How to improve your cadence

And improve you pedalling efficiency

Improving your cadence on the bike can also improve your efficiency. Here Holly Seear, coach with springcyclecoaching.co.uk, offers a few tips on how to improve your rpms.

1. Get your measure

If you don’t have a cadence sensor on your bike, measure your cadence by counting how many times one knee rises during a 30-second interval, then double this number and you have your revolutions per minute.

There’s no ‘magic number’ for cadence but learning to pedal quickly allows you to hold a faster speed with less muscular fatigue and develops a faster and more efficient pedal stroke.

2. Go for a spin

If you have a slow leg turnover then just upping your rpm slightly, while staying in the same gear, can increase power and speed.

Simple ‘spin ups’ are a good starting point. Include 10 bursts of speed during a ride where you keep the same gear, but accelerate the legs to maximum cadence for about 30–40 seconds. The maximum cadence is the highest you can maintain without feeling you are bouncing on the saddle.

3. Pyramid power

On a turbo trainer ‘Cadence Pyramids’ help train your legs to ride at a variety of speeds, see below.

Increasing your natural cadence may take weeks, months or even seasons, but by training at cadences above normal you’re also training your brain to fire the signals needed for your muscles to contract far more rapidly.

Cadence Pyramid

After a good warm up do the following:

  • 1min — 90rpm
  • 1min — 100rpm
  • 1min — 110rpm
  • 2mins easy (riding at your normal comfortable cadence)
  • 2mins — 90rpm
  • 2mins — 100rpm
  • 2mins — 110rpm
  • 2mins easy (at your normal comfortable cadence)
  • 3mins — 90rpm
  • 3mins — 100rpm
  • 3mins — 110rpm 
  • 2mins easy (at your normal comfortable cadence)
  • 2mins — 90rpm
  • 2mins — 100rpm
  • 2mins — 110rpm
  • 2 minutes easy (at your normal comfortable cadence)
  • 1min — 90rpm
  • 1min — 100rpm
  • 1min — 110rpm

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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