Fast pedals

fast-pedalsAim of Session

To introduce the rider to high cadence work, enabling the recruitment of new fibres and  the development of a smooth pedalling stroke



Session description

MAIN SET: Zone 2 ride with 10 x 1 min blocks, bringing cadence up to as fast as possible without bouncing in the saddle. Take a minute of normal pedalling between efforts


To enable the most force to be generated for each pedal stroke, the pedal action must be smooth, fluid and consistent. Training with bursts at higher cadences enables beneficial neuromuscular adaptations, which allow the muscles to become competent at firing quickly and consistently. These complex changes affect the speed at which neural messages can travel from the brain all the way to the muscles to produce movement. This type of training can also increase the stability of the musculature and joints when the frequency of movement is increased.

Application for the Rider

Creating a fluid pedal stroke at higher cadences will ensure that as much of the force generated by the muscle is transferred to the pedals. This means little energy and effort is wasted, with the force being applied to create greater speed on the bike. Increasing joint and muscle stability at higher cadences will also greatly reduce the risk of injury, with the joints becoming more accustomed to an increase in muscle firing and loading speeds.

Practicalities and tips!

  • We recommend this session to be trialled on a turbo before taking the skill outside onto the road. At first, the rider will experience a lot of bouncing in the saddle, and thus bike control might be an issue
  • This session is about pedalling speed, not power. HR will climb because of the inefficiency of the movement - that is enough stress, so loosen off as much of the resistance as possible i.e. smallest gear, lowest resistance setting on the turbo, or choosing a flat road.
  • Focus as much on the non-driving leg as you do on the leg pushing down. The key to an efficienct pedal stroke is moving the non-working leg out of the way!
  • Really concentrate on locking the core muscles as you pedal: imagine your legs like pistons, moving from a firm base

Evaluation of the session

  • What was your peak cadence in the session? Could you repeat that from fast pedal #1 to #10?
  • How high did your heart rate climb?
  • Within each minute, can you see your cadence remaining high, or was there a drop? The ability to maintain the peak speed for as long as possible into the minute is a great sign of improvement
More in this category: « Cadence pyramid High / low repeats »