Cadence Economy and Effects of Different RPM’s

The Graph below shows the relationship between peak crank torque, crank velocity (i.e. cadence) and power output during short duration (<10s) maximal cycling in two separate subjects (solid and dashed lines). Figure used with permission from J Appl Physiol51


Based on the contractile properties of human muscle it has been shown that maximal cycling power output is achieved at approximately 120-130rpm (Figure 2; 8, 50, 51, 62, 78). Such high cadences may be important to maximal sprint cycling performance. Indeed, track and bicycle motorcross (BMX) cyclists typically perform short duration events (?m) at average cadences equal to or greater than 120 rpm 19, 20. However, Zoladz et al. 78 found that when pedalling above 100rpm there was a decrease in the power output delivered at any given oxygen cost, which was in turn associated with an earlier onset of anaerobiosis 77, 78. Such findings highlight the disadvantage of adopting such high cadences (>100rpm) during prolonged high-intensity exercise, such as competitive road cycling.

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