Cadence drills to improve pedalling efficiency: 25-minute indoor cycling workout

This session rotates between spinning and grinding cadences, helping to activate different muscles

Clock11:36, Thursday 2nd November 2023

GCN’s Conor Dunne leads this week’s workout, which regularly rotates between different cadences to help improve pedalling efficiency.

During each four-minute interval, the first minute will be spent at 60 revolutions per minute (rpm), which will then rise to 110 rpm for the next minute, before that cycle is repeated.

There’s a two-minute break between each interval so that you can recapture your rhythm ahead of the next set.

Ideally for this session you’ll need an indoor bike, smart trainer or exercise bike which provides cadence data, a fan to keep you cool, plus plenty of water to keep hydrated.

Why is pedalling efficiency important for cyclists?

An efficient pedal stroke has multiple benefits. It is crucial for ensuring that each pedal revolution delivers the maximum amount of power possible. An inefficient pedal stroke is also often a leading cause of wear-and-tear injuries, especially to the knees.

Ideally, your knees should pump up and down like pistons, but many riders lose control of their pedal stroke, especially when fatigue kicks in, causing their knees to angle inwards or outwards.

By targeting more extreme cadences, both lower and higher than a cyclist would usually ride at, muscles begin to adapt to the unique demands. This will lead to better control when riding at a more regular cadence, which for most cyclists is in the 80-90 rpm range.

Read more: Strength training for cyclists: is it worth it?

Ramped warm up for six minutes

To start things off, follow Conor’s lead by spinning out the legs through a six-minute warm up. This ramps up slightly every one to two minutes before climaxing with a 6/10 effort. We’re not targeting cadence just yet, so stick to a comfortable rpm around the 80 mark.

Four-minute intervals with rotating cadence

The main session is based around three four-minute intervals. Follow Conor’s lead as the cadence during each session changes between 60 and 110 rpm.

Top Tip

Top tip: Try to steady your cadence back to a normal level during the two-minute break between intervals. This can be hard after spinning at 110 rpm, so make a conscious effort to slow things down.

Cool down with one last effort

Once the final interval is finished, the hard part is over…nearly. After a two-minute easy spin, we’ve added a final one-minute 100 rpm effort in, before finishing things off with one minute of easy spinning.

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