Health and Fitness: How Improving Your Cadence Leads to a Better Cycling Workout

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What is Cadence?

In general, the word “cadence” refers to the rhythm or flow of language when a person is speaking, but there is also rhythm and flow associated with cycling.  There is a pace at which a person feels most comfortable cycling, and this is measured in terms of revolutions per minute or rpms.  So if one of your feet goes round in 60 revolutions in the course of one minute, you are cycling at 60 rpm.  Most people cycle at this rate but competitive cyclists pedal at higher rates, such as 80 or even 100 rpms.

Spinners and Mashers

According to their preference, cyclists are divided into “spinners” and “mashers.”  Spinners prefer to cycle at lower gears and higher rpms whereas mashers like to cycle at higher gears and lower rpms.  The overall speed achieved by the two might be the same because you do have to put in more effort to complete one revolution at a higher gear.  However, experts suggest that mashers should try to increase their cadence at a lower gear.

A Drill to Increase Cadence

There are a couple of drills that people can try to increase their cadence; this can be done indoors as well as outdoors.  For the first drill, start cycling at your usual cadence and then increase until you are bouncing in the saddle.  Once you get to this stage, you can slowly decrease once again until you are no longer bouncing and settle into that pace for a couple of minutes before going back to your usual cadence.  This is very similar to what runners do when they push themselves to a faster pace for a few minutes, then fall back to their regular pace.  When you do this consistently a few times in every workout, you’ll slowly find that your regular cadence starts to increase.

Working on Your Upstroke

Another thing that cyclists should pay attention to is the upstroke.  You put all your energy into the downstroke, so when your foot is going back up, you tend to just let go instead of moving actively.  However, it’s important to actively move your foot back up as though you were wiping your shoes on a mat.  This is similar to the concept of “follow through” in tennis and other racquet games.  Once you hit the ball, you don’t stop moving the racquet; you continue to follow through in the same direction.  This gives you more force.

So the next time you’re trying to increase the efficiency of your cycling or just want to improve health and fitness, pay some attention to your cadence and you’ll reap the benefits later.  Contact us for more information on how working on your cadence can improve your cycling ability.

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