How important is a cadence to cycling?

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When a novice just starts riding a bicycle, he will encounter such confusion during the riding process. What is the difference between high and low cadence? What cadence is suitable for racing? What cadence is suitable for everyday cycling? How to choose my cadence? Let’s talk about why cadence is so important from multiple perspectives.

1. Increase cadence, lower anaerobic consumption, and let you ride farther

Let us first understand our leg muscles. In fact, in high or low-cadence cycling, it is mainly related to two muscle fibers, that is, fast-twitch fibers and slow-twitch fibers. They correspond to the emphasis on muscle power There are two different directions from emphasizing cardiorespiratory capacity, and their characteristics are as follows:

Slow-twitch fibers:
–Mainly provide energy by burning fat, even a very thin driver has a lot of energy that can be continuously supplied.
–Very anti-fatigue
–Quick recovery when resting

Fast-twitch fibers:
— Burn glycogen for fuel. This glycogen is stored in the muscles and is in relatively short supply, with about 2,000 calories of energy for a well-trained, energetic athlete.
–Producing lactic acid is easy to fatigue.
— It takes a long time to recover.

Now there are two riders, A and B, who weigh the same, ride the same bike, have the same aerodynamics, and ride at the same speed on a flat road. Now we control all the variables in rides A and B, so, in theory, their outputs should be the same.

However, A is riding at a cadence of 70RPM, and B is riding at a cadence of 110RPM. A’s pedaling style determines that he needs to use more force for each pedal, but he pedals faster than driver B. Fewer times, Rider B is pedaling with lighter power, but more often.

Relatively speaking, the cycling cadence of A will mobilize more fast-twitch fibers, while B will mobilize more slow-twitch fibers.

As we have learned, the energy supply of fast-twitch fibers is limited, while the energy supply of slow-twitch fibers is fat, which can supply almost unlimited energy. Let us recall that everyone who is new to cycling hopes that they can Ride farther and burn more fat, so it is conceivable that a higher cadence cycling habit can make your ride longer and farther.

2. Practice and improve your pedaling efficiency

“When the pedals are at the bottom, you should focus on pulling the pedals back, as if you’re scrubbing mud off the soles of your shoes.” You’ve all heard this phrase when you first started riding, and it’s a profession One of rider Greg LeMond’s summaries of his pedaling skills.

We all know that stepping on the pedals during cycling is a circular motion. In an ideal state, at any point of stepping, the direction of the force exerted by both feet is in the tangential direction of the circumference, which is the most efficient, which is what we often hear. round”. But this is a very idealized state. From the picture above, we can see that people cannot guarantee to apply force on the “tangent line” at any time during the pedaling process, and the component force between the driver’s force application direction and the tangential direction is also It is our “useless work” (power loss), so the meaning of pedaling efficiency is to let your body output as much power as possible to push the bicycle forward.

Most riders keep LeMond’s pedaling technique of wiping the mud off the soles firmly in their minds, and it’s been mentioned over and over in many articles. Often overlooked is the second part of LeMond’s pedaling technique – pushing the knee toward the bars. In fact, these two suggestions are basically teaching how to let the driver pass through the upper and lower “dead spots” smoothly and improve pedaling efficiency.

So how does cadence training improve pedaling efficiency? Usually, the cadence at the beginning of the training will be kept at around 60rpm. At this time, the driver can focus on “drawing a circle”, and then gradually increase the cadence. Repeated training in this way can exercise the driver’s muscle memory of “drawing a circle”, which Increased pedaling efficiency for everyday riding.

3. reduce knee wear

A novice often tells me that his knee hurts when riding a bicycle. The knee pain here is what we often call the “meniscus” wear.

The meniscus of the knee joint is fibrocartilage tissue, which is wedge-shaped with a thick periphery and a thin inner edge. It is half-moon-shaped when viewed from the plane, and is called a meniscus; it fills between the femoral condyle and the tibial condyle, and can enhance the stability of the knee joint. . The structural and functional characteristics of the meniscus determine that it is one of the most vulnerable tissues in the knee joint.

For novices who are just starting to ride, the ligaments and muscles around the knees are not strong enough. In the “fast muscle fibers” we mentioned above, which emphasizes muscle strength, that is, the low-cadence cycling method, the novice’s knee muscles will be accelerated. Fatigue, when the ligaments and muscles have difficulty supporting the normal activities of the knee joint, your stepping can easily cause the wear of the meniscus.

From another angle, it may be easier for everyone to understand. In machinery, all high-torque and low-speed operations will increase wear and tear, including our bicycle chains and flywheels. Therefore, even machinery is the same, so why not our knee joints?

Therefore, through good cadence training, you can exercise and strengthen your knees, and at the same time, you can avoid wear and tear on the meniscus through correct cadence habits during daily cycling.

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