High Torque Training?

Longtime MTB’r, but just discovering power meters :smile:

Most of my TR riding, regardless of type (V02, Spanish needle) results in torque of 30-35Nm (thanks intervals.icu) due to 100rpm+ cadence.

However recently I rode a pretty technical trail center and after checking was surprised to see 10-20sec spikes of up to 80Nm torque at 60-70rpm. I guess this was short ramps, pushing over root’s, etc. The ride was good but the 20 or so high torque spikes must have taken their toll.

So, would it be benefical to do some specific high torque training, something like 175% ftp for 15sec @ 75rpm? Something like Spanish needle but with 2-3 gaps in between.

Or am I overthinking it :laughing:

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? How do you get this in ICU?

It can be selected as a chart or a field in the ride analysis


Thanks. I hadn’t noticed it before.

Be careful with your knees on the trainer if you play with low cadence/high force stomps. My Neo2 has tweaked my knees in the past when pushing things.



I think the best way to train for these type of efforts is to ride your MTB. Second best might be to practice some plyometrics, even squats may be beneficial.

The trainer won’t give you the same type of resistance. Spanish Needle may still be useful to increase your lactate clearing abilities both on the MTB and on your road bike.


That’s the problem with too much data…

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My coach has me do work that involves high torque: big gear stomps, standing starts, muscle tension intervals, sweet spot with bursts, etc.

What, yes, I’ve never even heard this ever discussed before. I ride and race MTB for 4 years and have never considered torque or Nm in my riding and cadence. VO2 training should be high cadence so keep that the same. Otherwise, ride your preferred cadence and these high torque efforts are best practiced on the trail, but I wouldn’t focus on them.

You haven’t heard it discussed because it is a result of training your sprint, acceleration, high-force strength work, or things like big gear starts.

The first two paragraphs here are interesting:


Low cadence, high torque training helps MTB a lot IMHO. When people mention having low back tightness and fatigue during technical climbs and fast MTB efforts, they are actually referring to hip and core instability due to lower-than-training cadence rates and higher-than-training pedal torque. The higher forces in these pedal strokes are translated into higher forces placed on your hip stabilizer and back muscles. This is also combined with having to move the bike underneath the rider while at the same time maintaining balance and power, which creates a nightmare for an unconditioned low back. Unless you are training these, I think you are asking for trouble.

For instance, look at MvdP the past 2 weeks. I don’t think anyone would argue he is putting in a lot of training hours and incorporating strength training, but he has openly admitted his back is not in shape for MTB efforts.

Just my $0.02


My coach routinely gives me sprint workouts, although those are really about developing my sprint. And in the process of doing sprint work, you generate a lot of torque. Here is one from a couple days ago (WKO chart):

Those were all-out, max effort sprints and so the power chart looks different - the power starts dropping as that energy system is good for about 15 seconds and then needs minutes to recharge. But I was still putting down a fair bit of torque on every sprint.

I really don’t look at that chart very often, its on my pedaling analysis page. For what its worth some of bigger ones at the end are from big gear starts after a traffic light turned from red to green.

I come from a 10 year CrossFit background prior to MTB so I wonder if I just already had been training this, so never saw it as an issue.

Thanks for all the opinions, looking into the data a bit more.
Roughly 57mins pedalling of which 5% was Neuromuscular / high torque (4mins), most of this was in 10-20sec burst accelerating out of uphill hairpins / accelerating over roots up climbs, the sort of stuff you find on technical trails (for the UK people it was Cannock)

All was at least double the torque I train at during Vo2max intervals.

It’s got to be of some benefit during 20sec high torque intervals at 70-80rpm. Maybe something like 15 intervals with a 3min gap inbetween.

My last race, but I don’t know what to make of the torque data:

IMHO you really need to do sprint type work to see a big increase in torque. I’ve done a fair bit of muscle tension intervals, and need to drop cadence to 40-45rpm to get torque up to 50Nm while doing tempo / sweet spot.

Thanks, I’ll probably try those as well. Looking at the ride data, I was putting out 450w, torque 60-70Nm at a cadance of 80rpm for about 10sec.

I’m going to experiment with a few workouts on the trainer with simlar power / cadence figures to see what that gives. (usally my V02Max intervals are 350w at 100-110rpm, 35Nm torque)

Ultimately I just was to put some more tension through my legs to make them more resiliant to this type of ride.

Here is the last 20-sec sprint from the other day, it had the highest peak torque of the sprint-intervals:

By that point all I had left in my legs was a 6-sec ~800 sprint :hot_face: That one had highest torque but not the highest power!

Some coaches use muscle tension intervals In the early season / base to prepare for this type of work. For example:


And don’t forget @HMG posted above about your posterior chain (back, glutes, hips, etc). Delivering a strong shot of power/torque to the pedals is more than just training the brain/body connection.

And FWIW my vo2max and threshold and sweet spot and tempo intervals are all in the 25-35Nm of torque unless I reduce cadence down to 40rpm.

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The fast talk episode on low gear work is an interesting listen overall. It touches upon the gap between coaching practice of prescribing high torque work and literature which tends to suggest limited benefits from doing it. They also discuss practical aspects of application: Put It in the Big Gear—We Explore Low-Cadence, High-Torque Training with Neal Henderson - Fast Talk Laboratories

I picked up some workouts from Henderson after listening to the episode, particularly the one where an initial almost all out standing start on a high gear is followed by 2-5min at close to threshold at low RPMs. Incidentally, I did this workout today with six efforts. The standing start on 53x12 produced peak torques around 150nm and the sustained part hovered around 50-55nm. This was on Quarq dzero.

The highest peak torque I have attained during an all out high gear standing start is 270nm. This was on my Powertap G3 during a standard standing start effort. Let’s just say that the dzero reading is more believable to me, but what do I know. :slight_smile:

For what it’s worth, I think there is a definite benefit to low gear work. At the very minimum it lowers the RPE of hard efforts, especially at the end of longer rides or races, but IMHO it also helps in applying power during the pedalstroke. This may be just me, but I often couple low gear work with high cadence intervals. Put it this way, it pays to overload the system by over and undergeared efforts.


I don’t think you’re over-thinking it. I think you’re asking a good question and it tells you something about coaches and why they advise what they advise.

  1. I think torque drills make just as much sense as cadence drills.
  2. Except in rare cases for riders with specific needs (track riders, for example), I think cadence drills are unimportant.
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… = FasCat plan… :wink: