Struggling with Cadence and Hip Stability

Hi Guys

I am heavier rider (230 lbs, 31 bf%). I am 49 years old. Cycling more seriously for about 8 years now.

  1. I really struggle increasing my cadence. As an example, yesterday I went for a fun 2 hour ride and I averaged 71 cadence. I felt good afterwards a bit sore, but good. TSS 197.
  • I should note that I spent most of my younger years doing fast twitch type training like martial arts and I tend to have more of a sprinter body…when not covered with 31 bf% :~(
  1. Today I focus on a 1 hour “recovery ride”, but I used the opportunity to focus more on cadence. I average 86 cadence. TSS 14 (0.38 IF). Average Power way, way less effort and I absolutely hated it. I tried all the things they say like engaging the core and not bouncing but my body hates it (back, legs, hip, everything). I’ll take the 2 hour ride every day of the week.

I think, part of my issue has been with my hip. I have a bad hip for the past 2 years+. I have been going through the medical system with a lot of frustration. Executive Summary is Glute Med Tendinitis and poor hip stability. I also have statistically less muscle on the left leg (bad hip side) and the right. Other than that the medical system says I am fine (Xrays, CT scans, etc). My doctor actually advised me to tough through it cause there was nothing wrong with me structurally.

I don’t think I tend to “bounce around the saddle” (at least not that I’m aware of).

Now for my training off the bike I have done all the stuff they say like clam shell exercises, bridges, stretching, etc.

My question is how does “hip stability” play a part in cycling cadence? Also why might I have abnormally statistically less muscle on the bad leg (is it favoring or something else)?

2hour fun ride? 1 hour at 100% FTP is 100 TSS. Sounds like your actual FTP is higher than setting on whatever gave you TSS of 197.

Don’t know anything about your hip stability and cadence question.

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Cadence is individual, I wouldn’t stress too much about increasing it. I saw some GCN interviews a while back with world tour riders, and one of them said his average cadence was 75.

I also personally find it hard to ride a high cadence at low power. My cadence goes up when my power goes up - I always thought that it was low, but then saw that when taking turns in a strong group, it actually naturally came up to 95.

Regarding hip stability. Not really sure about cadence, but two things-

  • I really like the videos from the ‘Upright health’ guys on youtube, who focus a lot on hip movement. Maybe there’s something there that helps you?
  • the other thing is, if one leg is notably weaker, maybe to targeted weight exercises for that leg only?

I did a ramp test (on my Keiser) less than 2 weeks ago. It came out at 175. It did come out lower than I expected. Maybe an off day? I have had professional FTP test I’m a lab a year or so a go and it was around 220 but I haven’t been that active on the bike. When I started TR, I found the rides quit hard (so I didn’t question the 175 FTP too much…plus I am recently recovering from injuries anyways).

The 2 hour ride was on my road bike. It’s a different power meter, but I have tested it at about 10 watts higher (easier) than the Keiser.

Thank you for the tips. :ok_hand:

Hi, I had very bad hip injury about 12 years ago, my cartliage failed in my right hip. I was told too young for hip replacement and if i could put up with it for 5 years then i would be considered for the surgery. I Used heat treatment, Microwave bean bag, for hours before bed, now and again Gel Ibuprofen not all the time. I managed 4 1/2 years and got the surgery. During all of that, I still cycled 150 miles to 200 miles per week. Still did the Gym weight training to keep the mussels strong in my hips, back and glut’s and some core. This helped. Back training hard now doing ultra distance riding, Next year 1500km LEL.
I should say my power meter says my legs now 50%-50% but my leg efficiency is 20%-17% so my hip replacement leg not as efficient.

I also was a slow cadence rider, pushed the big ring not changing gear much not really a big issue, might strain the legs more. There is evidence that higher cadence is better (Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan book power meter training book is good) I worked for some time raised Cadence from 75-80 to 95 average now. It does make doing intervals a bit easier. But its what you feel comfortable doing. Take your time work on strength slowly and see how it goes.

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I have had a lot of success getting my hips into shape by working with a physio who understands cyclists and cycling. It has been a couple of years since I started working with her - I’ll check in every 6 months or so for a check up and the next round of exercises to follow. Has totally paid off with more power, a more aggressive position and a smoother pedal stroke. Something to think about if you can find someone you trust.

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Just a thought to check. Make sure you are NOT including zeros from Cadence in your head unit. You don’t want coasting to be pulling the average down.

Ex: 1 hour ride, pedal 90 rpm for half and coast for half, would be 45 rpm average if you include zeros.

IMO, it should be 90 rpm reported, and will be of you exclude zeros. (not a specific recommendation for this or any other rider).

May not be your issues, since there may not be much coasting, but we’ve seen zeros cause some incorrect data.

90 cadence average for me would be extremely hard. My mid/lower back would scream (I do strength train that area) and my hips/legs would be pissed too.

I do not include zeros from my cadence. But while we’re on the topic, do you include zeros for power? (I have the head unit pause below 3 km/hr too).

My head unit excludes zeros for cadence but includes for power presently.

yes, for power you want to include zeros

as others have stated, cadence is individual. My natural cadence is 75-85rpm on the flats, and lower when climbing. There is nothing wrong with riding at a lower cadence.

hard to say, but the Keiser does not have a real power meter AFAIK. The flywheel is not heavy, it does not feel like riding on the road. I’d be very suspicious of the power reading on Keiser. I’m also a heavier rider, and there is a big difference between a Keiser and say a Stages gym bike. The Stages gym bike feels more like I’m riding on the road, and it has a real (single-sided) Stages crank arm power meter.

personally I’d do an outside FTP test like an 8-min or 20-min and use that for all rides and workouts (assuming those are on Keiser). Then attempt to map what 150W (pick a typical power training wattage) feels like on the road to what it feels like on the bike, and perhaps usie HR to help try and correlate. Hope that helps.

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I have put my Garmin vector 3 on my Keiser. It does correlate well (just difference of 10 watts). They claim that their power meter is accurate “pass the EN957-10 European Standard for accuracy”. Overall I have ridden several times with both my garmin vector pedals and the Keiser side by side.

Don’t want to get into a Keiser debate though (cause I am not sure I would make the same purchase again cause of your comment about the flywheel. I just don’t like the feel of the bike that much…just feels heavy/sluggish somehow). I’ve never really determined if it was just hip issues or the Keiser itself. Just can’t afford to trade it out and it generally does the job.

Didn’t know Keiser had accurate power, thanks for sharing your experience comparing to Vector 3.

I’ve used the Keiser M3i a couple of times, and it doesn’t feel anything like riding on the road. I’m using a Wahoo Kickr (direct-drive) at home, and Stages SC3 at our gym. Both of those have very good road feel.

Yeah I agree with that. I was actually trying to talk to Keiser about it but can’t really describe a “feel”. I do feel that the Keiser is a heavy workout even when watts=watts. I’ve never really been able to peg it down to a specific reason though.

Sorry for the confusion. I was not recommending that you do 90 rmp.

I was pointing out the math above (with/without zeros) and stating that I believe 90 rpm is the “right” number in that situation.

You do you, and find the cadence range that works for you. Generally speaking, faster can help with fatigue, but if you can make the lower cadences work and don’t have soreness or pain from that, you are good to go.

There is the center of my question. I get hip pain, I think its from the slower grinding. However, fast cadence has other issues for me in my back, groin and legs or just trading one issue for another…I guess I continue trial and error?

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Yeah, I think there is a chance the faster cadence (and more importantly lower pure force on the joints) may be beneficial. Low cadence can just add a lot of joint and muscle strain compared to lighter, faster spin.

As you’ve done, small steps to get it slightly faster is the right way to work to quicker. Sometimes I recommend rolling a flat at your current cadence, then dropping one gear, but maintain the same speed. This forces a quicker spin (and it’s ok to slow a bit, but you are trying to keep leg speed quicker).

Do that in small bites of 1-2 minutes at a time with decent breaks between. Then you can work up to longer intervals and eventual the next stop in cadence.

Seriously I would not focus on increasing cadence, just pedal naturally and keep trying to find answers about your body. Have you seen a physical therapist that specializes in sports? After rotator cuff surgery it took 6 months of physical therapy to get me straightened out. The good ones in my experience have masters and PhDs, and specialize in college / semi-pro athletes. A few years ago I had weak glutes and posterior chain from 30 years of sitting at a desk. Fixing that made a big difference, and eliminated knee issues.

Regarding cadence, after two years of increasing it I returned to my natural cadence. Much happier and my body feels better. If you naturally spin at a lower cadence, TrainerRoad workouts will nudge you to spin faster. And in some ways that helps with things like VO2max workouts on a smart trainer in Erg mode, but in the real world my best results come from efforts with cadence in 70-85rpm range.

Yep…I’ve been to Physio, my GP, sports medican spec, RMT, had hip injections 3 times, had xrays, CT scan, etc.

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There does seem to be two things I am competing with…my natural cadence vs the cadence that might theoretically give me less injury…maybe…not sure.

higher rpms = more use of the joints.

70rpm = 4200 up/down repetitions per hour
80rpm = 4800 up/down repetitions per hour
90rpm = 5400 up/down repetitions per hour

if the repetitions are bothering your joints/ligaments/whatever, then higher cadence will bother you more.