Indoor Cycling Cadence | What it is and How to Find Your Ideal Cadence on a Spin Bike
Indoor cycling is an excellent sport, and it is growing every year. We see more people in spinning classes, more turbo trainers, and magnetic resistance spinning bikes being bought for your home, and it’s become very cool to be doing it. No longer is it a dance class on bikes. It’s now online cycling applications with racing, power profiles, and it’s an incredible way to get fit.
That said, many people struggle with finding the correct cadence for their riding, and it can be a very challenging thing to do. In this article, we’re going to tell you how to find the optimum cadence for your indoor cycling.
What is Cadence For Indoor Bikes?
Before we start, it is vital to understand what cadence is. Cadence is how quickly your legs go through a full bike crank rotation. So imagine your looking at a cyclist from the side while he is riding a bike. Imagine the foot as a clock hand, and when it goes 12 to 12, that’s a full rotation. We call this a revolution.
How do we measure cadence on a spin bike? Cadence is measured in RPM. This means REVOLUTIONS PER MINUTE. So when your bike says 60RPM, it means your feet are rotating 60 times per single minute. If your bike doesn’t have a cadence sensor, you can buy them separately.
If your spin bike doesn’t come equipped with a cadence sensor, there are two indoor cycling accessories that can count your cadence and transfer the data live to your tablet, phone or laptop. You can buy cadence sensors like Wahoo or Garmin to measure your RPM or you can opt for a pair of power meter pedals that provide cadence, power, speed, and pedal balance.
What is the Optimum Indoor Cycling Cadence?
The first thing you need to understand is we are all built differently from one another. Some of us will have a higher cadence, and others will have a low cadence. In all my years as a trainer, I feel everyone just seems to have a place where they prefer to be. It doesn’t mean you can’t change that place though.
Depending on what cycling you do, you might have a different cadence. For example, a cyclist who trains indoors and does a lot of long distances outdoors in summer might have a low cadence compared to a person who got into cycling through spinning, who would more than likely have a much higher cadence. The best thing way to answer this question is to tell you the advantages of riding at high and low cadences.
Riding spin bike with a Lower Cadence
Riding with a low cadence is often known as GRINDING. This is roughly 50RPM – 70RPM. It’s slow, and it’s what you might expect to be doing in a heavy seated or standing climb. Riding at lower cadences suits people who have a considerable amount of underline strength who can just slowly grind away. I noticed many people who have been bodybuilders in the past or done a lot of gym work are excellent at lower cadences. Cycling at lower cadences does help build strong muscle strength, but it is very fatiguing on the body.
Riding spin bike with a Higher Cadence
Riding with a high cadence is often referred to as SPINNING. This is roughly 90RPM -110RPM. It’s much quicker leg work, and this kind of riding you will see in a spinning studio quite often. Working with a higher cadence is a common trait in people who are not necessarily super strong, but they have a better cardiovascular engine. People that do a lot of running are an excellent example of this. Cycling at high cadence does really help grow your cardiovascular system and is much less fatiguing on the body.
Nobody is wrong or right. A lot of it comes down to your previous experience in fitness and the type of muscle your body wants to use. Does it like to be up at 110RPM using fast-twitch fibers, or does it want to be at 60RPM grinding it out with slow fibers?
Where Should Your Cadence Be When Spinning?
Obviously, as we have discussed, it comes down to where you want to be personally, but in a perfect world with being able to train it yourself, where is a good place for our bodies to be as far as RPM goes. This is where I feel when it comes to indoor cycling are excellent places to be.
When Cycling Seated
When it comes to indoor cycling cadence and being seated with a relaxed upper body, I would be putting my cadence 80RPM+ but no more than 110RPM. This range is perfect 80RPM is a great place to be where you’re getting a great mix of cardiovascular and strength work through your legs. I say no more than 110RPM as I feel anything above this is a bit erratic, and you bounce all over the saddle.
When Cycling Standing
When it comes to indoor cycling and a standing climb, I would be looking at roughly 60RPM all the way up to 80RPM. When we standing climb, we need to be shifting all our body’s weight from side to side and leaning into it. This can’t be done efficiently at a very high RPM, and if you try, then you will see you waste a lot of energy shifting yourself about. You need to take full advantage of the pedal stroke and really push heavily into each revolution when using all your weight.
What is Your Best Cadence When Using a Spin bike?
So to find this out, do a session at different cadences giving the same amount of effort and look at the power output of each. You will be able to see which one you’re performing better clearly. Then you can start adjusting it to where you feel is the best place to be.
How to Measure and Improve Your Spinning Cadence?
If you want to improve your cadence and you are good at measuring your cadence and looking at the cadence data, then a good shout is to follow the professionals and see what happens. Elite cyclists usual RPM would be seated 90PRM – 110RPM, then when standing down about 80RPM.
If you want to change your optimal cadence, then you just need to measure it with cadence sensors or a bike computer and spend lots of time cycling at the RPM you want to be, letting your body adjust to that RPM. It will change, adapt, and you will feel much more comfortable being there, but you have to practice and give it time.
Also, think about the cycling you’re doing. For example, if you plan on century rides and cycling long distances outdoor, having a higher cadence would be better as it’s less fatiguing. If you want to be a better sprinter, maybe training at lower cadences might help.
Other things that can improve your cadence when cycling at home is proper clothing. So, I would suggest you try to use comfortable indoor cycling shoes and indoor cycling bib shorts. I have written extensive guides on how to find comfortable cycling shoes and the right cycling shorts for you.
When it comes to indoor cycling cadence naturally, your body will want to be at the best RPM for its own cycling efficiency. Your current natural cadence is probably very close to your optimal cadence, and that will be where your best pedaling technique is. You can help achieve your training goals by changing your cadence to be a lower or higher cadence. It’s not the be all and end all, but measuring cadence can go a long way for many cyclists.
Stationary bike cadence sensor is often located in the crankset where it can accurately measure every pedal RPM. There are also some exercise bikes that calculate cadence base on resistance and speed taken from flywheel but that is not as accurate as cadence sensors located in the crank arms.
The main difference is that speed sensor indicates the speed, for example mile per hour based on flywheel revolution per minutes (RPM) while cadence sensor indicates pedal revolution per minute (RPM). Spin Bike speed or cadence in other terms is usually assessed in revolutions per minute.
No, spin bike cadence sensors can’t measure watt output of the cyclists. In order to measure watt, you would need power meter pedals or power meter cranks. That said, some spin bikes like Schwinn IC4 do provide watts based on cadence and resistance level. It’s better than nothing but it’s not accurate.
Yes indoor bike cadence and RPM are the same thing. Cadence is measured based on the RPM of the pedal. The faster pedal RPM, the higher the cadence will be.
Cadence is important because without it you wouldn’t know how fast you are pedalling on the bike. It’s even more important that speed for indoor cycling because based based on cadence you can improve your cycling performance. In fact, most studio cycling instructor train based on cadence.
If you want to follow exactly what the virtual spin class instructor tells you to do, then cadence sensor is needed for online spinning classes. But if you just want to watch the class, enjoy the music and pedal on your pace, then you don’t a cadence/RPM sensor for spinning classes.
For amateurs to pro cyclists alike, the average bike pedaling speed ranges between 45-110rpms. Ultimately, the factor that heavily weighs in one’s tempo is the flywheel weight and the resistance they use to workout. It’s easier to pedal fast when your spin bike has an 8lbs flywheel like Keiser M3i or when you set your spin bike on low resistance. But generally speaking, keeping your average cadence between 60-90 is ideal during an indoor cycling session.
If you are using an exercise bike that does not have a digital console or its console doesn’t prove the RPM date, you can calculate the cadence yourself. You can do this by sampling how many complete rotations you are able to do in 10 seconds. Whatever figure you get, multiply that by 6 and you will have your RPM (revolutions per minute). You may want to repeat this a couple of time to get most accurate feedback.