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Can You Improve Your Cadence? | GCN’s Road Cycling Tips

Can You Improve Your Cadence? | GCN’s Road Cycling Tips


nothing sequels quite so much for debate in the world of cycling it’s discussions around peddling technique and cadence people seem to split into one of two camps do you spin to win or you do whatever comes naturally the question is what should you do though can you improve your cadence firstly though let it be so that there is no ideal pedaling style or cadence in fact you only have to look through the great champions of the sport past and present to reveal quite a big spectrum and we take a modern day at the example to the best current Grand Tour riders nairo quintana and Chris Froome they are complete opposite ends of the cadence range [Music] broadly speaking then it seems like cadence is linked to two factors firstly there’s power output whereby the fastest and most powerful riders tend to pedal it with faster Cadence’s and we think it’s about an increase of six rpm per 100 watts but and this is really important the cadence is as a result of the power and not the other way around and then there’s the velocity of the bike itself and what you tend to find that when you’re riding fast on a flat road almost like we’re doing at the moment you naturally tend to have a higher cadence somewhere around about 95 RPM but then if you get up to a steep climb your natural prefer cadence will drop significantly something like 70 to 75 RPM even if you’ve got adequate gears to pedal faster and this is probably down to the lower inertia experienced on steep climbs which feels a different force pattern through the pedal stroke all of this goes to say then that you don’t have an optimum cadence you’ve got many optimum Cadence’s for different roads conditions and power outputs we haven’t finished there yet though I their writer size is important because big legs require more power to move than smaller legs and then of course is your ratio of fast and slow twitch muscle fibers there’s your age that comes into consideration and then even whether your slipstreaming or riding in the wind importantly what current research seems to point to is that people normally ride there energetically optimal cadence when they’re towards their maximum power output however they tend to write it to higher cadence when they’re riding at lowering tendencies although what this doesn’t take into consideration is your muscular system you see riding at lower Cadence’s with quite high forces and that can lead to muscle fatigue it really is a can of worms then but if we come back to our original question can you change your cadence to ultimately make you faster well given the knee is such a complex picture we decided to consult professor Louis Pasteur he’s one of the foremost sports scientists in cycling and endurance sports and he said that yes cadence is a difficult topic which is something of a relief and actually one of the reasons for that is that no one even knows what optimal really means here because is it the rate of perceived exertion so how hard it feels like you’re actually trying or is it a physiological marker like your oxygen uptake because actually amusingly perhaps the two don’t match up when you test them in a lab like Dan and I found out actually a couple years ago we did indeed and something else that Louis said is that actually if you’re just getting into the sport of cycling you often quoted golden canes at about 90 RPM probably is fairly spot-on although we should qualify this given what we’ve already learned in this video and so that’s when you’re riding hard on a flat road it probably is slightly too quick for when you’re going uphill however you are quickly going to find out what is achievable for you yeah now one thing that is absolutely undeniable amongst all of this though is that we could all use cadence to actually increase training effect so for most of us our training is probably aimed to allow us to cope with a whole range of conditions better on the bike so being able to climb better or Time Trial better or sprint better and actually cadence can help us do that so coming up our three training sessions that use cadence to make us faster [Music] locai dance drills are designed to build muscle endurance by asking your legs to generate more force at a lower cadence so for this one getting a gear which enables you to have a cadence between fifty and sixty rpms whilst that sweet spot intensity so good solid tempo and do five minutes of easy riding in between each one now ideally you should do these on a climb another really effective type of cadence drill is standing start effort so these are used by loads of different types of competitive cyclists from track sprinters right through to skinny little climbers and it’s effectively like weight training on the bike so it will help you recruit muscle fibers so making more than muscle that you already have but then ultimately long term will help me develop lean tissue as well to do it come from a standing start in a really big gear and then accelerate as hard as you can ah you probably only need to do that ten of these with full recovery to make a set and finally we have high cadence drills although we should say that pass fuel says there’s no scientific basis for these they’re purely anecdotal but the theory is sound coordinating more effective movements now these ones again you want to do intervals of five minutes in duration this time to a very easy gear which is going to allow you to spin at 120 to 130 rpm if you’re not used to these sorts of Keynes’s they are still going to feel quite fatiguing despite the relatively low intensity [Music] hopefully this pragmatic approach decadence will serve you well it certainly has done many of the world’s top riders for many years make sure you let us know how you get on with our suggested cadence drills but before you head out on your bike you might want to watch the next couple of videos up in the top corner over there is the video we talked about a little bit earlier on in this video where we went into the laboratory and GCN does science on cadence and also in the bottom corner there is how to pedal like a pro before going to either those they do make sure you subscribe to GCN to do that just click on the globe what is that going to be then no idea

84 comments on “Can You Improve Your Cadence? | GCN’s Road Cycling Tips

  1. Low cadence drills are just bad for your knees and they haven't been proved effective. Quite the opposite: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3907705/

  2. High cadence was the answer for my knee pain. When I first started road cycling I was averaging 60-70 RPM and constantly straining my ITB. Now I average mid-to-high 90's and can ride all day with zero pain.

  3. The more power I putt out, the higher my cadence is. I find it easier to use a higher cadence to create force than to push a larger gear with lower cadence. It's not something I do on purpose. I believe a human body knows what it's doing. When it feels right, it probably is.

  4. #Torqueback when I am approaching a climb, when is the optimum time to change gears and start spinning? Often the climb gets progressively steeper, so how much momentum should I carry in?

  5. I love GCN, but I'm a mountain biker. Should my "optimal" cadence be the same as this video says for road cyclists, or is it different?

  6. Scientists reveal how pedalling a low gear at a high cadence could waste 60 per cent of a cyclist's energy
    Read more at http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/fitness/why-amateurs-shouldnt-try-to-pedal-like-chris-froome-191779#veqVW08VmoMZVh8k.99

  7. Regular cyclists tend to save their energy instinctively by choosing the most comfortable gears
    Read more at http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/fitness/why-amateurs-shouldnt-try-to-pedal-like-chris-froome-191779#veqVW08VmoMZVh8k.99

  8. So much is down to your own physiology, as you point out with Quintana/Froome, that, indeed, there isn't one right answer. My personal experience, for what it's worth, is to try a few different things just to see if something feels better and improves performance outside of your natural tendencies.

    After belatedly getting a cadence sensor, what surprised me is my cadence was lower than I expected on climbs. So I thought I'd give higher cadence climbing a go, going from around 65-70 RPM to generally around 80+. Not only did I find this more comfortable I actually think it helped me go a little faster too (lots of variables here so perhaps feeling better is more important but still).
    This picture is further complicated by changes in cadence during a climb – so standing at a lower cadence but similar power feels good for short bursts every so often on a climb as it means muscle recruitment is mixed up a little and can almost feel like a "rest".

    My natural tendecies weren't too far off but it was certainly worth trying something a little different and giving things a nudge, I was pleasantly surprised.

  9. Haha if you mountain bike spend a little time on a singlespeed hardtail you spend your time at like 30-120 rpm when your out riding some trails, its not fast but its pretty fun and you spend your time at all sorts of cadiences

  10. Climbing ability comes from high cardiovascular capacity not leg strength/force/torque. Same for flat riding. Brute strength only useful for sprinting and even then how many sprinters grind? If fatigue is an issue spinning is so much more effective than grinding you can't even compare. Better for joints too.

  11. Hey GCN I got an idea for video. It would be great if you can do since and test – how much exactly cyclocross bike slower than road bike in similar conditions ( good tarmac, 25 mm tyres, similar rider position and etc.). That would be great video.

  12. I found that as my core strength increased, so did my cadence… I think it might have something to do with balance (and confidence perhaps). Going up hill, you physically move slower and therefore you naturally decrease your cadence to balance using your legs. And at high speeds, the other way around. Without trying at all, my cadence increased at all speeds after starting core exercises

  13. when doing the standing starts is it a good idea to alternate legs which you push off from so you have the heaviest part evenly on each leg.

  14. The best cadence drill would be to get a fixed wheel and go send yourself down a big hill, that'll get the legs spinning 😉

  15. I did what came naturally when I started cycling – kept grinding at highest gear available – and I've messed up my knees (and, I think, my hip joints). Now I keep my eyes glued to cadence on my phone screen, making sure I spin at 90 RPM or more, and nothing hurts.

  16. If anyone's wondering, Simon was mentioning Prof. Louis Passfield of University of Kent at 2:50. I'll admit it though, I heard Louis Pasteur at first too.

  17. Liked this one – My Coach ( USA Cycling Level 1 guy ) – has me doing hi speed cadence drills with the logic of training muscle neurons to recruit more muscle fibers.

  18. You say that the optimal cadence for most is around about 90, but then go on to say that when climbing it is more like 70-75. Why? Nothing has changed, especially for slopes up to about 6%. It's in the head. Don't let cadence drop on climbs, there is no point, and nothing to gain.
    If you allow cadence to drop, you are going to have to push harder to make the same power.
    On this year's Etape, the Col de la Joux Plane (10km @ 9%) did for many Cat 1 riders, simply because they weren't geared correctly and bogged down, unable to spin. You can get away with it on a 3 to 4k climb, but not on this one.

  19. On a flat road with average wind, 100-110 feels the most natural to me. When I go below 100 I feel like I need to shift down to keep my cadence up. Also on a climb I like to keep it as high as possible.

  20. I have learned a lot by watching your videos. Even as a 51 year old who has ridden a lot, I never put much thought into it. Even without technology aids though, I have come to understand that the goal of my training rides is to keep up a certain cadence over my ride, not just get from point A to point B. Freewheeling always felt normal to me, especially with older bikes. Now that I have a new road bike with brake lever shifters, things have changed dramatically. Now I keep pedaling and go into a higher gear to keep up the cadence. I only freewheel when I feel like I'm going too fast or the hill I'm descending is too steep.

  21. I lack stamina but got enough strength to ride in harder gears but lower RPM specially in uphills, well I hope my stamina improves tho

  22. Sooo i heard somewhere that dropping bellow 100 prpms in climbs can hurt your knees….how the fuck do you stay at 100 rpms in realy steep climbs?

  23. Hi when you are Cycling in a Cycling studio on a stationry bike or out on the road, The Tour de France Riders ride with Cadences from 60-65 on the Hills and, flats cadences range from 80-110. Flat Roads you Never go over 110 Rpm if you are doing 120 to 130 Rpm you don't have enough gear on the bike and going to cause injury to your knees 110 is the Maximum Leg Rpm a tour Rider can maintain on his bike with good form.

    Alessandro Dinino

    Spinning Instructor Madd Dogg Trained

  24. i used to usually ride at 50 cadence on a 2% to 5% gradient road then bought a new bike that was a road bike and went at 75 cadence on that same road i am 15 years old and i already drove over 100 km in a single ride with both of the bikes. i didnt feel the change in the bikes looking at fatigue level and the point of this comment is that cadence changes naturally so dont worry about it

  25. Cadence between a 7 kg bike and a 14 kg bike is very different as I train on a 14 kg bike 80% of the time and going to the 7 kg bike it feels like paper pedalling it. If you have bigger legs proper gearing is very important, I have massive track style legs and riding a 48 ring with a 21 cog with 25 km hr head wind I average around 32 km hr on a $290 road bike mind you so basically as crappy hardware as possible. Train on a heavy bike then Race on the light bike.

  26. #askGCN Is it possible to just 'feel' your way to the best cadence for rider & conditions, or should we use some prescriptive method or test? Years ago a cyclist who knew a lot more than I did suggested I use a higher cadence. He gave me some numbers, explained the gains from a higher cadence. At first I think I counted turns and looked at my watch.. But mostly I just kind of spin my way into a groove. If I quickly feel fatigued, I back off a bit. I think when my cadence is 'right' I have this feeling, "I could do this all day.' I just saw the piece in Cycling "Ideal cycling cadence: new evidence why amateurs shouldn’t pedal like Chris Froome"
    Read more at https://www.cyclingweekly.com/fitness/why-amateurs-shouldnt-try-to-pedal-like-chris-froome-191779#kVxWYXUpU5A8gxix.99
    But climbing steep grades often feels a bit like I'm spinning too fast, but if I shift to a higher gear it's 'Ah, that's a bit too tough.' I've got big legs (more mule than cyclist) so if anybody could just climb at a slow cadence it should be me. The reason I'm asking is a bit silly. I've got an old electronic metronome I thought I'd try. I replaced the battery but couldn't get it to work. Before buying a new one, I wondered if I should even bother. While watching your video (thanks) I cleaned off the tarnish (vinegar q-tip, usually a pencil eraser is enough) and got it working. I think it will be useful to determine what my basic cadence. But the question remains.

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