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  1. #1
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    Cadence and Power

    Have been doing some training indoors with the sufferfest videos. I find that I can maintain the prescribed power to get through the videos but I can't maintain the prescribed cadences. My power just drops when I gear down and spin faster. Is this just a fitness issue and should I just keep maintaining the prescribed cadence at the largest gear I can even though my power output is low and eventually power will increase as I'm able to spin faster at a higher gear?
    Thanks for any suggestions

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    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    How much slower?

    Prob nothing to worry about, I used to take a couple minutes near the end of
    a session and try and go a couple rpm higher than the previous week.
    We are as gods, we might as well get good at it.
    Stewart Brand

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    Practice with different cadences. Not everyone has the same ideal or optimum rate. Look at the pros and you'll see variations. A lot has to do with your muscular make up and the respective strengths in various muscle groups.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

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    Senior Member osteoclast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bja70 View Post
    Have been doing some training indoors with the sufferfest videos. I find that I can maintain the prescribed power to get through the videos but I can't maintain the prescribed cadences. My power just drops when I gear down and spin faster. Is this just a fitness issue and should I just keep maintaining the prescribed cadence at the largest gear I can even though my power output is low and eventually power will increase as I'm able to spin faster at a higher gear?
    Thanks for any suggestions
    Higher cadences are more a function of aerobic fitness, lower cadences a function of power.

    There is a sweet spot for your current level of fitness and strength.

    Working at higher cadences will improve your fitness and lower cadences your power.
    Quote Originally Posted by John_V View Post
    "The more you ride, the better you get. The better you get, the more you ride."

  5. #5
    Senior Member Number400's Avatar
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    Keep at it, focus on putting more force into the pedals at the higher cadences (not just spinning for speed) and you will start to see improvements at the higher rpms. I had real problems with this but I did not quite get it until my coach put it that way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Number400 View Post
    Keep at it, focus on putting more force into the pedals at the higher cadences (not just spinning for speed) and you will start to see improvements at the higher rpms. I had real problems with this but I did not quite get it until my coach put it that way.
    Thanks for the tip. So did you just find a max gear that you could maintain a nice cadence and then over time find that you could maintain the same cadence at a higher gear?
    And what cadence were you training with?

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    Senior Member Number400's Avatar
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    On the trainer, yes, a specific gear and cadence combo that met the power number I wanted to maintain. One of my problems was I normally have a fairly high cadence ~95 but would also fall into a "comfort" cadence (read leg weakness), when beginning to get tired. I would magically find easier gears and start spinning at 103 rpm. During races, everyone around me would be ~85-90 and my legs would tire quickly at that cadence and pace and I would try to avoid that tired leg feeling (so that I might have something left for the sprint) and go back to my old habits and start to spin. This was not good as my heart rate would climb with the higher rpm and by the end of the race, my HR was too close to my FTP for a long time and then my effective sprint at the finish was so much shorter than I needed it to be.

    Bottom line, this was partly due to a lack of conditioning and incorrect training for the shorter road races that I was doing. I could TT well and climb and even had a strong and long sprint but I could not put it all together in races with having to ride other racers pace and respond to attacks, close gaps and do my share of pace making. I just was not training for it and was suffering. I got a coach and explained this and was directed to work on improving my power at a higher cadence (along with better quality workouts and core and strength training). Anyone can crank down in a heavy gear for bit but making the adjustment to put down power and keep the legs spinning fast and for a long time is where the work begins. I love to watch Cancellara do it on the one-day races. He puts the power down and leaves nothing in the tank.

    Sounds like you are finding that next level with the sufferfest workouts and if you stick with them will see improvements!
    Last edited by Number400; 01-23-14 at 10:19 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Number400 View Post
    On the trainer, yes, a specific gear and cadence combo that met the power number I wanted to maintain. One of my problems was I normally have a fairly high cadence ~95 but would also fall into a "comfort" cadence (read leg weakness), when beginning to get tired. I would magically find easier gears and start spinning at 103 rpm. During races, everyone around me would be ~85-90 and my legs would tire quickly at that cadence and pace and I would try to avoid that tired leg feeling (so that I might have something left for the sprint) and go back to my old habits and start to spin. This was not good as my heart rate would climb with the higher rpm and by the end of the race, my HR was too close to my FTP for a long time and then my effective sprint at the finish was so much shorter than I needed it to be.

    Bottom line, this was partly due to a lack of conditioning and incorrect training for the shorter road races that I was doing. I could TT well and climb and even had a strong and long sprint but I could not put it all together in races with having to ride other racers pace and respond to attacks, close gaps and do my share of pace making. I just was not training for it and was suffering. I got a coach and explained this and was directed to work on improving my power at a higher cadence (along with better quality workouts and core and strength training). Anyone can crank down in a heavy gear for bit but making the adjustment to put down power and keep the legs spinning fast and for a long time is where the work begins. I love to watch Cancellara do it on the one-day races. He puts the power down and leaves nothing in the tank.

    Sounds like you are finding that next level with the sufferfest workouts and if you stick with them will see improvements!

    Thanks much. That is really helpful information. Will keep working on it.

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    Do the Sufferfest vids have power targets? The ones I've seen do not, they set effort targets, which is a very different thing. Without power readings, how can you evaluate effort? HR? Sure, but if you're pumping out RPMs, you can drive HR up without driving up power, and if you're not measuring HR with a monitor, then you're really just flying by the seat of your pants with regard to effort evaluation.

    All of which is fine, but it's not a proper training program. It's not individually tailored, and there are no real metrics for evaluation, so really, the Sufferfest vids are just motivational tools. Again, that's fine, if it meets your goals. Just putting the time in trying to follow the videos is a good thing, and will definitely improve most folks' cycling (the main exception being, perhaps, those on a true training regimen).

    As has been mentioned and suggested, it's probably a good idea to vary how you use the videos, some days focusing on hitting the cadence targets, and other days, focusing on rolling a bigger gear at below suggested RPM (e.g. when Sufferfest says go 100rpm, do 90).

    Ultimately, as has also been mentioned already, you'll want to combine power and cadence to push up your baseline output at lower HR, which is the basic definition of improved fitness, i.e. more work for less effort, and even higher power at max effort.

    Not knowing what tools you have to measure performance, I'll just say that the more data you have, the more meaningful you can make using the SFest videos. You'll be able to track progress, see improvements, and target deficit areas. Certainly modern training is all about the language of power, so a meter is the #1 way to go if you want to approach this seriously. However, even estimated power, e.g. the $99 Cycleops Powercal, will allow you to start putting some more meaning to effort evaluation and tracking.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
    Do the Sufferfest vids have power targets? The ones I've seen do not, they set effort targets, which is a very different thing. Without power readings, how can you evaluate effort? HR? Sure, but if you're pumping out RPMs, you can drive HR up without driving up power, and if you're not measuring HR with a monitor, then you're really just flying by the seat of your pants with regard to effort evaluation.

    All of which is fine, but it's not a proper training program. It's not individually tailored, and there are no real metrics for evaluation, so really, the Sufferfest vids are just motivational tools. Again, that's fine, if it meets your goals. Just putting the time in trying to follow the videos is a good thing, and will definitely improve most folks' cycling (the main exception being, perhaps, those on a true training regimen).

    As has been mentioned and suggested, it's probably a good idea to vary how you use the videos, some days focusing on hitting the cadence targets, and other days, focusing on rolling a bigger gear at below suggested RPM (e.g. when Sufferfest says go 100rpm, do 90).

    Ultimately, as has also been mentioned already, you'll want to combine power and cadence to push up your baseline output at lower HR, which is the basic definition of improved fitness, i.e. more work for less effort, and even higher power at max effort.

    Not knowing what tools you have to measure performance, I'll just say that the more data you have, the more meaningful you can make using the SFest videos. You'll be able to track progress, see improvements, and target deficit areas. Certainly modern training is all about the language of power, so a meter is the #1 way to go if you want to approach this seriously. However, even estimated power, e.g. the $99 Cycleops Powercal, will allow you to start putting some more meaning to effort evaluation and tracking.
    Thanks Chaad. I have been using the garmin vector power meter with a cycleops trainer so I have been using the power targets on the videos. I run the Sufferefest videos through trainer road so power targets and cadence targets are there for every segment. That's actually what got me thinking of how power works and why I can maintain power but not at the prescribed cadence. Been working outdoors on riding at a higher cadence and hopefully results will be better on the videos. What's also strange that I noticed is that in analyzing a ride over this past weekend with a good bit of climbing that I could never maintain those power numbers on the indoor trainer. I guess thats where the mental aspect comes in though.
    Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bja70 View Post
    Thanks Chaad. I have been using the garmin vector power meter with a cycleops trainer so I have been using the power targets on the videos. I run the Sufferefest videos through trainer road so power targets and cadence targets are there for every segment. That's actually what got me thinking of how power works and why I can maintain power but not at the prescribed cadence. Been working outdoors on riding at a higher cadence and hopefully results will be better on the videos. What's also strange that I noticed is that in analyzing a ride over this past weekend with a good bit of climbing that I could never maintain those power numbers on the indoor trainer. I guess thats where the mental aspect comes in though.
    Thanks.
    Oh, that's cool...I didn't know Trainer Road had that kind of functionality! I see also they offer power scaling, so you can dial back on that targets to better match your current fitness, essentially what I was saying to do with pulling down the cadence target, but using power is better. Cool!
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  12. #12
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    I don't have experience with power or real bike racing, but I have learned a lot over the years. I find I have an ideal cadence for long hills and TT. What took me a long time to develop was the conditioning to climb shorter hills at high power and high cadence, knowing I would blow if I kept it up, but having a target distance to cover. Rather like a racing bridge or circuit hills. At first it felt like I was peeing strength out of the bottoms of my feet, but I gradually acquired the ability to do it. It's just practice. First you need to acquire the ability to pedal easily at high cadence, say up to 150 or so, then the ability to put power to the pedals throughout the stroke at lowish cadences, then to combine those practices at 95 or so. There is some physical change that takes place in the legs, but I don't know what it is. Or maybe not, maybe it's just neuro learning, which can be slow.

    One thing I've done is to do 2X30X5 intervals in moderate rolling terrain, holding a steady power or HR near the bottom or just below the threshold zone, and a steady cadence of 100-130 depending on one's ability. Lots of shifting, just hold that cadence absolutely steady and power as steady as you can. That's pretty tiring so no more than once/week.

  13. #13
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    Pedal easily at 150rpm?! Wow, not me! I can probably get there-- I haven't done sprint workouts in awhile, so I forget where my top end is, but it's not unusual for me to hit mid 130 for second or two-- but it ain't what I'd call "easy pedaling." Then again I'm old, 100kg, and not trying to win any national track titles...unlike this guy, who spins up and holds it well north of 200rpm:

    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

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    Very high cadence for a minute or so is something you can learn with practice. But the idea that a specific cadence produces more power for everyone is just crap. Some people put out their maximum power at 60 rpm, some at 100, it depends entirely on the person. I can do 150+ rpm's smoothly and easily for a short period, but climbing at 80 rpm for more than a few minutes at a time is just a bridge too far. There's no harm in trying though, and it might even produce some marginal gains over time.

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