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How to increase your cycling cadence

If you can increase your cycling cadence then this can increase your power, reduce the risk of injury and improve your efficiency on the bike.

What is cycling cadence?

Cadence is basically how fast you spin the pedals while you ride. This is measured in Revolutions Per Minute (RPM). Now although this is very individual, there is no right or wrong. You need to find out what works for you. To monitor this you will need a cadence sensor although once you are well trained you will be able to do this off feel.

There are two ways to increase speed on the bike. Either increase force to the pedals or velocity (cadence).

When people start riding they generally have a low cadence until then “learn” to cycle efficiently. As a rule the lower the cadence the more fatiguing it will be on your muscles and the higher the cadence the more demanding it will be on your cardiovascular system. What tends to happen is that riders heart rate increases so they drop down a gear and the heart rate drops. They then get in a rut of reducing the cadence further with the perception of it being “easier”. This however puts great strain on the lower back and knee causing injury.

What should my cadence be?

As I have already mentioned earlier this is very individual however I would aim for 80 rpm as a minimun. Ideally I would try to increase it to 85 – 95 rpm.

My Top Tips to increase your cycling cadence

  1. Have cadence as a data field on your Garmin so it is visible.
  2. Don’t be afraid to go into the small ring at the front.
  3. Anticipate the climbs and change down accordingly.
  4. Listen to music with a higher BPM, check out my drum and bass playlist here

Here what GCN have to say…..

Check out out some sessions here from GCN to improve your cadence

Do you want to pedal like a pro?

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James Walsgrove

My cycling career started in 2005 when I purchased my first road bike and I was immediately hooked. Since then I have completed numerous cycling challenges including Ironman, Lands’ End to John O Groats, Mt Ventoux (all 3 ascents), London to Paris, the BBAR challenge which included a 12hour TimeTrial and more recently the Mallorca 312.

2 thoughts on “How to increase your cycling cadence

  1. Thank for the advice James, I’ve been slave to the riding style out on the road, until you picked it up! As I was struggling with lower back pain for long rides and didn’t understand why. I also was reluctant to use the granny ring as I thought it showed weakness and thought I would get stronger legs lack of eduction! Following your advice it’s made a huge difference – no back pain after Norfolk Epic 200 miles huge achievement. I still need to keep on top of it as old habits die hard – great advice for any kern cyclist – thanks again now pain free, less chance of Injury – wins every time 😀

    1. That’s great to hear! It is interesting how many peoples cadence drops when outside compared to the indoor trainer!

      Make the granny ring your friend!

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