spinning - most efficient cadence

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by nferyn, Jan 10, 2003.

  1. nferyn

    nferyn New Member

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    Hi,<br /><br />I usually ride at a pretty high cadence (+ 100 revs/min) and this seems to be ideal for me. I've read some discussions about the efficiency of spinning at a high cadence and to my understanding, a high cadence, although not the most energy efficent way of pedaling, has got the big advantage that when spinning at a higher cadence, you use more aerobic pathways than at a lower cadence for the same power output.<br /><br />I was wondering if there is a certain brak off point at which a higher cadence is no longer advisable and what that break off cadence is dependent on. Usually I feel no longer comfortable when riding at a cadence in excess of 110 revs/min.<br /><br />Any ideas?<br /><br />Niek
     
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  2. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    At the risk of starting another long winded thread ;D!<br />the most efficient cadence is generally ~ 60 - 80 revs/min depending on the absoloute power output. As the absolute power output goes up, so does the most efficient cadence.<br /><br />However, the most efficient cadence isn't (generally) the most optimal, and this is usually achieved by self-selected optimisation, which for endurance cycling is usually in the range of 80 - 100 revs/min.<br /><br />With this is mind, it's likely to best to ride at the cadence, which is most comfortable, and at the same time (and most importantly) allows you to ride at the highest sustainable power output.<br /><br />For sprinting, it's possible to ascertain the most optimal cadence to produce peak power, with the correct laboratory equipment.<br /><br />Ric
     
  3. easyrider

    easyrider New Member

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    Ricstern,<br /><br />Do you think that optimal spin rate depends on the ratio of fast to slow twitch muscle fibers at all?<br /><br />I am a light rider and climb pretty well but I turn about 80 times a minute. I have tried to spin an easier gear faster (Armstrong style) but I tire out quickly and fade back to about 80 turns. I have wondered if it is because my body is designed to do things at a moderate speed for a long time.<br /><br />Thanks
     
  4. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    Easy rider,<br /><br />Optimal cadence, will in part be dependent upon muscles fibre typing. Those with a greater proportion of Type I fibres (important for endurance) will likely prefer a lower cadence.<br /><br />Either way, self optimisation of cadence, usually within a range of ~ 80 - 100 revs/min is the way to go.<br /><br />Furthermore, the most important aspect is to produce high enough average power outputs, rather than worry about what cadence you do it at.<br /><br />Ric
     
  5. nferyn

    nferyn New Member

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    [quote author=ricstern link=board=19;threadid=2854;start=0#msg24134 date=1042217741]<br />Easy rider,<br /><br />Optimal cadence, will in part be dependent upon muscles fibre typing. Those with a greater proportion of Type I fibres (important for endurance) will likely prefer a lower cadence.<br /><br />Either way, self optimisation of cadence, usually within a range of ~ 80 - 100 revs/min is the way to go.<br /><br />Furthermore, the most important aspect is to produce high enough average power outputs, rather than worry about what cadence you do it at.<br /><br />Ric<br />[/quote]<br /><br />Hi Ric,<br /><br />It surprises me that those with a higher proportion of type I fibres would prefer a higher cadence. My experience rather points in the direction of the heavier guys with more muscle volume would prefer lower cadences<br /><br />Am I completely wrong here?<br /><br />Niek
     
  6. chris2002

    chris2002 New Member

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    Your optimum cadence will change with position change and crank length (along with all the other issues raised in this thread). It also depends on the type of event, whether you expect to compete the next day, and many other variables.
     
  7. Duckwah

    Duckwah New Member

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    there are plenty of variables affecting cadence but one from my reading and experience there are a few things i have observed.<br /><br />1. Apparently virtually every one hour distance record has been set at a cadence slightly over 100 RPM<br /><br />2. Above a certain cadence the body will have trouble repeatedly firing the nerves responsible for muscular contraction for a protracted period of time.<br /><br />3. This can be changed through overspeed training.
     
  8. nferyn

    nferyn New Member

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    [quote author=Duckwah link=board=19;threadid=2854;start=0#msg24143 date=1042273630]<br />there are plenty of variables affecting cadence but one from my reading and experience there are a few things i have observed.<br /><br />1. Apparently virtually every one hour distance record has been set at a cadence slightly over 100 RPM<br /><br />2. Above a certain cadence the body will have trouble repeatedly firing the nerves responsible for muscular contraction for a protracted period of time.<br />[/quote]<br /><br />That's exactly my experience. For longer durations ust over 100 RPM is ideal, 110 Is doable, but I have the feeling it is no longer very efficient. I actuall wanted to find out the following:<br />
    • <br />
    • Is there a cadence which is no longer efficent to maintain for prolonged periods<br />
    • What would that cadence be then<br />
    • What parameters is that cadence dependent on? (musle type distribution, biomechanical properties of the rider, is it trainable and up to what extent)<br />
    <br />I have always thought that being able to spin at a higher cadence slows down the lactate buildup in the muscles, but up to what cadence can you go for that? My brother (15y) has no problems spinning at more than 120 RPM, while I (29y) have problems efficiently sustaining a cadence over 110 RPM<br /><br />[quote author=Duckwah link=board=19;threadid=2854;start=0#msg24143 date=1042273630]<br />3. This can be changed through overspeed training.<br />[/quote]<br />What do you mean by overspeed training? Riding behind a derny, motorcycle or car at high speeds?<br /><br />Niek
     
  9. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    The most efficient cadence will be in the range of ~ 60 - 80 revs/min, which increases as workload goes up. At higher cadences you become less efficient.<br><br />Optimal cadence is higher than the most efficient cadence at any given workload, simply because forces are and it feels 'easier'.<br /><br />Optimal cadence is best chosen (for endurance events) via self selection -- i.e., choose the cadence that is most comfortable for the most amount of power that you can produce. This will likely go up as power increases, to try to maintain smaller forces.<br /><br />There's no 'magic' to choosing optimal cadence for endurance events.<br /><br />In a sport science or exercise physiology lab, optimal cadence can be found for sprint exercises, if the lab has the right equipment.<br /><br />Most labs can find your most efficient cadence, so long as they have something to accurately measure mechanical power output, and expired respiratory gases.<br /><br />Cadence during the Hour Record is usually high (&gt;100 revs/min) simply because the absolute power output is very high compared to what people usually ride at. In the case of Chris Boardman and his Superman record, the power output was 442 W for 1-hr. This would generally, be the power that most ~ 70kg 2nd cat racers could sustain for up to ~ 90 - 120-secs.<br /><br />During, a long training ride, average power might be as low ~ 150 W for an average sized average racer, so your optimal and most efficient cadence will drop.<br /><br />cadence is really a secondary/dependent variable -- i.e., it's dependent upon the amount of power that you are producing, and thus the effect on velocity. Concentrate on increasing the amount of power that you can produce for any given time, and as power increases (which hopefully it will), cadence will increase with it too.<br /><br />Ric
     
  10. Duckwah

    Duckwah New Member

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    overspeed training for cadence involves unloading the leg muscles by using a very easy gear and then spinning really fast for short intervals.<br /><br />this can be done on a trainer or on the road, basically as you roll along you shift back to a very easy gear and then for 15-30 secs you pedal at a higher than normal cadence.<br /><br />actual travelling speed will probably be quite low
     
  11. nferyn

    nferyn New Member

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    [quote author=Duckwah link=board=19;threadid=2854;start=0#msg24146 date=1042284879]<br />overspeed training for cadence involves unloading the leg muscles by using a very easy gear and then spinning really fast for short intervals.<br /><br />this can be done on a trainer or on the road, basically as you roll along you shift back to a very easy gear and then for 15-30 secs you pedal at a higher than normal cadence.<br /><br />actual travelling speed will probably be quite low<br />[/quote]<br /><br />I regularly do something similar: choosing a very low gear (e.g. 42X23), go for an all out sprint and try to maintain my cadence for a 5-10 seconds. I usually reach a cadence of somewhere between 185 and 200, but can't seem to get any higher than that :(<br /><br />Niek
     
  12. Duckwah

    Duckwah New Member

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    The aim of overspeed training is not to load up the muscles or the cardiovascular system (although it is quite tiring) but instead to improve the nervous systems ability to rapidly apply the nerve firing patterns required for pedalling. So the resistance you use is not important as long as it allows you to pedal above your normal RPM
     
  13. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    Can you explain the purpose (in terms of performance, rather than physiology), of such high cadence, low resistance intervals for riders other than (e.g.) track sprinters?<br /><br />Thanks,<br />Ric
     
  14. nferyn

    nferyn New Member

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    [quote author=ricstern link=board=19;threadid=2854;start=0#msg24150 date=1042298086]<br />Can you explain the purpose (in terms of performance, rather than physiology), of such high cadence, low resistance intervals for riders other than (e.g.) track sprinters?<br /><br />Thanks,<br />Ric<br />[/quote]<br /><br />Hi Ric,<br /><br />Personally I have no specific training purpose in doing these low gear sprints. I just like doing it and it breaks the routine a bit when you're going for a long ride<br /><br />Greetz,<br /><br />Niek<br /><br />PS: I was not really thinking about the biomechanical efficiency of riding at a high cadence but rather the ability to maintain your effort on longer (+ 150kms) rides. Is there any research done in that area?
     
  15. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    Niek,<br /><br />you wrote: I was not really thinking about the biomechanical efficiency of riding at a high cadence but rather the ability to maintain your effort on longer (+ 150kms) rides. Is there any research done in that area? <br /><br />i'm not sure if i correctly understand your question, but the ability to maintain effort on such long rides, is a function of riding at the 'correct' effort (so that you don't become overly fatigued), 'fitness', and correct nutritional strategy.<br /><br />Ric
     
  16. nferyn

    nferyn New Member

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    [quote author=ricstern link=board=19;threadid=2854;start=0#msg24168 date=1042368742]<br />Niek,<br /><br />you wrote: I was not really thinking about the biomechanical efficiency of riding at a high cadence but rather the ability to maintain your effort on longer (+ 150kms) rides. Is there any research done in that area? <br /><br />i'm not sure if i correctly understand your question, but the ability to maintain effort on such long rides, is a function of riding at the 'correct' effort (so that you don't become overly fatigued), 'fitness', and correct nutritional strategy.<br /><br />Ric<br />[/quote]<br /><br />Indeed, my thinking was that by maintaining a high cadence (at an equal speed), you would rely more on slow twitch muscle fibres and thus accumulate less lactic acid, thus resulting in less fatigue<br /><br />Is this line of thinking correct?<br /><br />Niek
     
  17. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    [quote author=nferyn link=board=19;threadid=2854;start=0#msg24175 date=1042394646]<br />Indeed, my thinking was that by maintaining a high cadence (at an equal speed), you would rely more on slow twitch muscle fibres and thus accumulate less lactic acid, thus resulting in less fatigue<br /><br />Is this line of thinking correct?<br /><br />Niek<br />[/quote]<br /><br />Some of this really depends on what you mean by high cadence, e.g., more than 90 revs/min, more than 120 revs/min, etc.<br /><br />In general, a high blood lactate level is determined by too high a (power output) intensity. Thus, by riding at a power level that is within your ability, will minimise lactate (although, having said that you can't have high lactates for 150 km!).<br /><br />The most efficient cadence, is one that is quite low (e.g., 60 - 80 revs/min), especially at low power outputs (which occur when you ride such big distances).<br /><br />However, the best cadence to use for endurance riding is via self-optimisation, i.e., the cadence that feels most comfortable. For most people this is in the range of 80 - 100 revs/min. <br /><br />Cadence, itself, is an artefact of velocity and available gearing, and also power ouput. as velocity increases (velocity increases when power increases under a given environmental and topographical situation) you have more range of cadence (i.e., at low speed up a hill, you could be stuck in your lowest gear at 40 revs/min, because you're unable to increase power). Your cadence will just track your power output.<br /><br />Try not to think of cadence as the important thing. The important aspect of increased fitness (whether that is for racing or riding around etc) is to increase power output. <br /><br />Ric
     
  18. SniperX

    SniperX New Member

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    actually cadence need not necesarily be high ( 80 and up ) to get a good timing .. It varies from individual like for me i tend to use big gears often but I do coasting at times ... the thing is the speed is kept quite high if not higher than if I were to use a high cadence low gear aprroach .. so I guess the best way is to do tests high cad low gear and low cad high gear and clock your timings.
     
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