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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 05-08-09, 08:27 PM   #1
guelerct
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Cadence question

What's a better workout..
70 rpm cadence in a bigger gear doing more speed
or 85 rpm in a small gear doing lower speed
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Old 05-08-09, 08:43 PM   #2
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Sorry, but you should try and learn to pedal at a faster cadence. Shoot for 90 rpm plus or minus 5 rpm on the flats, and at least 70 rpm when climbing in the saddle. Easier on your knees, better cardio workout.
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Old 05-08-09, 08:48 PM   #3
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The one that makes you sweat more?
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Old 05-08-09, 08:49 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by guelerct View Post
What's a better workout..
70 rpm cadence in a bigger gear doing more speed
or 85 rpm in a small gear doing lower speed
Ugh! The only time I do a cadence that low is when I'm climbing a grade of 15% and I've run out of lower gears.
When cruising on the road bike, I'm shooting for 105.
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Old 05-08-09, 09:20 PM   #5
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Ugh! The only time I do a cadence that low is when I'm climbing a grade of 15% and I've run out of lower gears.
When cruising on the road bike, I'm shooting for 105.
Me too.

Lower cadence = more leg muscle workout.
Higher cadence = more cardio workout.
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Old 05-08-09, 09:39 PM   #6
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My best cadence range is 95-120. I can ride farther, and faster at a higher cadence in a lower gear than pushing a huge gear at low cadence.
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Old 05-09-09, 06:27 AM   #7
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A higher cadence is definitely better for your body. It reduces strain on the knees and will increase your endurance over time. Cadence takes time to build if you ride a slower cadence. My recommendation is to pick a comfortable cadence that you can maintain. Try to maintain is consistently no matter what the terrain. Shift as required to maintain that cadence. When you can do that consistently add 5 rpm to it and maintain that new cadence. Repeat as necessary until your cadence is in at least the 90 rpm plus range. You will find that as you continue to increase your cadence that you will be able to ride longer distances at faster speeds.
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Old 05-11-09, 11:17 AM   #8
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Neither. Find your comfort zone and be diligent about riding more. Cycling is cycling; running is running; weight training (squats) is weight training. You can't make cycling something it isn't. Cadence is all about your personal comfort zone. BTW: when I say comfort zone I don't necessarily mean "easy". My comfort zone is quite robust, and riding in general is my "cycling" workout. I also run; swim & weight train.
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Old 05-11-09, 10:44 PM   #9
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I average 78 cadence over a 30 kilometer ride of relatively flat terrain. The average factors into time I am not spinning so my moving average is likely in mid 80s or so. That is a comfortable cadence for me now but I built it up from mashing in the mid 50s. Get a computer and track it. Shift down - its faster - doesn't make sense to me - but its faster.

Most important have fun b/c if you don't the bike will gather dust.
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Old 05-12-09, 12:09 AM   #10
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solo i usually average 88-90 over a 40 mile ride. i push it hard all the way. but when i am with a group i go even harder. it is not unusual for me to be anywhere from 95-110. even still i will end up with a 93+ average over the same 40 miles.

the correct question you should have asked is what is better? a higher cadence or lower cadence at the same speed. answer would be faster. i know guys that average much faster but my comfort range is 88-95 average over a ride. when i first started i have a hard time keeping it above 65. but the best workout is high cadence with high speed the first line of my sig says it all.
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Old 05-12-09, 01:57 AM   #11
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I sometimes struggle with this. I can spin, not an issue, but usally end up with an average cadance of 85. Todays ride for example my highest cadance was 182 on a downhill but my average was 85. I find when riding with a big group that's moving fast I.E. 50km/h in a paceline sometimes it takes to much out of me to ride a fast cadance even on the short but steep climbs I find sometimes it's easier to use 1 gear to "hard" and push it rather than spin. Guess I fall into the whatever works catagory, my knees don't bother me so I must be doing something right.
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Old 05-13-09, 04:24 PM   #12
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Cadence of 182? Was that a typo? Three pedal revolutions per second?
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Old 05-13-09, 05:41 PM   #13
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as a max it is possible, but the bike starts getting sloppy...aka i start shifting all over and "jumping" on the saddle at 150+

People practice on a trainer to smooth out their pedal stroke some (not me) go over 200
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Old 05-13-09, 05:45 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by guelerct View Post
What's a better workout..
70 rpm cadence in a bigger gear doing more speed
or 85 rpm in a small gear doing lower speed
Short answer:

Neither, shoot for 105-110 RPM, 70 is too slow and hard on the knees, 85 is just about the middle of the power band, above 100 you use a larger portion of energy vs speed gained.

Long answer:

RPM is not a great indicator of workout, for that a heart rate monitor is better, have your doctor to a heart stress test to see where your maximum heart rate lies, you also want to know where your aerobic threshold (AT) lies, if your doctor looks at you like you just switched to speaking Klingon, then have him/her refer you to a sport medicine specialist. They will run some tests and determine these numbers, buy yourself a heart rate monitor, if you want to be able to ride all day, then you want to train at below the AT, knowing that if you need to attack a hill or pass someone, you have reserves in the tank.

The AT is the point where you switch from primarily fat burning to primarily glycogen burning, for the average person this is around 85% of HR Max, your energy from fat reserves, is huge (it's huge on a person of "normal" weight) your energy from glycogen reserves are relatively small, so what does that tell you. There are dozens of books on determining the workout based on HR, one is Base Building for Cyclists by Thomas Chapple. A good, but rather scientific read.

The real key though is to learn how you feel at various levels, just below the AT, just above, approaching HR Max, so that after a while you only really use the monitor to confirm. As you get older your AT and HR Max numbers change, but the feelings stay pretty much in step.
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Old 05-13-09, 05:58 PM   #15
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Neither. Find your comfort zone and be diligent about riding more. Cycling is cycling; running is running; weight training (squats) is weight training. You can't make cycling something it isn't. Cadence is all about your personal comfort zone. BTW: when I say comfort zone I don't necessarily mean "easy". My comfort zone is quite robust, and riding in general is my "cycling" workout. I also run; swim & weight train.

+1
As the other non racing dude here, pedal at a comfortable pace to you. Shelton Brown says a cadence of 70-90 rpms.

BTW, I would love to see some of you spinning at 125 rpms to the ice cream shack! I thought biking was about fun?

Jerry
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Old 05-14-09, 03:56 PM   #16
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Without a computer that shows cadence, how does one determine their cadence? The act of setting a timer and then counting revs, without slowing down or going off the road, seems like a challenge.
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Old 05-14-09, 04:04 PM   #17
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Without a computer that shows cadence, how does one determine their cadence? The act of setting a timer and then counting revs, without slowing down or going off the road, seems like a challenge.
Math, most bike computers contain elapsed time or saddle time, so you count revolutions over a shorter time period, say 6 seconds then multiply by 10, or 5 seconds and multiply by 12. Gee I knew there was a reason for memorizing those multiplication tables back in 1969.....
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Old 05-14-09, 04:06 PM   #18
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If you feel like doing the math, you can determine cadence based on gearing and speed.
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Old 05-14-09, 06:26 PM   #19
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Without a computer that shows cadence, how does one determine their cadence? The act of setting a timer and then counting revs, without slowing down or going off the road, seems like a challenge.

I was told to try and keep to the beat of "Panama" in my head while riding. Any fast pace song will help get your rpm's up.
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Old 05-31-09, 04:10 PM   #20
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IMO and in my LBS's opinion... Cadence is highly, highly overrated. First off, true, you want a high cadence but knowing what it is, doesn't matter. You can spin as fast as you want, a higher cadence will increase your cardio, your workout and everything but it isn't vital to know exactly what your cadence is. For one thing, the higher your cadence (or the more you spin at the least resistance), the higher your heart rate will be. The higher the heart rate, the more calories you'll burn. Don't bother counting your cadence or limiting it at a number. Instead, if you want to lose weight, get a heart rate monitor, I have a decent reebok one with a strap that goes around your chest and wirelessly transmits to a watch (maybe it was $50 at most which is still cheaper than a cyclocomputer with a cadence monitor).. and spin at a cadence that is comfortable to you and just focus on keeping your heart rate elevated.

There are more posts somewhere about how high you should keep your heart rate to ideally lose weight etc, so search for those, but the idea behind weight loss will be, spin as fast as you can, comfortably, which generally if you know what gear it is you can't keep up with (start bouncing in the saddle), drop it a gear or two and just keep up the pace for as long as you can. Just don't take an elevated heart rate as a sign that your cadence is fine, you could elevate your HR even on gears that make flats tough, you want the easiest to spin gear, because you'll start toning, dropping the fat, and won't build muscles that you don't need (which would also ironically result in more weight gain).

Lastly, not to harp on them, but they are also just one more little thing added to a bike that might screw stuff up. Just stick to a cheapo heart rate monitor, find an ok cyclocumputer and follow a given speed at the least resistance you can handle and keep your HR up... and drink tons of water or whatever it takes to keep you going.
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Old 05-31-09, 05:54 PM   #21
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I was told to try and keep to the beat of "Panama" in my head while riding. Any fast pace song will help get your rpm's up.
THIS (< take the link, I don't mean "Panama") is the song to keep you on pace; everyone over 30 knows this one.
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Old 05-31-09, 07:49 PM   #22
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THIS (< take the link, I don't mean "Panama") is the song to keep you on pace; everyone over 30 knows this one.
Well there is always Hummelflug, try this one if you wanna hammerfest up Heart Attack Ridge Or this one for more normal riding.
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Old 05-31-09, 11:39 PM   #23
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Cadence of 182? Was that a typo? Three pedal revolutions per second?
Not a typo I've topped out at 196 on the trainer doing cadance drills, I will admit the bike gets a little wobally. I can spin like mad but I really only watch cadance when in big ring on flats I like to keep it at 90 or faster to maintain effeciency. The only reason I knew I hit 182 was because Garmin told me after downloading ride. It was a pretty decent hill with a little sprint thrown in for fun.
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Old 06-01-09, 06:22 AM   #24
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I am not disagreeing with your vote for a heart monitor, but my Cateye Strada with Cadence was $30.

Quote:
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IMO and in my LBS's opinion... Cadence is highly, highly overrated. First off, true, you want a high cadence but knowing what it is, doesn't matter. You can spin as fast as you want, a higher cadence will increase your cardio, your workout and everything but it isn't vital to know exactly what your cadence is. For one thing, the higher your cadence (or the more you spin at the least resistance), the higher your heart rate will be. The higher the heart rate, the more calories you'll burn. Don't bother counting your cadence or limiting it at a number. Instead, if you want to lose weight, get a heart rate monitor, I have a decent reebok one with a strap that goes around your chest and wirelessly transmits to a watch (maybe it was $50 at most which is still cheaper than a cyclocomputer with a cadence monitor).. and spin at a cadence that is comfortable to you and just focus on keeping your heart rate elevated.

There are more posts somewhere about how high you should keep your heart rate to ideally lose weight etc, so search for those, but the idea behind weight loss will be, spin as fast as you can, comfortably, which generally if you know what gear it is you can't keep up with (start bouncing in the saddle), drop it a gear or two and just keep up the pace for as long as you can. Just don't take an elevated heart rate as a sign that your cadence is fine, you could elevate your HR even on gears that make flats tough, you want the easiest to spin gear, because you'll start toning, dropping the fat, and won't build muscles that you don't need (which would also ironically result in more weight gain).

Lastly, not to harp on them, but they are also just one more little thing added to a bike that might screw stuff up. Just stick to a cheapo heart rate monitor, find an ok cyclocumputer and follow a given speed at the least resistance you can handle and keep your HR up... and drink tons of water or whatever it takes to keep you going.
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Old 06-01-09, 07:05 AM   #25
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I am not disagreeing with your vote for a heart monitor, but my Cateye Strada with Cadence was $30.
agreed i paid 39.00 for my cateye strada with cadence. they are getting more affordable.
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