Cadence targets too high

Hey all,

I have had zwift about a month now and am fairly comfortable with most of how it works.

This last week I have started a 12 week plan to increase my power output and fitness. Its intermediate but my FTP (by ramp test) is 247W and I find meeting the power of the workouts easy.

My problem is the cadence it asks for.

At 96kg my natural cadence is 50-60rpm on normal rides. I know ERG adjusts the resistance etc, and how to get to the right cadence. The issue is that it wants me doing 85-110rpm for prolonged periods. This results in me flapping about like I’m having a fit, bouncing in the saddle, and ending up with a sore bottom. There’s also no way to stick to the desired rpm while standing, because ERG adjusts the resistance down and I end up clunking around.

Is there a way to manually wind back the cadence targets on workouts, rather than just the power targets? Or is there workouts/programs with generally lower target cadence? Any help appreciated.


My natural cadence over the last five years has tytpically been approx 90-110 inside and outside, when I do those Zwift workouts asking me to do ~75rpm intervals I used to often swear to myself depsite the power requirements being quite modest.

But then my Direto semi-broke a few months ago, my useable turbo gear range went from 34/50 chainrings with 11-34 cassette to 34 ring with 25/27/30/34, but even using 34/34 I can do ~220W at 90rpm. So I’ve become accustomed to riding at ~60rpm to have cool down periods in the 150-180W ballpark.

Interestingly (or not), I’ve noticed a few times now that when chasing my own Strava segment times outside since March, there’s been a number of times when I’ve kept in a higher gear despite my cadence dropping well below 75rpm.

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The cadence targets are just for info, really. Just ignore them if they’re too high for you, and do your own thing - it won’t affect the stars that you get.


spin 2 win (:

Cadence is a personal thing and there’s not a carte blanche answer to what’s ideal.

That said 50-60 is on the low side and chances are the workout is trying to improve your technique and form.
You can ignore them as they’re not used for the awarding of stars.

Forget trying to spin 100+ rpm whilst standing as that’s nigh on unachievable.
You shouldn’t be bouncing in the saddle too much at 105. If you are I’d question if your method of measuring cadence is accurate.

Maybe that’s why you think you are only doing 50-60. If you’re recording low then 105 could be circa 120+ which would explain the bouncing.

No requirement to argue, not sure why you’ve written that.

Certainly in my experience it tends to happen at high rpm.

I start bouncing somewhere just above 115rpm. It used to happen a bit lower but I’ve gotten better over the winter at maintaining form at higher RPMs.

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Thanks all. I get that its trying to improve my form, I just think its too big a jump right now, and Im likely never to be resting at 85+ rpm.

My solution was just to unpair my cadence sensor. That way I can still increase/decrease as much as is manageable, but I dont constantly get messages tellig me to spin faster.

For what it’s worth as a fellow bigger/taller rider, I find that my natural cadence is slightly lower than normal (75-85rpm) and start to get uncomfortable at much higher cadences (up to 110rpm is broadly fine, but gets more uncomfortable after this). I think this is fairly normal for being bigger that cadences are lower, though as someone who used to ride at a lower cadence (65-75rpm), I think you’ll find you’ll benefit from trying to push it upwards a bit. What I did to do this was choose a pace partner to ride an endurance pace at and set trainer difficulty to 0% and find a gear that let me spin at marginally (5-10 rpm) above my normal cadence and try and sit with it for a session and gradually pushed it up by a bit over a few weeks.

This is a good read about cadence:
There’s a bit more to it. Your cells use different fuels for different efforts. For example, if you go far above your FTP until your legs sore, it might be most efficient to do the effort with high cadence (>95) and get rid of the lactate at 65 % of your FTP with low cadence (<80). But every rider is different.
Read this:

At 96 kg you can’t ride standing on a machine with a fly-wheel as you would outside on your bike climbing a hill. Acceleration and breaking of the fly-wheel are super unsteady per revolution and you can’t ride your ERG-machine as active as a normal bike.

If you bounce in your saddle, maybe your saddle is too high or your reach is too long.

Thanks, everyone.

It was a combination of issues in the end.

  1. My pedalling flow wasnt very good. I was getting almost all my power from the “push” part of the stroke, and the result at higher cadences was my other muscle groups not being able to keep up, causing some clunking. Doing quadrant drills has helped this a bit.

  2. My seat was set ever so slightly too high. I changed it by no more than 1cm and it made a pretty massive difference. I guess I didnt notice because outside I’m so often canging positions and standing. I suspect my reach is also too long on this old bike too, which has really only come to my attention since getting a smaller and more aero style bike that Im finding way more comfortable, despite the more aggressive posture.

  3. Having lost a lot of weight jn the last 2-3 years I have a fair amount of… looseness in my abdominal skin. This tends to bounce around at higher cadences and is hard to find a solution for. Wearing skins has helped a bit.

So I took George’s advice above. I turned off my cadence sensor and when the workouts asked for a higher cadence I simply went as high as I could managed without feeling I was flapping around. I then aimed to do a bit higher cadence then I would usually be comfortable with while on normal rides and recovery segments. Riding with pace partners for this also helped.

Lo and behold when I corrected all these things and turned it back on to check, my resting cadence is already 5-10rpm higher at normal working power, and I feel less flappy.

Cheers again, all!