Can your normal cadence be too high?

I have noticed that my natural cadence in TR is between 95 and 100 rpm. Probably closer to 100. Outside it is in the same range until I run out of gears. I find that my endurance is way better with a quicker cadence. However, my natural cadence seems to be quite a bit faster than most people. Is this a problem? Should I look at slowing down? If there a downside to a faster cadence? For reference, I can hit more than 150rpm on the trainer if I try. I have always had a faster than typical cadence. About 40 years of riding.

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Nope! In fact, a faster cadence is actually more efficient in most cases. Most professional cyclists spin between 100 and 110 rpm :slight_smile:

The most efficient cadence is self-selected cadence (assuming it can be sustained etc.). I am just like you, my avg cadence for intervals is 98-102 and for me it feels the most efficient.

Also especially if you are a “tt specialist” higher cadence as you describe are pretty normal.

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On some days my uncontrolled happy cadence is around 95 and other days it can be in the 85 zone and I have to force it to go higher. Equipment and setup being constant. Is this an indicator of fatigue or anything else? Curious.

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I am very similar too.

I agree it’s best to choose a cadence that is natural rather than forcing the “best” cadence.

Cadence is half the the power output equation so there’s definitely some benefits to a higher cadence.

Strangely I find my cadence on the turbo to usually settle around 10rpm slower than when I’m outside

For cycling cadence, we should differentiate between the most efficient and best. The answer will vary depending on power output, and goal. What might be the most metabolically efficient may not be best in terms of keeping HR down and/or leg fatigue minimized.

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Couple that will the particular event duration and intensity, and there are likely a wide range of “perfect” cadences. I doubt you would see the same cadence ranges for crit races vs MTB endurance vs IronMan vs RAAM. It seems that cadence ranges tend to drop as the duration of an event increases. So the magic “90 rpm” is good for plenty of stuff, but I suspect not the answer for everyone or every event.

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wow 110!? That seems so high, had no idea. Thanks for sharing that

Very common. I’m the same.

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Actually yes!

There is parasitic loss for the energy going into spinning your legs. Just making up numbers, if you imagine that it takes +20W to spin your legs an extra 20 rpm but that boosts gross power by 10%. So, a pro that makes 400W at 90 would have 440W at 110 and could net +20W by speeding up, while someone making 100-110W would only yield 90W at 110.

Of course, there could be different physiological response to different cadence so while you make the most instantaneous power at 120 or 80 rpm, you could bonk earlier or need more recovery because of it.

Therefore, I think it is not only based on “natural comfort” (familiarity, gossip?), but also likely the duration, desire to conserve/stimulate stress, and certainly fitness level.

I’m curious whether different body positions and race strategies have a different answer, e.g. TT is steady with hip/back flex while peloton is more upright with attacks. If nothing else, I like to stand up on hills to rest the seat while I don’t need aero.

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The only drawback of consistently spinning at higher than usual cadence is that your low cadence may be untrained. Only a problem if you ride steeps and run out of gears, and you can literally buy your way out of that problem…

MTB is a different story. Sometimes you can’t spin fast in a tech climb without striking pedals.

Get a tech MTB climb and I find it’s easier in a higher gear because each pedal stroke gives you a bit more momentum. Depending grade and gear and what the actual obstacle is then you might also have to stand to give you that oomph to get you over it.

“The only drawback of consistently spinning at higher than usual cadence is that your low cadence may be untrained”

I actually found that my out of the saddle and low cadence riding became more of a problem and that raw leg strength had gone down. So, I started doing some low cadence, high power, work and now my leg strength has increased even though I tend to favor 95-100 rpm. So, I guess that you really need to work the entire cadence range to maximize your cadence flexibility.

I think this is the best advice. My goal is to be able to use the entire range of useful cadences efficiently and without risk of injury. Never stop experimenting.

I think that this question is something that somehow gets missed in communication on screen directions. Some guidance suggests above 85, and then when an intense segment or high cadence drill is suggested I fill like I drill it and am certainly establishing a base of higher spin and training but the legs load up higher at lower cadence. They are explaining it on pod casts and on screen guidance but I must be missing something in an effort to maximize the intensity. Tonight I did bluebell and pushed the % up to 110%. Which was more of an intended effort for me. I was not getting anything (even though this is a base plan workout). In all fairness, due to covid interference I am more rested than usual. However, I feel pretty good about moving it to 110% to get the intended workout vs 100%. So either this is supposed to feel like not much of anything or my ftp is off

History Lesson

High cadence came into fashion way back in the early 1950s.

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We all know Road Runner was doping so not a great example. That’s why Wile e coyote was chasing him. Owed him money…