Cadence targets

I am wondering, if the cadence targets in the workouts are based on measurements from the Full Frontal?
Background is that especially during recovery sections I feel better when pedalling faster than the cadence target.
Thanks for your answers.

Is there any detriment to using a cadence slightly higher or lower than the target?

For higher cadence targets going 5–10 over and low cadence 5-10 under?

As mentioned above they’re not currently. But there has been some chatter from the coaches that determining optimal cadence from the various tests and data they have on you is something they’re looking at.

But I don’t know if that’s looking at as in realistically hoping to implement or currently just on their wish list.

It would be really cool to be able to do it given that people have different optimal cadences. So it must distort some of the workouts if you’re significantly below/above yours for the given effort.

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I’ve often wondered this too. I try to follow the cadence targets as closely as possible, but sometimes they can feel a little too high for my liking. But I do realise that cadence targets are sometimes deliberately designed to be out of your comfort zone. So I just stick to the plan!

largely I do, just wondering if it’s a problem as for some efforts I have a preferred cadence that is different to what is set. It’s not necessarily easier, but preferred

I think it depends a fair bit on the aim of the workout. For example GOAT is all about low cadence grinding, so doing that particular workout at a higher preferred cadence would be counter-productive. Same applies to those sessions that deliberately target a high cadence to stress your breathing. Choosing a lower cadence would be less effective.

But I don’t think it makes much difference if you are slightly under or over the target cadence as they are arbitrary rounded numbers anyway. So if the target was 90 rpm, I’m sure 88 or 92 rpm would be fine. But you probably wouldn’t want to be up over 100 or below 80 unless you had a specific reason why you couldn’t be closer to the target.

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I have found that sometimes the instructions in the video tell you that they are keeping the cadence low or high for a particular reason. Under those circumstances I follow the cadence targets.

When there are no such instructions, I generally use a cadence that corresponds to the suggested RPE which is usually approximately the suggested cadence.

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I find that my cadence varies quite a bit from day-to-day based on my fatigue as well as the workout and power targets. One day I can be happily spinning along at 90rpm’s to every recovery effort and then the next day I can barely get up over 75 for the same power targets. And then some days I have to force myself to hit higher cadence targets in the beginning and then I can stay with them. Other days there’s no way I can get over 90rpm’s no matter how hard I try. So, even personally, they can vary from day-to-day and I’m sure that makes individualize cadence targets even harder.


That is interesting @emacdoug. I have not recognized any differences in cadence dependent on the fatigue. I will focus on that the next times.
I have experienced meanwhile that if the cadence targets are 85 or 90 at lower power efforts and 95 to 105 at higher power efforts, this should be the most comfortable cadence at the given power. As already mentioned before, if one should ride at a specific low or high cadence, I would try to reach the targets.
This works for me best.

Eventually there will be a point with all things where I’d suggest we get a bit over ‘stuck’ on the numbers in the screen and that if we’re following the goal of a workout that is supposed to get out neuro’s firing one way (at 110rpm) then spinning fast whether we’re a bit above or below is going to do that

And going the other way in Power Station - if we’re testing ourselves well down at around and about 60 then we’ll be achieving the goal.

I guess if 110 ones were done at 90 then that wouldn’t do the same job and if 60 were done at 80.

I tend to go with the coaches workout recommendations but as long as I’m ‘slow’ it ‘fast’ or trying to hit my own ‘max’ then I’m good.
Though I do find it is quite easy to stick to lower cadence target ± 2-3 … less so when it’s spinning like a hamster.

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When my FTP was 151, I had no problems with 55rpm at FTP. Now, my FTP is 200, and I can’t seem to do 55rpm at FTP while seated. I got through the section standing up. I suppose another way would have been to increase the cadence a bit.

My question is… do others have this problem? If it’s relevant, 200 watts is 3.6 w/kg for me, which isn’t huge or anything. I imagine I can continue to increase my FTP by getting more fit, and I’m unlikely to increase my leg strength at the same rate.

That’s interesting. It makes some sense that it would get increasingly harder to hold a very low cadence as your FTP increases, especially when it increases by a large percentage.

It probably also comes down to how fast you spin during your FTP tests. If your preferred cadence during an FTP test is relatively high, say 95 rpm, then it would be harder to hold that same power at 55 rpm than if your preferred cadence for an FTP test is lower, say 80 rpm. It really boils down to your relative cardio performance vs muscular leg/core strength.

I’m guessing you are more of a spinner than a grinder and have significantly increased your cardio efficiency to get from 151-200W. So now your muscular strength at very low cadence is being seriously challenged, as it should be!

Actually, I did the test at 80 rpm. I’ve only been cycling for a few months. I used to be a runner. Maintaining high cadence is still a challenge for me.

It’s all relative. 80 rpm could be considered a high cadence for you personally, especially as you are relatively new to cycling. 55 rpm at 200W is still going to be a lot harder on your leg muscles than 55 rpm at 150W. At 80 rpm, your power is coming much more from your cardio system, which you have obviously ramped up considerably.

@hackr The various cadence builds drills really helped me to increase cadence substantially. Here is a post from Sir Mac on the topic:

Yes, I’ve tried them and I agree. I know I should do them more often, but I find hard intervals more fun…

Anyway, my original musing had been about whether those at a higher W/kg struggle with low cadence. Because I imagine that most tend to get there with cardio gains more than muscle gains.

Actually, I was classified as a sprinter, which should bode well for leg strength… hmm… oh well.

@hackr I guess it depends - I have found lower cadence workouts to be more difficult as my FTP has increased but others cyclists with a different muscle fiber makeup might have a different experience. In general I have found that the more I practice low and high cadence efforts the better I become as mastering those workouts.