FTP and prescribed cadences (newbie)

Hi folks,

After I took my full Monty test I had my ftp set at a value of 165, but the workouts require me to pedal at speeds I cannot maintain for the power targets… I can easily achieve power targets with low cadences, though. Should the workouts not ask for cadences that are attainable given the FTP? Should I just go into level mode and prioritise cadence while I get strong at higher RPMs?

Thanks for your help,

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I’d stay in erg and get the cadence as high as you can. With experience, your cadence will naturally get faster.

You might also want to do the Elements of Style video every week or two and maybe throw in the Cadence Builds Workout from time to time to help you build up the muscle habits that will help you speed up cadence and make your pedal stroke more efficient.

Good luck.


If you use erg the power targets will take care of themselves and you can just focus on the cadence targets. With more experience doing workouts outside of erg will get you used to holding the power and cadence on your own but to start out with use the equipment to help you get used to what those targets feel like. You can knock down the level if you are struggling with the power/cadence combo too.


Hey there, I think I need some more information to understand what the issue(s) is (are).

Assuming you are in ERG mode from your post. You say the workouts require you to pedal as speeds you can’t maintain.

Many of the workouts have a wide variety of cadence targets and depending on the workout, and depending on where in the workout you are, those targets can vary as well. Climbing focused workouts (like G.O.A.T. and Power Station) often have us at low cadences of 50-70 but also at high power at or above our FTP while other workouts might have us at cadences from 90-100+

So, with that, I am curious which workout you were doing where you couldn’t maintain the high cadence? Has this happened in other workouts too? Which ones? Do you know what your typical cadence is when you ride outside?

Also, as someone mentioned above, if you are using ERG mode, your trainer will create the power target for you and it will keep that target regardless of what cadence you choose. So, if the app gives you a target cadence of 90 and a target power of 165 watts (your FTP), it wouldn’t matter what your “actual” cadence is, the power target will stay fixed. Also as mentioned above, cycling at higher cadence is something that can be learned and practiced.

Staying in ERG will allow you to practice and increase your comfort at higher cadence over time.

Here is an interesting post on cadence worth a read from Sir @Coach.Mac.C

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Well I find that when I pedal slower that I can maintain more power.
Not everyone is the same.
On e.g. Nine Hammers and also FF, I use lower cadences than most.
So don’t worry. You will not necessarily get faster cadence wise as some have suggested.
Do cadence drills to keep used to high cadences, but don’t worry

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I think it’s pretty well shown that lower cadence is more efficient (I guess for the obvious reason that moving your legs fast enough can make you tired even if you aren’t pushing anything ), and yes that means more power, but for how long? For a one hour indoor ride? I think it’s quite reasonable to get more power at relatively low cadence, but the general wisdom is, that for long rides (or faster recovery for tomorrow maybe?) lungs can outlast legs, and can also recover faster (minutes not days), and then there’s how much stress you really want to put on your knees all the time, and even lower back. The efficiency penalty reduces as you condition yourself to higher cadence. As the OP refers to the requested cadences as not “attainable”, it’s hard to imagine that he/she won’t find significant improvement. I would not want to discourage the OP’s efforts to improve high cadence strength. It probably will work, and will be beneficial.

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Just think my body stubbornly will not get so efficient at higher cadences.
When I came back to cycling about 10 years ago, I didn’t have so much leg strength and needed higher cadences.
However now despite cadence drills etc, I find I am best doing the 20 minute effort in FF at about 83 rpm. When I try to do any really tough effort at 100 rpm, I cannot sustain the same power.

I train almost every day. Seems to be the way I am

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If the cadence target is too high then do the best you can, but try to keep is at the same level for that interval and just keep trying to nudge it upwards. It would be worth doing Cadence Builds and Holds. You might always be more of a slow cadence rider, but it will be good for your efficiency and riding to be able to ride at higher cadences too.

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Oh well, 83 rpm isn’t soo low. You see some folks new to cycling plodding along at half that.

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If I am struggling with cadence in a workout I sometimes break it down to pedalling fast, normally or slow. If I am asked to pedal at 100, I go into “fast for me” mode. When I am nearing crack point, I just pedal at whatever I can.Some workouts require you to ride at faster than normal cadence. Sure you will get out of breath but it is saving your legs .You will get accustomed to pedalling fast, just do not get alarmed or discouraged if you find yourself breathing harder than you think you should, be patient and allow your body to adapt.

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Thanks, I’ll do that! :smiley:

Thank you Lizzy, that’s helpful!

Thanks for your detailed reply Glenn, it happens in almost every single workout that I do. Either the cadence is unattainable or it feels really hard. I have done the 4DP test of an hour. I am aware that the given ERG Power supposedly gets divided by the cadence to make it accessible, but it’s just not accessible to me. The Shovel, for example is one such workout. If I lower my cadence sometimes under 60, I can get high wattage for me (say up to 3w/kg), but at 85-95 I am only good up to 100 watts at most. IRL, on the streets I’m most comfy between 70-75…

I am hoping that what others have mentioned about improving cadence is related to more training experience on the bike… I have never trained for cycling before, although I have completed 5 full Ironman, so I’m familiar with long distance cycling and have done 180kms in 6h30m which is an OK time in IM.

That’s reassuring, thanks!

Thanks, I like the idea that the efficiency penalty will reduce with training. I have also read papers that describe higher efficiency at low cadences, as low as 60rpm, yet with a small test sample.

That sounds like me…

Thanks, that makes sense!

Yes, I’ve been going into “fast for me” mode, that’s been my strategy. Thanks for the encouragement!

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Yep. If you find it challenging, then you should do your best to do it. That’s the point of training, to challenge your capabilities and thereby improve them. It’s well established that being able to maintain and utilize higher cadence is beneficial for just about everybody. There are certainly individual differences, but training for higher cadence is still beneficial, which is why it’s included in training plans.


Hi @Lijou,
Nice job on completing Half Monty and setting your FTP number!
I recommend keeping the numbers you have set and then working to build up your Cadence over time as this will make you more efficient with your pedal stroke.

Some sessions we have with lower cadence are G.O.A.T. and powerstation.
A great place to work on your cadence is our ‘Cadence Builds’ session.

Here is some more info on Cadence for you: