Cadence – What’s the correct number?

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There is much talk today about the cadence among the modalities of triathlon. Some say they have an ideal number. Others say that this number can be variable according to each athlete.
But in fact, do you know what this data means and how it affects your performance?

swim button
Starting with swimming. There are also many swimming instructors (mainly pool) who usually guide your athlete with regard to sliding. And for this slip to happen, the stroke must be lengthened. The swolf index itself, (present in sports smartwatch), determines the quality of your swim in proportion to the least amount of strokes you perform per pool extension. However, when analyzing the performance of great swimmers, we can identify high stroke rate numbers in their competitions.

bike button
In cycling, the high-cadence revolution took much of its prestige with Lance Armstrong through his doctor / trainer. Polemics aside, this partnership has yielded many discoveries through the hundreds of comparative trainings between the various gear ratios for all types of terrain. And it came to the conclusion that the best efficiency of his athlete was with the high cadence. The first justification was physiological: the constant blood flow that is facilitated by the high cadence, causes the blood to constantly be present in the musculature, preventing the effect of buffering its flow, which is what happens in the stronger and slower contraction. This generates lactate accumulation, and consequently the athlete’s early fatigue. And the second justification would be the athlete’s own perceived exertion, which confirmed that higher cadence was more comfortable than slower pedal cycles.

run button
In the running, sport with greater impact in the joints, we can more easily notice the discrepant difference between the frequency of steps from athlete to athlete. One of recent evidence of this was the spectacular racing form of our current world champion Patrick Lange, who demonstrates extreme easy running.

patrick lange

His high cadence was clearly visible, as was the quality of his pace, a determining factor in this incredible race .


In swimming, the risk of a low stroke rate can cause so-called dead spots to occur. This causes the momentum to break. And, consequently, loss of speed and need for constant acceleration. Therefore, a higher stroke rate can promote a constant efficiency of your swim.


Tip: Using flippers makes it easy to increase your stroke rate. Getting accustomed to this sensation can positively change your swim. Try to use this equipment for warm up.

In cycling, the higher your cadence, the greater your power distribution in your pedalstroke. This way, you use a large part of your muscles and thus avoid overloading the primary muscles.


Tip: Enjoy your low intensity workouts to stay constantly in high cadence. This will cause your muscles to become accustomed to this pattern of rapid movement.

In the run, we were able to reduce the high impact of our joints with the shortest time of contact with soil in our strides. By increasing your pitch frequency, you will automatically land closer to your center of gravity and consequently avoid the breakdown of your race momentum again.


Tip: Train yourself constantly with drills and preferably, accompanied by a metronome, because in this way you will be solving another big problem: the imbalance of contact time between the right and the left leg.This is more than half way in the quest to improve your performance.


Seeking the correct guidance of a trainer, you will increasingly find that, as long before you follow training sheets, with your distances, intensities, and training frequency, you should know  what limitations  to work with.These are the details that we should look for in our trainings.

Joel de Bem Jr is an Ironman certified coach, Founder of Commandos Legion, who treats each of his athletes directly around the world.
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