Fatigue and Cadence


About to start the Sweetspot Polarised plan, however up to today I’ve been hitting a LOT of sweetspot and my time to exhaustion is definitely going out. However I’ve found that if I’m particularly fatigued (usually towards the end of Workouts that I go into somewhat fatigued) my cadence falls dramatically. I usually hold around 95rpm on the turbo, however when this happens I find myself dropping towards 80 and sometimes below as each interval goes on. I can usually complete the interval at the prescribed wattage, but the RPE is significantly higher.

I guess this elicits two questions:

  1. Is this a type of neurological fatigue that makes it harder to maintain the leg speed, if not then what is the cause?

  2. Should I be pushing through these workouts or should I be bailing and saving it for another day (which would make it hard to hit the progressive overload)? Am I digging myself a hole here that might bite me badly one day, or should I just get my head down and get it done because watts are watts?

Thanks for all your content, the podcasts are really great info.

Thanks, Stuart

Hi Stuart,

It is normal for an athletes cadence to drop with fatigue. But if your RPE is high for the effort along with a heart rate over the zone you are targeting you may not want to continue with interval. If your heart rate is still in zone than you can continue. Really you want 2 out of 3 to be in line to continue the intervals: power, RPE and heart rate.

You should make sure that your FTP is set correctly so that you are not overreaching to hit your power targets. Sweet spot should be hard but if you are staying below your FTP it makes it repeatable and gives you the ability to recover from it faster. These are some of the benefits of proper sweet spot training. Also maybe instead of the longer intervals focusing on riding at the upper end remember sweet spot is a zone. Any where from 84 - 97% of your FTP. So you can even start the early intervals at the lower end especially if you know by the end you will be fatigued.

During the polarized plan you should not be feeling to fatigued going into workouts, especially with the Vo2 max workouts. Those are high intense intervals and we want you going fresh into those so you can hit the high power targets. So you will notice on Zone 2 days it says go by heart rate. This is to keep you from building too much fatigue. So make sure you go into the Vo2 max day fresh!

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Hi Jake,

Thanks for the detailed response, interestingly my heartrate (when this happens) is usually around 8bpm low compared to my usual hr for the power. I assume that this is due to being fatigued and probably overreaching a bit. I’m pretty sure the ftp is correct as when I feel fresh the intervals are pretty easy. I’ve been doing fairly regular ftp tests and zwift races which seem to correlate around the number so hopefully all good there.

Looking at the weekly tss for the polarised plan it’s significantly below what I have been doing so I’d imagine that the issue will stop occurring and I’ll be going into each workout much fresher.

Thanks again, Stuart

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