General Discussion Triathlon Talk » which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related Rss Feed  
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2014-08-05 6:52 AM

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Subject: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related
This weekend I road with somebody who shared with me that he thought I should work on increasing my bike cadence. Which dovetailed nicely into my trainer workout this morning which was to keep my cadence above 80 and my hr in zones 1-2.

I do not have a power meter but once a week I train on a computrainer and it seems that there the trainer guy is more focused on the power reading. He looks at cadence but just sort of says - that looks fine.

So this morning spinning away feeling a little bit like a gerbil I was wondering how are they related? Does working at a higher cadence in a low hr zone lead to having more power? Does working on producing more power with each pedal stroke lead to being faster overall. How are they related or are they not really related?


2014-08-05 7:05 AM
in reply to: miamiamy

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related
Originally posted by miamiamy

This weekend I road with somebody who shared with me that he thought I should work on increasing my bike cadence. Which dovetailed nicely into my trainer workout this morning which was to keep my cadence above 80 and my hr in zones 1-2.

I do not have a power meter but once a week I train on a computrainer and it seems that there the trainer guy is more focused on the power reading. He looks at cadence but just sort of says - that looks fine.

So this morning spinning away feeling a little bit like a gerbil I was wondering how are they related? Does working at a higher cadence in a low hr zone lead to having more power? Does working on producing more power with each pedal stroke lead to being faster overall. How are they related or are they not really related?


Focus on power, that is the stress you are applying to your body. Using a % of your threshold power will help you better understand how "hard" you are working and allow you to pace your efforts better and more evenly.

Cadence is a highly individual choice. However, as you race longer distance your cadence will naturally decrease in average. The lower the cadence the more dependence you have on your large muscle groups.

Cadence is great to measure fatigue. It is the first to drop, followed by your power, and then a change in heart rate.
2014-08-05 7:38 AM
in reply to: bcagle25

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related

I agree with Ben.  Let your cadence self-select.

There's a quote - "Cadence is a red herring" that rings true.

2014-08-05 7:46 AM
in reply to: miamiamy

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related

Definitely focus on power. Power is the output that makes you go. More of it makes you go faster.

Cadence is more in the application of the power. There will be a range you operate best in, and it's likely you'll gravitate towards that with more riding. Having said that, it is helpful to be able to produce power well at a good range of cadence. You can handle terrain changes and situations more easily and are more likely to find where you operate best at. This area can move as you develop.

So what to do with this? Your main focus is on power development. This trumps everything. Most of the time ride where it feels like you should. Spend *some* time off of that to help increase your range, but the focus is still more on how hard you're working.

2014-08-05 9:58 AM
in reply to: bcagle25

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related

Originally posted by bcagle25 ...Cadence is great to measure fatigue. It is the first to drop, followed by your power, and then a change in heart rate.

When I get fatigued... I increase my cadence.  Maybe I'm just weird.

but yeah.  It's interesting to know and watch your cadence, but I agree with the "self select" point above.  I've always thought that having a wide range of cadence is generally a good thing.  Usually, my peak power is 87-93 rpm or so, which I think is typical, but there's nothing magical about those numbers.  I would think those with bigger/stronger legs might gravitate to a lower cadence, and those with small, scrawny legs will go higher.  Size of crank probably matters as well- but as I recall, doesn't have much effect on power output.

 

anyway- to answer your question.  Power is first.  Whatever cadence you can sustain power output the best, is where you want to be.  Generally, it comes naturally.

 

oh- this doesn't apply to running, where cadence affects form.

2014-08-05 10:00 AM
in reply to: miamiamy

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related
Originally posted by miamiamy

This weekend I road with somebody who shared with me that he thought I should work on increasing my bike cadence. Which dovetailed nicely into my trainer workout this morning which was to keep my cadence above 80 and my hr in zones 1-2.

I do not have a power meter but once a week I train on a computrainer and it seems that there the trainer guy is more focused on the power reading. He looks at cadence but just sort of says - that looks fine.

So this morning spinning away feeling a little bit like a gerbil I was wondering how are they related? Does working at a higher cadence in a low hr zone lead to having more power? Does working on producing more power with each pedal stroke lead to being faster overall. How are they related or are they not really related?


They are directly related to one another
torque (force applied to pedals) x cadence (frequency of application) = Watts

however I don't think you are asking about the physics of power production rather the optimal training. There has been a lot of research done on how cadence in triathletes affects subsequent running performance. Non game-changing conclusions that I am able to summarize include:

-Freely chosen cadence is typically higher than energetically optimal cadence
-Running after higher cadence cycling can result in faster running speeds, at least initially, but not overall (3k & 10k run legs)
-Running after higher cadence cycling can result in higher HR (impact uncertain)
-Controlled cadence trials don't show a significant impact on subsequent running performance in most cases

Basically, a self selected cadence seems fine, but personally I think that practicing a variety of cadences in traiing gives you options to help save energy (ie easier gear on hill climbing), increasing cadence when passing someone or sprinting out of a tricky road situation (to get through an intersection or away from a dog, etc).



http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24453539
"Compared with an isolated run, completion of a cycling event impairs the performance of a subsequent run independently of the pedalling cadence.The choice of cadence within triathletes' usual range does not seem to influence the performance of a 10km run.The results reinforce the necessity for triathletes to practice multi-block training in order to simulate the physiological responses experienced by the cycle-run transition.Further research into the effects of cycling cadence on subsequent running performance is required. "

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12663359
"The results confirm the alteration in running performance completed after the cycling event compared with the isolated run. However, no significant effect of the cadence was observed within the range usually used by triathletes." (same investigators as above, this was with a 3k run & shorter bike)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12218748
"Increased cycling cadence immediately before running increased stride frequency and, as a result, increased speed."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11880820
The highest cycling cadences (90 rpm & freely chosen) contribute to an increase in energy cost during cycling ...whereas cycling at Energentical optimal cadence leads to a stability in energy cost of locomotion with exercise duration. Several hypotheses are proposed to explain these results such as changes in fiber recruitment or hemodynamic modifications during prolonged exercise.


2014-08-05 10:08 AM
in reply to: AdventureBear

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related
These are super helpful replies. The higher bike cadence = faster running is exactly what I was told this weekend and one of the things I was curious about.

2014-08-05 11:41 AM
in reply to: miamiamy

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related
Originally posted by miamiamy

These are super helpful replies. The higher bike cadence = faster running is exactly what I was told this weekend and one of the things I was curious about.




it's important to recognize that this finding is not repeatable and may not be statistically valid. In one of the studies I posted above it was only the inital 1k or so that was faster.
2014-08-05 1:20 PM
in reply to: AdventureBear

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related

Yeah, I haven't really seen or experienced where higher cadence necessarily makes the run go faster. Sometimes I might feel better coming right off the bike, but that doesn't mean I'm going faster. I've been stuck at an early run pace when pedaling faster and have come on much stronger later in the run when pedaling slower. Riding at an appropriate level really dominates how the run goes.

This is not to say no one will run better with a higher cadence, but would put the reason being more towards them finding what's more appropriate for them as opposed to equating higher to better.

2014-08-05 1:31 PM
in reply to: morey000

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related

Originally posted by morey000

Originally posted by bcagle25 ...Cadence is great to measure fatigue. It is the first to drop, followed by your power, and then a change in heart rate.

When I get fatigued... I increase my cadence.  Maybe I'm just weird.

but yeah.  It's interesting to know and watch your cadence, but I agree with the "self select" point above.  I've always thought that having a wide range of cadence is generally a good thing.  Usually, my peak power is 87-93 rpm or so, which I think is typical, but there's nothing magical about those numbers.  I would think those with bigger/stronger legs might gravitate to a lower cadence, and those with small, scrawny legs will go higher.  Size of crank probably matters as well- but as I recall, doesn't have much effect on power output.

 anyway- to answer your question.  Power is first.  Whatever cadence you can sustain power output the best, is where you want to be.  Generally, it comes naturally.

 oh- this doesn't apply to running, where cadence affects form.

I've seen others increase as well, but tend to see more decrease. I like having a decent range available as well, and still understanding where I'm strongest. But also where I'm strongest for what type of efforts. A longer effort of 20' or more is not going to be the same for me as 1' or less. The short one will be higher. Possibly quite a bit higher. Terrain comes in as well. That same short one will be lower going up a hill vs in the flats.

I would try *not* thinking about any correlations such as the big/strong vs scrawny. That can get in the way of the self selected, feeling out what's most natural.

2014-08-05 1:47 PM
in reply to: miamiamy

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related
The benefit of power is that you can easily test at what cadence you produce the most power (for a given distance). Mind you, not peak power, but sustained power over a longer time period. For most, you'll end up in the range of 85-100 rpm. Another test do is how well you run after the bike at difference cadences.

Personally, my cadence is in the low to mid 90's, which is exactly the same as my running cadence. This is EXTREMELY helpful when you get off the bike, the legs wants to continue at the same pace as before. My biggest issue is actually to slow down the first mile (or my aerobic fitness can't keep up).


2014-08-05 9:57 PM
in reply to: audiojan


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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related
At the end of the day, I can push a bigger gear at 85 RPM or a smaller gear at 95 RPM and get the same power output. When I'm turning below 90 RPM, I feel like I'm taxing my muscles a lot and I worry about my muscular endurance. When I'm turning above 95 RPM, I feel like I'm taxing my aerobic engine a lot and I worry about my heart rate. My body likes to spin fast, above 95 RPM. I feel like I can sustain a higher power output over a longer period of time. However, if I'm climbing I'll generally choose something closer to 80.

I hear a lot on these boards that your cadence is a personal choice and mashing a gear is fine. I'll generally disagree with this view and suggest that you should aim to be north of 90 RPM, and try to get comfortable above 95 RPM. After that, if you end up going back to a slower RPM, so be it. However, I think that is by far the exception than the norm. There is very little cycling specific reading out there that suggests a cadence less than 90 RPM is a good idea.
2014-08-05 11:36 PM
in reply to: ziggie204

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related
Originally posted by ziggie204

After that, if you end up going back to a slower RPM, so be it. However, I think that is by far the exception than the norm. There is very little cycling specific reading out there that suggests a cadence less than 90 RPM is a good idea.


This is a good discussion. The studies I linked to suggested that a) there was no change in run performance following self selected, low & higher cadence biking time trials and b) a higher cadence is less efficient and results on a higher HR off the bike

Neither of these findings suggest the "right" answer. But it certainly doesn't suggest that cadences below 90 are NOT a good idea. 90 rpm as far as I know has never been scientifically validated and lots of studies have been done on fixed cadences vs self selected ones.
2014-08-06 2:27 PM
in reply to: miamiamy

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related

You say that you were working on keeping your cadence above 80? What cadence were you riding at before. Cadence isn't the be all, end all, but I think working to stay above 80 is probably a good idea.

2014-08-06 3:00 PM
in reply to: jeng

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related

Not exactly an answer to the question but cadence is a metric that can be easily and cheaply measured.  Power meters can be quite expensive.  On both you need to be willing to record the data and take some time to review it compare against your effort but to me at least cadence is a good check against my effort without breaking the bank on a power meter.  But a cadence sensor is quite cheap in comparison

2014-08-06 3:36 PM
in reply to: juniperjen

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related

All of the good cyclists I know can spin at a crazy high cadence if they want to.  I have no idea what that says about how you should or shouldn't ride.....but show me someone who can hit a really high cadence, like >150 , without bouncing all over the seat, and I'll show you someone who can also put down some serious power at a lower cadence....whatever they like to ride at.   

Riding at a high cadence is something worth practicing.....as is everything that increases cycling skills.



2014-08-06 8:07 PM
in reply to: Left Brain

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related

Originally posted by Left Brain

All of the good cyclists I know can spin at a crazy high cadence if they want to.  I have no idea what that says about how you should or shouldn't ride.....but show me someone who can hit a really high cadence, like >150 , without bouncing all over the seat, and I'll show you someone who can also put down some serious power at a lower cadence....whatever they like to ride at.   

Riding at a high cadence is something worth practicing.....as is everything that increases cycling skills.

This article doesn't really get too in-depth, but does give some starter rationale for a few things that have come up recently. One of them is with being able to push a high cadence at times. I'm certainly with the self selected idea on average cadence, but also with being able to push well beyond that for some periods of time.

2014-08-07 8:06 AM
in reply to: morey000

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related
Originally posted by morey000When I get fatigued... I increase my cadence.


Me too (with corresponding gear shift). I think lower cadence = more fast twitch muscles = depleted glycogen, so it's not as sustainable as higher cadence = more slow twitch muscles = longer energy reserves. Once fatigue sets in I can always drop a gear and increase my cadence, but there's no way I'd be able to start pushing a bigger gear.
2014-08-07 1:05 PM
in reply to: jeng

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related
I didn't have my cadence sensor on when it came up actually. I changed my wheels out for training wheels 2 weeks ago and the magnet was still on the other wheels so I'm not exactly sure what it was but not super fast.

Today I was in on the computrainer and I was paying a lot of attention to my cadence. Keeping it in the mid 80s and above 75 when climbing.

I was watching the power and speed but I wasn't able to pick up any patterns. What I did notice was that my heart rate even while climbing stayed pretty level and low even though I was working pretty hard. Which I think is good because that should mean the effort is sustainable.

I can spin up to about 100 comfortably without bouncing but I have to pay attention to it. I'll admit that anytime I'm not focused on it ... like when I'm drinking water or fussing with my ipod it my cadence drifts down below 80. So, it's a good thing for me to work on to be sure.
2014-08-07 2:10 PM
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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related
Back in the day, one quote was S+S=Speed or Suppleness + Strength = speed. I'm pretty sure that you rarely see fast cyclists whether they are doing a TT or Tri spinning much under upper 80s- mid 90s on the flats. It takes a while to be comfortable at those rates though, isn't going to happen overnight. It seems much easier for me to transition into the run if I shift down a gear or two and spin at a higher rate for the last 3-5 min of the bike leg.

Also, for me, if I push too big of a gear, my back and knees will not be happy and they will tell me so.

Edited by MikeD1 2014-08-07 2:16 PM
2014-08-07 3:10 PM
in reply to: MikeD1

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Subject: RE: which comes first cadence or power - or asked another way how are they related

Cadence somes up here a lot in discussions.

I will only add that lower cadence for an equivalent wattage results in a lower HR.

Whether you think this is of value or not is up for debate, but in long course racing there seems to be a shift to lower cadence pedalling because of it...



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