Cycling for Cadence

by Lisa M. Wolfe

About Lisa M. Wolfe

A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.


The speed you pedal on a bicycle is known as your cadence. Bicycle cadences are measured in revolutions per minute, RPM, which is how many times the wheel rotates in a minute. Your cadence is affected by the resistance if you are riding an indoor bike, or by gear if you are cycling outdoors. The higher your resistance on an exercise bike, the lower your cadence. The lower your gear on a road bike, the higher your cadence. Cadence training improves your cardiovascular system and leg strength as you control the speed, pace and resistance of your workouts.

Indoor Cycling

Step 1

Select an indoor cycling bike that has a cadence monitor attached to it. Warm up for at least five minutes by cycling at an easy pace.

Step 2

Cycle between 60 and 80 RPM when the resistance level is set to simulate a hill climb. Use a resistance that challenges your legs and leaves you sweating but able to talk. Increase your resistance if you are pedaling faster than 80 RPM. Perform three- to four-minute standing or seated climbs. Alternate your climbs with recovery intervals on a flat road.

Step 3

Use a cycle cadence of 80 to 110 RPM when the resistance is light and you are pedaling on a flat road. Perform a steady-state pace ride, in which you keep your cadence at 80 for one to five minutes. Alternatively, use a gradually increasing pace, from 80 for the first minute to 90 for the second, 100 for the third and 110 for the fourth.

Outdoor Cycling

Step 1

Select an outdoor bike with changeable gears so you have many options for your cycling cadence.

Step 2

Place the bike in a low gear and use a cadence of 80 to 90 RPM if you are experienced or 60 to 70 RPM if you are a beginner. Cycle for 20 to 30 minutes at your desired cadence to improve your cardiovascular system.

Step 3

Use a light pedal stroke and a low gear and increase your cadence to between 100 and 110 RPM if your goal is to cycle at that speed. Add varieties of faster RPM sprints into your steady-state rides for workout intensity.

Step 4

Vary your cycling cadences according to terrain. For example, lower your gear and your cadence as you cycle uphill. Pedal at a cadence near 60 RPM as you cycle uphill. Look for routes that contain hills to improve your endurance. Cycle uphill for three to four minutes. Turn around and go down the hill so you can repeat it if you do not have multiple hills available. Use your hill cadence for five to 10 minutes.

Step 5

Include different cadences in your workout routine to improve your cardiovascular health and your endurance. Switch into a higher gear and slow your cadence to improve your leg muscular endurance. Use a lower gear and a faster cadence to enhance your cardiovascular system.

Photo Credits:

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or