Sweetspot cadence

sweetspot-cadenceAim of Session

Develop the ability to ride sweetspot intensity at a range of cadences. 


Session description

WARM UP: Ensure 15 mins warm up before starting the efforts, worth considering having this contain 5 mins in low end zone 3 to make sure the engine is ready, include this time within the session duration
MAIN SET: Perform 3 x 15 mins blocks of effort in the upper end of zone 3 i.e. approx 90% of your 25 mile power (or FTP). THIS IS NOT A ZONE 4 EFFORT, but more controlled. 10 mins of easy pedalling in between. Block 1 should be at 70rpm; block 2 at 85rpm; block 3 at 100rpm.
COOL DOWN: add 10 mins of spinning onto session duration if required, not included in session duration


Broadly speaking the underlying physiology is the same as for the standard sweetspot session. The major difference with this session is the added stress of altered muscle fibre recruitment at each cadence. The slower contraction speed at low cadences favours the recruitment of your slow twitch fibres, while higher cadences will force the recruitment of fibres from your fast twitch fibre pool. This adds an interesting interaction of stress if you consider the lactate production / clearance equilibrium sitting at this intensity.

Application for the Rider

This session follows on from sessions with specific cadence targets that you may have worked on at lower intensities - see for example 'cadence pyramid', etc. It is important that this work on skill and cadence is incorporated at higher intensities. Although aerobic efficiency is not fully understood it is clear that improvements in efficiency are intensity specific - in other words improving efficiency at lower intensities doesn't necessarily carry over to higher intensity and eventually race pace work. Including sessions like this are important to ensure the gains are transferred. 

Practicalities and tips!

Hitting the cadence targets exactly on the road can be tricky when faced with varying terrain and weather conditions. Don't get hung up on the details - the aim is to complete 3 blocks; one below, one at and one above 'normal' cadence. Just do the best you can given the conditions you face but try to make an intelligent choice of route.

Evaluation of the session

  • Did you manage sweetspot power for the 3 blocks?
  • Was the cadence target achieved in each interval - was there a significant difference between each one?
  • How did your heart rate respond at each cadence? Recruitment of less efficient fast twitch fibres at high cadences will likely see an increased heart rate. Over time the gap between HR at low cadence and HR at high cadence should decrease as you adapt to the stress. 
More in this category: « Sweetspot bursts Sweetspot plus »