Training to Cadence

I am currently going through SSBHV2, and this is my first experience with structured training. I have noticed that my natural cadence falls around 80-83. I can sustain 90 for quite a while, but 95-100 is very taxing. On the other hand, i find low cadences (60-70) easier to maintain, with a much lower heart rate and RPE.
My question is: Should i train at the higher cadences to try to develop efficiency at those cadences, or at lower cadences where i feel naturally stronger?
Not sure if this makes a difference, but i am on the tall side (6’2") with long legs (34 inseam) and i use 175 cranks.

Some existing discussions worth reading:

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I think it depends on the kinds of races you are training for.

Lower cadences have been shown to be more efficient - meaning, place a lower oxygen demand on your body for a given power output. The reason for this is it takes effort to spin your legs. Think of trying to spin at 150 rpm with no resistance. That would be tiring, even though the power output is zero.

But lower cadences also tend to use muscles that tire sooner. Higher cadences are generally recommended to use muscles that do not tire quickly.

So if you’re doing crit races, i don’t see much need to change to riding with a higher cadence above your natural cadence.

If you are doing marathon events or stage races, I think training to ride at higher cadences makes more sense.

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I would say the opposite. Lots of accelerations in crits, where high cadence is a near must. Long steady grind is more suitable in longer and less intense races.

Being able to ride strong with a variety of cadences is a good skill to have in its own right.

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Just my experience, I found it to be very easy to train this with Erg. I was more of an 80-85 rpm guy before I started structured training. It took about a month to get 90 to be comfortable and another 2 months or so was over 95. Now can average 100 without thinking about it.

I’m in my 9th week of training now, always using ERG mode. I actually found it easier to spin quickly in SSBHV1, possibly because i increased my FTP by 15 watts at the beginning of SSBHV2. I now find I need to use lower cadences to get through some of the longer intervals.

It will get easier to maintain the higher cadence.

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You should train so that you have a wide range of cadences that you can ride at. The cadences suggested in the workouts are only that suggestions. Your natural cadence is where your body is most efficient. A balance between your aerobic system and your musculature system say. As both systemts become more developed with structured training you should be able to train your legs to spin at a higher cadence without putting strain on either system. it just takes time and practice to be able to spin the peddles at higher cadences. Make small jumps in cadence like 3-5 rpm over time.

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My view is the higher the power the higher the cadence should be (within certain limits of course). At z2/lower z3 I spin at my natural 75/85 rpm rising to 95/100 as I get into Vo2max territory.

How about both? I’m also doing SSBHV. If I have 5 intervals, I’ll do something like 95-85-75-85-95, 4 intervals 95-85-75-95, etc. And throw in some standing drills. Seems useful to have a range and I’ve also found mixing it up helps pass the time.

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That sounds like a good plan. The trouble i’m having is that during some ss intervals my heart rate is going too high if I try to maintain a cadence of 95 (180+hr/195max). I then need to utilize a lower cadence just to make it through the interval.

Yes, any acceleration is going to require higher cadence. My interpretation of the OPs question was if he should train his natural cadence to be higher.

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180 bpm does seem pretty high for sweet spot. As @bholmlate mentioned, maybe just bump 3-5 rpms on some intervals until you get used to that level, repeat…

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It’s 92% of max - that’s not unreasonable for SS-going-on-threshold Intervals - at the end of the last interval.

The advantage of having a wide range of cadence to work with is pretty big IMO. I find myself changing it up quite a lot while on a long climb or during a race. If I feel like my cardiovascular system is being taxed a bit too much, I lower my cadence and go up a gear. If I feel like my muscles are burning up too much on a climb, I drop a gear and pick the cadence up etc.

So in your case, you might benefit from training in the 90’s. I wouldn’t go up too much at a time but definitely focus on it.

too high based on who? Some people are capable of hitting 200+ bpm.
I would have a heart attack at 185.

People are just different. My resting rate is 49 and my threshold is 172, for example.

You responded to me, but I never said “too high” :man_shrugging: This I completely agree with:

I’m just curious what other people think. I would rather get really efficient at 95-100 than split my time trying to be serviceable at 3 different ranges. I’m not saying I don’t or anyone doesn’t ever end up in a situation where a different cadence is advantageous, but its an argument about optimization of the whole or the parts. I think frequently on this forum there are a lot of suggestions that are good, but given limited time, biology, and literal tradeoffs where you can’t be both this and that, it’s impossible for someone to truly excel at anything if they try to do everything. I’m just curious in this case if it’s truly possible and an advantage to be trained in low, medium and high cadence ranges.

I see it as limiters. Imagine yourself on a 20% and at your lowest gear, you have to push 300 watt to move. Now, maybe your legs / heart is capable of pushing 300 watt fine at 90rpm. But not 60rpm. Would you want that to be your limiter?

Imagine you’re on a flat crit. You’ve been pushing your natural cadence of 85rpm all day in a breakaway and your muscles are really tired but your heart can take a lot more beating. Wouldn’t you wanna be able to go up to 95rpm to relief some muscle stress?

Splitting your time has no real disadvantage here IMO. You already have a preferred cadence. You’re only expanding on it by say, 1-2 rpm more each time. In any case, there’s a reason there’s rpm drills on TR exercises. Just follow those instructions and you should have a decent range anyway.

I used to be 85rpm natural but have trained for the last 5 years for 90-92 range. Any time I’m attempting my PR’s on some hills around here now I ride 90+ rpms and feel much fresher (on my legs) at the end of the climb. I definitely see the advantages.

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I only recently started doing 75 for just that! First year on TR I was mostly at 95 and only went down to 85 rpm on the trainer. Then in Sept I climbed Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez. I noticed I was spinning in the 70s, so figured I should train there a bit.