Cadence during VO2 max intervals

During VO2 max workouts Chad’s instructions always recommend a cadence of 100rpm or a bit higher during each interval. What if I used a lower cadence, say between 80-90rpm?

Would I still get the intended benefits from the workout due to the intensity of the intervals and regardless of cadence? Or would I get different benefits? Or would I get the intended benefits regardless of a lower cadence plus additional benefits?

Using a much lower cadence than Chad’s recommendations, I’m guessing that I would still get the intended benefits from the intervals but would develop additional muscular strength due to the lower cadence (and with it increased fatigue). I’m also guessing that VO2 max intervals with a relatively low cadence would be damn hard - much harder than using a high cadence. Correct? Recommended? Foolish?

You won’t tax your aerobic system to the same degree. At slower cadence your relying more on your glycolytic motor units, whereas at the faster cadences you’re recruiting more aerobic fibres. You’ll see it reflected in your heart rate, it should be higher at the higher cadences. It prob doesn’t make an enormous difference, but prob best to focus on one goal for the workout rather than trying to get all the benefits in one go and compromising it.


80-90rpm is far from “low” and is perfectly fine for VO2max workouts.

Whether you can sustain that for 3 min is up to you. Probably easier to start at 100+ and let the cadence fall.

The goal of VO2max workouts is first and foremost, time in zone.


you’ll still get the same benefits, but throw in some cadence work on endurance days to raise your cadence so there’s less muscular fatigue during these hard efforts.

Good luck!


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