One Reason Why We Train Different RPM's
Using different ranges of cadence sessions is key in developing your cycling ability and endurance success.
Two different range sessions I often use are S.E sessions and high RPM under light load sessions.
S.E reps are Strength Endurance (50-70 rpm). High cadence sessions are training the same energy system, but focusing on Neuromuscular Endurance with 110-115+ rpm, same heart rate, same energy system, simply adjusting the RPM to isolate out the two ways of developing V02 (aerobic capacity).
That explains a bit of the how...
Stepping back... here's the why.
The most to-the-point way I've ever heard it explained to me is as follows:
As an endurance athlete (cyclist, triathlete, or any other endurance athlete), you're attempting to train your body to become as efficient as possible.
Cycling success is determined by two important factors:
1) Neuromuscular efficiency: The ability to ride at race specific RPM, under appropriate load.
2) Aerobic Power: Underlying factor for success in all cycling disciplines.
Once the demand for energy exceeds the O2 supply, the athlete is forced to use anaerobic sources of energy.
Intensity will determine which fuel supply you use (bottom line).
With that said, you need to determine what your optimal cadence is for you when racing. That’s one of the reasons why we play with these interval sessions at the various RPMs.
Then you need to begin the process of determining what your true anaerobic threshold is...where you start to utilize glycogen as a primary fuel source - versus the utilization of fatty acids (lower intensity utilizes fatty acids).
You need to respect the following underlying principles of training, or key performance factors when designing training programs:
1) What is the required amount of strength in the primary muscle groups needed? For one athlete, it may be different than for other athletes.
2) What is the primary fuel supply needed to produce the required amount of energy?
The athlete who can burn their fatty acids longer, and spare their glycogen stores until the very end, will often have the most success in the events. An athlete who taps into their glycogen stores earlier will run out of energy before the end of the race. It is very simple exercise physiology at work here. These are laws that we can't ignore.
You must become a very efficient diesel-burning engine if you want to be successful in the aerobic dominated events.