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Drills to increase cadence, any tips?

SPOCO MonsterSPOCO Monster Posts: 11
edited February 2015 in Training, fitness and health
Due to a TT background with a large chainring my cadence has become very low, so on my road bike on an FTP test (outdoors) my cadence is just 76/77, on a 53T ring.
Having just got a powertap and analysing my power & cadence I can instantly see the importance of improving this. I have already started some drills on the turbo, doing Z3 at 95-100rpm and trying to hold this for some Z4 efforts.

Has anyone else done the same, what did you do to improve your cadence, and offer advice on how I can train myself to spin the legs more?

Posts

  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,003
    Spinning your legs more won't necessarily make you any faster. Power matters - cadence is incidental, IMO...
  • AK_jnrAK_jnr Posts: 717
    You are saying the same output at 75rpm and 95rpm wont make any difference?
  • Isn't it the thing these days that riders should ride not at a specific cadence but at their preferred cadence. 77 doesn't seem too far off.
  • peteb0peteb0 Posts: 58
    Producing the same output (power) will result in the same speed; the difference will be what gear you are in and whether your effort is leg strength led or CV led.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,003
    AK_jnr wrote:
    You are saying the same output at 75rpm and 95rpm wont make any difference?

    It might make a difference in terms of what cadence you personally prefer, but I don't think there is any evidence that one is technically better than the other, as a general principle. People need to establish what works for them - recommending a cadence number is a bit like recommending that everyone wears size 32 trousers.
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    As per the post I put up earlier. One good way to get you out of your comfort zone in terms of cadence is break an interval up into smaller "under/over" sections. E.g. do 9 minutes as 3*2 minutes under/1minute over, where "under" is around 5-10% less than zone power, over 5-10% plus.

    Then make a conscious effort to vary cadence in each sub-interval. E.g. you can aim to do the "unders" at 80 rpm, the "overs" at 90. Or do the first 2 minutes at 70 rpm the next 1 minute at 75 the next 2 minutes at 80 etc.
    Or go from one extreme to the other so unders at 60 rpm and overs at 100+.

    You can see a practical example here. There are 5x9 minute intervals. The first 3 I increased power by increasing rpm. The last 2 I kept rpm steady and pushed harder the first at 85rpm+ the second at 70rpm+. Of them all the constant 85+rpm felt easiest.
    https://app.strava.com/activities/243530337

    Higher is not always better btw. You may find some things work and some don't. Also the combination of rpm vs power may differ, e.g at threshold holding 80rpm feels easiest while at VO2 90rpm is better. At the other extreme on 100/12 hour TTs I find keeping in the 70s is best.

    None of this is to say those above who think they are at their ideal best and are just as good as the best pros are wrong. But I find it difficult to believe that just by doing something you instinctively do it in the best possible way. This does not apply to most every other motor skill. Whatever if you have never tried to do it differently how can you possibly know?

    Of relevance to all the above is that Bradley Wiggins, in preparing for the 2012 Olympics, did specific training to actually reduce his cadence while increasing his torque (torque*rpm=power). This included some specific OUs where he did 20 minutes FTP first 5 minutes at 50rpm/15 minutes at "normal" cadence. He attributed his success to this, which is for me is a pretty convincing argument that this is an area worth working on.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • I'm not asking anyone to recommend a cadence for me, I totally understand it is for me to naturally select a preferred cadence. I'm just asking for some advice and examples where you have increased cadence specifically (thanks for the post above)
    I should add, before I did TT and on the same road bike my cadence averaged near 90. I then did a lot of riding on the TT bike and my cadence dropped down to below 80 as I increased the chainring size, in an effort to push greater power.
    I have now come to realise this was a mistake, and particularly as I am starting road racing I need to get back to quicker legs.
    I pretty much know what I need to do anyway, but wanted to hear what others had done or had advice.
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,026
    You fell foul of the caydence polayce ;-)
    Over winter I try to aim for over 90 - 100 and then as quick as I can go for the work intervals or if outside up a few nominated winter training inclines. You are right, when I test then the assumption is bigger gear faster time, but it doesnt always pan out and I fall foul off grinding away towards the end.
    In a road race it is probably one of the key skills is to be able to burst up into a very cadence in response to what is happening in the race and on what terrain.
    So those 3 -4 -8 minutes intervals.. loosen up and go for it
    A colleague of mine is doing traditional 'fixie' work as a comparision.. his knees are playing up like hell after 2 months of that sort of work after a ride.
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,086
    A drill i have used, is to do your 2 x 20 or whatever, at a cadence that is 5 or 10 rpm over what you d normally do, but at your normal pwr level, its surprisingly difficult, going from 75 to 90 or 100 might be to much in one go?
    for leg speed you can start at say 100 and increase by 10rpm every min until you start to bounce, drop back to previous level and hold for 2/3 mins, repeat 3 or 4 x - low gears and low power.
  • Bar ShakerBar Shaker Posts: 2,313
    I raised mine simply by having it as the main display on my Garmin and chasing the band I wanted to stay in. After a few rides it becomes second nature, but you do need to train your legs to do it and you do need to warm them up to your desired cadence band.

    Of the people that have done what the OP is intending to do, all have dramatically improved their speed and endurance. Of those two, it is the endurance that is most noticeable. Two of my mates are very strong grinders. After 2 hours, they are struggling to keep an average of over 18mph.

    I agree that some people will less CV dependant than others but road riding and especially racing is mostly about CV. It is the Chris Hoys of this world that can say power is everything... and for them it is, but only for a few minutes.
    Boardman Elite SLR 9.2S
    Boardman FS Pro
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,003
    Bar Shaker wrote:
    Of the people that have done what the OP is intending to do, all have dramatically improved their speed and endurance.

    Which 'people' are you referring to??
    Bar Shaker wrote:
    It is the Chris Hoys of this world that can say power is everything... and for them it is, but only for a few minutes.

    For everyone else, 'sustainable power' is everything. So focus on that, not cadence.
  • cyco2cyco2 Posts: 593
    Drill 1. To get a higher cadence get your head into gear and your legs will follow. Make your legs do what they are told. Even if you want to slip into a higher gear resist it.
    Drill 2. Use either a fixed or free single speed bike. My experience has been that because I want go fast I use a slightly higher gear than is comfortable for climbing. So, all training was on the flat and when I could feel the foot pressure reducing I had to pedal faster not being able to change gear.
    Drill 3. Use the screw on the rear hanger to stop it going on to the smaller sprockets.
    Drill 4. Do 10miles at TT effort on a 72" gear and you will have an amazing work out.
    ...................................................................................................

    If you want to be a strong rider you have to do strong things.
    However if you train like a cart horse you'll race like one.
  • Bar ShakerBar Shaker Posts: 2,313
    Imposter wrote:
    Bar Shaker wrote:
    Of the people that have done what the OP is intending to do, all have dramatically improved their speed and endurance.

    Which 'people' are you referring to??

    The people I ride with, in two bike clubs.

    There are some people that rubbish the idea and refuse to try it, but I don't know anyone that said they were slower after upping their average cadence into the 90s.
    Boardman Elite SLR 9.2S
    Boardman FS Pro
  • Bar Shaker wrote:
    Imposter wrote:
    Bar Shaker wrote:
    Of the people that have done what the OP is intending to do, all have dramatically improved their speed and endurance.

    Which 'people' are you referring to??

    The people I ride with, in two bike clubs.

    There are some people that rubbish the idea and refuse to try it, but I don't know anyone that said they were slower after upping their average cadence into the 90s.


    I would agree, based on my experiences and that of friends, etc. but I think you'll find Imposter a tough nut to crack on this one......
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