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Pedal Faster to Ride Better

All cyclists should learn to pedal at a fast cadence, whether you are an experienced racer or a novice recreational rider. Muscle fatigue and damage are caused by excess pressure on the pedals, not by how fast you pedal. Pedaling at a faster cadence with less pressure allows you to pedal longer and harder. However, several researchers have expressed concern that pedaling very fast could decrease blood flow to muscles and thus decrease athletic performance. A study from Kansas State University shows that pedaling fast does not decrease a muscle's flow of blood or ability to extract oxygen from the blood (European Journal of Applied Physiology, March 2006). Once again athletes and coaches find new training and competing methods and years later, scientists tell them that they are correct.

After you have been riding regularly for a time, try to spin your pedals 80 times a minute. In the beginning, you will put so little pressure on your pedals that you will ride very slowly. However, after several weeks of pedaling at a cadence of 80, you will become more comfortable and be able to move fairly well at this pace. As you become stronger, you can maintain this high cadence while using higher gears and pressing on the pedals with more force, so you will be able to ride faster and longer.

Checked 9/29/08

May 10th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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