Cadence - struggling with 85-95 range

Hey guys,

I have a question regarding cadence…

In a lot of the workouts, it is recommended to perform the workouts at 85-95rpm. My go to cadence for anything tempo and above is probably 100-103rpm. It probably goes without saying but anything tempo, SS, threshold and above is massively inefficient for me below 85rpm

When it comes to threshold and above, spinning at 95 or below is very tough, and I could never hope to hold this cadence for very long. It raises my HR and my legs seem to light up very quickly.

I can average over 100rpm for long rides so this isn’t really a problem for me, but is there a chance that I’m missing out on adaptations or gains by not being able to grind out high power at lower cadences?

Thanks in advance for any input!

I’m the same (I spin most comfortably around 100rpm + inside), it doesn’t seem to have hurt me probably the opposite, I was pb’ing TTs considerably and everyone in my club comments on how much better I am. If I wanted to focus on lower cadence stuff on the trainer I would switch to Resistance mode, I don’t though, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it :wink:

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AFAIK the only risk is if you encounter a gradient that forces you below your self selected cadence range you’ll fatigue more quickly than you normally would. Getting more comfortable at a wider range of cadences isn’t going to hurt you, so I would say just try to stretch your cadence a bit in the easier workouts to get more comfortable with it.

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This is an interesting topic, to me it seemed that 85-95rpm target was more meant as “85+”, referring to riders who would not even make it to 85 or more.
Never had I thought it could mean that you could spin too quick. (Unless its one of these “climbing” sessions which require you to do down to 75rpm, partially standing and things like that.

Did I get it wrong? Can one spin too quick to get the intended training?

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Yeah, I wouldn’t stress about not being able to get “down to” 85-95. My impression with those instructions are to get people to practice getting “up to” that cadence. The issue being that a faster cadence can help some people push out more power since it’s less effort per rotation.

Also, I think it depends a bit on your discipline, if you’re a roadie, higher cadence tends to be an asset. But if you’re doing short hard hitting crit races, or MTB, or something requiring fast power changes when shifting might not be optimal or desired, then you might want to play around with producing the same power at lower cadences.

For myself, I was the opposite and my comfortable cadence used to be 83-88 ish and now its more like 93-98, after a couple years of TR.

LOL and here I thought your question was about those of us who naturally ride below 85rpm…

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I do think it is important to be able to be efficient at all cadence ranges if you want to be fast outdoors. Say you have an 8 minute climb with a 10-17% grade. Quite a lot of those in my area and spinning 100+ RPM up those, you’d have to be a real beast and you’d really tax your cardiovascular system anyways making recovery take longer. Or say that you are just cruising in the pack in Z2, why spin 100 RPM and stress your cardio when you can cruise and relax at 75-80 rpm? I would recommend working at all sorts of cadence ranges. What I have noticed in my own training is that periodically doing low threshold intervals seated down to 50RPM (only for a minute at a time max, mixed with standing at 70 rpm) has lowered my heart rate when I am in the endurance zones and given me more endurance all throughout the zones. Cadence is a tool, and I see good riders constantly adjusting it to control momentum.

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I have similar thoughts as truep. I think that different cadences are tools that you can use depending on the situation you find yourself in and training and getting comfortable at different cadences is a way to fill your tool belt. Slower RPM can be great for controlling and managing heart rate or on climbs. Fast RPMs can get quick explosive power. My max sprint power came when ramping cadence up very high and very quickly. I surprise myself on the max short term power I can get just be using cadence as the weapon. I’m pretty one dimensional where I ride from 88-92 most of the time, but I think being competent and comfortable at a wide range of cadences is an asset and makes you more versatile. Being more competent at a variety of cadences is an area I want to develop in.

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thanks for all of your responses, seems that there’s not much physically that I’m missing out on, but having the ability to spin a broader range may help in certain circumstances in the real world.

Best give it a go on TR then… ready to feel the sting :tired_face:

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For laughs I paired the trainer in erg to RGT going up stelvio after my TR workout. Super grindy and not even 70rpm. Nowhere near the consistent TR watts and cadence when it was just for background entertainment.

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Lol, I just looked at the last time I went up RGT’s Stelvio and I was 45rpm for just under 1h 4mins :joy:

Outside rides if not a TT will vary widely in cadence averages and despite pedaling with a high cadence on TR I think I have a broad range.

Hmm. I dont know. Since i have started with trainerroad i increased my cadence altough i know i can not hold this cadence on my average outdoor rides ( i live in the alps). Every ride is a mountain ride with a gradient that makes it impossible to ride with 85+…
Personally, im thinking about a New casette not knowing if its worth

I have a naturally high cadence and usually average 97-100. I have no issue going above 100 - it doesn’t seem fast to me. I do force myself to ride some intervals below 95 or below 90 to train those lower cadences for when I need them but I have to constantly watch the monitor to keep the cadence from ticking up.

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I’m in a similar boat as you. Doing SSB1 at the moment and a lot of my cadences during intervals are between 95 and 110 rpm and above. What I tend to do to get a bigger range of cadence is during recovery, I will leave the gear as it is. ( I don’t have ERG mode, it’s a dumb trainer). This will slow me down to 70- ish. From there I will shift up to get to 80-85 rpm and keep it there for remainder of the recovery.

I feel that many of the suggestions during the base plans are to condition new cyclists.

When I’m outside riding with the group I will have a slower cadence while I’m in the pack. When it’s my turn to pull, or when it’s the last 20 to 15k of the ride and we are emptying the tank, I will get into that mindset of interval, head down, cadence up and just ride the groove.

So indoors I will have a high average of 95+ but outdoors it will be 85+. I can’t do low 70 rpm. Feels to much like muscling through instead of spinning up.
I think it’s nice to have some range but I don’t see any reason to have a 50 rpm cadence range, unless your situation demands that.

I think it’s more important to do what comes natural to you unless you’re way out of the norm (like a very very slow grinder or a very very fast spinner).

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An obvious example of where 50 rpm cadence is usual is mountain biking a tough technical or slippery section (or single speed mtb which I love).

An example on the road is say you are climbing with a group at low threshold at 85 rpm and you feel good. You shift down 2-3 gears spinning at 50 rpm, then stay in the same gear and unleash a monster attack, either seated shifted forward and tucked, or standing - either way ramping up cadence as fast as possible.

Or you might use 50-60 rpm to maintain the same pace and perceived effort going from seated to standing on a climb to stretch or rest/use other muscle groups without upping the pace and effort. Doing this, your heart rate may even decrease.

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IMHO, this seems to be trainer road encouraging most folks who may have a slower spin to try a high cadence to shift the work onto your aerobic system rather than anerobic.

If you have a solid quick spin, it sounds like you’re ahead of most of us.

For some reason indoors my average is somewhere between 85 and 90 but outside seems like my cadence tends to drop to 75 to 85 for some reason.

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So then stick to your cadence. I think the 85–95 rpm reminders are for beginners whose cadence tends to be lower than that. My preferred cadence lies between 95–105 for sweet spot till FTP and drops a bit for anything above that. At the very ragged edge of VO2max I fare better when my cadence is 90–95.

I’d just stick to your preferred range as long as it lies above 85 rpm and make sure to sometimes change it up and pedal at cadences you are less used to, say 70 rpm or 80 rpm on the low end and 120 rpm at the high end.

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I agree with pretty much everyone above. You are not missing out on the workout goals if you spin faster than prescribed in the workout (unless the goal is specifically to work on lower cadence power).

If however your in-ability to produce the power while spinning slower is a real-life limiter for you then maybe you should work on it - but it doesn’t seem like this is the case?

I don’t believe in “natural” cadences. Your “natural” cadence is what you practice and what you practice get’s comfortable. I was a “natural” 80-90 rpm guy for years and now I’m a “natural” 100-105. Anyone saying they can’t spin at 100 because their natural cadence is in the 80’s has chosen to stay in the 80’s. No dramatic increase in cadence is going to feel good right away. It takes time. I’m a believer that a fast spin allows you to put out more power for longer, but as folks have said, there are times when you run out of gears and have to spin slower. Practicing other cadences is probably worthwhile if you have already mastered the cadence you want to aspire to, but if you haven’t, I would focus on getting proficient with that and then broadening your range.

Not true. N=1, I can’t do it. My “natural” cadence is 70-75. Trying to reach 100 for years, at least a decade.

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