TBT: Ask the Expert: My Student Rides with Too Much Resistance, Part 2

In part 1 of answering the question posed about high resistance/low cadence riding, I gave a little background on why it’s unwise and posted an excerpt from my e-book Keep it Real. I described a friend on a mountain bike ride who was pedaling ultra slowly in a very big gear up the first part of the climb simply because he said he “wanted a leg workout,” only to suffer greatly later in the ride (almost to the point of not being able to finish). His ego prevented him from seeing the wisdom of my advice that he shouldn’t push that hard that early in the ride.

Your students, however, probably aren’t going to be faced with a longer, more challenging segment after your class, like my humiliated friend in my mountain biking example. When the class is over it’s over. And besides, they can cheat indoors…you can’t cheat outdoors! Therefore, they may not heed your wise advice when you tell them they shouldn’t pedal that slowly with that much resistance. Instead, they may believe they will benefit from very high resistance for that 10- or 15-minute climb.

The truth is, they are placing themselves at risk. Pedaling with so much resistance that it slows your cadence down to 40 or 50 rpm (or lower) has no functional value to anything they do. Not to cycling, that’s for sure, but also not to anything else in one’s life.

Our bodies gain fitness in a very specific way; in exercise science we call it the specificity principle. There is nothing specific about cadence this slow.

To clarify this point, let’s discuss how we gain strength.

One Response to “TBT: Ask the Expert: My Student Rides with Too Much Resistance, Part 2”

  1. ShawnaApplegate says:

    Thank you so much for the information! It is good to know the specifics and I am always wanting to make sure that there is correct form.

    If I am pedaling heavy then, I shouldn’t feel a “strain” in my low back? Also, is it wise to engage the abs while climbing?

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