Cadence in training plan

Just started a training plan in Zwift, and it specifies a cadence for quite a lot of the intervals.

Question is - if my natural cadence is around about 85-90rpm, is there a benefit to doing intervals like yesterday's final one of 9 minutes at 60rpm (for 90% of FTP), or would I be better concentrating on going at a cadence that is natural, and holding the power?
«1

Comments

  • One of my Zwift "TT Tune-Up" sessions last week had intervals at 75/80/85mins, which felt a bit strange as I'm naturally a 90+ spinner. But I went with it, I think matching power at a lower cadence is akin to cycle specific leg weight training.
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • DeVlaeminck
    DeVlaeminck Posts: 8,787
    One of those topics where the limited research points both ways - I dont have the knowlege to know if the bulk of evidence is more on one side than the other.

    Gut feeling is to say follow the plan, they've done the thinking so you don't have to.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • I tried to but failed to hold power at cadence of 60 or 70 (after the previous intervals of reducing power, increasing duration and decreasing cadence). It was when it told me to stand up as well that I started to doubt it. I'm not into standing on my turbo, and try to avoid it when out and about - it generally means I've got the wrong gears.

    If it is just training me to ride up hills at a low cadence, then that's not what I'm looking for.
  • Longshot
    Longshot Posts: 940
    Cadence is interesting.

    I ride comfortably at 90-100 rpm indoors on a static bike but am usually riding at something in the 70s on the road.
    You can fool some of the people all of the time. Concentrate on those people.
  • dannbodge
    dannbodge Posts: 1,152
    Low cadence work is designed to build your power (which it does very well).

    At the end of the day they are just guidelines, especially for generic Zwift workouts.
  • dannbodge said:

    Low cadence work is designed to build your power (which it does very well).

    At the end of the day they are just guidelines, especially for generic Zwift workouts.

    What power is it aiming to build specifically though?
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028

    But I went with it, I think matching power at a lower cadence is akin to cycle specific leg weight training.

    So you mean it's pointless then? ;)

  • cruff
    cruff Posts: 1,518

    dannbodge said:

    Low cadence work is designed to build your power (which it does very well).

    At the end of the day they are just guidelines, especially for generic Zwift workouts.

    What power is it aiming to build specifically though?
    Leg strength, and the ability to use a bigger gear up climbs so you have a bailout gear if needed.
    Fat chopper. Some racing. Some testing. Some crashing.
    Specialising in Git Daaahns and Cafs. Norvern Munkey/Transplanted Laaandoner.
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    cruff said:

    dannbodge said:

    Low cadence work is designed to build your power (which it does very well).

    At the end of the day they are just guidelines, especially for generic Zwift workouts.

    What power is it aiming to build specifically though?
    Leg strength, and the ability to use a bigger gear up climbs so you have a bailout gear if needed.
    'Leg strength' (a topic much-discussed on here) does not = 'more power' though.

  • StillGoing
    StillGoing Posts: 5,211

    Just started a training plan in Zwift, and it specifies a cadence for quite a lot of the intervals.

    Question is - if my natural cadence is around about 85-90rpm, is there a benefit to doing intervals like yesterday's final one of 9 minutes at 60rpm (for 90% of FTP), or would I be better concentrating on going at a cadence that is natural, and holding the power?

    Shane Miller did a back to back test, the cadence makes no difference. It is just a recommendation. It's the watts that matter.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • Thanks, I might shift cadence to keep it interesting sometimes but moving between 60 and 90 every minute makes it hard for the erg mode to catch up too.

    Will stick to the watts.
  • bobmcstuff
    bobmcstuff Posts: 11,238
    I still find it moderately useful to be able to deal with cadence changes though, especially in chaingangs or other fast group riding.

    I find on the road I tend to speed up my cadence when I'm pushing on, into the 95-100 range. Typical ride average is 85-90. On the turbo, dropping to 80ish seems to protect my heart rate a bit (i.e., lower heart rate for same watts), which means I tend to drop a bit when I am on the limit.

    TrainerRoad also has cadence recommendations sometimes, I occasionally follow these, more for the variety than anything else, but always focus on the watts first. It's been easier since having a smart trainer with erg mode as you don't have to faff with gears.

    Having said that the cadence sensor on my turbo bike is out of battery, I've done a couple of rides without it now and it's not bothered me.
  • cruff
    cruff Posts: 1,518

    cruff said:

    dannbodge said:

    Low cadence work is designed to build your power (which it does very well).

    At the end of the day they are just guidelines, especially for generic Zwift workouts.

    What power is it aiming to build specifically though?
    Leg strength, and the ability to use a bigger gear up climbs so you have a bailout gear if needed.
    'Leg strength' (a topic much-discussed on here) does not = 'more power' though.

    Technically true... But you're building muscle, which means you can recruit your legs more, giving your heart and lungs more time to recover. Hence you're building the ability to go harder for longer.
    Fat chopper. Some racing. Some testing. Some crashing.
    Specialising in Git Daaahns and Cafs. Norvern Munkey/Transplanted Laaandoner.
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    edited January 2020
    cruff said:


    Technically true... But you're building muscle, which means you can recruit your legs more, giving your heart and lungs more time to recover. Hence you're building the ability to go harder for longer.

    Strength does not equal power. If that's true (and you agreed), then what you just said is incorrect. Scientifically, there are no half-truths, or things that are only 'technically correct'.

    As for the 'heart and lungs' bit - that's not how it works.
  • cruff
    cruff Posts: 1,518

    cruff said:


    Technically true... But you're building muscle, which means you can recruit your legs more, giving your heart and lungs more time to recover. Hence you're building the ability to go harder for longer.

    Strength does not equal power. If that's true (and you agreed), then what you just said is incorrect. Scientifically, there are no half-truths, or things that are only 'technically correct'.

    As for the 'heart and lungs' bit - that's not how it works.
    So - you build muscle in your legs, whilst not neglecting your cardio, and that doesn't enable you to go harder for longer?

    K
    Fat chopper. Some racing. Some testing. Some crashing.
    Specialising in Git Daaahns and Cafs. Norvern Munkey/Transplanted Laaandoner.
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    cruff said:

    cruff said:


    Technically true... But you're building muscle, which means you can recruit your legs more, giving your heart and lungs more time to recover. Hence you're building the ability to go harder for longer.

    Strength does not equal power. If that's true (and you agreed), then what you just said is incorrect. Scientifically, there are no half-truths, or things that are only 'technically correct'.

    As for the 'heart and lungs' bit - that's not how it works.
    So - you build muscle in your legs, whilst not neglecting your cardio, and that doesn't enable you to go harder for longer?

    K
    Your ability to go ‘harder for longer’ is dependent on your aerobic capacity, ftp and/or vo2 max - and not how strong your legs are. The strength demands of endurance cycling are very low and in that sense, making your legs ‘stronger’ is not necessary from a performance angle.

  • cruff said:

    cruff said:


    Technically true... But you're building muscle, which means you can recruit your legs more, giving your heart and lungs more time to recover. Hence you're building the ability to go harder for longer.

    Strength does not equal power. If that's true (and you agreed), then what you just said is incorrect. Scientifically, there are no half-truths, or things that are only 'technically correct'.

    As for the 'heart and lungs' bit - that's not how it works.
    So - you build muscle in your legs, whilst not neglecting your cardio, and that doesn't enable you to go harder for longer?

    K
    Instinctively, I wouldn't say so. Those road cyclists with the "strongest" legs are the sprinters, who do not have the greatest ability to go harder for longer.
  • One of those topics where the limited research points both ways - I dont have the knowlege to know if the bulk of evidence is more on one side than the other.

    Gut feeling is to say follow the plan, they've done the thinking so you don't have to.

    I'm not certain exactly which part(s) you're talking about in terms of limited evidence. perhaps you can let me know and i can tell you whether there's limited evidence or not?
    Coach to Michael Freiberg - Track World Champion (Omnium) 2011
    Coach to James Hayden - Transcontinental Race winner 2017, and 2018
    Coach to Jeff Jones - 2011 BBAR winner and 12-hour record
    Check out our new website https://www.cyclecoach.com
  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 26,179

    cruff said:

    cruff said:


    Technically true... But you're building muscle, which means you can recruit your legs more, giving your heart and lungs more time to recover. Hence you're building the ability to go harder for longer.

    Strength does not equal power. If that's true (and you agreed), then what you just said is incorrect. Scientifically, there are no half-truths, or things that are only 'technically correct'.

    As for the 'heart and lungs' bit - that's not how it works.
    So - you build muscle in your legs, whilst not neglecting your cardio, and that doesn't enable you to go harder for longer?

    K
    Your ability to go ‘harder for longer’ is dependent on your aerobic capacity, ftp and/or vo2 max - and not how strong your legs are. The strength demands of endurance cycling are very low and in that sense, making your legs ‘stronger’ is not necessary from a performance angle.

    Not so sure about that. I am currently recovering from a snapped Achilles Tendon and can categorically state that losing muscle mass in one leg certainly impacts on performance.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • When I used to use a coach he used to suggest low cadence intervals as a base for standing start sprint training or rolling start (explosive) sprint training.

    As it happen low cadence is all I do anyway.

    I cant imagine doing a 200 mile ride at 90 rpm average. Such ride are normally at 60 rpm or less.

    You can train yourself to hold power at any rpm. I think there is some value in being able to ride at variety cadence (I can spin too I just dont enjoy it). It also stops you from being one of those people who moan this new wide range cassette does not have a 16t or 18t sprocket. Theres value in that alone.

    So while low cadence intervals dont help your performance per se except explosive sprint training it does make you more adaptable.

    Oh and low cadence hill reps are done at 40rpm or less.

    www.thecycleclinic.co.uk
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    pblakeney said:

    Not so sure about that. I am currently recovering from a snapped Achilles Tendon and can categorically state that losing muscle mass in one leg certainly impacts on performance.

    I think you're arguing against yourself a bit there..

  • Thanks. Not interested in sprint training. The only value I can see is for when fatigued and I run out of gears. Otherwise I generally spin at 80+

    My main aim is to improve my ability to keep going at that power for longer, and not to get to the stage where I need to grind up a hill.
  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 26,179
    edited February 2020

    pblakeney said:

    Not so sure about that. I am currently recovering from a snapped Achilles Tendon and can categorically state that losing muscle mass in one leg certainly impacts on performance.

    I think you're arguing against yourself a bit there..

    Please, do explain. FYI, the tendon has healed but the muscle is still reduced from previous. Currently putting out a 60/40 power split.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    pblakeney said:

    pblakeney said:

    Not so sure about that. I am currently recovering from a snapped Achilles Tendon and can categorically state that losing muscle mass in one leg certainly impacts on performance.

    I think you're arguing against yourself a bit there..

    Please, do explain. FYI, the tendon has healed but the muscle is still reduced from previous. Currently putting out a 60/40 power split.
    'Losing muscle mass' is a bit different from 'needing stronger legs to cycle faster'. One relates to something which is less than optimal, the other relates to something being more than optimal. Optimal in this case being 'normal' strength. In any case, a 60/40 split is not unusual, assuming you are not aiming for 50/50.

  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 26,179

    pblakeney said:

    pblakeney said:

    Not so sure about that. I am currently recovering from a snapped Achilles Tendon and can categorically state that losing muscle mass in one leg certainly impacts on performance.

    I think you're arguing against yourself a bit there..

    Please, do explain. FYI, the tendon has healed but the muscle is still reduced from previous. Currently putting out a 60/40 power split.
    'Losing muscle mass' is a bit different from 'needing stronger legs to cycle faster'. One relates to something which is less than optimal, the other relates to something being more than optimal. Optimal in this case being 'normal' strength. In any case, a 60/40 split is not unusual, assuming you are not aiming for 50/50.

    Hmmm. Gives me an idea of how a leg operating at 66% performs v one at 100%. Lose muscle power and cycling becomes harder. I see a correlation. A small sample admittedly but the most relevant one to me.
    Why not aim for 50/50? (Or a close approximation).
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • thecycleclinic
    thecycleclinic Posts: 395
    edited February 2020
    Low cadence training ing also helps those like me who ride single speeds and those who rode fixed too (I have just started doing that as well). On a single speed mtb you fluctuate between extreme spinning and 30 rpm up a steep climb.
    Some people describe low cadnace as a grind. It isnt. If done right it quite smooth and easy. Hense my statement low cadence intervals help you in so many ways as can spinny intervals.

    To say cycling is solely an aerobic activity fails to.consider the varied terrain we can encounter unless of course you restrict your self to one kind of terrain.

    Today's hill reps were 3 passes of bally hill at 35 rpm and 3 at a higher cadence of upto 60 rpm.


    However I am not sure if swift or what ever your using lends itself to low cadence work. This sort of stuff is best done out on the road. That is if you can be bothered and ride in a way that being able to sustain low cadence would be of benefit.

    Pblakely well my power balance is more 45/55 or worse so I dont think 60/40 is much to worry about. 50/50 is nice but not everyone can do it and it not something that is easily altered of at all.
    www.thecycleclinic.co.uk
  • bobmcstuff
    bobmcstuff Posts: 11,238
    pblakeney said:

    pblakeney said:

    pblakeney said:

    Not so sure about that. I am currently recovering from a snapped Achilles Tendon and can categorically state that losing muscle mass in one leg certainly impacts on performance.

    I think you're arguing against yourself a bit there..

    Please, do explain. FYI, the tendon has healed but the muscle is still reduced from previous. Currently putting out a 60/40 power split.
    'Losing muscle mass' is a bit different from 'needing stronger legs to cycle faster'. One relates to something which is less than optimal, the other relates to something being more than optimal. Optimal in this case being 'normal' strength. In any case, a 60/40 split is not unusual, assuming you are not aiming for 50/50.

    Hmmm. Gives me an idea of how a leg operating at 66% performs v one at 100%. Lose muscle power and cycling becomes harder. I see a correlation. A small sample admittedly but the most relevant one to me.
    Why not aim for 50/50? (Or a close approximation).
    Various studies show quite asymmetric power output in even very elite cyclists. Not sure about 60 40 but 55 45 is not uncommon. People are wonky.

    Like cadence: it does not seem to make much difference in reality.

    I think if you're normally 52:48 and one of your legs falls off then yeah, you might notice a difference.
  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 26,179
    edited February 2020



    Pblakely well my power balance is more 45/55 or worse so I dont think 60/40 is much to worry about. 50/50 is nice but not everyone can do it and it not something that is easily altered of at all.

    Yeah, but the calf muscle is visibly smaller and feels much weaker. To the point where cycling one legged using the weak leg is nigh on impossible to sustain on the flat. (I tried out of curiosity). 60/40 surprised me, in a positive way. It is a good example that muscles are required. The debate really is up to what point.
    Back to cadence. People are different and there are no set rules. Or, shouldn't be.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • Age in guessing your kot 20 or you wouldn't be on here so it take take much for use middle age Dodgers to to get a wonky leg. Every thing just rake longer to heal and muscle I juries can take months.
    www.thecycleclinic.co.uk
  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 26,179
    If that is directed towards me then it is 25 months and counting.
    I expected 6-12, but not this long. Top tip for anyone else, once strong enough do dedicated recovery physio/training. Full strength doesn't come back naturally from serious injury as you get older.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.