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What should you know about Cycling Cadence?

 

Quadrant Analysis
Low Cadence Training
High Cadence Training

 

Let’s get started.

Cycling cadence is as important as force.

From physics we know that
Power = velocity (cadence) x force Click To Tweet

Using different cadence we can work on two different systems:

• Muscular System (lower cadence)
• Cardiovascular System (faster cadence)

The most common cadence in pro peloton is around 95 RPM it is a good hint for amateur cyclists. There is a reason why pro cyclists use this cadence, years of research showed that the cardiovascular system can work longer and more effectively than the muscular system.

That’s why we can see more cyclists riding on higher cadence, on flat sections as well and uphills.

Some of the cyclists still use lower cadence or “stand” on pedals, we always have to take genetic predisposition into consideration.

It’s very good solution to try to bring your cadence a little higher.

Quadrant Analysis (Cycling Cadence)

 

We simplify quadrant analysis to help you with a better understanding of how you can compare cycling cadence to power and speed.

The picture below shows you 4 quadrants based on every cadence and power from the race.

Quadrant I

 

Power: High
Cadence: High

Represents higher zones at a high cadence, it can be sprints, track racing, most likely dynamic races with a lot of accelerations and many time at high speed.

Quadrant II

 

Power: High
Cadence: Low

This quadrant is very common for uphills and races where you have to accelerate from low speed, like cyclocross and mountain bike races.

Quadrant III

 

Power: Low
Cadence: Low

Most likely easy/coffee ride, or parts of the race where you can take a rest, recover after hard efforts.

Quadrant IV

 

Power: Low
Cadence: High

Quadrant where you most likely can recover, it can be downhills or high cadence intervals.

Quadrant Analysis #1

Cadence/Power

bellow you can see chart from the race, base on cadence and power, you can see that similar work was done in all of the quadrants with the trend on higher cadence, but…

Cadence/Speed

… when you take a look at the same race compering cadence to speed you can see that when speed drops there is a lot of work done at cadence 50 – 70, it can be a sign that athlete was doing uphills. You should pay attention to this and check if you use the muscular system too much when you could put more work on the cardiovascular system. It can accumulate fatigue and be a “slowing” factor in the second part of the race.

Quadrant Analysis #2

Cadence/Power

At this sample, when cadence is getting lower, power stays high. That is a sign that cyclist is doing a lot of work using a muscular system which can cause faster fatigue increase, and this can cause a lack of power in the last part of the race.

Cadence/Speed

Comparing cadence to speed from the same race shows you that at lower speed cadence is going lower, it’s possible that rider is using low cadence at uphills. It confirms using the muscular system. A good solution would be to increase cadence during the uphills to prevent early fatigue.

Low Cadence Training

 

By looking at the above samples you can see that your cadence can be everywhere from 0 to 120+ during your races. You should be ready to ride in your most-used cadence.

Muscular endurance is a very effective training to get you ready for uphills and any low cadence efforts, it is training in Quadrant II. Low cadence with high power output.

Start those intervals with cadence -20 of your natural cadence, at zone 3.

With time go to zone 4,5 and lower your cadence to -30, -40 of your natural cadence.

Example of muscular endurance workout:

Start with easy 15 min warm-up
5 min – 95-100% of your FTP
10 min active ride – 75% of your FTP
3 x 8 min – 80 – 90% of your FTP with 3 min easy between, cadence 60
10 min active ride – 75% of your FTP
15 min recovery

High Cadence Training

 

The best example of high cadence efforts are sprints, cyclists are getting to cadence 130-140 during finishes.

Track cyclists are known for extremely high cadence which can get even to 200. At the velodromes, cyclists are using fixed gear bikes (one gear), only thing you can adjust is a cadence.

That is why it is so important to work on “nerve system memory” basically teaching your legs on how to move faster, even if it is at the lowest gear, it still will help you improve your sprints and finishes.

Example of high cadence workout:

Start with easy 15 min warm-up
3 x 1 min – cadence 110 (lowest gear)
20 min active ride – 75% of your FTP
4 x 2 min – cadence 120 with last 20s maximum cadence, 1 min easy between
20 min active ride – 75% of your FTP
15 min recovery

 

Remember to implement those 2 types of workouts to your training plan so you can be a more versatile cyclist. If you have a question leave a comment below. If you find this article useful share it with your friends.

Coach Damian

Coach Damian

Damian is a head coach and founder of Cyklopedia, which was created with one goal to help everyone be faster cyclists by structured training plans, healthy recipes, and nutrition plans. Damian is racing and coaching for over 10 years, working with athletes all around the world.

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