One-Hour Workout: Cadence Changers

It’s time to work on your cadence—and this session will help you do just that.

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Fall is well and truly here, Kona has come and gone—which means only one thing: the off-season has landed and it’s time to start working on your technique. This one-hour workout from coach Marilyn Chychota will help you to refine technical elements of your riding, especially your cadence and pedaling. It’s one aspect of cycling that, if done correctly, can yield great gains for minimal work. This cadence changers workout can be done on the road, but is best done on the trainer so you can focus on technique.

Begin with a smooth 20-minute build warm-up, where you’re gradually increasing effort from a 4-5/10 RPE (rate of perceived exertion) through to a 6-7/10 RPE at the end. Gently increase effort each five minutes.

You’ll then start the main set, which is five rounds of two minutes at 50-60 RPM (revolutions per minute), one minute at 100-110 RPM, followed by one minute standing (out of the saddle) and riding smoothly.

Chychota says: “The goal of this session is to smoothly transition from one section to the next. There should be no power spikes. Learn to change through your gears and how to move on your bike to go from smoothly riding lower cadence to higher cadence.”

Focusing on pedaling technique is an important part of this. Riding on the trainer can give you an excellent opportunity to work on your pedaling technique that you simply can’t do on the road. Thinking about pedaling as a clock face will help you greatly:

  • Applying force on the downstroke very early— at about 1 o’clock—and maintaining that force all the way down to about 5 o’clock.
  • The key to doing this is your heel. As you pass through 12 o’clock, the heel should be lowered a little so that it’s level with the ball of the foot, or even a bit below it, by 1 o’clock. This will allow you to drive the pedal slightly forward and slightly downward at the same time.
  • As the foot approaches the 5 o’clock position the heel is raised somewhat so that it is just above the ball of the foot. This may only be about one-half inch. The foot position is maintained all the way through the backstroke.
  • Do not let the recovering leg “go to sleep” on the backside of the stroke or pull up on the pedal. This can result in extreme fatigue in the hip flexor muscles within a few minutes. Instead, you want to simply “unweight” the pedal on the upstroke (from 6 to 12 o’clock).

Wrap up the workout with a 10-15 minute easy spin to cool down.

Cadence Changers


20 minutes smooth pedaling, building effort every 5 minutes

Main Set

5 rounds of:

2min 50-60rpm

1min 100-110rpm

1min standing smooth


10-15 minutes easy spinning

For more workouts from coach Marilyn Chychota check out her website.

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