Is Cadence Work a Waste of Time?

While pros do a lot of both high- and low-cadence work, we talk with one of the top experts in the world on cadence, Dr. Ernst Hansen, about why the science isn’t so clear.

Fast Talk Episode 315 with Dr. Ernst Hansen graphic.

Many pros do it. In fact, they do it a lot. Whether they’re going up a hill or sitting on a trainer, they’re spending tons of time at either higher-than-normal or lower-than-normal cadence. The pros who do it swear by it, claiming that cadence work is critical to their success. In fact, it’s so ingrained in cycling culture that junior cyclists are required to use special gearing to ensure they learn how to ride at higher cadences from the start of their careers. 

There’s just one problem: There isn’t a lot of evidence that cadence work does what we believe it does.

Our guest today, Dr. Ernst Hansen, has studied cycling cadence for over a decade. In 2017, he wrote a review of the existing research on low cadence training with Dr. Bent Rønnestad and was left underwhelmed.

Dr. Hansen is himself an ex-professional cyclist who now works at the University College Absalon in Denmark. His research has shown some surprising results that could improve the performance of even the best cyclists. Yet, our longstanding beliefs about cadence are so ingrained, it’s proved next to impossible to change mindsets.  

We talk with Dr. Hansen about the beliefs and reality of both high- and low-cadence training, why we all naturally choose to ride above our most efficient cadence, the promise of low-cadence sprints, if there is a neuromuscular effect, and ultimately what he recommends.  

We’ll also hear from professional cyclist Alex Howes, ex-World Tour rider turned commentator Brent Bookwalter, legendary physiologist Dr. Bent Rønnestad, and elite coaches Houshang Amiri and Neal Henderson.  

So, find your comfortable cadence—then pedal slower—and let’s make you fast! 

Episode Transcript

Trevor Connor  00:04

Hello and welcome to Fast Talk, your source for the science of endurance performance. I’m your host, Trevor Connor here with Coach Rob Pickles. Many pros do it. In fact, they to do it a lot. They’re going up a hill or sitting on a train or they’re spending tons of time at either higher than normal are lower than normal cadence. Pros who do swear by it claim that cadence work is critical to their success. In fact, it’s so ingrained in cycling culture that junior cyclists are required to use special gearing to ensure they learn how to ride at higher cadence from the start of their careers. There’s just one problem. There’s not a lot of evidence a cadence work does what we believe it does for us. In fact, our common belief that longer efforts like 20 minutes of 50 RPM is “Strength training on the bike,” has been conclusively disproved. Our guest today, Dr. Ernst Hansen, has studied cadence work for over a decade. In 2017 he wrote a review of the existing research on low cadence training with Dr. Ben Ranestad, and was left underwhelmed. Dr. Hansen is himself an ex professional cyclist who now works at the University College Absalon in Denmark. We talk with him about the beliefs and reality of both high and low cadence training. While we all naturally choose to ride above our most efficient cadence. Why low cadence sprints are actually promising. If there’s a neuromuscular effect and ultimately, what does he recommend? His research has shown some surprising results that can improve the performance of even the best cyclists. Yet our long standing beliefs about cadence are so ingrained it’s proved next to impossible to change mindsets. Joining Dr. Hansen, we’ll hear from professional cyclists Alex Howes, ex World Tour rider turned commentator Brent Bookwalter, legendary physiologist Dr. Ben Ranestad, and elite coaches who Xiang and Marian Neil Henderson. So find your comfortable cadence and pedal slower because that’s actually what’s optimal. And let’s make it fast. 

Trevor Connor  01:54

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Trevor Connor  02:14

Well, Dr. Hanson, thanks for joining us. We’re really excited to have you on the episode today.

Dr. Ernst Hansen  02:18

Thanks for having me. I’ve been looking forward to this episode.

Trevor Connor  02:22

So I’m gonna say the same thing. I, as a coach, I’ve always been fascinated with cadence work. And certainly reading the research and talking with a lot of pros. You see, pros do a ton of both high and low cadence work. But what I find really fascinating is when I’ve read the research on this, including a study that you did with Dr. Ronnestad, the evidence is – say, murky. Not great, that doing either high or low cadence work is actually effective. So I’ve been really excited to do this episode. And you’re the perfect expert on this. Because this is what you research and you’re an ex professional cyclist? Why is it that pros are doing so much of this type of work if we’re not necessarily seeing a ton of evidence for it. And that’s really what the the episode is going to be about today. But before we dive into it, I think we need to just do a couple of definitions that I’ll throw to you. What do we mean by the three terms of freely chosen cadence? And then high cadence and low cadence?

Definitions of Different Cadences

Dr. Ernst Hansen  03:24

Yeah, that’s a good question. And I can give my point of view on that. But there’s not a consensus regarding that question. So it depends on who you ask, I guess. But the freely chosen cadence is relatively straightforward, right? So I think most people consider it the automatically generated cadence that you produce that you apply, when you don’t think specifically about what you’re doing. So it’s kind of an unconsciously controlled cadence. And this is very different from rider to rider. And this is very important to remember. That at the same absolute relative power output, it can be from 60, for example, to 100. So as a huge between individual variation in the freely chosen cadence, even among professional or very highly trained cyclists, we have seen that over and over again. And then of course, you have lower cadences and you have higher cadences and how low does it have to be to be considered low? I don’t know. If you look at many of the studies that have been done, and where they have used the freely chosen cadence and then a higher and lower, many of these studies use plus 30%, for example, for higher cadence. And minus 30% for low cadence. But it’s up to anyone to make the definition of how low does it have to be, to be considered low. So there’s no consensus on that.

Rob Pickels  05:03

So in that situation, if we take somebody that has a a freely chosen cadence of 80 RPM – 80 revolutions per minute – just to choose a number. Ahigh cadence for that person plus 30%, would be about 105-104 RPM. And a low cadence in that situation might be something around 56. Just to put some real numbers around them.

Trevor Connor  05:23

Yeah. As you pointed out, in some of the research, they just use an absolute value. They go, “Well, 60 is low and 105 is high.” But that’s not necessarily true for all athletes. Get a track cyclist in the study and have them do 105.

Dr. Ernst Hansen  05:39

Yeah, exactly. And that’s a good point. Because when we do these studies, we like to control as much as possible, so that we can have the answer of whatever thing we are changing, right. And many of these studies, especially the earliest studies some decades ago, they often used set cadences. Sso if they wanted to investigate the effect of cadence on oxygen uptake, for example, they use 40, 60, 80, 100 RPM. And they did that systematically for all the participants in the study. And they didn’t even bother, they didn’t even think about measuring the freely chosen cadence. But when I came into the research, 20 years ago, 25 years ago, that focus changed. So it seemed like a research that they got aware of. There’s a huge variation between individuals in this. So we better at least measure that also. And try to design some studies where we take the starting point from the freely chosen cadence, and then do some higher and lower cadences to investigate in – whatever we are interested in.

Rob Pickels  06:59

Before we move off of this definition sort of segment that we’re doing. There’s another factor that seems like it influences cadence, and that is workload. And so I’m wondering, based on how the research is defining, is there a means that you can share? What a low, a moderate and a high workload are for an individual when we’re correlating that with cadence?

Dr. Ernst Hansen  07:24

Well, you have these definitions for workload that you also use regarding training intensity, right. So often you use percentage of maximum oxygen uptake. VO2 max. Other times you use power output, and you focus on that. You maybe have a peak power in some kind of test, and then you use relative values to that. It doesn’t really matter. Whatever you do, what we see regarding the freely chosen cadence is that it increases with intensity. So it starts, for example, at around 70 RPM. For a group of cyclists, it would start around 70 RPM at 50% of VO2 max. And then it increases up to around 80 or 90 RPM, when you approach maximum oxygen uptake. So there’s an increase in the 3d chosen cadence with increased intensity. What is interesting is that you also have an increase in the optimal cadence, the energetically optimal cadence. It also increases with increased intensity. It starts lower. So it’s maybe around 50, at 50% of VO2 max. And then it also increases with increased intensity. And what happens is that when you approach the VO2 max, the freely chosen cadence and the energetically optimal cadence, they merge, so they become the same. And  this has a consequence. If you consider that, you will find that at low intensities, most people move really energetically. Not optimal. So they spent too much energy pedaling the crank. And this is not the case when you exercise at high intensity. And what are we talking about? Yeah, we’re talking about approximately 5%. In oxygen uptake or energy turnover. So you spend around 5% too much. You’re inefficient at the low intensities because of the cadence that you’re applying.

Free Cadence Paradox

Trevor Connor  09:45

So this gives me this idea I did really want to ask you about before we dive into low cadence and high cadence work. Which was – you talked about this in a review you wrote in 2009. And we’ll put all the references in the show notes. But there is a paradox that we’ve known about for over 100 years, which is what you’re talking about. Which is everybody, their freely chosen cadence, is actually above the most efficient cadence.

Dr. Ernst Hansen  10:10

Yeah. At least at the lower intensities. So again, when you get to the high intensity around VO2 max, then there’s no paradox anymore. Then the freely chosen and the energetically optimal cadence, they are the same, the same value.

Rob Pickels  10:26

And Dr. Hansen, is that something that we see across levels of cyclist? If we take the untrained average university student who maybe they play pickleball? Now pickleball is the new hot thing. And you bring them in for a cycling study. Do they also exhibit this paradox? Or is it just in the cyclists who are habituated? 

Dr. Ernst Hansen  10:47

No. My experience and my knowledge from the literature is that it doesn’t matter what kind of cycling history you have. And it’s across children, adults, doesn’t matter. It’s simply a human behavior.

Trevor Connor  11:06

And I loved your theory behind this. I should mention, I’m kind of a part time evolutionary biologist. And you brought the evolution of this. Which is you look at people walking and running, and they do naturally pick the most efficient paces and cadences. But we’ve been evolving for millennia around running and walking. We’ve been on bikes for 100 years.

Rob Pickels  11:28

Are you saying we’re a bunch of idiots, Trevor? 

Trevor Connor  11:29

Pretty much. But you bring up this idea of a central pattern generator that we have in our bodies. And it actually makes us choose a cadence that’s not optimal.

Dr. Ernst Hansen  11:39

It could be the explanation. So we know that we are not shaped, we are not designed for cycling. Because we have been cycling for such a short period compared to our evolution, right. So we are designed for something else. And we are probably relatively well designed for walking running. So if it has been important, and I think it’s fair to assume that at long periods of our evolution, it has been important that we could move ourselves, travel, across long distances in an efficient way with little energy turnover. So that is what we do naturally, when we walk and run. And maybe the way we cycle is that we use some of these neural networks we have for other purposes. They are developed for walking and running. And maybe we use at least parts of these neural networks to generate the cycling movement. And then it comes out as it comes out. It’s not easy when you cycle at a submaximal intensity. Where you are not really feeling under pressure, or exhausted or anything. It’s not easy to feel, to perceive a 5% difference in energy turnover or oxygen uptake. So it’s something else that controls what you’re doing.

How Athletes Choose Cadences

Trevor Connor  13:16

Dr. Hansen wrote several papers with Dr. Bent Ronnestad on cadence and efficiency. So let’s take a minute to hear from Dr. Ronnestad himself, and why the nature of the event may force the athlete to consider more than just what cadence is most efficient.

Bent Ronnestad  13:31

There are at least some potential explanations as to why that could be beneficial. And I mean, it depends a bit on for instance, if you are a mountain bike rider. For sure, there are arguments that you should use both high and low cadence. And also on the road, we know that there is a quite large difference in the cadence you use during steep uphill versus flat terrain. So in theory that could be gained from systematically training with both high and low cadence.

Trevor Connor  14:05

Do you feel there’s a different metabolic impact when you do training at either at either a high or a low cadence?

Bent Ronnestad  14:13

Yeah, theoretically there are indications that you get a slightly different metabolic stimulus and maybe also in regard to fiber type involvement. So you can get overall larger stimuli by switching cadence.

Trevor Connor  14:32

So you said different fiber recruitment. Could you dive a little deeper into that? So are you saying when you do low cadence, you’re gonna recruit more fibers or?

Bent Ronnestad  14:41

Yeah, there are no studies indicating that. But with low cadence, you have a larger recruitment of the fast twitch fibers.

Is Cadence Work a Waste of Time?

Rob Pickels  14:53

So guys, I want to say, I think you both were able to say why you were excited for this episode. And I was excited for this episode too for one specific reason. I don’t really believe in cadence. I mean, I guess I believe in cadence, right? I know that we pedal a bike, I know we can measure that. But I’ve never really done any specific cadence work with athletes, with myself. Outside of maybe they’re in an event that has very specific requirements. There’s a kilo, and we have to practice a standing start, because it’s very different to grind from zero. But for general riding, general athletes, I don’t know.

Trevor Connor  15:30

So Dr. Hansen, before we dive into this, let’s throw this to you. I mean, we know pros do a lot of cadence work. Are they wasting their time? What’s your one minute take?

Dr. Ernst Hansen  15:40

It’s a complicated thing, because what are we talking about? Are we talking about the cadence that you apply when you do steady state submaximal exercise for hours? Is that what we’re talking about? Or is it the cadence that you apply if you do some intensive acceleration exercises that are more functional strength training? For example? Is that what we’re talking about? So to answer it, I think you need to be a little bit more specific. I can say a very general comment about it, which I think is important. And better is if you are a road cycling or mountain bike cycling for that sake, an endurance cyclist. You spend many, many hours on your bike. And, of course, you do some specific intervals. And you do some specific training, but you have many, many hours where you just pedal. And I think that what we sometimes tend to overlook, is to have enough variation in the training. So if you just do the same over and over again, without introducing some variation in your training, you stall. You reset steady state performance level. And you need to do something different to stimulate your body. And cadence work is one tool to stimulate your body. Including fiber type recruitment, energy, turnover, and many, many other things.

Rob Pickels  17:08

Well, Trevor, I think we need to dive into this a little deeper, because I can’t tell if I’m vindicated or not.

Trevor Connor  17:12

I’m gonna bring up a study quickly that might vindicate Robert. Let’s debate this. I’m sure you’ve read this. This is a 2012 study from a doctor and I’m gonna absolutely butcher this name –

Rob Pickels  17:27

You butcher them all. 

Trevor Connor  17:28

Nimmer Writcher?

Dr. Ernst Hansen  17:30

Yeah, Nimmer Writcher.

Trevor Connor  17:31

Title author was Dr. Craig Williams, which I can pronounce. But what was fascinating about this study was they had three groups. And they were testing the effects of doing high cadence interval work and low cadence interval work on time trial performance. So they had three groups. One group that did the intervals at high cadence. One group that did the intervals at low cadence. And then a group that did same volume, but no interval work whatsoever. And here was the result of the study. They all saw equivalent improvement. Not just the cadence groups doing intervals, but the group doing no intervals. WNow there was only one thing that they did point out. So they did both an uphill time trial and a flat time trial. And the only group to see improvement in both time trials was the low cadence group. So how do we explain this?

Dr. Ernst Hansen  18:29

Well, so it was in the intervals, right? They changed the cadence. What type of intervals was it? Was it like five minutes?

Trevor Connor  18:37

Six by five minutes.

Dr. Ernst Hansen  18:40

Well, you know, it’s difficult to explain precisely all the results that we see in the literature. So to be able to give some general recommendations regarding training, for example, we often need to see more than one study. So we often need to see a bunch of studies pointing in the same direction. Because we can sometimes get odd results in single studies. So I think you should be careful about that. So that is one thing to say about it. But I’m not sure that it’s easy to simply change the cadence in some intervals, and then expect to see a significant change in performance. We’re talking about small differences here, when we do these studies. So if you are studying athletes who have already trained, it’s not easy to make them better. So that’s also a part of the study. If it was that easy, you could make much more money as a coach, but it’s difficult. It’s difficult to change performance even 2, 3 or 4%. And that is what we need. To see a statistically significant change in these studies, you often need a change of at least 4 to 5%. And we all know that we are actually interested in 1 or 2% improvements also. If we are talking performance for an athlete, if you could change the performance for an elite athlete by 1 or 2%, you would do a good job. But it’s very difficult to make a scientific study where you show a 1 or 2% change in a group of athletes, and show it statistically,

Trevor Connor  20:39

Many of you might know him as one of the voices of the Tour de France. But Brent Bookwalter was a world tour rider himself, and we got his take on whether cadence work helped his training.

Brent Bookwalter  20:51

Yeah, I definitely did high to low cadence work. I probably did more low cadence work than high to tap into that strength component. I’d say really, for a lot of pros that big gear work, especially early in the year as strength building, as activation work is really bread and butter, Big part of the training focus. So for me, I think it stems back to when I had a severe leg fracture. 2007, when I got my career going. But ever since that, I always defaulted to quite a high cadence. So it was important in those winter months that I spent some time focusing on staying seated, focus on the pedal stroke, focus on engaging my core properly. And then that builds some strength and builds some foundation. And then it also enhanced fatigue resistance to harder training sessions later, and the races once they got going.

Trevor Connor  21:40

So would you do interval work with low cadence? Or would you just go out for your rides? And just keep the cadence low?

Brent Bookwalter  21:47

No, definitely interval work. It’s actually one of the more enjoyable workouts, I’d say. It’s something that the zones we were doing it in, it wasn’t like a big time suffer fest situation. But by nature it’s meant to be controlled, and it’s meant to be focused. And it’s demanding, it’s difficult, but it’s not like unachievable by nature. Because if you start falling apart, you’ve lost the point of it and it’s time to stop. So yeah, it was quite enjoyable. I’d go out when I was training on my own. I would build a route with climbs of good grade. And I would include that low RPM work on the climbs as demanded by my training program. And throughout my career, I really started to become a little more flexible with i. Which I think also benefited me. I think the tendency at our training camps with the team or – everyone’s different, but that work is often done going up, down, up, down, up, down. And there’s benefits to that too. Totally taking the load off the muscle going down, just coasting, spinning it out. But for me, I love using climbs in a loop. It would it would force me to stretch it out a little longer. On some climbs, or other climbs, I’d realize, oh, I’m a couple minutes short. I can actually squeeze a little more power, dip my RPM a little bit. And that got down to my own art of training, which I have definitely a greater appreciation on at the end of my career than I did at the start looking back.

Low Cadence Training

Trevor Connor  23:13

So let’s dive into low cadence training for two reasons. One is, you’re right, you can’t look at one study. But when you look at multiple studies, that’s I feel where you’ve seen a little more evidence of improvement. For example, there was a 2016 study led by Dr. Witi, which showed that low cadence training improved TT power. There was also the patent study that showed that low cadence sprints are more effective than high cadence sprints. But the main reason I want to go there is in 2017, you wrote a review with Dr. Ronnestad on the impacts of low cadence training. And maybe I’ve got this wrong, but it seemed like your overall assessment from the review was, it was hard to draw any conclusions because of the differences and all the different studies. But overall, the the evidence was not overwhelming about benefits of low cadence training. So throw that to you, having written that review and read all this research. What’s your feeling about low cadence training? Is there a benefit to it?

Dr. Ernst Hansen  24:20

Things haven’t changed since our paper from 17. So I agree and there’s not a lot of research done before that, and after that. So we don’t know much more today, I would say. But we’re doing this review, it inspired ourselves to study. So we actually tested a training form that we know is done and common. At least in environments that I’m involved with. And that’s accelerating sprints. Starting from a low speed. So you start in a peak gear ratio, which means a low cadence. And then you accelerate from that for a few seconds. And then you take a break, and then you do it over again. So that you can also call low cadence training. But it’s very, very intensive. It’s actually maximal intensity. And we saw improvement in peak power output in the group that did that kind of training. Compared to a control group, who just continued their usual training. So we could measure an effect of that kind of training. And the effect was on peak power output. We could only see a tendency for results in more classical test parameters. Like an aerobic threshold and powered VO2 max. So that was a little bit disappointing for us. We hope to see change as well also, but we didn’t. But the training had an effect. And what we are speculating about is that, okay, this kind of training can improve peak power output. It was 4%. Maybe that is also relevant. If you think about classics like Tour of London, where you have all these climbs where they they go very intensively or these climbs over and over again. Or if you have the off road cycling like mountain bike or cyclocross, where you have to do this accelerating over and over again. If every time you have to do this have a 4% improvement, then it would probably add up to something. So I still believe in this kind of training. But when I was an active cyclist years ago, and one other kind of low cadence training was done. And that was climbing on a mountain for 10, 15, 20 minutes. So steady state submaximal exercise, but done in a large era, too, with a low cadence. So that is another kind of low cadence training.

Trevor Connor  27:15

Which is one of my favorite forms. I love doing that.

Dr. Ernst Hansen  27:19

Yes, but it has never been investigated. As far as I know, this kind of training. So we simply don’t know the effect of that kind of training. And the last thing that is also kind of interesting, perhaps, is that we did a study some years ago, where we asked a group of cyclists to do two kinds of prolonged exercise. We had them cycling for two and a half hours in the lab. On one of the days, they had to do this prolonged submaximal exercise at a freely chosen cadence that was very natural for them. And we measured energy with no wind, and oxygen uptake and performance in the end of this exercise. That was one day. And another day, they had to do the same but at a lower cadence. Actually at the energetically optimal cadence. And their reaction to our request was, “No, no, we cannot do that. We cannot exercise at that low cadence. It’s not possible.” But we convinced them. For some of them. it was like 60 RPM. And for some, I think it was down to maybe 55 or something for some individuals. But we convinced them to do the study. And you know what happened? What happened was that we measured the rate of perceived exertion. So we asked them every 30 minutes during this prolonged cycling. And what happened was that at the low energetically optimal cadence, when they came to two and a half hours, they will reported lower efforts than at their freely chosen cadence. So to begin with, they wouldn’t even do it because they thought we were crazy, and we were harmful to them and all kinds of excuses. But it turned out that they reported lower rate of perceived exertion scores after two and a half hours. They didn’t know themselves because they couldn’t remember what we reported last time. We were in the lab, but it came clearly out in the data. And the explanation is, of course, that they saved a lot of energy. They saved 5% all the time. And it accumulated up to a lot after two and a half hours of exercise. Which caused them to feel it easier, to bike. Even that they have to use the low cadence. So that is just indicating that something funny is going on here. But we have a very strong tradition and history in cycling, that things should be done in a certain way. But when we throw in something new like this, there might be a window for performance improvement. Also, we saw a tendency, we did a five minutes all out performance test. At the end of this prolonged cycling, we saw a tendency for better performance, following the low energetically optimal cadence. That was a shame. We thought, that was a shame because it was only a tendency. We didn’t have enough subjects. This is my analysis of it today, we didn’t have enough subjects. Had we had more subjects, it would have turned out statistically significant. Some years later, and other group steppings, and co workers from University of California, they did a study that was very similar to ours. They kind of replicated our study. And they found the difference that we couldn’t see. So you have two studies, they’re pointing at the same way. But this is not about training. So this is about the cadence that you apply if you have to perform, right. So there are some interesting results. But my point was that maybe one effect of training with a low cadence, maybe an effect is that you adapt to it, and you find that it’s okay to use that in competition. And then that could be a way to better performance. But this is not what we normally measure. In the studies, we measure performance. So we measure power output in some kind of test, or we measure efficiency or something. But maybe we should look for some other aspects of performance.

Rob Pickels  31:51

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Trevor Connor  32:36

Before we continue our conversation on low cadence work, let’s hear from Coach Neil Henderson about the effects he sees from the sort of training.

Neil Henderson  32:45

So low cadence work is going to require a greater force from the muscle. And typically you’re going to see a little bit of a difference in recruitment at low cadence compared to a normal or high cadence. And so we see some difference in the muscle groups that are recruited at low cadence. We do get a little bit more glute activation compared to quad at a low cadence compared to what we would see at a high cadence. And you’re also going to see some differences in cardiovascular cost. Your respiration rate and total ventilation is going to be lower, as well as your heart rate for a same power when you go at a very low cadence.

Strength Training and Low Cadence

Trevor Connor  33:28

To shift gears a little bit, one thing that I think you and Dr. Ronnestad said pretty clearly in your review, is that low cadence training is not strength training. They’re not the same because there is a belief among a lot of athletes that, oh, I don’t want to get in the gym and lift weights. If I just go out and ride the bike up a hill at a really low cadence I’m getting my strength training. And you said you feel pretty conclusively that no, it’s not the same. That the case?

Dr. Ernst Hansen  33:57

Well, I will say that this study that we published last year, a study that I touched upon previously. Where we did this sprint training. I would say you can call it functional strength training. Of course, it’s not heavy weights because it’s done on the bike, but we could measure performance improvement in peak power output. And this is something you also measure when you do strength training. We didn’t measure strength. So of course, we should have done that. Right? We should have measured knee extension strength or something like that. Leg press or something, but we didn’t do that. We measured peak power output in a sprint. And that was improved by 4%. And this is a result that you would normally see also with strength training.

Rob Pickels  34:52

And so the difference here, to outline the two different training modalities. On one side we’re talking about going up a climb at 60 RPM at your FTP. And on the other side, we’re talking about doing a short, a 10 second, from low cadence. Maybe starting at 40 and accelerating at 200, 300% of your FTP. And that’s probably going to recruit a heck of a lot more fibers. It’s going to really involve your neuromuscular system, even though they’re both kind of low cadence, we’re working in two very different manners.

Trevor Connor  35:26

This is a case where, when you are starting up from that standing starting, to taking everything to turn over those cranks.

Dr. Ernst Hansen  35:33

Yeah. So in that case, in Valera case you outlined with a sprint exercise, you recruit all your fibers, right? When you do submaximal exercise, at a low cadence, you also recruit more type two fibers. Type two fibers, which are the fast ones, you recruit more of these. Or you use them more when you do submaximal exercise at a low cadence. So it’s kind of counterintuitive for many people, because it’s slow. So why the fast twitch fibers? I’s because of the force. So you have to apply more force in the pedals at the low cadence, and therefore you recruit more type two fibers. But not to the extent that what is going on when you do the maximal effort, sprint.

Rob Pickels  36:27

And that’s why research – Dr. Hansen, you pointed out that there’s not necessarily research on say this prolonged FTP climbing. But we could hypothesize that an extended period of time recruiting more type two fibers could lead to a greater type two fatigue. And maybe involvement of additional fibers. And maybe there’s a training effect there. And it’s unfortunate that studies like that just haven’t been done, because I don’t know that we can definitively give an answer.

Trevor Connor  36:56

So here’s an interesting way that they show – and forgive me, I can’t remember the study. But I’ll put this in the show notes. There was a study of low cadence training. And they showed one of the differences between low cadence training and high cadence training was you saw a greater depletion of glycogen in the type two fibers. So that’s an indicator that you are recruiting more.

Dr. Ernst Hansen  37:16

You’re probably talking about Alquist and co workers from 1992. And that was a really good study showing exactly what you’re seeing, and also what I was talking about before.

Rob Pickels  37:27

Trevor, I told you he was going to be a great guest.

Trevor Connor  37:34

So last thing I want to ask about low cadence, I mean, I think we’ve said there’s a lot more research that needs to be done. But we just touched on this. What are some of the other theories? If there is a benefit of low cadence training, what is the theories of the physiology behind it? So we just brought up more fast twitch muscle recruitment. Are there other potential ways in which this is benefiting us?

Dr. Ernst Hansen  37:56

Well, that is an important thing. Because, again, I hear that you’re saying that many of the athletes are cyclists that are doing a lot of cadence work. Well, I know a lot of cyclists here in Denmark who are not doing a lot of cadence work. And also cyclist at a very, very high level, we are relatively good these days. The nice roads.

Rob Pickels  38:23

I was going to point that out.

Dr. Ernst Hansen  38:27

And many of you cyclists, they are just doing many, many hours on the bike. Of course, they are also doing intervals. These days, where you only do the hours we are doing integrals, of course. But they are doing many, many hours just sitting there, and just not thinking about what they are doing. Which means using their freely chosen cadence. And many of these cyclists, they are good. But I think they could be better. And one way to improve as a cyclist, for a lot of them, of course, some overtraining, they shouldn’t do more intensity, and you can find these examples. But for many, many of these cyclists, it’s about doing intensity. And a part of intensity is also doing cadence work. So if you do low cadence, you have more recruitment of type two fibers, which you could also term as kind of an intensity effort. If you do high cadence, you put more pressure on the energy systems on your oxygen uptake and your heart and blood flow. So, again, back to what I touched upon in the beginning. Since cycling is so many hours just sitting there, away to improvement is to do variation. And cadence work is variation. And I believe in that. I think it’s very important to consider also for the mental part, ecause there’s inspiration to do something that you didn’t do before and you find out, maybe you like it. Or maybe it stimulates something that you are not particularly good at. You only find out if you try out new things. But we don’t have a lot of research to back it up.

Trevor Connor  40:21

As a professional cyclist, Alex Howes does both low and high cadence work. He gives his reasons and cites many of the same benefits that Dr. Hansen just talked about.

Alex Howes  40:32

I like to trend probably slightly higher than what people would call, the quote, unquote, world world average or something like that. I find that coming from altitude, and racing at sea level, and even cardiovascularly speaking I’m pretty fit. But in general, I don’t have the same strength adaptation that you’d have from training and racing at sea level. So I find that a higher cadence shifts the burden from the muscles to the cardiovascular system a bit. And that’s not something that I just find, that’s real science there. So I tend to spend a little bit more, when I’m at sea level. That said, it is a bit of the inverse at altitude. The higher you go the more smashing the gears a little bit more makes a bit of sense. Just to sort of do the opposite, and spare the cardiovascular system. Alittle bit of that burden and shift more of it to the muscles.

Trevor Connor  41:31

That kind of leads me to my second part of the question, which is, do you do any low cadence or high cadence training? Is that something that you focus on?

Alex Howes  41:39

Yeah, I do quite a bit of both, actually. For racing and sea level, I’ll do a fair bit of high torque, high resistance efforts. Just because I know that the strain on the muscular systems quite a bit higher down at sea level, versus altitude. And then high cadence, I think is something that people really take for granted. I mean, the sort of souplesse, and art of pedaling has kind of gone out the window in recent years. I think a lot of it has to do with swift and these other sort of on the trainer erg mode, just get on and make the power and then get off. There’s a lot of efficiency to be gained in having a good pedal stroke. And I think doing high cadence work is one of the best. And one of the easiest ways to help you find that souplesse.

Rob Pickels  42:34

Unfortunately, it looks like Jonas had a little bit of an oopsie in the tour of the Basque Country. So he’s going to be spending a lot of time on the trainer coming up. And maybe you need to reach out and give them some suggestions here.

High Cadence Training

Trevor Connor  42:45

So let’s shift gears here and go to high cadence training. And I will say in the research, there seems to be less evidence for the benefits of high cadence training. But something I’m going to point out is, there’s a big difference between amateurs and pros here. Pros a tend to have a much higher, freely chosen cadence. And more importantly, in an amateur cyclists, when they go to higher cadences, they become far less efficient. They’re burning a lot more energy. You don’t see that with pros. Pros actually seem to be able to maintain their efficiency at higher cadence. Is that just genetics? Or is that because they do high cadence training? So what’s your feeling on this?

Dr. Ernst Hansen  43:35

I don’t know. Are you referring to some studies for that? Or?

Trevor Connor  43:41

Yeah, I saw it in a few. So I pulled it out of two places. But I admit, it’s more coming out of review. So I don’t know the original studies. But that one that we were just talking about, of the study that did the flat and the uphill time trials, led by Dr. Craig Williams. That study raised it. But in particular, looking at a 2021 review led by Dr. Adrian Mater, that brought up the fact that you tended to see pros maintain their efficiency at higher cadences. So it says here, it was concluded that the higher efficiency at a higher cadence is one of the main adaptations of professional cyclists.

Dr. Ernst Hansen  44:21

Well, it’s a statement, but I’m not sure I can remember that I have seen the studies that should be behind that statement. And it might be that I’m just not aware of it. But at least I know that there’s not a lot of studies done, as I said before, on these high performance cyclists. So I don’t know. But even among the best performing professional cyclists, you still have this relatively large difference in their freely chosen cadence. So you still have some who are doing a time trial for example, at 90 RPM. And then you’ll have others doing it at 105, or maybe even higher. And you can also find examples of cyclists who are doing it at low of a 90 RPM and performing at approximately the same level. So you also have this difference. But it might be that if you take a group of professional cyclists and compare them to a group of amateur cyclists, it might be that they are a little bit higher in VR cadences that they use. And maybe they are also more efficient. But I don’t think it’s a big difference. Actually, if you should compare these groups of athletes, I don’t think it’s a big difference. I think they’re very similar.

Trevor Connor  45:40

That’s really interesting. I was just citing some studies, you’ve been researching this for years. I’m definitely going to trust your opinion far more than mine. But I find that really fascinating. One thing I will throw out though, and I believe you raise this in one of your reviews, is the fact that when you are in a race, race is highly variable in pace. You have to be able to respond to attacks. You have to be able to respond to moves. If you’re grinding away at 60 RPM and somebody attacks, by the time you get up to speed, they’re gonna be up the road. So even if it’s less efficient, to be able to race you do need to be able to learn to ride at a higher cadence. So I wonder if pros are willing to sacrifice a little bit of the efficiency so that they can be more responsive and actually, effectively race a race? Do you feel there’s any truth to that?

Dr. Ernst Hansen  46:32

No, no, I totally agree. I think that if you cannot respond, then you’re out of the race. You lag behind. So you need to be able to respond. But that’s it. If you look at the long state races, like the three week states races, you have a very relatively predictable regime every day. So you go intensively in the beginning of the states. Then there’s a breakaway that goes and then things settle down until the final. And once things have settled down and on to the final stats, it’s often two or maybe even three hours of cycling where absolutely nothing happens. And you don’t need to be able to respond to any attack at all. And my point is in these two to three hours, in these particular stages where this is the case, you can actually save a lot of energy if you pedal at a lower cadence. And we know that one of the issues in these long stage races is the accumulated energy turnover day after day after day. So if you can save a little bit every day, you can end up performing better after two or three weeks because you have saved energy. And riders are aware of that in the way they live and in the way they relax after status. And they are very much aware that they have to save energy and relax. But this is just another place where they could save some energy. It’s in these two or three hours where nothing happens. They could go at a lower cadence and they could actually deplete their muscle fibers less from glycogen and then be more ready the day after.

Trevor Connor  48:19

Let’s hear from coach Houshang Amiri, who agrees we need lower cadence for efficiency but higher cadence to win.

Houshang Amiri  48:27

I feel both of them are super necessary. Low cadence has different purpose of it. And high cadence as well. Each of them gives different quality to the riding economy and strength component for the process. 

Trevor Connor  48:43

So what do you feel is the benefit of each? What’s the benefit of high cadence work?

Houshang Amiri  48:48

What I find even with athletes, they are fit. When I give them low cadence – gear combination for four hours, by the end of the ride all of them say what the heart rate was. One of them is on a national team track program. He said, “My back hurts.” So the benefit from lower speed. Number one is really focus on your pedaling efficiency, and work on your strength. It helps trying to keep the training within zone two. And then when it comes to high cadence one of the things I do on most of the group rides are, when we are riding every 15 minutes to 20 minutes, everyone had to accelerate. We call it spin out. Basically this 30 seconds spin out is full on with the lightest score possible. And is working on your neuromuscular adaptation. And also as a cyclist everyone has to know how to sprint. And if you cannot spin your legs, doesn’t matter how much strength you have in your legs. You’re not going to do anything on sprinting. And it benefits depending on what we’re looking for. There are lots of benefits from both of them. And as probably, you know, Trevor, that I train only junior athletes up somewhere between 120 to 110, 220 RPM. They have to be able to function with that cadence. Just knowing there’s a gear restriction, they cannot put on 55-11. They’re stuck with 52-15. And if they cannot spend that in 120 class, they’re not going to go anywhere.

Trevor Connor  50:42

So are pros doing this?

Dr. Ernst Hansen  50:45

I don’t think so. 

Trevor Connor  50:46

Yeah, I was gonna say I don’t think they they do that.

Dr. Ernst Hansen  50:49

No. But this is where our study from 2006 that we talked about before. It was very surprising that the these athletes were feeling less exhausted after two and a half hour at their low, energetically optimal cadence. So this study and the follow up style study by Sapiens, these studies are just waiting to be applied in the peloton. But when I suggest something like this, the response that I almost always get is no, no, no, you should be able to respond. If you apply a high cadence during this stage, you will perform better in definer because your legs are ready. It makes your legs ready if you pedal at a high cadence during this stage. This is the response I get always. I can only say, okay, possibly. But we have done a study that shows the opposite. So it’s very a conservative sport, and this is touching upon a history. It’s also touching upon the fitness. You look at a rider cycling and you see that some cyclists, they are looking good. They are sitting good on the bike, they are pedaling at a cadence that you think looks – can you follow me? And it touches upon something. The nerve, some of the nerves in cycling. When you suggest that you should pedal at a much lower cadence even but it’s only for a part of the race. People are very, very sensitive to it. Unfortunately, I think.

Trevor Connor  52:30

So Dr. Hansen, I actually you asked me for some studies that were showing this. And I did find one that was an interesting study. This was led by Dr. Andrew Chapman called the patterns of leg muscle recruitment vary between novice and highly trained cyclists from 2006. And this is where they put novice and professional cyclists on trainers, and had them ride at different cadences. And were measuring their EMG activity. And they saw two differences between the pros and the amateurs. One was, as cadence got higher, you saw a very large increase in EMG activity in the amateurs that you didn’t see in the pros. The other thing they saw was much greater co activation in novice cyclists. For our listeners, that’s when you have muscles that shouldn’t be firing at the same time firing at the same time and actually reducing your power impacting your ability to pedal efficiently and effectively. So that would be my question to you. Is some of the high cadence training? Is there a neuro muscular effect where it’s reducing coactivation teaching you to do better muscle firing patterns?

Dr. Ernst Hansen  53:37

Yes, I believe that. And so it’s training of technique. If you dismount the chain of your bike cycle and just try to pedal the crank as fast as possible, there will be a maximum, right? So you will reach a maximum where you cannot coordinate the pedaling anymore. So if we consider that you train that fast pedaling, then of course, you would be better at that. So that’s neuromuscular coordination, training. But whether you need to be able to do that in a race, I don’t know. But again, I would not be afraid of doing that. I would actually welcome it. Again, if not, for other reasons, then just for the various variation in your training. So it’s not harmful at all. It will introduce some variation in your training that you would perhaps find stimulating, or maybe fine, but the four hours that you have to do is less boring than it was if you didn’t do it. But we don’t have much research data to support that there’s a big performance enhancement in that kind of fast pedaling training. I don’t think so.

Trevor Connor  54:58

It may just be believed But let’s hear again from Neil Henderson who feels there is a neuromuscular component to high cadence work.

Neil Henderson  55:07

So cadence, and specifically high cadence, requires a little bit of different activation from neuromuscular side of things. There’s going to be a higher frequency of contraction going on. So neuromuscular coordination becomes more important in terms of firing the correct muscles at the right time. A lot of times you’ll get co-contraction, meaning that you’ll become less efficient actually at high cadence until you train and develop those neural pathways to be able to pedal more and more quickly. This is something that can be improved, but it does take some time and effort to do so. There is absolutely a physiologic cost of pedaling at higher cadences. We’ve actually done some testing where we did zero watts, but at starting at 60 RPM going up 20 RPM, but continuing at a zero watt load. And seen a pretty significant – we got we got up to I think close to 50% VO2 max at zero watts at over 120-140 RPM. It’s pretty wild, the cost. We also did a little something with presenter Ty Richardson from GCNm a couple years ago, going from 60 RPM to 120 RPM and showing him the oxygen cost effects. And also the increase in carbohydrate utilization, even at the same power at that higher cadence. Because of the shorter time of contraction, greater reliance on fast twitch muscle fibers compared to a slow twitch muscle fiber.

Determining Optimal Cadence

Rob Pickels  56:35

So I would love to know, it seems like so far we’ve talked about with training, there are times that low cadence might be beneficial. With training, high cadence may or may not be beneficial. But with performance, a lower cadence certainly seems beneficial in a lot of situations. I would love to know what’s optimal, right? Because I’m already thinking, “Okay, on my next bike ride, I need to go out and I need to lower my cadence when I’m doing base work.” And as you were just speaking, I was looking through some workout files. What do I even write at? And I’m oftentimes at base, I’m in the mid 80s. And around threshold, I’m in the low 90s. And when I’m closer to VO2 I’m at 100. So I’m like, “Oh, man, do I need to go out and ride at 75 today?” When we talk about optimal, how do we determine optimal for somebody?

Dr. Ernst Hansen  57:27

Yeah. When we do it, we do it in the lab, and we measure oxygen uptake. So what we see is that if we add the same intensity at the same power output. To cadences from 40 to 110, for example, you get a U shaped relationship. So you have a minimum oxygen uptake, and it’s individual. So you have a minimum and then you have a U shaped relationship, right. So you have higher values at the very low cadence and at the very high cadence. And when you have an optimum in the bottom of the U, it’s individual. So the minimum can be at 16 for one person, and it can be at eight for another person. Or you could get the idea that okay, it’s not easy to measure oxygen uptake, and especially not on the road. So I could look at my heart rate. But unfortunately, you don’t get as clear a U shape if you look at the heart rate. So you actually need to measure oxygen uptake to be able to establish or find out what is the energetically optimal cadence. You need to measure oxygen uptake. So you can have that done in a test lab. And this is what we have done many many times in our research.

Rob Pickels  58:51

Fortunately for us, that’s the next room over.

Ryan Kohler  58:58

The more you measure training data, the more important understanding it becomes.

Trevor Connor  59:02

In our advanced performance data analysis pathway, we move beyond the basics to explore more complex data analysis. We help you navigate complex techniques so you don’t get lost in the numbers.

Ryan Kohler  59:12

This pathway features Tim Cusick, Dirk Friel, Armando Mastracci, coach Dean Gaulish, Joe Dombrowski, Trevor Connor, Dr. Steven Shown and me, Ryan Kohler. We also explore advanced features of WKO, training peaks, exert and intervals ICU.

Trevor Connor  59:27

We use the term deep dive a lot around here, but this is our deepest dive yet into performance data analysis. Follow our advanced performance data analysis pathway at

Trevor Connor  59:44

So if you were a coach and working with aspiring cyclists, would you give them cadence work? And what sort of cadence work would you give them?

Dr. Ernst Hansen  59:58

Yeah, I would do that. When you ask that I’m just thinking about what happens, at least in Denmark. So when kids start cycling, in Denmark, at least it was like that before, I’m not sure now. But at least before, it was single speed bicycles. Which means that they could go fast. But it required also that they move their legs very fast. And they did that for a number of years until they were allowed to mount gears on their bicycles. And that has been the training regime for many, many famous Danish cyclists that we have had throughout the history. They have spent years as kids cycling at a very high cadence. So they have done it, because we were forced to do it. But this is not an a scientific experiment, right? That’s just an anecdote. It’s just how it was. But yeah, I would recommend it. But I think what I believe in mostly, if you are talking about what kind of cadence focused exercise is beneficial, effective, then I would point at something similar to what we did the intensive sprint cycling. So you could consider it as a functional strength training. It’s also because we know that strength training is really effective in terms of performance enhancement. So I would go that way, rather than thinking that what we do at submaximal. Intensity is important, I don’t think it’s so important. I think intensity is important. And in that kind of training, you could also focus on the cadence.

Trevor Connor  1:01:44

I’ll admit, after I read your study about that sort of sprint work, Rob and I have always had this debate about whether you do high intensity very early in the season, like in December and January. And after I read your study, that’s one of the things I give my athletes. If I have them on the trainer, it’s basically put in their biggest gear and come almost to a stop. Then just try to sprint in that enormously difficult gear and it just takes everything to turn over the cranks.

Rob Pickels  1:02:13

And there certainly are studies, I don’t remember them off the top of my head that have shown improvement in performance when sprints are included into base work like that. So yeah, I think that we can certainly say that’s helpful.

Dr. Ernst Hansen  1:02:28

And one thing you should consider if you’re doing something like that is the duration of the sprints. So if the focus is on fiber type recruitment and strength and peak power, that duration of sprint should not be very long. So you should not build up a lot of lactate. So it’s not that kind of lactate tolerance training we are talking about. So it’s shorter, it’s below 10 seconds, right? For each effort. So you don’t really even get to feel the lactate burning, because then it’s another kind of training. That can also be good. But it’s another kind of training than what I’m talking about here.

Rob Pickels  1:03:14

Guys, I think that we’ve covered a lot of really amazing information today. And one thing that we touched on is the U shape of optimal oxygen consumption where at the optimal, you’re at the bottom of the U and as you pedal too fast, your oxygen consumption for the same workload increases. But that also implies that as you pedal slower, your oxygen consumption also increases. And we’ve given that recommendation of, slower cadence is probably better energetically. But obviously, there is a point where is slow is too slow and no such thing.

Trevor Connor  1:03:53

35 RPM, you’re getting to my happy place. I love going up a climb and a 53-12.

Rob Pickels  1:03:59

Tell Trevor what’s happening to him when he’s riding at 35 RPM that makes it less efficient and why he shouldn’t do it. Tell him. Tell him he’s wrong. 

Trevor Connor  1:04:08

What’s happened to me is I’m just in a joyous mood.

Dr. Ernst Hansen  1:04:13

Well, I think that compared to the freely chosen cadence, which is the most comfortable for people, of course. Then if you go below that, let’s say it’s 70 for one subject. This is a very average and common freely chosen cadence at a submaximal intensity. Then if you go to 60, if you go to 50, then you start feeling it really, really awkward. And I think you would have to go to maybe even 40 before the energy turnover starts to rise again. So yeah, so I wouldn’t be concerned about that, what you’re talking about. Because for most people, I think they would have to go so low that they would stop. They went so low before the energy. But we can do this, of course. We do these things in the lab within our experiments. And then we can ask people to do whatever. And we can ask them to do 30 RPM or 35, or something like that, and we can get our measurements. But in practice, if you ask people to go low, then most people would not go so low. That inner teacher know that you would be on the upgoing leg of the U again, and turnover starts to increase again. I think.

Rob Pickels  1:05:38

I mean, he did say 40, Trevor, and you did say 35. 

Trevor Connor  1:05:41

One thing I will tell you, one effect. I did this on a climb with one of my training buddies.

Rob Pickels  1:05:47

Were you using power cranks? I need to know that first.

Trevor Connor  1:05:49

No I was not using power cranks. But I was turning over ridiculously low cadence and he’s sitting on my wheel going up this climb. And his comment at the top was, “That was the best draft ever. You did not vary your pace at all.” So that’s the one effect. 

Rob Pickels  1:06:09

I love it. 

Take Homes

Trevor Connor  1:06:10

Well, Dr. Hansen, we didn’t cover half of what I wanted to cover with you. So maybe this is a hope that we can get you back on the show. I was fascinated by your whole description of crank inertial load. Which was fascinating to me and I hope to have that conversation another time. But unfortunately, I think we need to wrap this up. So since you’re new to the show, the way we finish every episode is with what we call our one minute take homes. Which is we each have one minute. As you can see here, we have a timer. It’s a five minute timer. So it’s no use whatsoever. 

Rob Pickels  1:06:44

I’ve always wondered why we have a five minute timer. 

Trevor Connor  1:06:46

But you have one minute to say what you think is the most important thing for our audience to take from this episode. So take a couple seconds to think about it. And then we’ll start with you.

Dr. Ernst Hansen  1:06:59

Okay, well, I have at least two points. I think variation in training is very, very important. To be able to maintain the training, to be able to find the joy and keep the motivation. And cadence work is a brilliant way to introduce variation in your training. So that is one reason for doing that. Even that we perhaps need more research results to support that there’s a performance improvement from it. But there was one point, and another point is that I hope that more athletes and coaches are more open minded to trying out some new things. I think it’s very similar to when aerobar was introduced by Greg LeMond in the tour many years ago. Where it had existed in triathlon for many, many years. It took too many years until the focus came on aerodynamics in cycling. And that’s another example of how conservative the sport is. So I think that a lot of things have happened. Training wise in elite cycling, I think there’s still room for improvement. And this could be an issue here, or this could be a field of focusing on the cadence work.

Trevor Connor  1:08:28

Rob, you want to go next?

Rob Pickels  1:08:30

I feel as though I’ve been vindicated. And this episode, I’m choosing to believe that I was right. I don’t know. No, I will say it’s a fascinating conversation. I do think that there is room – especially Dr. Hansen, as you were pointing out, for just making sure that there’s variation in your training. And I know that I’m somebody who I can sit on the trainer found out some base miles get really locked into one specific cadence. And that using something like a cadence variation is actually a way to get some variation into your legs. And that that’s probably good for a stimulus. And I am currently – and Trevor I’ll show it to you – I am updating some base workouts with some sprints and training peaks right now. So I think we can incorporate some of this, but definitely a lot of learning from me. So thank you.

Trevor Connor  1:09:16

Well, so my take home is pros do a ton of cadence work. I am a coach that works a ton of cadence work in with my athletes. But you know, the science isn’t that strong here. So there’s things that we look back on that athletes were doing 40 years ago, and we say, can you believe they were doing that? And I worry a little bit that this is a thing. In 30-40 years from now we’re going to look back on and go can you believe what they were doing? So maybe you, sort of indicating you here Rob, but I still believe in it. I still think there’s a value to it. And my assessment based on the little research I’ve read and Dr. Hansen, you’ve read a lot more than me. And the research, the evidence isn’t strong. So this is more gut than me being able to say, there is definitive research behind this. My feeling is the low cadence work does seem to produce some physiological gains. But I think you need to do the high cadence work because you have to be able to ride at a high cadence in those key moments in a race. And if you don’t train that, the co-activation is going to be high, the EMG activity is going to be high and it’s going to fatigue you a lot quicker. So you need to prepare your legs to be able to handle that.

Rob Pickels  1:10:31

I think the other side of this too and Dr. Hansen, correct me if I’m wrong. I have not seen anything that shows cadence work, either high or low is detrimental to performance. So choosing to do this, even if it’s just because you like it, it’s not going to make you worse, and maybe that’s a great reason for it to make you better.

Trevor Connor  1:10:51

Which is probably where I’m at because going up a climb at 35-40 RPM is just joy for me.

Rob Pickels  1:10:56

Do you just have a passion for weird flogging yourself?

Trevor Connor  1:11:03

Well, Dr. Hanson, real joy having you on the show. Thanks for joining us.

Dr. Ernst Hansen  1:11:07

You’re welcome and I enjoyed it very much too.

Trevor Connor  1:11:10

That was another episode of Fast Talk. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual. Subscribe to Fast Talk wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcast. Be sure to leave us a rating and review. As always, we love your feedback. Tweet us at @fasttalklabs. Join the conversation on our forums, Or learn from our experts at For Dr. Ernst Hansen, Alex Howes, Brent Bookwalter, Dr. Ben Ronnestad, Houshang Amiri, Neil Henderson and Rob Pickles. I’m Trevor Connor. Thanks for listening.