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Why should I raise my cadence (long)(15 posts)

Why should I raise my cadence (long)Yeti
Jul 29, 2002 12:14 PM
I'm approching 40 and someone told me to work on a faster cadence, I'm doing ok with a big cog and slower cadence, When I follow someone with a faster cadence then mine and try to match there pedal speed I notice that I'm getting fatigued faster then when I turn at a slower cadence at the same speed. Reading Carmical Book he said Lance is better suited for higher cadence and smaller gears, then he quoted on saying that Ulrich is better with bigger gears and slower cadence, My question is How do they Know that? and how can we determine it ourselves?
Isn't a faster cadence faster?hrv
Jul 29, 2002 12:31 PM
What cadence are you comfortable with? Why not train for a higher cadence, for any gear, and go faster?

Makes sense to me.

The mysteries of cadence...Kyle
Jul 29, 2002 1:11 PM
The basic theory of cadence is pretty simple. The faster you pedal, the more you transfer stress from your skeletal muscle to your cardio system. The question is what is the optimal cadence for you based on your personal strengths and weaknesses.

Theoretically, a high cadence can benefit anyone--maybe even Jan. By breaking your effort into smaller bites, you can rely more on aerobic energy production and conserve your easily depleted muscle glycogen for when you really need it.

All other things being equal, a person who spins fast is going to have fresher legs at the end of a given work period that someone who spins slowly. The cardio related muscles (primarily your heart) will be worked harder but are incredibly resistant to fatigue (good thing) and as long as you are careful about fueling the machine, should hold up much better than skeletal muscle.

The problem is that running a high cadence is kind of hard to get used to. There are a few reasons for this: 1: The human body's evolution (no flame please) didn't anticipate the bicycle and therefore the mind is resistant to this kind of long term leg speed. 2: Training specificity involves velocity. 3: It amplifies any mechanical innefficiencies you might have, 4: It increases respitory involvement, which tends to make us perceive a higher level of effort. There are probably others, but I can't think of them off the top of my head.

With a significant amount of work, I believe it is possible for nearly anyone to learn to spin fast without completely overtaxing their cardio. Apparently Lance did a test on Ventoux and found that significantly increasing his cadence only increased his HR by 2bpm. This is because he's really good at it.

Having said that, when he really wants to crank and recovery isn't an issue (ie the final TT) he slows his feet down. Interestingly, I was going to email Chris Carmichael and ask him why Armstrong didn't slow his cadence on the first TT since he had a rest day after, but now it seems (per Frankie A.) like it was because he wanted another team to carry the Yellow jersey.
Many great points...5ive
Jul 29, 2002 5:16 PM
I think Kyle is right on the money here. In my opinion, it's all about give and take. I always liken it to one vs. two handed backhands in tennis. With one hand, you get more versatility and reach. With two hands, you get more power and last minute adjustments to locating your shots. Obviously some of us tend to spin more than others, but I think most of us learn to spin because it's such a solid skillset to acquire. To me pesonally, it helped me a great deal on my sprinting. Learning to spin has taught me how to maintain faster leg speed for a longer period of time which I find very beneficial for a lightweight sprinters who prefer to launch for the line at something other than 53x11. It's also a great recovery tool in a pack. If my legs are burning hotter than my lungs, I can wimp out on a gear or two and still maintain the speed of the pack while recovering. Spinning on climbs... I'm sure you've heard all too much about the benefits here.

To anwer your questions: I think pro have the luxury of lab times to test how certain gearing will tax different part of their systems. From there, I think the smart ones will train to adapt their styles (I think Lance falls into this category of "learning to spin"). As Kyle pointed out, this is not something easy to do. Even if the test results showed that spinning was better for them, I don't think you'll have much luck trying to get someone like Jens Voight or Santiago Botero to spin. No more than you can convince Pantani to stay in the saddle.

For us... we have the luxury of trainning time and the ability to know exactly how we 'feel' when we try different techniques. For me the realization came in about 6 months of trainning spinning and leg speed. I was easily catching up to the big-ring attackers on the climbs, and felt fresher and faster at the sprints.

Hope this helps
Pantani !Ping_Pong
Jul 30, 2002 4:24 AM
I don't think you could convince Pantani to get on a bike full stop these days !
Several reasonsKerry
Jul 29, 2002 5:08 PM
In addition to the physiological explanation from Kyle, higher cadence allows you to respond to speed changes more easily (your "engine" isn't lugging in a too-high gear) and you are a lot less injury prone at higher cadence. Even the reference to Ulrich's lower cadence doesn't mention a number, and I'd be willing to bet it's a lot higher than yours. And right now, Ulrich is sidelined by a knee injury - brought on by mashing, I wonder?
MTB don't spin fastYeti
Jul 30, 2002 6:58 AM
I notice Roland Green and other top MTB don't have a very fast cadence at all? Is it the nature of the beast what is Avg Cadence for a MTB Race?
MTB don't spin fastozone
Jul 31, 2002 9:20 AM
Remember when Lance tried mtb racing in 99 and the first thing they told him was slow down the cadence. Think about the nature of Mountain biking. If you are pedaling along a technical rocky section you need to be able to power over the rocks. If your cadence is too high your momentum is more likely to be stopped. Look at the road races like the Paris/Roubaix. Those guys have a slower cadence and push bigger gears to power through the rough sections that try to take you momentum away. Think about it terms of Tourqe.
My avg. is 85 on the MTBallervite
Aug 6, 2002 10:34 PM
Unless I am geared out on a very steep section
I am in a very technical section
I am freakin cooked, than I average about 70. It seems easier for me to deal with the pain with a lower HR.
Here you go...Wayne
Jul 30, 2002 8:32 AM
this explains theoretically why spinning a low gear is better than mashing a big gear most of the time:
Don't take everything Carmichael says as gospel, he may know how to coach athletes, but I've read statements or seen him say things that contradicts stuff in the physiology literature.
Figure Out What Works Best For YouBigLeadOutGuy
Jul 30, 2002 9:49 AM
Kyle had some very good points. I think the best thing for you to do is set up a set course run it once with small gears and spinning and than once with big gears and mashing. see which way is faster and is more effiecient.
Just cause lance spins up mountains doesnt mean that that is the absolute best way to ride...its the best way to ride for him but not necesarilly you. When lance rides in the peloton his cadence is exactly the same as everyone else...its up the hills where he uses a higher than normal cadence.
Find out whats best for you and stick with it. thats not to say only train with small gears and spin or to just use big gears and mash...train for both and use each technique accordingly.
hope this helps
Glycogen and accelerationMcAndrus
Jul 31, 2002 5:11 AM
There are two reasons to increase your cadence, glycogen consumption and the ability to accelerate.

A higher cadence relies more on the heart and lungs (said elsewhere) and less on the leg's glycogen. So at the end of a race you have more glycogen left in your legs than your masher buddy next to you.

Then there is acceleration. If you can spin a higher cadence easily you'll find that you're much better able to respond to attacks. You can increase your cadence just as quickly as the guy attacking you. When you shift into a bigger gear and accelerate, this leg speed becomes road speed. It works. Find a 2001 Tour tape and watch Lance acclerate away from Jan on a mountain.

Finally, I've seen many people comment that faster leg speeds translate to more exertion or higher heart rates. This is in direct contradiction to my own experience. If I am traveling at a certain speed, it doesn't change my heart rate at all to grind at 80rpm or spin at 110rpm. I've monitored my heart rate on down-hill spin-ups of 150+rpm and seen no increase in heart rate. I believe the change in effort is related to exertion (power) not leg speed.
Glycogen and accelerationozone
Jul 31, 2002 9:11 AM
How are you conserving glycogen?? I understand the cadence issue per Carmichael to be Avg Watts divided by avg cad = watts per pedal stroke. The higher the cadence the less effort per pedal stroke. The total work is not changed. How do you save glycogen? Isn't it true that it take x number of Kilojoules to produce Y number of watts no matter what the cadence is?
Glycogen and accelerationKyle
Jul 31, 2002 12:01 PM
You're right--in order to produce x number of watts, you have to input x amount of energy (the second law of thermodynamics, if memory serves.)

The difference here isn't amount of fuel, it's type of fuel. The body tends to want to conserve muscle glycogen and uses glucose. This is why long, moderate efforts tend to produce a 'bonk' more than short, intense efforts.
If you really want to understand it...Wayne
Jul 31, 2002 12:27 PM
go to the link I provided above and wade through the explanation. You say, "higher the cadence the less effort per pedal stroke." Replace less effort with less force, motor unit recruitment is force dependent. At lower forces you rely more on motor units with high oxidative capacities, at high forces you will be using these motor units as well as ones with high glycolytic but relatively poor oxidative capacities. So yes, it takes a certain amount of kilojoules to produce a certain amount of watts but you can get those kilojoules via oxidative or glycolytic pathways.