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cadence and strength

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cadence and strength

Old 10-02-15, 06:31 PM
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cadence and strength

I just crossed the 900 mile point today. The first few hundred miles, I was riding at a very low cadence and using my legs. After learning that was the "wrong" way to ride, I immediately started working on my cadence. I now find myself to be very comfortable at around a cadence of 95-100. But now my legs feel weaker than they were in the beginning. I really have no reference point, but I find myself struggling with any resistance, hills, wind, etc..... When I do try to use my legs, they get fatigued very fast.

Should I change something up? Or just keep the cadence up?

I feel like my legs are slowly getting stronger, but it is a very slow progression(I'm not saying this is bad). I don't get to climb as much as I'd like to. After a nice climb, my legs are sore the most, but that means they are getting stronger right?
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Old 10-02-15, 06:48 PM
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You need strength coupled with high leg speed. High leg speed on its own is worthless. High power is always good, but limited. In other words, it's better to pedal hard than fast, all else being equal (notably, stamina), but it doesn't really work like that. You need to work on both strength and leg speed.
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Old 10-02-15, 07:48 PM
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I find that cadence drills, with resistance, do a lot to build leg strength. I do them on a .3 mile hill that averages about 4-5%, maybe gets up to 8%. It not a hard hill by any stretch. But maintaining a 90 rpm cadence for the length of the hill really seems to work every muscle in the legs. Then, to make it interesting, I change gears, both up and down, and try to maintain the same cadence. Obviously, the higher gears result in a faster pace, and definitely higher heart rates. It's a great workout!
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Old 10-02-15, 10:04 PM
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With 900 miles in the saddle, you haven't really begun to change your fitness or strength yet. Keep riding. Keep the cadence up. After another 20,000 miles or so, it will be time to add more purposeful strength work to your routine. If you do that too soon, you're likely to suffer some unnecessary joint pain that will keep you off the bike.
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Old 10-02-15, 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by pakk
I just crossed the 900 mile point today. The first few hundred miles, I was riding at a very low cadence and using my legs. After learning that was the "wrong" way to ride, I immediately started working on my cadence. I now find myself to be very comfortable at around a cadence of 95-100. But now my legs feel weaker than they were in the beginning. I really have no reference point, but I find myself struggling with any resistance, hills, wind, etc..... When I do try to use my legs, they get fatigued very fast.

Should I change something up? Or just keep the cadence up?

I feel like my legs are slowly getting stronger, but it is a very slow progression(I'm not saying this is bad). I don't get to climb as much as I'd like to. After a nice climb, my legs are sore the most, but that means they are getting stronger right?

congrats on crossing the 900 mile point, in what time frame we talking?

Personally I would tell you to get on the small crank, keep your cadence between 95-100, ride 150-200 miles per week...every week and check back in at the 2,000 miles milestone. Until then you are on probation and are not allowed to talk about getting weaker or stronger.
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Old 10-02-15, 10:18 PM
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BITD cycling coaches compared cyclists to either race horses or draft horses.

No doubt that draft horses are stronger and more powerful, but race horses are still faster.

It's the same for cyclists. You use gears to match your input speed and strength to the desired output speed. You don't need to be strong, as much as able to produce more power using speed vs. more strength. Find the balance of speed, strength and endurance that works best for you.
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Old 10-02-15, 10:20 PM
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I started riding about july, but didn't get many miles in the beginning. Even now, I only get about 75 a week. It really fluctuates. But I think your right darth, after looking back at when I started and how many miles I've put it, I feel like I need to just keep riding. I'm sure if I did 200 miles a week for 10 weeks strait and checked back, I'd be in a better situation regardless of how I rode.
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Old 10-03-15, 04:39 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster
You need strength coupled with high leg speed. High leg speed on its own is worthless. High power is always good, but limited. In other words, it's better to pedal hard than fast, all else being equal (notably, stamina), but it doesn't really work like that. You need to work on both strength and leg speed.
This. Then use either leg speed or power for the particular circumstances.
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Old 10-03-15, 05:49 AM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree
With 900 miles in the saddle, you haven't really begun to change your fitness or strength yet. Keep riding. Keep the cadence up. After another 20,000 miles or so, it will be time to add more purposeful strength work to your routine. If you do that too soon, you're likely to suffer some unnecessary joint pain that will keep you off the bike.
Too funny.
A 20,000 mile warmup before you can actually workout or get purposeful?
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Old 10-03-15, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by pakk
I started riding about july.
You are acquiring Base Miles, an extremely important foundation upon which all else is built in cycling.
My old coach insisted that base miles be ridden at a "conversational" pace, if one could not talk to a riding partner one was going too hard: back off.
Particular emphasis was placed on developing a supple high cadence pedaling style that would be stressed with serious hard work later in the season.

The Pyramid of Endurance, Power and Speed came in sequence with specific workouts, but endurance via base miles came first.
Keep spinning along, as they say in GoT: "Winter is Coming."

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Old 10-03-15, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree
With 900 miles in the saddle, you haven't really begun to change your fitness or strength yet. Keep riding. Keep the cadence up. After another 20,000 miles or so, it will be time to add more purposeful strength work to your routine. If you do that too soon, you're likely to suffer some unnecessary joint pain that will keep you off the bike.
Um, no. Within 6-8 weeks I went from being the slowest person in my group ride, completely spending myself to keep up...to now being a middle of the pack rider, and better than average climber...All riding less than 40 miles a week: a 20 mi. Group ride, and one or two 8 mile rides with a short steep hill climb and some Sprint intervals thrown in...I actually saw gains within 2-3 weeks.
Before that, I was only riding about 15 slow miles once every 5-10 days for about a year.

I don't know what that totals up to, but I bet it's closer to 900 than 20,000
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Old 10-03-15, 10:49 AM
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Well I would say keeping the cadence on the higher side overall is the way to go. Throw in some short efforts using more muscle tension during your rides. Some find it easier to spin others to use more muscle tension. I think a lot of it is very specific to the individual. Find what works best for you, then work on weaknesses.
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Old 10-04-15, 08:15 AM
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OP, what you are describing is pretty common. Most new riders start out pushing a slower, bigger gear, then learn they should pedal at a higher cadence. Keep at it and you will learn how to pedal hard and fast. As a general rule, faster cadence taxes the circulatory and respiratory systems whereas slower cadence/higher power taxes leg strength. There is a balance between the two and learning to find that balance is part of the learning curve.
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Old 10-04-15, 08:35 AM
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OP - It's good that you feel comfortable at a cadence of 95-100. You will likely find that if you spin in the low 80's your legs will fatigue on longer rides (>50 miles). Everyone has their own preference regarding cadence, so what works for one may not be good for others. You just need to explore and find what works best for you.

You're right, it is a slow progression. Try to find some faster group rides and you'll begin to realize what cadence works best as you get your speed up. Sometimes its best to no focus on the computer and the numbers, but just ride at what feels comfortable. It's easy to get too focused on the #'s instead of listening to your body.
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Old 10-04-15, 04:47 PM
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I've ridden the same number of miles in the same amount of time as OP, and I think it's crazy that y'all say that's not enough time to see any changes in fitness at all. Starting from zero, getting to 900 miles is a huge change in fitness.

That being said, I rode an exercise bike a bit before I started on the real bike, so I started with a a cadence of about 80. Right now I'm averaging about 92 - 100 over an hour and a half ride.

It absolutely make it easier. I don't know why everyone says this stuff doesn't make a difference for a beginner. The lower your fitness level, the more this stuff makes a difference, IMO. Spinning vs mashing is night and day for me.
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Old 10-04-15, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree
With 900 miles in the saddle, you haven't really begun to change your fitness or strength yet. Keep riding. Keep the cadence up. After another 20,000 miles or so, it will be time to add more purposeful strength work to your routine. If you do that too soon, you're likely to suffer some unnecessary joint pain that will keep you off the bike.
Originally Posted by 12strings
Um, no. Within 6-8 weeks I went from being the slowest person in my group ride, completely spending myself to keep up...to now being a middle of the pack rider, and better than average climber...All riding less than 40 miles a week: a 20 mi. Group ride, and one or two 8 mile rides with a short steep hill climb and some Sprint intervals thrown in...I actually saw gains within 2-3 weeks.
Before that, I was only riding about 15 slow miles once every 5-10 days for about a year.

I don't know what that totals up to, but I bet it's closer to 900 than 20,000
He's joking and not serious
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Old 10-11-15, 11:12 PM
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So today I went on a club ride, approx 35 miles. I went out riding today with the intention of keeping my cadence as low as possible. When we got to speed, I stayed around 75 and sometimes as low as 70. The result was a lot less fatigue with both my legs and lungs. I was expecting this with my lungs, but not my legs. I was able to sustain speeds with a lot less effort. I don't know if this really means anything. I do know that I can conserve my energy this way. Not sure what would happen on a longer ride. I will say it was kinda "boring." I didn't really feel like I got a work out.

On a side note, I've been working on drafting a lot lately. I've just been trying to get myself more comfortable being that close to someone. I found that being at a lower cadence it's easier for me to pace someone else's speed.
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Old 10-12-15, 12:11 AM
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There's a lot of rubbish talked about cadence, because people mix up cause with effect.

Actually, the cadence at which one is most efficient in the sense of burning least oxygen to maintain a given speed is quite low - around 60. This is a big part of the reason that new, unfit cyclists default to this sort of rhythm - their cardiovascular fitness is poor, so if they try to maintain a high cadence they get out of breath fast. There's an energy cost to just turning your legs faster.

The penalty, of course, is that maintaining a given speed at a low cadence requires greater force for each pedal stroke, and that fatigues the leg muscles faster. So the fit cyclist, whose cardiovascular system has developed to the point that it can transport and use more oxygen, trades that off - they are less likely to get out of breath so they effectively "waste" energy in order to spare their legs. They have oxygen to burn, so to speak, so they use that and find they can go further, faster.

The point is that fast cyclists aren't fast because they use a higher cadence. They use a higher cadence because they are already fit enough to be fast. And it is interesting that some of the top time triallists, and a lot of excellent ultra distance riders, actually use cadences lower than those now recommended. You'll often see Tony Martin, for example, winning TTs at cadences in the high 70s or low 80s. So it is not obvious that the "spin to win" mantra is always appropriate.

OP, 900 miles since July really isn't very many. I suspect that @B.Carfree 's advice was a typo, and that he meant 2000 miles, not 20,000. 2000 miles would certainly be a sensible number of base miles to start developing aerobic fitness. It's a slow process. Most pro cyclists don't peak until they have been training intensively for years, because it takes many, many thousands of miles to build their vast aerobic capacity. For now, just ride your bike and use the cadences and gearing you find most comfortable. As you get fitter, you'll probably find that your cadence rises naturally. But contrary to the impression you might get here, the purpose of cycling is not the maintenance of some arbitrarily-selected number of rpm.
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Old 10-12-15, 05:03 AM
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The body adapts over time. The large majority of cyclists who have ridden and trained for years can put out higher sustained wattage at cadences around 90 ~ 100. That's not absolutely true for everybody, and it's relevant only if it's in line with your goals.
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Old 10-12-15, 05:21 AM
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I like what Eddie Merckx used to say. Why not spin a big gear?
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Old 10-12-15, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by pakk
So today I went on a club ride, approx 35 miles. I went out riding today with the intention of keeping my cadence as low as possible. When we got to speed, I stayed around 75 and sometimes as low as 70. The result was a lot less fatigue with both my legs and lungs. I was expecting this with my lungs, but not my legs. I was able to sustain speeds with a lot less effort. I don't know if this really means anything. I do know that I can conserve my energy this way. Not sure what would happen on a longer ride. I will say it was kinda "boring." I didn't really feel like I got a work out.
The training plan I am currently in the middle of periodically includes days of low cadence/ taller gear intervals (70-75 rpm) for sustained durations. I had never done this particular exercise before yesterday and I was surprised that I was able to sustain a higher mph average than I generally can do at higher cadences, in this case 20.38 mph over 55 miles which I guess isn't too bad considering i was keeping this a Zone 2/ Zone 3 ride. I'm 50 with about a year and a half and 6,000 miles or so under my belt.

Keith

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Old 10-12-15, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by chasm54
But contrary to the impression you might get here, the purpose of cycling is not the maintenance of some arbitrarily-selected number of rpm.
You can say that again! And again and again...because it just never sinks in around here.

Although I'd suggest the OP ride with an awareness of cadence now because I don't see a downside to establishing good habits early, your post, Chasm54, was overall, excellent.
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Old 10-12-15, 09:29 AM
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Throw a day of hill training into your rides each week. The strength will come.
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Old 10-12-15, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by pakk
So today I went on a club ride, approx 35 miles. I went out riding today with the intention of keeping my cadence as low as possible. When we got to speed, I stayed around 75 and sometimes as low as 70. The result was a lot less fatigue with both my legs and lungs. I was expecting this with my lungs, but not my legs. I was able to sustain speeds with a lot less effort. I don't know if this really means anything. I do know that I can conserve my energy this way. Not sure what would happen on a longer ride. I will say it was kinda "boring." I didn't really feel like I got a work out.

On a side note, I've been working on drafting a lot lately. I've just been trying to get myself more comfortable being that close to someone. I found that being at a lower cadence it's easier for me to pace someone else's speed.
High rpm = stress your heart, low rpm = stress your legs. You will find over time if you listen to your body your rpm will drop in a group. When you are drafting you don't have the tradeoff of higher stress on your legs since the overall power to maintain a given speed is reduced. So you get the best of both worlds.
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