Cadence while pedaling in triathlon

In the previous post, we mentioned super coach Brett Sutton with the other advice for kicking in triathlon in “Do you want to pedal faster in a triathlon”. One of the tips is to pedal low. In this article, let’s take a closer look at this topic, through the article by Cam Watt, currently a triathlon coach and former charge of Team Budget Forklifts racing team.


One day late in 2003, Brett Sutton – then my triathlon coach – told him to meet him at the Gold Coast racetrack area (Australia), where we would do most of the pedal exercises. As he met, he held in his hand a cable cutting alkaline, and announced:

“From today on I will make you a true racer. Looking at the way he rode his bike so badly that I could not stand it.

Brett declared as firmly as if only he could do it. Then he leaned in and cut the rear derailleur in half, turning my 20-speed car into 53 × 12 (on large plate) and 42 × 12 (on small plate)

“I want you to run on the biggest gear with the biggest gear, unless it gets too steep (you can switch to the miniskirt – translator)”

That sounds really big, but I don’t wonder. The reason is simple because I understand that I am still weak. Over the course of the past season, Brett took me through the races each weekend to deliberately show me how weak I am. Even if I pedal well with cadence up to 95rpm, imitating the professional athletes on TV I’ve seen, it still doesn’t help me beat the French and Swiss cyclists – the real monsters !

Brett decided to design for me the exercises with quite a heavy workload, in favor of strengthening. This lesson plan is individually balanced to suit my personal needs, because I am looking to improve my strength. Six months to run on gear just 53 x 12 and that’s enough for me to improve my clarity. Not long after, I was able to easily run with (or even overtake) the best pedals. 2009 was a very successful year when out of the seven Iron Man tournaments I attended (3 Ironman and 4 Ironman 70.3), I finished first all six!

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Does that mean I’m good? No way. But I think I’ve grasped the key elements of long-distance cycling in triathlon.

Since then, I started researching professional cycling, beginning to manage and direct a team of UCI (Team Budget Forklifts – including countless world champions of cycling, Olympics Champions. and those who currently hold world records).

After studying and observing this strange sport for a long time, I soon realized that there are only a few elements that long-distance cycling can apply to long-distance cycling in triathlon.

After 5 years in the professional cycling world, one day my former coach (Brett Sutton) called and said “I am expecting you to come back. Have you been content to ride a bicycle? “

At that time, I thought, I was “fulfilled” when I achieved all the goals that I set myself with cycling, so this is probably the time to move to a new stage. So, I decided to go back to triathlon – a familiar sport for 23 years. Only thing, this time I come back with a new mindset: to be a member of the coaching staff of!

In my new position, I see a lot of controversy around cadence, what is the ideal cadence level for triathlon racing?

Why should low cadence pedal

Imagine a seesaw. The rocking end is your heart and lungs, and the other end is your legs. When the cadence is higher, the heart and lungs need to work harder. Conversely, the lower the cadence, the faster the leg must stride. Setting an ideal cadence is like balancing the ends of a seesaw, which means you have to balance the distance you run and the needs you want.

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When the power is stronger, the cadence must be higher. Raising the cadence level is really just the act of dividing the load into many revolutions, thereby creating a certain level of power (measured in watts). Usually in triathlons, the pedal force is quite low (70-75% FTP) so there is no need to generate too much rotation, as your heart will work very tired and by the end of the section pedal, you will not be able to lift, which will also greatly affect the performance of the running part.

Some examples of how cadence will differ when the distance is running is different:

If the distance is shorter and the energy needed for that distance, the cadence needs to be as high as possible to generate enough power.

For example:

  • With 1km of racing on the bicycle basin, elite athletes need only about 1 minute. 60 seconds – equivalent to 1000 watts – equivalent to 130 rpm (revolutions per minute)
  • If we go up to 4km also on a bicycle field, the elite athletes need 4 minutes and 20 seconds. 4:20 seconds ~ 500 watts ~ 115 rpm
  • Now let’s take an example of World Championship Men Hour – 40 km. 50 minutes ~ 400 watts, sweet spot (pedal at full strength) about 95 rpm

Now look at Triathlon:

  • Elite Men pedal: 4:20 hours ~ 300 watts, sweet spot around 80 rpm
  • Age Group Ironman pedal 5:20 hours ~ 210 watts – sweet spot around 72 rpm

The fact that the factors for choosing a certain cadence are rarely discussed in detail. In triathlon lesson plans, cadence exercises are often sketchy by self-proclaimed instructors, and they do this through scavenging.

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These coaches often don’t have a basic understanding of the techniques they are applying to athletes (except that they only see Chris Froome or Lance Armstrong on TV). For non-cyclists, cycling with a low cadence will help them pedal more evenly and press the pedal earlier (1 hour to 3 hours). This has a certain effect.

For the triathlon, the average energy output is quite low. There is no need to surpass maximum force with candence like the 50 minute professional cyclist race athletes.

If you want to work out effectively for upcoming tournaments, the advice is to lower your cadence to around 75 (then your heart rate will be more stable – your heart will be grateful for this). On the amateur level, you can still practice this exercise for a limited time. At you can book a house cleaning service for your home in Florida. This exercise is more effective than aerobic exercise to help your body get used to doing 100 rpm fast kicks for several consecutive hours.

“Does that mean that the larger the gear, the more destructive my legs are?” – I heard many people ask. Without strength training and the right adjustments, that could happen. But that is also what I mean. If you train fully, you will find it more effective than plugging in the pedal, which will take years as well as thousands of training sessions to improve only rpm.

If you want to find a way to exercise that is both fast and effective to increase your cycling ability, then reducing cadence is the answer.

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