generally do this as intervals...do 1 interval in 8th then rest then the next in 16th. My average (comfortable) cadence is around 70 - 90

    I am getting used to it.......slowly!!!! persevere Gentlemen.....persevere!
    Heaven kicked me out and Hell was too afraid I'd take over!!!

    Fighting back since 1975!!

    Happy riding

    Denny
  • Carbon_Carbon_ Posts: 5
    If you want to improve your cadence i.e make it higher then 1 minute intervals have helped me alot. Just 1min as fast as you can (by this I mean fast cadence) then recover for three and repeat. Do 4-5 then take a longer break of about 10mins then do one more set and your done.
  • dealdeal Posts: 857
    i have the oposite problem, I think my cadence is too fast at times, i often find myself around 100-110 but have been trying to make an effort to push bigger gears but my legs suffer, i think this is due to lack of strength - my legs have been called "ballerina legs" :(
  • madturkeymadturkey Posts: 58
    Read an article recently (I think it was on this website) saying something along the lines that amateurs, which everyone on the Beginners forum is :D , are more efficient at lower cadences as oxygen use goes up. If you're not aiming at becoming a total speed king then spinning at lower revs could work.

    Can't remember where this was to link to it unfortunately.

    I think I spin at about 80 rpm which seems plenty fast enough for me, although about to go training with some Etape riders at the weekend so will see how I measure up to them.
  • MichaelWMichaelW Posts: 2,164
    It is quite useful to train at a faster cadence quite independantly of your training to increase power and fitness.
    Cadence training should be done at low power, you are training muscle memory not your heart and lungs.
    Pick an easy crusing power level/heartrate.
    Use an easy pedalling force.
    Pick a gear that allows you to maintain that force and heartrate.
    Gradually wind up your cadence (but not your heartrate) to your highest level and keep it there for 1 minute. Wind down and shake out/stretch a bit then repeat a few times.

    Once your legs get used to moving quickly you can add in more power.

    Note that tall riders or short riders using long cranks have difficulty maintaining high cadence.
  • John.TJohn.T Posts: 3,698
    edited June 2008
    Cadence training IS about training the heart and lungs. A higher cadence requires more oxygen than a lower one for the same power output. There is less muscle fatigue though. You need to train at both high and low cadences. Low to improve leg strength (or do gym work for this but I think hills are better) and high cadence hill work to increase the speed you can use the strength at. This is the most difficult part. I can ride for ages at 90 to 100 rpm on the flat but as soon as it points up my cadence drops even when going right down the gears. I know I should take my own advice and train but I think my muscles are now too old to learn new tricks.
  • Denny69Denny69 Posts: 206
    The other benefit of high cadence training is you train your "fast twitch" muscles which will also improve your explosive acceleration as it's your fast twitch muscles deliver that explosive power.

    Another benefit of high cadence training is your "lactate threshold" increases.
    Heaven kicked me out and Hell was too afraid I'd take over!!!

    Fighting back since 1975!!

    Happy riding

    Denny
  • Denny69 wrote:
    The other benefit of high cadence training is you train your "fast twitch" muscles which will also improve your explosive acceleration as it's your fast twitch muscles deliver that explosive power.
    Actually it's the other way round. More fast twitch fibres are recruited at lower cadences.
    Denny69 wrote:
    Another benefit of high cadence training is your "lactate threshold" increases.
    :? That's just rubbish.
  • John.T wrote:
    Cadence training IS about training the heart and lungs. A higher cadence requires more oxygen than a lower one for the same power output. There is less muscle fatigue though. You need to train at both high and low cadences. Low to improve leg strength (or do gym work for this but I think hills are better) and high cadence hill work to increase the speed you can use the strength at. This is the most difficult part. I can ride for ages at 90 to 100 rpm on the flat but as soon as it points up my cadence drops even when going right down the gears. I know I should take my own advice and train but I think my miscles are now too old to learn new tricks.
    Low cadence/hill work does nothing for your "strength". But I suppose some use the term "strength" to describe a feeling of being able to climb well.

    Strength is maximal force exerted by a muscle or group of muscles. Going up a hill is about mostly about aerobic power production. They are not related. The forces involved in riding a bike even up a very steep hill are far too low to induce the physiological adaptations related to strength.

    Otherwise we'd see power lifters winning hill climbs.
  • Denny69Denny69 Posts: 206
    Denny69 wrote:
    The other benefit of high cadence training is you train your "fast twitch" muscles which will also improve your explosive acceleration as it's your fast twitch muscles deliver that explosive power.
    Actually it's the other way round. More fast twitch fibres are recruited at lower cadences.
    Denny69 wrote:
    Another benefit of high cadence training is your "lactate threshold" increases.
    :? That's just rubbish.


    I'm only going off info I've received from other forums/websites. So I'll stand corrected on both counts! :roll: I wont bother placing links as it seems that these sites are full of BS.
    Heaven kicked me out and Hell was too afraid I'd take over!!!

    Fighting back since 1975!!

    Happy riding

    Denny
  • Crapaud wrote:
    There is no best way of training with cadence (as a variable on its own).

    That's because cadence only tells you the rate you turn the cranks over and nothing about how hard you are going. Cadence is simply an outcome of your power. Not the other way round.

    Focus on the effort level in your training. That is the path to improved fitness (IOW - sustainable aerobic power).

    Alex, are you saying to ignore cadence? The reason I ask is because I've been trying to follow a training plan from Polar Personal Trainer (see screenshots) ..

    ...and trying to keep to both the cadence and HR without success. I don't know if there's some knack to it, but it seems impossible. My gut feeling - because proper training is new and alien to me - is that the HR zones are too low for the cadence. Any thoughts, pointers and / or suggestions appreciated.
    What I'm saying is to focus on the effort level.

    Cadence is simply a by product of that. Record it, sure. Look at it, sure. Make sure you are not pedalling at silly cadences, sure (e.g. you have gearing appropriate for the hills you do). But other than that, forget about cadence.

    When doing a workout, THE most important aspect is intensity. Cadence does not measure intensity. It simply tells you how fast you are turning the cranks over.

    Providing a training guideline that says "ride at this cadence" without also stating "at this average effective pedal force" or "at this torque" or "at this power" is simply meaningless.

    it like being asked to measure the area of a rectangle but you are only allowed to measure the length of one side.

    There is nothing wrong with pedalling at various cadences or learning how to spin faster but it needs to be done at the appropriate level of intensity. And since efficieny varies with cadence, then using HR as a guide to intensity is problematic.


    When Eddy Merckx was asked by a junior up n comer one day whether he should first concentrate on learning to spin fast or ride a big gear, Eddy replied "learn to spin a big gear" :D
  • Denny69 wrote:
    I'm only going off info I've received from other forums/websites. So I'll stand corrected on both counts! :roll: I wont bother placing links as it seems that these sites are full of BS.
    Oh I dunno, they might be fun to read.
  • Denny69 wrote:
    The other benefit of high cadence training is you train your "fast twitch" muscles which will also improve your explosive acceleration as it's your fast twitch muscles deliver that explosive power.
    Actually it's the other way round. More fast twitch fibres are recruited at lower cadences.
    Perhaps I should clarify because cadence is really the wrong way to think about it.

    Muscle fibres types are recruited based on the forces applied to the pedals (and not cadence).

    Lower forces recruit Type I (slowtwitch) fibres whereas Type IIa and Type IIb (fast twitch) fibres are recruited at high forces. It is a continuum so there is no force level where suddenly one muscle type switches off and another switches on.

    At the same power (or speed), pedal forces are lower when cadence is higher (power = torque x cadence). So at low cadences, the pedal forces are higher and the likelyhood of recruiting more fast twitch fibres increases.

    It does not mean you recruit that many Type IIx fibres as it does require one to ride at fairly high power outputs (since the forces exerted on pedals are not that high to start with - even on those so called "Strength Endurance" low cadence efforts done uphill).

    One end of the spectrum - standing starts on a track bike - are a classic example of recruiting fast twitch fibres at low cadence (which really is a high force scenario).

    But this is where the cadence bit confuses some people - If you can also produce high forces at high cadence, then this also recruits Type IIx fibres. This is the domain of the track match sprinter.

    For JRA at 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120 rpm then there ain't much change in fibre rectuitment likely to happen.
  • John.TJohn.T Posts: 3,698
    When Eddy Merckx was asked by a junior up n comer one day whether he should first concentrate on learning to spin fast or ride a big gear, Eddy replied "learn to spin a big gear"
    Eddy was quite right but that is the difficult bit.
  • Denny69Denny69 Posts: 206
    Denny69 wrote:
    The other benefit of high cadence training is you train your "fast twitch" muscles which will also improve your explosive acceleration as it's your fast twitch muscles deliver that explosive power.
    Actually it's the other way round. More fast twitch fibres are recruited at lower cadences.
    Perhaps I should clarify because cadence is really the wrong way to think about it.

    Muscle fibres types are recruited based on the forces applied to the pedals (and not cadence).

    Lower forces recruit Type I (slowtwitch) fibres whereas Type IIa and Type IIb (fast twitch) fibres are recruited at high forces. It is a continuum so there is no force level where suddenly one muscle type switches off and another switches on.

    At the same power (or speed), pedal forces are lower when cadence is higher (power = torque x cadence). So at low cadences, the pedal forces are higher and the likelyhood of recruiting more fast twitch fibres increases.

    It does not mean you recruit that many Type IIx fibres as it does require one to ride at fairly high power outputs (since the forces exerted on pedals are not that high to start with - even on those so called "Strength Endurance" low cadence efforts done uphill).

    One end of the spectrum - standing starts on a track bike - are a classic example of recruiting fast twitch fibres at low cadence (which really is a high force scenario).

    But this is where the cadence bit confuses some people - If you can also produce high forces at high cadence, then this also recruits Type IIx fibres. This is the domain of the track match sprinter.

    For JRA at 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120 rpm then there ain't much change in fibre rectuitment likely to happen.

    Oh I see! I was lead to believe that working at a quicker rate employed "fast twitch" muscles and looking at it that's believable.....I have been fed a bit of BS haven't I?
    Heaven kicked me out and Hell was too afraid I'd take over!!!

    Fighting back since 1975!!

    Happy riding

    Denny
  • Denny69 wrote:
    Oh I see! I was lead to believe that working at a quicker rate employed "fast twitch" muscles and looking at it that's believable.....I have been fed a bit of BS haven't I?
    Probably.

    The names fast twitch and slow twitch derive from the time it takes these fibres to reach peak tension in an isometric contraction. 40 millisec for FT and 80-100 msec for ST.

    The definitions have nothing to do with cadence.

    Here's a basic reference:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skeletal_muscle

    Interestingly, it is possible for some intra fibre type conversion, depending on your training.

    Also we each have a different proportion of slow and fast twitch muscle fibre, which is one the reasons why some guys are good at going all day and some others are better suited to track sprinting.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    Most of the time I try to keep 90-100RPM and say if I am going along a good fast stretch I see what my cadence is for 25mph then switch to cadence and try keep at about 110RPM then I know I'm keeping my speed, easier than looking at speed too, yesterday I got about 28mph at something like 140rpm but I find that I can get about 36mph on 15th out of 18 gears but I must be doing like 130RPM.
  • parkaboyparkaboy Posts: 15
    Strength is maximal force exerted by a muscle or group of muscles. Going up a hill is about mostly about aerobic power production. They are not related. The forces involved in riding a bike even up a very steep hill are far too low to induce the physiological adaptations related to strength.

    is this the official definition of strength? :o
  • parkaboy wrote:
    Strength is maximal force exerted by a muscle or group of muscles. Going up a hill is about mostly about aerobic power production. They are not related. The forces involved in riding a bike even up a very steep hill are far too low to induce the physiological adaptations related to strength.

    is this the official definition of strength? :o
    If I'd put the word "Muscular" in front of Strength, then yes, absolutely. It is the defninition that's been used in physiology for over a century and there is no reason to change it now.

    Is it how people bandy the word around or use it in conversation? Probably not. But if they are going to use the term in a sense that implies an exercise induced physiological adaptation, then they should use the correct definition.

    Indeed maximal force exertion occurs at zero or near velocity (i.e. an isometric contraction). The joint angles and velocities on a bike, even on a hill at a lowly cadence of 50rpm, are still nowhere near what is required to induce adaptations in muscular strength (via hypertrophy - which is the adaptation required for strength). Neither are we likely to see recruitment of Type II fibres during prolonged bouts of exercise.

    Sustained hard riding up a hill (whatever cadence we do it at) has the effect of inducing training adaptions related to our sustainable aerobic power (increased capilliary density, mitochondral enzyme density, increased VO2 Max and cardiac output, increased muscle gylogogen storage capacity) but not our muscular strength.
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,448
    The joint angle and velocities on a bike, even on a hill at a lowly cadence of 50rpm, are still nowhere near what is required to induce adaptations in muscular strength (via hypertrophy - which is the adaptation required for strength).
    This is really interesting. Do you think the same applies for other (arguably more natural) forms of exercise such as hiking/hillwalking, or will they be more likely to induce adaptations of strength? The reason I ask is that until about 5-10 years ago I used to do a lot of strenuous hillwalking and was pretty good at it (just as for cycling up hills, being light helps! :wink: ). Now I am living somewhere with no large hills and nearly all of my strenuous exercise comes from cycling. I'm probably as fit (or fitter) in cardiovascular terms as I have ever been, but I've noticed that this doesn't translate into hillwalking ability. I mean, I can still go up hills OK but I think I could do it quite a bit faster when I was less fit but more used to hillwalking. If I started doing more hillwalking again I'd presumably develop more "strength"? Would this have any negative effects on my cycling performance?
    Also we each have a different proportion of slow and fast twitch muscle fibre, which is one the reasons why some guys are good at going all day and some others are better suited to track sprinting.
    Is there any easy DIY way to get an idea of where you stand in this spectrum (i.e. without specialist equipment) other than just comparing your relative performance in distance vs. sprinting to others?
Sign In or Register to comment.