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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 12:46 am 
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Rick wrote:
Now we are starting to get at my question:
Is higher cadence merely a byproduct of superior fitness, or should one train at higher cadence to gain superior fitness ?

Or stated another way: If one has attained superior fitness, then do they generally producer max power at higher cadence, or can one be in peak fitness but still just naturally produce max power at low RPM ?

Should one attempt to increase cadence as an end-in-itself, or is cadence always just a secondary parameter to where max power is achieved ?

You're asking two different questions, which lead me back to my initial reply.

In my experience, both my own and around those I race with, as levels increased so did the cadences. I think it's a by product of the generalisation of 'superior fitness' in addition to genetics and coaching. Look at the cadence the top sprinters and climbers hit when attacking, they are a lot higher than an average club racer.

TT's, a little different (as stated), as anything over 100 and a lot seem to struggle to really stay 'over' the gear. I'm in the 90's in at lot of my TT's, but that's not a conscious thing. I just pick a gear that allows me to push the highest power I can. I have a glance later at cadence and see what it's at. It's not a defining parameter.

An uphill TT recently I had an average of 85, again that was just what I needed to push to hold the speed and RPE I wanted (as I didn't have my SRM :( ).

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:48 am 
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Not what you asked, but cadence drills can help to improve inter- and intramuscular coordination, so you get faster. I've also read up about undercadence ("strength endurance") training, but it seems to have fallen out of favour recently.

As regards preferred cadence, I also find mine going up when getting fitter, although I'm not doing any drills.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:40 pm 
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As a reply to the OP's question. Wether you should stribe towards a higher cadence or not is dependent on what your goals are, what your training background is like, what type of racing you're doing etc.

If you are a solo rider only seeking to compete with yourself, don't bother doing drills and focused high-cadence work.
If you are a racer looking for more sting in the punch towards the end of a race, you should at least get it up in the 80-85 rpm range during intervals.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 4:37 pm 
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Don't overlook long term knee health.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:52 am 
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Fortunately, despite many years of abuse and plenty of scar tissue, my knees seem indestructable.

Thanks for all the replies thus far. I am not getting a definitive "answer", and so I still have some confusion; but I am definitely considering all the points brought up.

I have done many "high RPM intervals" and spent many hours slogging at low RPM up mountains. Of course the question is always "was I doing it hard enough" or "the right way". So maybe it is just a genetic thing that we gravitate towrds and "discover" what cadence works best for our genetics and training level.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:28 am 
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Rick wrote:
Thanks for all the replies thus far. I am not getting a definitive "answer"

Given debate rages on if the Jaffa Cake is really a cake or a biscuit, you're not going to get a "definitive answer" on something like this.

There are simply too many variables for there to be a 'blanket rule'.

Keep experimenting, sooner or later you'll work out what works best for you.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2013 10:12 am 
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As Tinea said there are way too many variables to boilerplate what is best. Your muscle composition of slow twitch and fast twitch muscles will really dictate you ability to spin at a certain cadence and push power. For me as my cadence comes down my power goes up and my heartrate drops. The 3 tt's I've done this year my cadence has been between 84 to 86 rpm. This is just what works for me but probably won't work for you.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:19 pm 
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+1 on long term knee health, really (no, I mean REALLY!) ...I've been riding for some 13 years now, and been pushing some really high gears... Knees are, well no longer in mint condition. I still put out my peak power at low cadence (low 80's), but I have been forced to raise my average cadence by about 7-10 rpm, and preferably by 10-15 rpm, to keep my knees going without to much pain.

Don't go thinking you're "in the clear" because you might have had 10 years of injury free riding. A worn out knee is worn out for the rest of your life...

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:51 am 
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60 is too low, sorry. If you were to race or do anything spirited there is almost no way you could follow a sharp acceleration as the muscular force needed for the rapid change in velocity would be much higher than if you were riding even 20RPM higher.

In my past I pushed a big gear when my seat was too high or my fitness was poor. I wouldn't overlook bike fit and/or cleat position.

My most optimal climbing cadence is around 80-85RPM, but I can produce almost the same power on the flats at 95 RPM or often times in criteriums at around a 100 RPM average. No idea why, never questioned it really. 80 is still low but I can follow accelerations at that cadence. My road cadence has stayed pretty static over the years.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 12:01 pm 
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If you don't combine spin and endurance training, you won't get anywhere! :idea:

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:16 pm 
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The optimal cadence is between 90 and 100 rpm. There have been studies done on this.

Now cadence is one thing and power to drive a gear at a particular cadence over a period of time is another.

Aerobic fitness plays into this. The higher the cadence the more aerobically fit you need to be. The leg muscles are fired over a shorter period of time on each revolution of the pedals. You need a good aerobic engine to recover and remove lactic acid build up. The lower the cadence the longer the duration of muscle usage over each revolution.

Pros have the advantage of genetics plus the right training to keep a higher cadence due to better aerobic fitness at the same time they can turn a bigger gear at close to 90 to 100 rpm to achieve the maximum benefit: optimal cadence at the given gear without compensating aerobic and anaerobic red line.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:28 pm 
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Actually, studies done on cadence have shown 80-100 with some even demonstrating that down to 70 can pose few problems for some: http://www.pezcyclingnews.com/page/toolbox/?id=89252

Aerobic fitness and cadence is a myth, especially the way Lance and Ferrari claimed. Fiber type, physiology, and fitness will determine what firing rate is optimal for the utilizing lactate as fuel or fueling in an anaerobic environment. 100 is not necessarily any more efficient than 85 in that regard. Not all pros TT super high and we also have to remember that there are a lot of other factors that come into play in a stage race time trial such as muscular fatigue (which for some can limit how low they can go), course profile, and rider preference. If we want to believe Wiggins (and a friend actually taped his time trial and figured this out) he actually benefitted from a drop in cadence from 105 to 90 and put out more power (supposedly, but its hard to believe that he put out significantly less). I can't find any of Martin's power files, but with a 58-60 big ring I doubt he is pushing anything extraordinarily high.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 5:44 am 
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On a recent personal physiology test (see LT determined from VO2 max thread below), I played around with different cadences while wearing the full gas exchange set up. My preferred cadence is usually around 95-100, but interestingly I was able to ride at a higher percentage of my VO2 max aerobic ally with a cadence around 90. Now, in long events (4 hours +) I don't think I'd have the muscle strength to maintain a lower cadence, but nonetheless, I found it interesting. Fwiw, I'm no gear masher and have a 'round' pedal stroke which for me made the findings all the more interesting.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 10:38 am 
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Noting though that those who diagnostically 'mash' through their pedal stroke tend to be the ones who produce the higher power.

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Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 10:38 am 


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:23 pm 
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Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research:
March 2013 - Volume 27 - Issue 3 - p 637–642
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31825dd224
Original Research
The Effect of Cadence on Cycling Efficiency and Local Tissue Oxygenation
Abstract: Jacobs, RD, Berg, KE, Slivka, DR, and Noble, JM. The effect of cadence on cycling efficiency and local tissue oxygenation. J Strength Cond Res 27(3): 637–642, 2013—The purpose of this study was to compare 3 cycling cadences in efficiency/economy, local tissue oxygen saturation, heart rate, blood lactate, and global and local rating of perceived exertion (RPE). Subjects were 14 trained cyclists/triathletes (mean age 30.1 ± 5.3 years; V[Combining Dot Above]O2 peak 60.2 ± 5.0 ml·kg−1·min−1) who performed three 8-minute cadence trials (60, 80, and 100 rpm) at 75% of previously measured peak power. Oxygen consumption and respiratory exchange ratio were used to calculate efficiency and economy. Results indicated that both efficiency and economy were higher at the lower cadences. Tissue oxygen saturation was greater at 80 rpm than at 60 or 100 rpm at minute 4, but at minute 8, tissue oxygen saturation at 80 rpm (57 ± 9%) was higher than 100 rpm (54 ± 9%, p = 0.017) but not at 60 rpm (55 ± 11%, p = 0.255). Heart rate and lactate significantly increased from minute 4 and minute 8 (p < 0.05) of submaximal cycling. Local RPE at 80 rpm was lower than at 60 or 100 rpm (p < 0.05). It was concluded that (a) Trained cyclists and triathletes are more efficient and economical when cycling at 60 rpm than 80 or 100 rpm. (b); Local tissue oxygen saturation levels are higher at 80 rpm than 60 and 100 rpm; (c). Heart rate and blood lactate levels are higher with cadences of 80 and 100 than 60 rpm; and (d). Local and global RPE is lower when cycling at 80 rpm than at 60 rpm and 100 rpm. A practical application of these findings is that a cadence of 60 rpm may be advantageous for performance in moderately trained athletes in contrast to higher cadences currently popular among elite cyclists.

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