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Female vs. Male pedal cadence(10 posts)

Female vs. Male pedal cadencecanal_pdx
Apr 6, 2002 11:02 PM
Wondering what peoples thoughts (especially womens) are on any differences in pedal cadence due to physiological differences.

My wife is trying to get ready to do a century with me but her comfortable cadence is only 48 rpm. I'm worried that this is going to wear her out and she'll never be able to finish. She maintains that women and men are built different and women just pedal slower and push harder. Any thoughts or comments?

re: Female vs. Male pedal cadencexxl
Apr 7, 2002 3:20 AM
I always heard the opposite, i.e., that women tended to pedal faster and spin more than the guys. I never did a study, though. And, let's face it, women are less prone to the machismo-laden use of excessively big, "mashing" gears.

I suppose, given the slight but definite tendency for womens' hearts to run a bit faster (see those age/gender/HR charts), that there might be gender-based cadence differences. Every woman rider I've known seems to really turn it over pretty quick. I've also noticed, since I've been going to spinning classes (where there are a lot of "novice" spinners who don't actually ride), most of the women seem to gravitate towards a naturally faster pedal stroke than the guys in the classes.

Of course, "women" doesn't necessarily mean yours will follow this observation, but you're right; 48 RPM seems too slow, especially if she's grinding it out for 100 miles. You've probably already tried this, but you might try to get her to ride one gear lower than she usually does.

And above all, don't drop her on the century!
My sister happens to be a spinner.Leisure
Apr 7, 2002 4:27 AM
And she rocks! Most of my MALE riding buddies can't keep up with her! At the moment she's probably just like me, out of shape from the Winter, but when she's on her game she kicks ass. She benefitted most from a few things; diligent pacing as I describe below, spinning classes, and a lot of determination.
I'm not any authority on gender differences, but I would speculate there will be more variation in cadence AMONG female riders than there will be BETWEEN them and males (and vice-versa). Now I happen to be male, but when I started I couldn't spin worth jack, and could only improve my cardio by mashing extremely low cadences. I'm talking as low as thirty. This doesn't happen for everyone, but for me I could go forever like this, and it did wonders for my cardio. As each season progressed I felt better spinning more and more. I still would qualify myself as more of a masher, and I still go back to mashing at the beginning of each season to knock my ass back in gear (right now, for example).
My sister's riding developed in much the same manner, and I dedicated a lot of riding just getting her to pace like I did until she too would just go and go and go. My point is, perhaps your wife is actually doing the right thing for where her conditioning is at the moment. Let her go at it; as she goes on she may just naturally transition into higher cadences. Try not to force anything unless you're rushing to an event in a few weeks or something. Nothing wrong with easy-going training. Just my opinion, not solely because it worked for me, but it's also possible your wife does not want to be pushed too hard yet. Just work with her.
If I'm wrong about that and you're both really in a rush, the two of you could look into a spinning class (or someone here will likely volunteer good info on specific training regimens). My sister did spinning classes and found them quite beneficial. They get into the intervals and all that stuff, which gave her a bit of an edge.
re: Female vs. Male pedal cadencejtolleson
Apr 7, 2002 12:21 PM
With all due respect to your wife, attributing it to gender differences sounds like an excuse for not learning decent technique. We mashed our single speed bikes as kids; learning to really road ride as an adult CAN require some attention to pedal speed work.

Although there is such a thing as personal preference, there is an outside limit that IMO is TOO SLOW and 48 qualifies. She'll either run an unnecessarily high gear (taxing quads and knees and low back) or will just ride painfully slowly, or both.

When I started riding seriously seven years ago, I bought a cyclocomputer with a cadence adapter, and discovered my tendency to hover around 60 rpm. I worked on it and am a better rider for it.

Not only am I a female cyclist, I talk, read, eat and breathe a lot of cycling issues (women's specific and otherwise) and can honestly say I've NEVER heard this gender theory.
Recipe for disasterKerry
Apr 7, 2002 4:32 PM
1. There is no physiologic justification for your wife's claim. Like the other posters, women I know who are good riders ride at the same or higher cadence than men, if only because they are less likely to rely on brute force to get the job done.

2. Her low cadence is likely to cause her a great deal of discomfort at a minimum, and will probably result in an injury, particularly if there are any hills to climb. They call it condromalacia, and it's not pleasant.

3. Statements like hers are just a way to get you to quit bugging her. But you need to find a way to get her to improve her skills. Her current riding style is physiologically inefficient.
Good way to screw up her knees...rideslikeagirl
Apr 7, 2002 5:28 PM
As for the male/female diff, that's a bunch of hooie.

You don't mention age, speed, experience and type of bikes. But I would venture that the more she rides, the more she'll change her tune. And if she doesn't, she'll be hanging up the bike for good.

One possibility is that she's not entirely comfortable or hasn't found her sit bones. If that's the case, she's gonna want to keep more pressure on the pedals to keep it off her tush - thus, the harder gears.

Maybe more info would shed some light?
Good way to screw up her knees...canal_pdx
Apr 7, 2002 5:54 PM
Thanks everyone, for all the helpful suggestions. And your right, some more info is in order. She's in her mid 30's, very little to no experience and is riding a recumbent.
to be honest...g-money
Apr 7, 2002 9:01 PM
If she's this inexperienced a century will kill her no matter what type of bike or cadence she's riding. Sounds like she needs some good solid base miles (500-1000) at a decent 70-90 rpm cadence to even THINK about doing the century with you...

Good Luck...
You said "hooie!"jtolleson
Apr 7, 2002 7:56 PM
I love that word! Only I spell it "hooey" and people make fun of me for saying it...

and it sums up the little "cadence battle of the sexes" theory pretty well.
Never had to spell it before! ;) (nm)rideslikeagirl
Apr 8, 2002 9:39 AM