Effect of cadence on the economy of uphill cycling

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992 Oct;24(10):1123-7.


Competitive cyclists generally climb hills at a low cadence despite the recognized advantage in level cycling of high cadences. To test whether a high cadence is more economical than a low cadence during uphill cycling, nine experienced cyclists performed steady-state bicycling exercise on a treadmill under three randomized trials. Subjects bicycled at 11.3 km.h-1 up a 10% grade while 1) pedalling at 84 rpm in a sitting position-84 Sit, 2) pedalling at 41 rpm in a standing position-41 Stand, and 3) pedalling at 41 rpm in a sitting position-41 Sit. Heart rate (HR), oxygen consumption (VO2), ventilation (VE), and respiratory exchange ratio were measured continuously during 5-min trials and averaged over the last 2 min. Additionally, rating of perceived exertion was recorded during the fifth minute of each trial, and blood lactate concentration was recorded immediately before and after each trial. Significantly lower values for HR, VO2 and VE were recorded during 84 Sit (164 +/- 3 bpm, 51.8 +/- 0.8 ml.min-1 x kg-1, 94 +/- 5 l.min-1) than for either the 41 Stand (171 +/- 2 bpm, 53.1 +/- 0.7 ml.min-1 x kg-1, 105 +/- 6 l.min-1) o 41 Sit (168 +/- 2 bpm, 53.1 +/- 0.8 ml.min-1 x kg-1, 101 +/- 6 l.min-1) trials. No other differences were noted between trials for any of the measured variables. We conclude that uphill cycling is more economical at a high versus a low cadence.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lactates / blood
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Respiration / physiology


  • Lactates