Heart Rate Response to Cadence

I will be racing SSCX this season and won’t have the luxury of spinning a low gear and have been incorporating some lower cadence (65-75 RPM) work into my Sweet Spot workouts.

I’ve noticed that low-cadence work elicits a higher heart rate (usually a 5-10 BPM increase) than higher cadence at the same wattage. This is especially evident if I’m out of the saddle doing high-force standing pedaling. I’m wondering why this could be (less efficient Type 2 fibers?), and if I should continue to work on low-cadence in order to better adapt this system and whether or not there fitness benefits or gains to be made by doing so.

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I race a bit of single speed both in mtb and cx. In certain races the SS has proven the faster option, especially in muddy cx races.
Personally I think the cadence range for SScx is about 30-140rpm. Best to train for every eventuality. I run a stiff gear of 36/15 as I prefer grinding to spinning. I find I have a lower heart rate with lower rpm but I can feel it burning through my muscle endurance.

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Interesting. I observe the opposite in myself. Higher cadence for a given power leads to a higher HR. Back in the day before I had power I was on a flat road and moving along at a high cadence. I downshifted and picked up speed and dropped HR. I would suggest a higher cadence target and drill that range. When I’m CXing I generally stay in the lower end of my gears and often times opt to modulating my cadence instead of shifting.

However, it makes sense to me that training the lower end of the cadence range would be the way to go, I suspect you would want to spend some time with force drills rather than cranking out endurance power at a low cadence. My understanding is slow twitch muscle does not utilize O2 when firing and that is why HR often drops when the cadence is slow.

Mind you this is informed but not formally educated advice.


Get used to leaping on and of your bike, to singlespeeder has to be really adept at this, there are numerous times where you’ll need to dismount for small features like bumps and corners when its muddy and you can’t maintain momentum.

Standing will def raise your HR. Higher cadence than what you are used to will also raise your HR. As for lower cadence raising your HR, I cannot say I have experienced that. If my HR is not going down at a lower cadence, it is because I have already been pushing hard for quite a bit and the cadence will not matter. If I want my HR back down, I need to back the power off. YMMV

If you spend more time at a given cadence, your body/mind will get used to it.