Low cadence block(s) for long and steep climbing races?

I have read through earlier posts about low cadence, but didn’t find answer to this one:

How much low cadence work is advisable/useful per week and at which phase of training?
when 30-60% of the actual A race time is spent on low cadence due to climbing…

Would it be good to integrate some low cadence work once a week or even more often? Throughout the base-build-specialty or just e.g. in few weeks at the beginning of specialty (closer to race)?

I’m currently doing SSbase and going for Sustained power + Climbing road race ahead of A event at the end of May. All in low volume as also doing 3x/w running (low intensity until May to prepare for first marathon Sep 20) and 1x/w gym (heavy load 4-6 reps).
A event is 6-day climbing (70-120km/day, 1000-2500m vertical/day) event and ambition is more on having fun than being first, but we’ll be hitting Muro di Sormano (1.7km 15.6% avg gradient) at the end of a long day (100km, so no fresh legs) and I got this crazy ambition to get through it without touching ground. This is going to be true grinding effort with cadence more likely around 40-50 with my meager 3.2-3.3/kg FTP.
There will be a number of 1h+ climbs with more typical 7-9% avg gradient which will also fall into 60-70 cadence to keep power in check.
I’m more of a spinner doing TR exercises usually with avg cadence of 93-95 (aerobic diesel engine type instead of muscles/power). I did Maratona this year and there my cadence was typically between 60-65 on the longer climbs running 34-30. It left me feeling that some low cadence practice could have helped both comfort and speed. I will be running 34-34 on the coming season which will help some on cadence.

Any advice appreciated.

Jumping in because I have interest in knowing the answer for your question for future adventures.

FWIW, I’m just like you. I have a light spin and my normal cadence is always over 93 rpm. Last september I went to Italy at around 4,1 w/kg FTP. I spent some 12 days travelling before hitting the alps. I live in a flat area of the brazilian coast. I’ve done a few trips to climbing places, but I really underestimate the effect of the huge alpine climbs.

I got a rental bike with 34x32. Stelvio from Bormio cost me 2hrs at 3w/kg. From Pratto I had to stop several times because I was cooked and I had to eat and take pictures. But the real problem was that my weight was at around 68kg, so I was unable to use a fast spin with 34x32 at 200-210w. If you is a lightweight you’ll have a hard time at Muro di Sormano, but at least it’s only 1,7km. At Mortilo I averaged over 3w/kg and I was almost always standing and pushing really hard 34x32 at 50rpm tops. It was a huge mistake not be prepared to turn the pedals at lower cadence.

Get this FTP up independently of what cadence you manage to hold. That’s my advice.

I’d start now, build the low cadence work Into your sweetspot work.

What power would you have to put out on your climbing days at your desired cadence? If you have a fairly good idea, try and mimic it. Adding some 50-60% ftp work at the end of a session has helped me no end so far, you could even do it low cadence too

The 34/34 will definitely help! Bumping your FTP or even you MLSS (probably more appropriate) will be the biggest factor

I know this isn’t really answering your question but…

Can you not get easier gears on your bike? I think training for low cadences is going to help you, but running a custom gear ratio will help you a ton more than becoming great at 50 RPM pedaling

you can, on most bikes, get below a 1:1 gear ratio (30 in the front, 32 or 34 in the back) and still spin up things at 12-15% grades


I would like TR to develop some plans to cover such common types of non race riding, and/or create new workouts (or publish guidance on manipulating current workouts cadence guidance) to better develop climbing ability at lower cadences where necessary. Yes, event specific self selected cadence kind of covers it, but i trust Coach Chads ability to work this out than myself. I am too busy just surviving to focus on that. I think this would be beneficial for members who are not always in race mode, but want to make the best of challenging events or cycling holidays