What is Cadence in Cycling? Guide for Beginners

In the world of sports and athletes, it’s important to always want to improve and become the best version of yourself. However, when urging to take things to the next level, the right knowledge is often important in order to avoid any issues, injuries, or unwanted scenarios. The same can be said for both professional cyclists, amateurs, or hobbyists. Of course, it’s always better to have one of the best road bikes out there, but it’s also important to know what you are doing and always strive for improvement.

One important term to know about in the cycling world is known as cadence. This is something you will want to know about, learn how to control, improve, and measure. This is exactly what this article will focus on explaining. So, let’s discuss the essentials of cycling cadence for beginners and why it is important to know about it.

What is Cadence in Cycling?

cyclists racing on bicycles

To put it simply, the term cadence in the cycling world refers to the number of rotations the bicycle crank experiences during a unit of time, which is usually 1 minute. This is why the measurement unit is typically RPM – revolutions per minute. Many often confuse this with the number of times the wheels rotate during one minute, which would be wrong.

So, the first thing you need to remember about cadence is that the revolutions per minute refer to the crank or the pedals, not the wheels themselves. However, even though it doesn’t depend on the wheels, cycling cadence does have connections to the rate they turn with as well. Knowing the RPM of the wheels at the same time will make cadence measurements more accurate. Another thing that also helps out with accuracy here is knowing the gear you are currently pedaling with as well.

Let’s say that you are turning the pedals 60 times during one minute, this would give you a cadence of 60RPM. This number is fairly low for professional cyclists, as their usual cadence rating is around 100RPM and even higher in certain cases. However, before we discuss how to improve this, we need to see how to measure your typical cycling cadence.

How to Measure Cycling Cadence?

riding bicycle on road

There are two ways that you can measure the cycling cadence. One is more efficient than the other but I feel it’s important to know about both of them just in case.

The first way to measure whether you have an ideal cycling cadence is to do it by carefully counting the pedal rotations in 30 seconds or 1 minute. After doing so, you can determine your cadence at the specific gear you had set the bike in. This way of measuring it can be inaccurate, which is why most cyclists turn to the other one I am about to show you.

The second and more recommended option includes a special device that is made specifically for measuring cycling cadence. You can find it by searching for a “cadence tracking device,” or “cadence sensor.” They are small devices that can be attached to the bike and will start measuring the revolutions per minute you do while riding the bike. This is the more accurate way to measure.

What Is an Ideal Cycling Cadence?

riding a bike on dirt road

The answer to this question is a lot more complicated than anyone would want it to be. It’s not as simple as stating that a certain number can be considered an ideal cycling cadence. It often varies and depends on a few crucial factors, the most important of which is the individual cyclist themselves.

However, there is an average that many go by and use as a way to measure improvement and their current physical state. The average cadence rating for a beginner cyclist is almost always around 60RPM give or take. It’s rarely below that and often a bit higher. Having said that, the average cadence rating measured out of many cyclists is usually around 80 to 90RPM, which is actually considered as an ideal cyclist cadence that most look forward to achieving.

Now, the pros often experience different results, which can be considered as a high cadence for cycling. This number is usually around 100RPM. There are rare cases that experience this cadence number while going uphill, which is definitely a rare sighting. So, if you’re a beginner cyclist, don’t get discouraged if you see a cadence rating of 60 – 70RPM, as this is quite normal and nothing to be disappointed about. Aim to improve this with the following tips that I’m about to show you.

How to Improve Cycling Cadence?

cyclist riding a bike fast

The science behind improving or increasing your average cadence is a simple, yet difficult, one. It takes time, discipline, and determination. However, this doesn’t mean it’s not possible. It has to do with the correct intervals, as there are a couple of different ways you can improve and reach your best cadence for cycling.

Drill 1

Let’s start off with a simple drill that will put you in a state that allows you to improve over time. This drill takes a bit more time and requires that you increase your usual average cycling cadence by a couple of RPMs each ride while riding in similar gear each time. By doing this, you will slowly start seeing better results, a stronger core, and an easier process to the top.

Drill 2

Here is where we will start off with your interval training. Before starting this drill, make sure you warm up for at least 10 minutes and then follow this guide.

Adjust your gears to feel comfortable and gradually increase the cadence to 100-120RPM. Cycle like this for 10 minutes and then take a 5-minute break by decreasing cadence and, if needed, shifting to an easier gear. Do this 3 times for a couple of training sessions then turn up the difficulty level as you go.

Drill 3

If you don’t have time for sessions that last for hours, you can take advantage of this amazing 20-minute drill that can gradually, but efficiently improve your cycling cadence. It involves cycling for 4 minutes with a high cadence of around 120RPM and then resting for 1 minute. Do this 4 times and you’re done, or do it a couple of more times if you have the energy and time.

These are all great ways to improve your cycling cadence and not get injured in the process. The journey is a long one but still worthwhile if you want to achieve a greater cycling cadence.

About The Author

AthletePath Staff

We are a team of enthusiasts and professional athletes thriving to provide you with helpful advice on buying everything you may ever need to become a better athlete.

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