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Old 06-08-05, 07:56 AM   #1
Murrays
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Thoughts on Low Cadence Training

In my endless desire to beat my buddies up hills, Iíve started doing lower cadence efforts on hills and some flat stretches of road. For example, I shift up a couple of gears and try to hold my cadence in the low 70ís while climbing short hills (~1/4 mile) or on a flat stretch near the end of my ride, Iíll try to hold it around 80 rpmís for 1.5 miles. My normal/comfortable cadence is more like 95-105 on rolling terrain or in the 80ís on climbs.

My purpose is to build more strength which, when applied at higher rpmís, will result in increased power. Is this reasonable or am I going through pain without gain?

-murray
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Old 06-08-05, 08:46 AM   #2
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Yes it is a great way to build strength. I use a 60 rpm minimum on hill strength sessions.
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Old 06-08-05, 09:00 AM   #3
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it's one of the best ways to build strength, IMO. i think you'll find your work pays off. just be careful of knee injury and all that.
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Old 06-08-05, 09:39 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Murrays
In my endless desire to beat my buddies up hills, Iíve started doing lower cadence efforts on hills and some flat stretches of road. For example, I shift up a couple of gears and try to hold my cadence in the low 70ís while climbing short hills (~1/4 mile) or on a flat stretch near the end of my ride, Iíll try to hold it around 80 rpmís for 1.5 miles. My normal/comfortable cadence is more like 95-105 on rolling terrain or in the 80ís on climbs.

My purpose is to build more strength which, when applied at higher rpmís, will result in increased power. Is this reasonable or am I going through pain without gain?

-murray
I have a normally high cadence, and I have been forcing myself to do lower cadence pedal mashing lately. I think it does increase power, and hence climbing and sprinting ability. I have had better luck with my sprints lately starting off in a much higher gear obviating the need to shift during the sprint.
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Old 06-08-05, 09:53 AM   #5
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Thanks for the responses. It occurred to me that my hill climbing has suffered the last couple years, probably due to the birth of my daughter, but I also put a 25 in back instead of a 23. Perhaps my willingness to use the 25 while climbing has reduced my strength.

I have felt some extra power when I needed it lately. I also noticed on my Sunday ride with high winds, I averaged 18.3 mph even though I didnít push it until I was going with the wind (go easy when it feels hard, go hard when if feels easy). I would have suffered like a dog to hit that average 6 weeks ago, now itís easy.

25 years into cycling and Iím still figuring out new ways to improve!

-murray
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Old 06-11-05, 08:05 AM   #6
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I think that the strength you gain from low cadence training can't be applied to higher rpm's. It will only apply to low cadence riding.
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Old 06-11-05, 02:21 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by fuzzthebee
I think that the strength you gain from low cadence training can't be applied to higher rpm's. It will only apply to low cadence riding.
I'm not sure I agree with that. What happens is that as you get stronger from mashing big gears, and couple that with a lot of high cadence training, you ultimately become a high cadence pedaler in higher gears - just as Lance has done. Today, for the first time ever during a fast club ride, I did the final sprint in 53/13 and was quite successful with it - 36.2 mph in a heavy direct cross wind.
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Old 06-11-05, 02:26 PM   #8
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It depends. The best thing you can do is get measured for your power output. Folks with a lot of power (like Jan Ullrich) in their pedal stroke will tend to push bigger gears and go faster with lower cadence. Then you have the spinners who rely on the faster speed to propel them at a faster speed, and it works for them.

If you have a lower power output, it may not make sense to do much of this type of training.

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Old 06-11-05, 08:58 PM   #9
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I do some low cadence work but I use it for get ready for cross. I keep it short (<60 seconds) to develop strength, in the saddle. But, ya' gotta be careful; too much low cadence work will do some damage to the knees.
I got the opportunity to ride with the guy who won 35+ Nationals a few years ago; we were doing 7%, 5 mile climb and he was just turning over the big ring. Then, near the top, he just drop it a couple of cogs and just leapt away from us.
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Old 06-11-05, 10:26 PM   #10
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Guess you guys don't like your knees.
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Old 06-11-05, 10:45 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by operator
Guess you guys don't like your knees.
My knees are just fine.

Low cadence climbing is a partial substitute for weight workouts (like squats). The CTS climbing DVD uses them (called Muscle Tension workouts, up to 10 minutes at a time) to build strength. After doing the CTS workout over the winter I found my climbing improved significantly and as a nice side-effect I had more power on the flats.
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Old 06-11-05, 11:41 PM   #12
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I would personally say don't ride with a cadence lower than 80 unless on hills and then 65. If you have a problem with have power with such a high cadence try riding in your big ring. Each gear on the cassette adds more resistance than if you were in your little/middle ring. Look at it this way as well. Riding with a lower cadence will cause you legs to use more fast twitch muscles instead of slow twitch. This will cause you to go anerobic (more lactic acid) much sooner than if you had a higher cadence. For 98% of use out there, cycling is an aerobic sport. So it is best to keep the higher cadence to keep the lower HR. Unless you are 1 of the 2% out there that can hammer every ride out in 90% MRH day after day.
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Old 06-11-05, 11:57 PM   #13
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Guess you guys don't like your knees.
Some of use have good knees, believe it or not.
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Old 06-15-05, 03:54 PM   #14
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Just be careful of straining your knees. Pedal through the entire motion. You'll get more speed at your lower RPMs by concentraing more on the shuffle at the top and bottom of the stroke. It's called "horizontal pedaling."
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