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What is the best way to increase cadence?

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What is the best way to increase cadence?

Old 06-26-09, 09:39 PM
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RyanWilson
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What is the best way to increase cadence?

I'm a new cyclist and discovered that I have been pedaling around 50-60 rpms on average. I know I need to increase this, but 90 feels so fast. My pedal stroke also feels uneven and not circular. If I spin at 90-100 rpms in a lower gear I feel like I'm shaking the whole bike.

I'm looking for tips to increase my cadence and at the same time smooth out my pedaling.
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Old 06-26-09, 09:50 PM
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If you haven't been fit, proper fit is a good start.

Then, if you're aiming for a spin of 90, spin at 120-130 for a little bit (30 secs to 1 min). Do that a few times.

After that, 90 won't feel so fast anymore!
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Old 06-26-09, 09:55 PM
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For my $0.02 - focus on pedaling through the whole stroke - esp. the bottom and a little of the upstroke - I found that focusing on a simultaneous "push-pull" action at the top/bottom and up/down part of each stroke with both feet really helped, as opposed to focusing on the alternating rhythm of pushing with one foot then the other foot (if that makes sense). That really helped smooth out my form when I first went clipless. Like you note, select a lower gear than normal and just practice riding at increasing cadences.
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Old 06-26-09, 09:56 PM
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Cleats and road shoes will help
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Old 06-26-09, 09:58 PM
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Something that helped me smooth out my pedal stroke when I was really working on smoothness at high cadences was to really concentrate on moving the pedals in a circle. Sort of like:

Push down / Pull back as if you're scraping mud off the sole of your shoe (citation...) / Pull up / Push forward.

I also find driving my knee towards the handlebars when moving between pulling up and pushing down helps with the "push forward" part of the stroke. Yeah, my explanation may leave something to be desired, but basically try to move your foot in a circle while applying tension to the chain the entire time. You could always work on pedaling with just one leg at a time (if you have "clipless" pedals / toe straps).
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Old 06-26-09, 09:59 PM
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Pedal faster
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Old 06-26-09, 10:09 PM
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Do some small gear sprints where you increase cadence to the point your butt starts bouncing in the saddle. At that point ease up just enough to stop the bouncing and try to hold that cadence for 20-30 seconds more.

Last edited by Dubbayoo; 06-26-09 at 10:16 PM.
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Old 06-26-09, 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted by MONGO!
Pedal faster
beat me to it.
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Old 06-26-09, 10:14 PM
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You haven't done marching band, have you? Or at least not one that does high-speed drill like modern drum & bugle corps?

It's a semi-serious question, actually. The amount of time spent practicing prescribed movement with good body control and at high tempos (170-190 beats per minute is typical "fast" stuff) teaches a lot of feel for one's body and where each limb is at any point in time. Dance, and any other performance medium with a lot of physical activity, also is good for this kind of body awareness.

IMO, it can simplify learning new things like a high cadence. Without that experience, you're still not lost -- just practice and get a good fit.
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Old 06-26-09, 10:37 PM
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after about 50,000 miles of riding your pedal style will get smoother....Perhaps your saddle is too high, hence it is hard to pedal faster
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Old 06-26-09, 10:42 PM
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core strength may be a factor.

when you pedal now, how much do you move side to side? if you're used to mashing a big hear around, using your shoulders to help roll the pedals around, that indicates a possible weak core.

when riders spin, they hold their hips steady by using core stength.

the rest is the classic approach for learning any skill: do it slowly and correctly, repeat till it's natrual, gradually increase the speed.

step 1: reach up with your right hand and downshift a cog or two.
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Old 06-26-09, 10:53 PM
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I think my cadence has increased about 5-10 points per year. It just takes time and practice. Some of my winter Spinervals high cadence workouts helped a lot. It is easier for me to do cadence training on an indoor trainer.

Try some high cadence intervals - 30 seconds as fast as you can pedal without bouncing on the saddle (over 100-110 rpm) followed by 30 seconds rest, 5 times per set, a couple minutes rest between sets.

Spinning at a higher cadence is a learned skill. It doesn't happen by accident.
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Old 06-26-09, 11:00 PM
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Ride a fixed gear for about a week. You cadence will improve and you will feel like you are sinning every time you coast.
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Old 06-26-09, 11:19 PM
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Great post- thanks for all the info. Will definately try the push-pull-push-pull one legged technique.how do I effectively measure cadence?
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Old 06-26-09, 11:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Diegomayra
how do I effectively measure cadence?
Method A: Get a bike computer that tells you what your cadence is.

Method B: Count pedal strokes per unit of time. The quickest one I know for a 90 rpm cadence is to count off one second; your feet should go "left-right-left" over that 0:01, hitting the right foot again at 0:02 exactly. It's three footfalls per second, which is like running at 180 beats per minute -- which is 90 rpm. In more practical terms, say to yourself "One mississippi two mississippi," and pedal fast enough that your left foot hits down on "One", you pedal right-left over the word "mississippi", then the right foot hits down on "Two". This is WAY easier than I know how to describe...

Learn to pedal 90 rpm and you're right in the ballpark for a decently quicker cadence.

Method C: Learn the different tempos of your favorite music and pedal along with them. Even if you sing it in your head, it'll help.
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Old 06-27-09, 12:15 AM
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Ill try method A. Thank barrack.
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Old 06-27-09, 12:56 AM
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Originally Posted by BarracksSi
You haven't done marching band, have you? Or at least not one that does high-speed drill like modern drum & bugle corps?

It's a semi-serious question, actually. The amount of time spent practicing prescribed movement with good body control and at high tempos (170-190 beats per minute is typical "fast" stuff) teaches a lot of feel for one's body and where each limb is at any point in time. Dance, and any other performance medium with a lot of physical activity, also is good for this kind of body awareness.

IMO, it can simplify learning new things like a high cadence. Without that experience, you're still not lost -- just practice and get a good fit.
I've been trying to focus on cadence myself and I never considered marching band could help with that. Thinking about it now, those double time high steps where each foot is going ~200bpm really help.

I just pulled out one of my metronomes and set it for 184 (92rpm) and pedaled in place. It's really not that fast after all.
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Old 06-27-09, 06:20 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by YOJiMBO20
I've been trying to focus on cadence myself and I never considered marching band could help with that. Thinking about it now, those double time high steps where each foot is going ~200bpm really help.

I just pulled out one of my metronomes and set it for 184 (92rpm) and pedaled in place. It's really not that fast after all.
Yeah -- see what I mean? I've got so much music buried in my head that I can recall just about any tempo I need.
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Old 06-27-09, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by RyanWilson
I'm a new cyclist and discovered that I have been pedaling around 50-60 rpms on average. I know I need to increase this, but 90 feels so fast. My pedal stroke also feels uneven and not circular. If I spin at 90-100 rpms in a lower gear I feel like I'm shaking the whole bike.

I'm looking for tips to increase my cadence and at the same time smooth out my pedaling.
I think the key is that your a new cyclist, when I first started on my road bike it took me a couple months to reach my goal of 90rpm. It takes some time to build up to that cadence. Riding more will help you smooth out your pedal stroke and build strength.
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Old 06-27-09, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Diegomayra
Ill try method A. Thank barrack.
you can pick up a cateye strada with cadence wired for around 40 bucks.
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Old 06-27-09, 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Creakyknees
core strength may be a factor.
The "core strength" afficionados always make me smile. But hey this is BF! If 99% of the answers weren't BS, then the noobs might actually learn something...

Oddly, none of my "core" muscles ever become sore and fatigued on a ride... do yours? If they do, then your technique and/or position is wrong.

The way to increase cadence is to first get a good position, and then practice pedaling fast. One legged drills might help.
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Old 06-27-09, 07:48 AM
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This realization that I was pedalling too slow came during a pro fit. The fitter asked me to pedal at my normal cadence and I was surprised to see 56. I do feel like my hips are rocking when I was pedaling in the 90 RPM range, but the fitter assured me my saddle was at the correct height. It was also difficult to pedal fast with very little resistance, if the resistance was increased it seemed to smooth out the stroke, but I imagine it's just masking things. I was able to pedal pretty smooth around 70 RPMs and I think I will work on gradually increasing my cadence.
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Old 06-27-09, 07:57 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by rruff
Oddly, none of my "core" muscles ever become sore and fatigued on a ride... do yours? If they do, then your technique and/or position is wrong.
Don't know why it never occurred to me before, but yeah, that's true. My core/trunk/whatever doesn't get tired on a bike at all. Planks, pushups, crunches, leg lifts, crunchy frogs, all that P90X Ab Ripper stuff... THAT wears me out.
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Old 06-27-09, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by paste_me
Ride a fixed gear for about a week. You cadence will improve and you will feel like you are sinning every time you coast.
+1 I'm not a fixed-gear snob but I'd agree riding a fixie with a relatively low gear setup (e.g., 42 x 17) will force you to get smooth at higher rpm.
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Old 06-27-09, 08:30 AM
  #25  
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Keep riding. I was where you are at last year when I first put a cadence computer on my bike. I started this year with an average ride cadence of 73. Todays ride saw me with an average of 84, and my goal today was to get practice climbing hills. I usually average 88 when riding my flat loop. I ddin't do anything specific to increase it, but have been riding more and more.
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