High cadence in Spinning® is hard stuff!By Jennifer Sage On September 8, 2011 Under Cadence, Form and Technique
Those of you who have been following me for awhile have heard me preach about the benefits and challenges of legitimate high cadence work, and the ineffectiveness of non-legitimate high cadence work in your Spinning® and Indoor Cycling classes.
This morning I taught a ladder class of high cadence intervals. We maxed out at a “high” of 108rpm, and ouch, that hurt!
Let me explain what I mean by legitimate high cadence….
When you work at cadences from 90-110rpm, with the proper resistance, it is one of the most challenging things you can do in an indoor cycling class, both in terms of technique and cardiovascular challenge. Proper resistance is the key concept there. The ride I did this morning was based on the beat of the songs, which were 85, 88, 90, 94, 97, 100 and the final song, at 108 rpm. Within each song the intervals were about 2 minutes of work and 1-1.5 minutes of rest, with some longer periods of rest here and there. By the time it got to the end of that work effort, I was (and my students were) begging for it to end! It took us to breathless, it stung the leg muscles, and it took a mental commitment to not quit early.
Oh, but what a great workout! My legs will be talking to me all day.
Above, I mentioned “non-legitimate high cadence work” – what do I mean by that? Letting the flywheel do the work, not connecting with the drive train correctly, bouncing around in the saddle, and basically, riding with a resistance that is too low. Heart rate might stil be elevated, because that’s what happens when your legs turn quickly, but the real challenge is when you combine that speed work with a proper amount of resistance. It is only when you employ the proper resistance that you will benefit from the training adaptations and teach the legs to turn the pedals more quickly.
But I bet that given a chance, many of your students will resort to letting the flywheel do the work, unless you provide them with the reasons and the positive motivational coaching to do it correctly.
Last week I taught a super hard strength ride, Stage 15 of the Vuelta a Espana. We simulated one of the steepest climbs in Europe – a 23.5% grade, and on that steep segment, our cadence dropped to the low 50’s rpm. Yes, that was very hard…and yes, I felt my legs all day. But it was nowhere near as technically or physically challenging as today’s higher cadence intervals. It’s possible I feel that way because living in the mountains as I do, I am just better and more accustomed to climbing, and riding at cadences below 80rpm. But even my non-cyclists who don’t climb those steep mountains around here are far more challenged by the higher cadence work. It’s just harder to do.
One of the Audio Master Classes on ICA (for members) is a profile called Cause and Effect, which teaches students about the causes and effect of various resistance-cadence combinations and about effective high cadence riding and how challenging it really is. The Audio Master Class teaches you, the instructor, how to coach faster cadences and how to instill this realization in your students. That’s the challenging thing.
My profile this morning capitalized on the knowledge of Cause and Effect. And while my regular students know how important the high cadence work is, I know that some of my students do not like this kind of challenge as much as they like the steep climbs of last week. Oh, they enjoy the workout and enjoy the music, but today’s profile makes them think and it makes them work harder! And you know as well as I do, that people like to do what they are already good at, and don’t always like to do what challenges them.
Hence….a fantastic reason to teach a high cadence profile such as this, or such as Cause and Effect! That’s why they pay us to do what we do – to challenge them and to help them get better at things they might not like to do.
Today’s profile will become an Audio Master Class this autumn, and of course will include the great playlist I used, but I will tell you what my last song was. I used the classic instrumental Jessica, by The Allman Brothers. It is 216bpm for a cadence of 108 rpm. For this song I did 1 minute intervals at 108rpm, with a 45sec to 1 min easy recovery (any cadence they want), alternating for the duration of the song. Hard, hard, hard! But it’s one of those songs that you can close your eyes and totally get lost in the song, and focus on the leg speed work.
How about your students? What do they think of high-cadence work?