Struggle to keep a high cadence

Hi guys,

Over the past 9 months, I’ve struggled to maintain a high cadence on more and more of my rides when doing any efforts or even riding Z2. Like most, I find it much easier to recover day to day if I keep the cadence up. However, even with my drop in cadence I have still managed to increase my power, I think I’d be able to build my power even more with a better cadence.

Putting it simply… Any tips on putting out a high cadence at high power?

Can you frame this with a bit more info:

  • What cadence range you traditionally use (Average / Typical, Max, Min)?
  • What do you consider “High” cadence?
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Forget about power at the moment, down the resistance and develop leg speed. Once you’ve got used to pedaling fast gradually up the resistance and you’ll easily achieve the desired power.

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Thank you, I’ve tried a couple of sessions on correcting my cadence. what would you say is more effective?

Longer intervals at a high cadence

or

Shorter intervals at a VERY high cadence?

Anything over 88rpm

I’ll take my 2 recent FTP tests

December 2019 - 327W - 193bpm av - 87RPM
July 2020 - 366W - 190bpm av - 75RPM!!!

Are those test results from Ramp Tests?
They may be interesting, but I wouldn’t take them at the sole indicator here.

Workouts at a range of powers (as you mention in the Z2 part) are more relevant than testing, IMO.

Keep in mind the whole “cadence” topic is hardly set in stone. Typically, riding at your self-selected cadence is best. But that can vary depending on your current “typical” cadence, and any goals you have that may be effected or limited by your cadence range.

If you are aiming to increase your average cadence, doing so in small bites (3-5rpm, over 5 minutes at a time, within a workout) can lead to increases over time. Then you can increase duration as you get more comfortable at those higher spin efforts. These types of changes take time and don’t happen overnight.

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Are you using ERG mode?

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No just on resistance, it’s the same both indoors and out

If you have ERG, I would turn it on. It’s a great tool for training cadence as you basically have infinite gearing. You can pedal at whatever cadence you want regardless of the power. Start at your base and work your way to a target.

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I’d go for very short and fast initially (just make sure its controlled and theres no rocking) but over time add in alternate sessions long quick but comfortable cadence sessions :+1:

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I struggle with this, too! I think the cadence drill workouts (like tunnabora) are helping me. I try to supplement my plan with something with cadence drills at least once a week and I have actually noticed an improvement in my baseline cadence and my ability to spin up faster.

This is definitely part of the beauty of ERG mode. I’ll break up those long sweet spot intervals with small cadence shifts to train at different cadences. Helps a ton with modulating HR on those intervals as well.

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A long time ago when this whole high cadence thing was a bit of a beard for something entirely different, I did a lot of work lifting mine. The approach I used was a bit of both. I ran short form sprints up to the point of bouncing on the saddle. I would then try and relax and stop the bouncing. When I started that at first like you I started bouncing at 90rpm. I did this on my commutes. Within a few weeks of this I could hit 130 rpm before bouncing. Then the other leg of it was during long rides I would look at my cadence and raise it just 5 rpm for a few minutes. I went from a self selected cadence of mid 70’s up to 95 to 100 in a couple of months. There I have stayed ever since. Sadly it didn’t make an appreciable impact on my results.

Didn’t that recent Dylan Johnson cadence video cite evidence that cyclists saw the best results training at their natural spin?

I understand the benefits of spinnng quicker, and most times I do try and keep above 90, but for efforts of threshold and above I focus on hitting the power at a heart rate I can sustain without blowing up. That means dropping my cadence to around 80. Although after 5 months of TR that’s now edging towards mid 80’s for some efforts.

Indeed. There was also a study I read recently (can’t find the reference ATM) that noted the physiological cost of high cadence was greater relative to low cadence (Duh!). This was a fixed cost, so the upshot was spinning at low effort levels was counter productive. The only time that spinning was worthwhile was under heavy load; higher force; (Threshold +) when the fixed cost penalty was outweighed by the efficiency gains.

Funnily enough in retrospect this was exactly the reverse of how I managed to use it over the years. I spun away happily in Endurance and Tempo and became a grinder for Threshold and above. So now I really back off the cadence for rest intervals. No point spinning through those as I used to do. Thanks to the TR drills I now spin through the hard stuff… Taking @empiricalcycling at face value I probably need to go even higher as we head up that effort gradient. Which would go some way to explaining my plateau/ regression this year (other than old age of course)…