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Cadence Explained

Updated: May 6

What is cadence?

Cadence is the rate at which you pedal it is measured in repetitions per a minute (RPM).

You can control and change your cadence by shifting your gears. If you go into a lower or easier gear you can spin a faster cadence.

How do you measure cadence?

You can measure your cadence through a cadence meter or just shift into an easier gear and consciously spin your legs faster or shift into a harder gear and push on the pedals harder for a slower cadence.

How can cadence help me be a better cyclist?

When you first start cycling it is quite common to be always pushing on the pedals to go faster. The problem here is that you are not using your energy efficiently. With a faster cadence you will improve your pedal stroke and your legs will not become so tired. It’s like lifting heavier weights in the gym. A higher cadence will mean that you will have an increase in blood flow to the muscles – which in turn, means more oxygen in the blood and a higher aerobic performance.

A lower cadence will mean that it is more taxing on the muscles and you will use up your fuel more quickly. This is why in hills where you are forced to ride with a lower cadence you struggle. So on a hill always select the easiest gear and spin your legs faster so you don’t burn out by the time you get to the top.

How to improve your cadence

This does take time and practice and can feel quite tiring as you will be using your cardiovascular system more than your strength, so you may feel like your heart rate goes up a little. When out on your ride do some drills of 5mins with a higher cadence than usual, you want to spin your legs fast, but not too much that you are bobbing up and down on the saddle.

Over time if you are conscious of increasing your cadence, it should go up over time. To get an idea to pros will ride at around 100RPM, but for the average cyclist 80RPM is a good number to aim for.

Share in the comments, does cadence confuse you or has it helped you understand cycling better?

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