Low cadence question

Discussion in 'Power Training' started by dazman, Oct 28, 2007.

  1. dazman

    dazman New Member

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    Hi,

    So thanks to the PT and computrainer I realised I was much more efficient at low cadences of 67 to 70 rpm, rather than my previous Lance copied 90. For my flat course group rides with alot of drafting that means I need a 56/11 setup, which has made me a much, much faster rider.

    I still get alot of comments about how I should still try to make my cadence higher for endurace on longer rides - is this true? Also, are there any pro rides that ride at such a low cadence?
     
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  2. peterpen

    peterpen New Member

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    I'm curious how a PT or a Computrainer can calculate efficiency? And how you can tell you're faster from group rides?

    Many people think that the increased force necessitated by lower cadences, and the increased reliance on fast-twitch fibres, will result in sub-max performance when those fast twitch fibres are really needed (end of race attacks, final sprint.) Pedaling at such relatively low cadences also makes it very difficult to respond to sudden pace changes or surges.
     
  3. dazman

    dazman New Member

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    I got the Training With Power book and started to test my FT. Then I did the tests for FT at different cadences. In my case it was a large difference - at the time from approx 230 to 268 and more now. I'm very tall and I reckon just rotating my legs so much was a waste of energy on large cranks.

    I know I'm better on group rides with the right gearing for me because I went from reasonable finishes in our group mid distange rides to staying with the leading group in our long distance rides. I'm still fast eneough at the sprints at the end, but I can tell I am working my body in a different way - Legs tired before cardio system rather than other way around before
     
  4. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    70 RPM in a 56x11 is over 29mph, so those must be some fast group rides.
     
  5. RChung

    RChung New Member

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  6. jetnjeff

    jetnjeff New Member

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    Long Post alert

    The "article" never answered the question. And of course the answer is "it depends"

    Take a flat TT ones FTP can vary with RPM. Most will get different Power with different Cadences. Hence the Idea of testing 3 different times, say 20 minutes at at different cadences. Use the Cadence that you are the best during your TT, but vary your training up or down a bit to work the cadences that are not as strong. You don't always have the perfect choice, so train for those times. Those times come more in mass start events. Also most racers can keep gaps from forming better when they can spin up the gear they have as apposed to grabing a bigger gear or accelerating a bigger gear. Oviously to a point. If you are already at 110 RPM and you top at 120, your power at those higher RPMs will probably not be enough to sustain the cadence.

    I personally find it easier to hold a wheel in a little bit bigger gear.

    Another part of "it depends";
    Sometimes cadence is limited by the gear and the grade. So naturally, to mantain power, your Torque will have to be higher when the grade forces you down from say 90 to 70 RPMs. But if you could increase your cadence on the same hill your torque and hence power would have to increase as well.

    Wouldn't it be of some advantage to train for the specificity of each reallity in cycling. Climbing, TT and sprinting.

    Now peak power is different again from a more steady state power. Sprinting often has a much higher power at higher cadence. Of course optimal torques are used as well. Which is the main objective of sprinting to get the highest RPMs times the highest torque.

    And of course elevating the front wheel of a trainer :confused: will do nothing unless you also manipulate the RPM and torque, (easily measured as it is realative to Power), to simulate climbing conditions. Usualll lower RPMs at Higher torque.

    Lance was fast because he could make good torque at high RPMs (Equals more power) While aerobically supplying the ATP.

    The more steady state power you can procuce riding higher RPMs usually increases endurance because it can rely more on the oxditive fibers. You get much more ATP aerobically than anaerobically. This gets more pronounces as you go below FTP. The more ATP per gram of Carbs the longer you can ride.

    I like a big gear but I go through muscle glycogen like there is no tomorrow.

    The goal should not be to just increase cadence, but increase cadence while keeping the torque the same. This is done through training.

    Power goes up if either torque or RPMs goes up, given the other stays the same. Increasing torque at a given point will tend to stimulate more non oxidative fibers. Increasing RPMs will tend to stimulate more Oxidative fibers. Again for steady state.

    So find that best RPM and work on slightly raising it and Power. So you know your torque is staying up.

    Sorry for the long post, but that artical could not have irked me more than if it was troll bait.

    It comes down to you either pedal faster or harder or both to go faster. Adaptions follow from which you do!
     
  7. dazman

    dazman New Member

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    Yep - Parts of our rides where the pack is tested are 50kph or so and the last ten k's are 50 kph +. Bear in mind this is completly flat terrain on good roads so a large pack stays together to get these speeds.
     
  8. dazman

    dazman New Member

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    Thanks for the comprehensive reply Jeff. Interesting about trying to increase/maintain torque at higher rpm. This makes sense becuase at the moment my 56/11 TT & Flat course bike serves me well but I know my endurance is not great, re your comment on muscle glycogen.

    On a hilly course where I need to choose more standard gearing for the climbs, I seem to do well when the candence can be controlled but with rpms of 90 or 100+ I realise I'm not generating eneough torque to be competitive and feel I have run out of gears - the actual PT figures confirm this also.
     
  9. RChung

    RChung New Member

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    Hmmm. I think the article did answer the question: cadence is a dependent variable and, as a dependent variable, it doesn't make sense to make exogenous changes in it.
    Then you surely will not like this. It shows that "finding that best RPM and work on slightly raising it and Power" is unsupported.
     
  10. jetnjeff

    jetnjeff New Member

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    Yeah I read all the links.

    It actually supports what I said.

    I agree that we can get the same power from many different torque/RPM combonations.

    It seems that every one that talks about cadence training leaves out the torque factor.

    This article assumes everyone does. I do not see where he says doing the same torque and a higher cadence is not desirable. Just Cadence for cadence sake, where the torque drops off so much that Power drops is a waste of time. Except nueromuscularly to prepare for full power sprints. But we are talking more steady state here.

    Would not a hill be an exogenous change?

    Why not prepare your body for that very real life situation?

    The raising the front wheel line assumes people are stupid and think it will raise power. Some people think this and need to be educatated. It has mostly a nueromuscular effect of the firing order and recruitment order of the muscles. But you have to pick a higher gear and power to simulate the hill. You can raise the power and torque with out raising the wheel, which would be more simillar to hill climbing than raising the front wheel and stay and a lower power.

    Also the sharp rise in torgue as you aproach zero RPM shows a greater contribution of the fast fibers (low or non oxidative). As cadence rise the torque drops for the same Power. So give proper supply from the Cardio Respitory system, the work can be done more by oxidative or slow twich fibers. With training the Type A fast twitch fibers become more oxidative. Some say so do the Type X (only rodents have Type B). The more capilaries and Mitocondria your body creates as an addaption to training the more work can be done aerobically. More work done aerobically increases endurance due to the fibers use and getting more ATP out of each gram of glycogen and glucose.

    Do this simple test. Pick a power that is your max for a given interval.

    Say 330 watts for 20 minutes.

    Try a lower cadence that self selected, then do another higher. Bout 10 -15 up and down. Which one makes you breath more and wich raise your HR more.

    For Me the higher the cadence for a given Power = higher HR and Breath rate.



     
  11. lanierb

    lanierb New Member

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    Sorry to butt in... I totally agree with the point the page is making, but not with the sentence above (at least as I understand it).

    The point your page is making is this: cadence is a dependent variable. The rider can change both his cadence and his power output in response to terrain/other things as he wishes. The resulting correlation between the two does not necessarily imply any real underlying relationship. I totally agree. When I'm soft-pedaling warming up I tend to use a low cadence. When I'm time trialling I tend to use a high cadence. From a scatterplot you might conclude find that at low cadences I put out low wattage, but in reality the causality went the opposite direction so that correlation is meaningless. (I'm reminded of a classic WKRP in which Doc has his reaction time tested as he drinks more alcohol, and gets progressively quicker with each shot!)

    On the other hand, since cadence can in theory be controlled independently to power, it DOES make sense to make exogenous changes in it, at least for testing purposes. That's the only way you could find if it has a real effect. For example, you could do the same course twice as hard as you can, once at low cadence and again at high cadence. Assuming you were equally fresh both times, the difference in avg watts may be telling about what the optimal cadence might be for you. This would require a lot of discipline wrt cadence during the test though. A trainer seems like a good way to do this.
     
  12. RChung

    RChung New Member

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    Hmmm. I don't think it does. High cadence-low torque doesn't appear to be particularly good training for high cadence-high torque (the same applies for low cadence-low torque and low cadence-high torque). IOW, "finding that best RPM and work on slightly raising it and Power" (as you recommended to Dazman above) isn't supported.
     
  13. RChung

    RChung New Member

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    No, even if you thought there was a reasonable test to be made, a trainer will be a bad way to do this since trainers allow only a limited range of crank inertia. The cadence that you identify as "optimal" on a trainer is only going to apply in the real world if real world conditions exactly mimic your trainer.
     
  14. jetnjeff

    jetnjeff New Member

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    Love the Johny Fever reference:cool: . Twice as hard?

    If that is the point I agree with that too. For a relationship to Power you need Cadence "and" Torque.

    I would go beyond testing to mimicing actual situations. And use exogenous stimulus that simulates Hills for example. Specificity.

    But I think the OP about endurance pertains more to training cadence as it pertains to increasing endurance. Empirically you can look a the cadence increase as a cyclist goes from recrational or comuting cadence to being more fit and doing longer rides. Recrational Cadences can be around 50 RPM while more experianced rider will typically be be 80-100.

    Lower candences are more effient if you look only at Oxygen uptake, cause the fast twitch fibers use less Oxygen at the expence of Muscle Glycogen, hence endurance will be deminished. Training also increased Glycogen storage, so the limit to endurance is somewhat mitigated, at least for short to moderate events. Now I am not talking levels 1 and 2, but at the higher levels that most events take place 1-3 hours.

     
  15. jetnjeff

    jetnjeff New Member

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    So it is dependant on exogenous factors. :p

    When did I say that that "High cadence-low torque doesn't appear to be particularly good training for high cadence-high torque (the same applies for low cadence-low torque and low cadence-high torque). "?

    Sorry to Quote Myself:
    "So naturally, to mantain power, your Torque will have to be higher when the grade forces you down from say 90 to 70 RPMs. But if you could increase your cadence on the same hill your torque and hence power would have to increase as well."

    "The goal should not be to just increase cadence, but increase cadence while keeping the torque the same. This is done through training."

    Note; The Converse would also be valid; increasing torque while maintaining Cadence.

    "It comes down to you either pedal faster or harder or both to go faster. Adaptions follow from which you do!"

    All were written proximally to the you you like to quote and put it into context and serve to qualify the statement.

     
  16. RChung

    RChung New Member

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    Not bad for "troll bait."
     
  17. jetnjeff

    jetnjeff New Member

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    First off the closer to reallity your training usually the better. On a trainer we can only get as close as posibble.

    So if you can't get perfect crank inertia with flywheel matching and such are you saying we should sit on the couch?

    Close is better than nothing.

    Second, Riding on a trainer is not valid because the Crank inertia is incorrect but I should't try to match the Cadence/torque/power to a given instance?

    Stated another way

    You need correct Crank inertia to be specific to a particular situation, but any cadence will due?

    Are you just trying to make me type a lot:rolleyes:

     
  18. jetnjeff

    jetnjeff New Member

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    Maybe I am daft or the point was only eluded to.

    Some times I need it spelled out. Still think it supports what I say.

    There is still that line about raising the front wheel on a trainer, with no mention of increasing torque or power or crank inertia either.

    Outside a hill act as an exogenous stimulus to lower cadence and increase torque.

    Also my dad likes to fish. I don't, but I know enough to throw out a line with bait on it and slowy move through the water waiting to see what bite to enjoy the fight and maybe a dinner.

    Stating a point is more like feeding the fish, for the well being of the fish.

    Point Stated in the initial link:

    "What's the point? The actual point isn't about cadence and wattage--the point is about analyzing your data unthinkingly. The analytical programs included with your power meter may be convenient and pretty, but you have to be careful in interpreting what they show you."

    Ultimately the OP wanted to be "feed" the knowledge whether his low cadence training idea would hurt his endurance now and in the future.

    He is looking for ways to interpet his data. Ya know, "This is how I interpet my data, what do you guys think?" He got "Here is what you need to know" and the next thing the he knows he is a filet in a frying pan. :)

    Apparently I push the OP aside and swallowed the bait, hook, line and sinker.

    Hope I was a good fight and taste good :D


     
  19. RChung

    RChung New Member

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    Nope. I'm saying that even if you used a trainer to find "optimal" cadence, you won't be able to generalize that to outdoor real-world conditions. [/quote]
    Nope, again. Here's what I mean: if you want to produce high power under a spectrum of cadence and torque, you need to practice producing high power under a spectrum of cadence and torque. Practicing by producing high power at a fixed cadence under a spectrum of torques won't generalize. That's why it doesn't make sense to seek your "best" cadence and then increase torque at that particular cadence. Those three plots at the bottom of the page show the same rider but different types of races on different terrain: you can see different patterns of cadence and torque. Look at Coggan's QA analysis for a similar take.
     
  20. RChung

    RChung New Member

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    That's cuz cadence is a red herring.

    The OP should do what he needs to do to produce the power he needs to have to attain his goals. He started off trying to emulate LANCE, probably because some cadence nazi told him he was pedaling too slowly. So he exogenously raised his cadence, and it sounds like it wasn't working for him. I'm not going to tell him his cadence is too high, too low, or just right. I'm saying he should focus on power, not cadence.
     
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