Effects of altering pedal cadence on cycling time-trial performance

Document Type

Journal Article


Georg Thieme Verlag


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science, Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research




Watson, G., & Swensen, T. (2006). Effects of altering pedal cadence on cycling time-trial performance. International journal of sports medicine, 27(04), 296-300.


Our purpose was to examine the effects of altering cadence on 5-mile (8.045 km) time-trial (TT) performance in well-trained amateur male cyclists. Twelve cyclists (mean [SD] age: 24 [4] y; body mass: 70.9 [5.9] kg; and V·O2max: 4.56 [0.52] L · min-1) rode three 5-mile TT. The first was at their freely chosen or preferred cadence (PC); the other two, high cadence (HC; PC + 10.8 %) and low cadence (LC; PC - 9.2 %), were randomly assigned and completed in a counterbalanced crossover design. Subjects rode their own bicycles, fitted with a power meter, and attached to a windload simulator. Practice sessions were completed 2 d prior to each TT. Cadences for PC, LC, and HC were 92 (2), 83 (6), 101 (6) rpm, respectively; they were also significantly different from each other (p < 0.05). LC was 2.5 % faster than HC and more economical than HC and PC (66 [3], 69 [2], 71 [4 W · L-1O2 · min-1, respectively) (p ≤ 0.05). LC heart rate and ventilatory efficiency (V·E/V·O2-ratio) were lower than PC counterparts, while LC and HC minute ventilation (V·E) were less than PC V·E (p < 0.05). LC may be the optimal cadence for 5 mile TT in well-trained amateur male cyclists because LC was the most economical, was faster than HC, resulted in the greatest proportion of fastest times (58 % vs. 25 % and 17 % for PC and HC, respectively), and elicited less cardiorespiratory strain than PC.




Link to publisher version (DOI)