Cadence & Technique Training at EIC Indoors

You’ve probably seen cyclists in the tours and races that you have done, displaying what appears like a seemingly effortless pedal stroke, turning an incredible cadence - power being transferred to the pedals without any wasted motion or energy. This smooth and efficient transfer of energy from your body to your bike results in quicker times on the bike. 


The first step to consider in your quest for efficiency is cadence. Practicing and implementing a higher cadence during your cycling will give you a double advantage: First, the higher your cadence, the less force you must apply at the pedals to generate the same amount of power. And second, by applying less force to the pedals you incur less stress applied to the musculature of your legs, leaving you more reserves for riding longer and faster - something even more important to multi-sport athletes who must run after getting off of the bike . What's more, you can, of course, apply the same force with a higher cadence to achieve an even higher speed as well - necessary for time trialists and road racers. 
The higher speed at which your feet move through a pedal cycle results in a smaller time interval during which you have to apply this force. Basically you have less time to apply the force during each crank revolution since you are getting through the cycle faster. 

Once you become efficient in the application of force and have adopted a quicker pedaling cadence you will be well on your way to harnessing more power, higher efficiency, and less leg fatigue on the bike. You will be able to sustain a higher average speed during the bike and feel less muscle fatigue when you get into your longer rides. 
To kind of give you an idea of how important the cadence part of this equation is, let me explain it with respect to power. Power is work divided by time. Work is force 


times distance. In cycling, force and distance are determined by gear size. Time is dependent on pedaling cadence. So as you shift to a higher gear while cadence or time remains constant, power rises. In the same way, if cadence increases (time for each pedal stroke decreases) as the gear size stays the same, power also increases. Thus, power is increased by 1) improving your ability to turn higher gears, or 2) becoming more efficient at pedaling with a high cadence. Both mean that you will ride much faster. 
Some riders, especially those who are strong and mash big gears, will benefit from improving their ability to spin the pedals. 

Those who are already good spinners will become more powerful by developing the ability to turn higher gears. 
But, to become better at turning bigger gears you not only need to be proficient in turning higher cadences, you also must improve your force development on the pedals. Your force can be improved by lifting weights (for example doing squats, walking lunges, step-ups), and/or by doing big gears/low rpm intervals on the flats, into the wind, up low angle hills, or as is the case with our indoor cycling sessions - on your bike which is positioned on a stationary trainer. So the second step in your quest to become a faster cyclist is to develop an efficient application of force. This involves applying force to the pedals during the entire 360 degrees that make up the pedal stroke. 


At the indoor Excel In Cycling sessions we'll work to improve your cadence and pedal technique by doing very specific drills that force you to concentrate on and refine pedaling mechanics and cadence. Isolated leg training is especially good for refining pedal mechanics. Most riders will probably discover that there is a "sticking" point at the top of their stroke that they must learn to smoothly overcome if they are to be efficient higher cadence riders. They may also discover that there is an "unloading" period in the upstroke of the pedal cycle that involves using ones hip flexors. This unloading technique is usually neglected by most riders and thereby results in less leg muscles being called upon to help the in the pedal cycle. 

Less muscle group involvement means slower cycling times! 
Other drills that I employ at Excel In Cycling indoor sessions are spinup ladders and pyramids. Spinups involve you riding briskly in an easy gear. You’ll gradually increase your cadence each minute until you are spinning so fast that you start to bounce on the saddle. (The reason for the bounce is that you are making inefficient transitions to upward force from downward force at the bottom of the stroke. Since the crank arm can't get any longer as you push down on the pedal at the 6 o'clock position, your butt comes up off the saddle producing the bounce.) The idea of this drill is to force you to become more efficient at the transition point and to pedal at higher cadences without bouncing. A handlebar computer with a cadence mode is essential when doing this drill at our indoor sessions.

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