Varying Hi and Low RPMs

I have always struggled with climbing and I am learning that some of the reason is that I simply wasn’t sustaining enough RPM. My TR plan teaches me that unless otherwise specified, my RPM during my workout should be 85-95 rpm, even specifically telling me that my climbing cadence should be around 85 rpm.
I can easily maintain those RPMs and even above 95. Knowing that I struggle with climbing, should I work out by varying my RPMs in a workout? For example, if I have 6 identical intervals at a higher power target, should I do some intervals at 95 and some at 85 RPM so I am training my body at my climbing cadence and non-climbing cadence? Or should I always strive to hit 95 like the workout calls for? You can see in my screenshot that during my 3rd interval, I dropped to 85.

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I’ve never hear that a relationship between struggling with climbing and low cadence. For most of us mere mortals, needing to use a relatively low cadence climbing is simply a product of FTP - we are using a low cadence because at the power we can put out, and the gearing we have, the low cadence is what it is.

When you say you struggle at climbing, will you provide some of examples? Include climb length, average power, NP, and average cadence. Better to include longer (>10 minutes) than shorter.

I totally understand what you say about low cadence RPM. I’m talking about 3-5 miles climbs at 8-15% grade. Sometimes, even in my lowest and next to lowest gears (35F32R and 35F28R), I can be as low as 65 RPM, but I like to maintain 70-75. It is what it is.
But my TR coach says that 85 should be my seated climbing cadence. To me, that’s all relative considering FTP, grade, length, etc…
This is why I’m confused.

I thought the same when I read OP. So if you keep your gear the same and spin a fast cadence, you will go faster because you are putting out more power. If you shift in a smaller gear so you can ride the initial power at a faster cadence, you will not go any faster.
It might feel easier to ride the same climb at the same power with a higher cadence (lower RPE), but that just depends on how you personally feel. It’s not true that high cadence is optimal or anything like that.

If you had the gears, ideally you would climb at a cadence in the mid-80s or higher. But ignore that if it isn’t physically possible. That is, for the length of the climb & the climb gradient, given your FTP and gearing, forces you to ride at a lower cadence, that’s life.

But you still haven’t answer my key question: when you say you struggle at climbing, what does that really mean? If you provide examples (climb length - time, average power, NP) that would really help.

Oh, sorry. It’s a speed thing. When I’m riding with a group, I often fall off of the good climbers. I felt like I just couldn’t put enough power through the pedals. This was more prevalent on longer climbs like 3-5 miles at grades from roughly 8-15%. I would also say that might breathing is an issue and I began to breathe very heavy. Its obviously my fitness level, but a 234 FTP is not horrible. I’m 5’8" and 165-170 lbs.
So do I keep the cadence higher in my training to train up to a higher cadence at higher powers or do I train I’m varying ranges? I’m simply following the prompts in my training, but it goes against what I THINK I know.

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I’m going off the prompts in my TR training plan, but it said several times that most of the best climbers in the world climb at higher cadence. With the group I ride with, I personally see some of that, but I also see some people do the slow grind.

My FTP is 234. I’m 5’8" at 165-170 lbs. I feel like I need to generate more power through the pedal strokes in long steep climbs.

Speed climbing is simply a power to weight.

Again, what power are you putting out for how long?

I don’t have a power meter on my bike so I am not sure, but the climbs are about 30ish minutes.

Have you looked at what Strava estimates your power is for the climb? If it is about your FTP, the fact of the matter is your riding buddies power to weight is simply better than yours. So you would need to raise your FTP, lose weight, or both

I found that some low cadence training has really helped support these types of climbs. A couple of articles: The High-Force Climbing Workout You Should Be Doing Right Now - CTS and Muscle Tension Intervals – FasCat Coaching but be careful, keep them short, and if you have any knee pain or issues stop doing them.

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