Cadence- Is there such a thing as too high?

I have noticed that I have best endurance and efficiency in indoor TR workouts when my cadence is between 100 and 110 rpm. When it gets much lower I feel the ache in the muscles much more and I am more likely to get bogged down when in Erg mode. Outdoors I ride in the 95rpm range. Is there such a thing as natural selected cadence being too high? Other than for versatility, should I be doing some workouts at lower cadence? Just wondering.

1 Like

I don’t have the answer but much the same my cadence is generally a bit higher indoors, around 100 and averages 90 outdoors, both feel comfortable in their own right.

What I have found though is that I am more comfortable spinning a higher cadence outdoor when necessary, little surges where I don’t want to change gear, that type of thing.

There was a study that found untrained riders were wasting energy by spinning too high, IIRC, here’s the article, cba re-reading it

1 Like

Same for me.

I guess a cadence would be too high if you always train indoors at 100+ rpms, but most of your races/rides dictate a much lower cadence (80s rpm) due to gearing or otherwise. Then it would come down to specificity. RPE would likely be higher in this scenario, but whether there is an actual physiological difference may be tough to determine and above my pay grade. At higher cadences you are more aerobic, thus burning less glycogen. So there’s probably not a downside if you’re able to maintain a high cadence inside and out.

My last MTB race I hit a high cadence of 160 rpms.

I have ridden outdoors a fair bit lately as well as a number of rides in Zwift (yes, I rode with the devil). In those case led my cadence was averaging 90 to 95 rpm. I wonder if the difference has something to do with Erg mode? It feels to me that it is easier to stay on top of Erg mode at higher rpm.

Yes, that can make a difference. It is easier to end up with issues and the spiral of death with slower cadence, if you are not watching it and holding your effort carefully.

Erg or not, I consistently have trained at higher cadence indoors vs outdoors. Part of it is voluntary - using the controlled environment of indoor training to push up my cadence - and part of it results from the more complex environment riding outside, i believe.

Are you basing that on your average cadence or what you typically sit at?

I ask because my cadence on the road is much lower, but if I look back most of the time I’m pedaling it’s right where I sit indoors. Just steeper climbs, pulling up to stop signs, etc, they all have a big effect on the average. So, for example, my average cadence might be 80 on an hour ride, but it’s at 95 for 45 of those minutes.

I’m basing it on both average and instantaneous cadence.

I definitely went too high. Drifted up to a normal of about 100-105. Then went outside and up some steep hills. Ran out of gears and ended up at 60; FTP sucked at that low cadence. Probably okay as long as you maintain the range though.

IMO I think doing TR workouts at 100-110 is way too high. It’s good for sprints and possibly vo2max intervals but not to average that over a whole workout. I think it also depends on what sort of riding/racing you’re training for. The first year on TR I was doing my workouts at about 94-96, and now though after my last triathlon season finished I’m training at 87-90. Using more muscle in the range but able to keep my HR lower. I still practise drills and intervals at 110-115 and also 60-70, but threshold I’m aiming at that 87-90 which I want to race at. In the past I have tended to race at about 96-98, so now on outdoor rides I’m focusing on 87-90.

1 Like