Torque Data Field...Anybody Using This?

I found a Torque Data Field for Garmins in the IQ Apps. Im a big fan of big gear intervals. Ive struggled with any progression of FTP and power in general. I always spin my way out of problems. We can make power with more cadence at the same torque. Im hoping concentrating on the torque and lower cadences during intervals will elicit a better force production and endurance of a given torque output. So far just using it on SS sessions at 65 to 80 cadence. Ive got single side powermeters so I dont have the power phase option to look at.

Good luck with that.

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Wouldn’t you be better off at the gym?


According to the TR recommended lifts, Im good. I feel the time under tension part for me is where I fail.

Worlds of difference between lifting heavy weights and sustaining much lower forces for prolonged periods of time. That’s why you don’t see elite cyclists tossing much iron around except at most for a few weeks in the winter.


Thats my thought process as well and that is where I seem to not be very good sustaining over prolonged periods of time. Ive done LSD and it makes me good at going long efficiently but doesnt really move my FTP. High Intensity work seems to move it but just still struggle at the muscle endurance required at higher power. Took a look at my torque at sweet spot and threshold at my natural cadence. Its 20 to 25 @ 88-92rpm. Current Z2 is 12 to 15 at normal cadence of 88. Im doing as much work up and down power curve at 20 to 22. That really brings cadence down for Z2 power. Like 55 to 65 rpm. Shooting for improvement in that torque output in duration.

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You’re working the wrong aspect of your physiology. It’s not about the force your muscles are producing, it’s about being able to provide the needed energy (i.e., ATP) via sustainable (i.e., oxidative) mechanisms to keep generating it.


I sometimes look at crank torque after the ride. Very occasionally, I calculate crank torque during a ride: it’s close to watts/(rpm/10), so I look at my rpm, slide the decimal point over one spot, and divide the watts by that. (This overestimates crank torque by about 5%). For example, 250 watts at 80 rpm: I divide 250 by 8 which is about 30; the actual crank torque is 29.8 Nm.

I understand what you are saying. I can do end up doing lots of SS and Threshold and Vo2 but at the end of the day my Threshold moves very little. I can go longer in duration but the number doesnt go up. I tend to run out of heartrate when working above threshold as I rely on cadence for holding Threshold and Vo2 power. I am looking at it from a fatigue point of view. I think I am not engaging enough fibers. I dont want to become a grinder for sure.

The torque thing has always intrigued me as in the end, watts are a by-product of two variables- force and cadence. How you create the wattage an interval or the moment in a race calls for can vary wildly in how it’s generated, be it from low cadence/high torque or high cadence/low torque. In the moment it sorta doesn’t matter as the output (watts) is the part that matters and decides how fast the bike goes.

From a training standpoint, using wattage as the end all be all and Erg controlling factor seems like it allows us to find the path of least resistance to hit the target. It doesn’t care how we made 400 watts, as long as we made 400 watts. It might add up over the course of a workout or training block but we’re still allowed the easiest way out for our physiology. I feel like you see this most often in smaller, younger riders who can’t generate big watts without getting out of the saddle and thrashing wildly. They tend to benefit from forced work while seated (eliminating the path of least resistance to train the weakness).

By extension I would think there’s a case to be made for using torque as the most raw data point rather than wattage as hitting “x” torque is the most base metric. If an interval says to do 420 watts for 30 seconds you can do the equivalent of 4.2 watts per pedal stroke at 100 rpm or you can do 7 watts per pedal stroke at 60 rpm. Those place incredibly different demands on our physiology.

I feel like this theory is validated by the value of track work, where the drivetrain is fixed and wattage “hits” different. You’re not able to just spin it up and it forces you (pun intended) to overcome the resistance to get moving in a way that a freehub and/or a trainer with Erg mode tied to wattage just doesn’t.

And while in the moment on race day it indeed might not matter how you generate said wattage if in our training we’re intentional about targeting which one is our limiter (high cadence/low torque vs. low cadence/high torque) then our physiology is more likely to respond positively. I can see this mattering the later into a race it gets when our preferred methods of power production may be tapped out or we simply find ourselves in the wrong gear when the moment arrives and have to grind/spin compared to our preference.

Some of the TR in-workout text has us doing work at a given cadence but those often as not seem to be about pedal stroke work and awareness of bike fit as anything else. It’s also not tied to a specific demand in the workout as even if it comes during a known-by TR point in that workout, it’s not like Erg adjusts to ONLY allow you to pedal at a given torque value like it does with wattage. Maybe worm blood injections, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and torque-driven workouts are the Holy Grail…?

Mostly, I agree. How you generate those watts is less important than the watts you generate. But I also think how you generate those watts can sometimes be informative. Here’s a plot that illustrates this:

The two dotted lines show two different power levels, in this case 200 and 300 watts. Suppose I was somewhere along the 200 watt line. There are an infinite number of combinations of cadence and torque that will get me to 200 watts, but let’s say I’m at the red dot. Suppose I want to increase my power to 300 watts. There are also an infinite number of combinations of cadence and torque that will get me to 300. I’ve drawn just 4 “expansion paths” that I could use to get to 300 watts: one is mostly vertical (that is, I keep my cadence about the same and increase my crank torque), one is mostly horizontal (that is, I keep my crank torque about the same and increase my cadence), one that goes off diagonally toward 2 o’clock (where I increase both my cadence and crank torque), and one that goes off diagonally toward 10 o’clock.

I contend that the terrain, the acceleration, the wind, and (critically) where the red dot currently is (that is, what my current cadence and torque are) all influence the power expansion path that is actually chosen. In some (many?) cases the PEP can be backward bending (like the 10 o’clock arrow) so my cadence drops while my crank torque goes way up; in other cases, I spin way up but drop my crank torque.

For me, when I climb hills, I often drop my cadence and increase my torque; when I am accelerating on the flat, I often increase my cadence but decrease my torque. I’m not sure what others do but it would surprise me if I were unique. Interestingly, the expansion path I use on the flat, on the hills, and, critically, on an indoor trainer, all differ. The bottom line is that you should be training to generate power over a wide range of cadence and torque, not just at one cadence, or at just one torque; and that the cadence/torque you choose on a trainer doesn’t transfer directly to the cadence/torque you choose IRL.


Yep. I think I have maxed out my current torque production at my normal cadence ranges and fatigue profile. My limiter is definitely muscular endurance at higher torque values no matter the cadence. Im incorporating workouts to create torque values that are at the higher end of my ability with low cadence to keep heart rate in check hoping to avoid CNS stress.

Im definitely a spinner. Escpecially when looking for watts. When making above threshold its the same gear as threshold but more cadence. When at the end of a long ride, its more cadence that gets me through. My force production is weak relative to what I can lift. Thats why I am going down this rabbit hole of torque and the question of torque as a workout metric.

Get a fixie.

Front brake (at least), fixed/fixed rear hub with gears that are 2 sprockets in difference, and something strong that won’t flex easily.

Your torque map will be all over the place.

For me, it’s a fun way to find weaknesses and slowly fix them. Whether it’s seasonal like winter rides or once a week, it’s a nice, low tech training ride with surprising benefits.

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From a torque/cadence production perspective, how different would that be than using your geared bike and just leaving it in one gear?

According to VeloNews low cadence, high torque is becoming more popular with some pros.

Just remember VeloNews likes to sensationalize things and you’re likely not a pro :cry:

To answer the question first, I doubt there’s any meaningful difference as it relates to training.

And not necessarily replying back to you personally:

I also don’t think it’s needed to use a fixie for this. I just happen to have one because it’s usually fun and I can still execute training fairly closely because it’s flattish around here. It’s not my primary bike.

For better or for worse, on a fixie there is no getting out of:

  • spinning down hills at 130+ and not being able to stop spinning at 130+ until you’re at the bottom
  • grinding up a hill at low, low cadences and again, not being able to bail
  • everything in-between with false flats
  • required big gear start after every stop
  • spin at 170+ for the group sprints
  • got to keep that cadence high in that fast pace line… damn that tailwind!
  • and more reasons I’m sure

All of that is a fun challenge if you’re feeling good. It’s a bit annoying to be honest if you’re getting tired, cold, hot… dropped.

I don’t think I’d have the disciple to keep tension on a freewheel in one gear for a whole ride. That’s the big difference, there’s no bail out on a fixie. I’ll flip my fixed/fixed wheel to the other side if we stop midway and the wind is now the opposite, that can help a little.

It’s fun for me 90% of the time. Not at all needed, though. I do, however, find my weaknesses on the fixie when I haven’t ridden it for a while.

Yep. Ive surmised that fixies make you find that torque. There is a data field in Garmin IQ and it looks like it is a 3 sec avg. Watched it on Sat group ride. Very interesting stuff. I noticed that the torque numbers stayed within a few but it was the cadences that varied. The other day I did a two hour endurance outside ride using torque. For me at normal cadences Im 88 with 12 to 15 torque. I went with variable cadence trying to stay above my Threshold torque value of 20 but just hit Z2power. Cadences ended up being 55 to 70. Needless to say I really felt it in my legs but was very doable and heartrate was Z2. At the end, I did normal cadence and torque and it felt super effortless. Kinda like swinging a baseball bat at the plate after swinging a batweight in the on deck.

Being aware of who I’m disagreeing with… :upside_down_face:, but:

I do think this doesn’t account for moments in real-world cycling where you’re over geared in the instant, and there’s an advantage in being able to quickly produce big power (via low rpm, high force).

E: but yes, that’s fixed in the gym, not tall-gear work.

Gym is even worse.