Mitochondrial Development

I’ve posted this in the FB Ask a Cycling Coach podcast page too…but in case they don’t pick my question and we have @mcneese.chad so who needs those three talking-heads anyway :wink:

On the workouts Coach Chad often suggests maintaining a cadence of greater than 85 and ideally upto or greater than 95 rpm.

Are there studies supporting either mitochondrial development in terms of absolute number or power as a result of sustained higher-cadence-lower-muscular-strength activity?

The reason I ask is that my natural cadence is 93-97 rpm. However as I have a Sportive that involves a series of 700m-2km 15%-30% cobbled hills (I’ll be lucky to hit 30rpm) I’ve been doing more lower cadence and out of the saddle brute-strength low-cadence knee-popping sets. Still following the power levels. I was wondering post Sportive should I keep them in my sets or return to fast spinning?


Specificity matters. If you know you’re going to have high grade climbs that will force you down into a lower cadence you should work it. Be able to work at a variety of cadences comfortably is a strength, but having your ‘default’ cadence being higher is easier on your legs.


@JulesC, you give me far too much credit. I have some thoughts on this, but far less knowledge based on actual research when compared to many others in this forum (not to mention the AACC crew). Most of my info is from shallow research and seat-of-the-pants experience for me and a few close friends.

As such, @ErickVH nailed the concept. Train the way you plan (need?) to ride or race. I do a bunch of higher power (Tempo, SS, Thresh and some lower VO2 work) at lower cadences because I need that type of work to match my gravel and MTB needs.

But I try to work the whole range from 60-120 RPM and just shift the relative emphasis from time to time based on the most recent needs. I think people should almost always work a wider range than what they “need”, just to cover for those times you can’t hit your ideal cadence range.