I find that it's easier to maintain my power at a lower cadence. For example, 75 RPM versus 95 RPM. I'm using TrainerRoad. Recently, I've experimented with a higher cadence.

On one of the workouts, I could only complete 3 of 5 sets. It felt like hitting the wall which never happened to me before on TR.

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During FTP tests, I felt that I could test higher for the interval with a cadence that's almost 10 RPM lower. See VO2 Max 2 and VO2 Max 3. enter image description here

Even for a recovery week's endurance workout, my hip flexors surprisingly lasted a little more than enough for the workout. Maybe those muscles were my weakest links.

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Is it possible that my legs were heavy, making lower cadence even more efficient? My thigh's circumference is 20" and my shin's circumference is 14.5". My height is 5 feet 7.

Is it better to do an FTP test with the ideal cadence or the most efficient cadence (the one that allows you to produce the most power)?

For my workouts, should I select the cadence that works best for me regardless of their recommendations?

Is it likely that my FTP was too low for a high cadence?

  • 2
    If you are having hip flexor issues it is likely your glutes that are the culprit. See link
    – Rider_X
    Jan 4, 2018 at 6:38
  • 3
    How long have you been riding seriously ? It normally takes people a couple of years to get cadence up and be comfortable with it.
    – Criggie
    Jan 4, 2018 at 8:15
  • 2
    Are you using cleats/clips, or flat pedals? Having the foot too far forward encourages more of a whole-leg pedalling, whereas riding on the balls of your feel allows you to twiddle your ankles a bit more, which works the calf muscles.
    – Criggie
    Jan 4, 2018 at 8:17
  • 3
    You're almost certainly better off riding at whatever cadence allows you to train your aerobic capacity and complete the workouts. See this bicycles.SE question and answer about optimal cadence.
    – R. Chung
    Jan 4, 2018 at 18:47
  • 1
    @Criggie I'm near my third month on TrainerRoad. I finished Sweet Spot Base I and I'm almost finished with part II. I'd say almost 3 months of serious riding. I'm using cleats.
    – Brian
    Jan 4, 2018 at 19:27

1 Answer 1


GCN did a couple of videos on the subject (1, 2) . In the first linked video, the presenter said that "what current research seems to point to is that is that people ride at their energetically optimum cadence when they're toward their maximum power output. However, they tend to ride at too high a cadence when they're riding at lower intensity." Also that everyone's different, leg size factors into cadence, etc.

Sounds to me like you should do what your body is telling you to do. You're obviously experienced enough that you're not going to blow your knees out riding stupid-low cadences.

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