Not All Triathletes Should Learn How to Spin
If you have a power meter and are aware of your functional threshold power (FTP), then you also know what cadence you typically ride at to produce that power. Athletes can reach their FTP through a lower cadence (80-85) and some hit their FTP at a higher cadence(96-99). This cadence is your “go to” comfort cadence. When you try to elevate your FTP, it would be wise to focus on the easiest gains.
For example, if I normally spin at 98 RPM to reach my FTP, then my bike training can really benefit from some lower cadence riding. A high cadence rider usually has a well develop neuromuscular firing pattern and a strong cardio system to help them achieve their power, but what is missing with some of these high cadence athletes is the ability to apply large amounts of force to the pedals. I would call this a “gap” in their ability. Focusing on bridging this gap is the quickest way to realize power gains.
An grinder or low cadence rider has the force, but is perhaps lacking in the neuromuscular department. I would have this athlete focus on some fast cadence drills to help improve their overall power. Once their ability to apply large amounts of force to the pedals meets the newly developed neuromuscular firing patters, then we have a nice combination.
Applying drills such as low cadence/big gear work and spinning drills needs to have a purpose and a goal. Assigning tons of spin drills to an athlete who is already a great spinner, is not the wisest use of training time. Look at your “gaps” and figure out what drills will help you to bridge these gaps.