When and Why is High Cadence Too High?

Following my previous article on what I believe to be the number one error that indoor cycling instructors make – cadence that is too high, I got a few comments, emails and Facebook challenges to what I said. This is great – I appreciate all questions, challenges and input. I don’t want everyone to just categorically agree with me “just because”. If you wonder why I am saying what I say, ask me! Challenge me!

But I do want to clarify: I am not saying you should never pedal faster than 100rpm. I’m not saying I don’t believe in cadences above 100rpm or that there aren’t instances when it is appropriate to pedal quickly. But what I am saying is that far too many instructors pedal faster than 100rpm too often, without the supporting resistance underneath. I am suggesting that they do this because they do not know the science behind pedaling a bike. Cycling is a pure and beautiful manifestation of the laws of physics, laws that have been studied and very well understood for over a century.


  1. I totally believe in your opinion, and it reminds me of my spinning course in Egypt, taught by a great German instructor. He gave us a great example of real road resistance test. He asked us to reach the 100 and maintain it for 30 sec then take off our leg from the shoe case hold it out, count how many sec it takes the flywheel to stop.I guess that was a great example of a real road resistance. He had a suggested amount of time for each cadence on a flat road. If the flywheel takes longer to stop, so we better load few more hair.

  2. Colleen,
    thanks for the suggestion. I could see how that would be really beneficial. I know sometimes the thought processes in students minds go something like “who are you to tell me that when such-and-such instructor tells us to pedal as fast as we possibly can and I think that’s fun so I’m going to ignore you.”

    I’m happy to take all the blame! (The blame for proper effective and safe pedaling).

    I will see what I can put together. Anyone got any graphics and layout skills? I could make a pdf out of a word doc, but it would be nice if it had some flash to it!

  3. Jennifer, I love this information — and I wish I had an easy way to offer this to my students (beyond just speaking to it in class).

    I’d really like to have a nice 1 page flyer that I could give the riders and post in my gym on pedaling speed efficiency and safe RPM levels. Is there anyway the ICA team could put together (a nice PDF, perhaps) that we’d be allowed to reproduce. I’d love that! I would also love to have a separate one that talks about Power. And possibly other bits. Basically taking your wisdom but putting it out there so I can say to students “oh you don’t believe me about cadence, check this out” for the general student/rider population rather than instructor population. I hope you’ll consider this 🙂
    Thanks, Colleen

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