The Importance of Cadence in Your Training

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Cadence is the speed at which a person is pedaling. Cyclists measure this in revolutions per minute, or rpm. So, if one foot pedals a full circle about once every second, you are cycling at 60 rpm. Understanding how it affects your performance is really helpful.

The average cyclist pedals at about 60 rpm, but advanced cyclists pedal at much higher cadences, from at least 80 rpm to more than 100 rpm.  When I was training with cycling silver medalist Brian Walton’s cycling group in Philadelphia, they suggested that we keep our cadence at 90 rpm.  We each had cards to help us figure our goals and it was pretty sophisticated.  It was great to work out with his group because he also sent us tips in the form of articles about cycling strategies called “Training Peaks”.  There are a bunch of tools you can use to help you know what your rpm is like Garmin makes a great tool that you can use but most bike shops have less expensive items that work just as good.

This is one way to look at it.  If you are weight lifting and doing curls with a 30 pound weight, how many single arm curls could you do?  10?  20?  30?  Now, how many could you do with a 5 pound weight?  You could go all day, right?  Cycling with an easier gear works on the same principle. Gears play a large role in cadence and how it translates into performance. It’s easier to pedal on a low gear, but you’ll have to sustain a very high cadence to move quickly. High gears, on the other hand, let you go faster on a lower cadence, but they require you to push harder to pedal.

To avoid fatigue and wasted energy, you need to find a good balance and shift gears as needed to maintain the most comfortable cadence. But as you improve your fitness, you’ll be able to improve your overall performance at higher cadences. Cadence drills will also be important for improving endurance, which is especially helpful for triathletes. You never know what may happen on a ride and as the feature photo for this post shows, and it’s important to be able to kick it up if something unexpected occurs.  Click on the photo next to this paragraph to link to some training tips from “Training Peaks”.  This article was from 2014 and describes 6 ways to build power and a smooth pedal stroke.  If you like this article, contact us for some natural ways to improve your cycling performance.  You can reach us at: 609-510-4007.  If you are military and looking for people to cycle with we’d especially love to connect with you.  Check out our link for Team RWB Springfield.  Happy Trails!

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