The Great Cadence Debate

Over the years I’ve had countless dialogs and debates about cycling cadence and performance. I’ve read copious amounts of research and literature advocating for high cadence easy effort to “save the legs,” “easy stroke,” “light on the pedals,” etc.  

In my view, if an athlete has not had competitive cycling experience, the ability to learn how to ‘feel’ the pedal stroke, which enables a rider to spin effectively, is lost to all but an exceptional few. Not only that, but there is an aerobic cost that gets lost in the process as well.

Indeed, many professional cyclists who train between 750km to 1200 km a week never acquire the ability to use the high-cadence technique effectively. So if professional riders spending six days a week training a minimum of four to five hours a day are not able to find it, then what hope does someone with no cycling background putting in a maximum of 200km have of mastering the ‘Lance Armstrong high cadence’ model? In my experience, very little.

Yes, there are exceptions, but how many do you think? I tend to train not for the exception, but instead make adjustments when they come along every generation or so.

Many field and lab tests have attempted to show that high cadence spinning is more efficient to the newcomer than just stomping the big gear. Yet the results in nearly all cases only serve to prove that the exact opposite is true. In fact most tests show that tri-athletes produce more torque/power between 78-84 rpm without sacrificing aerobic cost putting them in a stronger state for the run to follow. Any higher and the efficiency is lost. I’ve seen studies from USA, Australia, England and even France that all come to similar conclusions.

A common theme across all studies is that the heart rate began to climb at the various cadence levels and that once the riding novices were asked to hold 100 cadences, not only did their performance diminish, but also their heart rate rose to levels approaching 15 % below maximum for the entire test. The data on this is pretty clear cut and I would hope to any reasonable person, it’s not a debatable point.

So how does this knowledge inform my opinion on using low cadence work?

In triathlon we have to train not one, but three disciplines and our actual bike hours are limited for training compared to cyclists.

Most, if not all triathletes are not ex-professional cyclists with an innate feel of the pedals. Thus the style of spinning may be detrimental to them riding to the best of their ability.

In triathlon, the race is not over once the bike leg is finished. Riding with an elevated heart rate close to one’s anaerobic threshold is not advisable if one wants to jump off and run at an optimal pace. Hence the reason I advocate using low gear, moderate cadence training. Over the years, experience and results have proven this effective as all age-group athletes I have worked with have gone on to make rapid and sustainable gains on the bike.

Tri-Active Endurance is more concerned with function than form. What works for the individual is what’s right. Watching a 100kg athlete spinning down the road at 100 cadence makes me want to cry, as does watching certified level coaches teaching 50kg, 5’2 females how to swim like Michael Phelps for their upcoming tri races. It is not right. Phelps is 6’6 and has the wingspan of a small jet. What works for the top 1% of athletes at the top 1% of their sports is not the model that is going to improve your triathlon.

Construct a plan for the athlete, don’t put an athlete in a plan.

Challenge Yourself


Challenges in general keep us alive. Without them, there is little to look forward to. This, I believe, is the same for everyone, regardless of age. When we are younger, we eagerly anticipate challenges and accept them as part of life because we are told that it’s part of growing up.  Most children are eager to grown up, therefore they look upon challenges as milestones on the way to adulthood. For example, learning to drive, graduating from high school and college, getting the first job, and buying a first home are all challenges that most young adults eagerly accept and accomplish.

As we get older, we tend to eschew change and even new challenges. Our perception may be that “change” and “challenge” are synonymous with “failure” and “work.” The fact is, however, that even failure and work will lead us to a better future if we have persistence. More importantly though, is the idea that we either forget or don’t realize that challenges keep us happy and motivated for the future.

Physical challenges are important for many reasons. Pushing your body to perform at a higher level than the usual function increases endorphin levels, libido, mental clarity, emotional well-being, heart health and metabolism. These benefits lead to longer and more productive lifestyles.

Regardless of one’s age, one of the best ways to ensure that life remains vital and fulfilling is to embrace challenges.

The Importance of Deep Sleep

There are many different treatment modalities for OSA (obstructive sleep apnea).  It is well documented that over 40% of CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) owners are non-compliant and 17% of people that are diagnosed with OSA refuse to even consider CPAP therapy.  Here at Advanced Oral Diagnosis and Treatment Center (AODTC), we find a much higher rate of compliance with dental appliances for OSA.

It is extremely important that OSA be treated and that your sleep hygiene is in such order that deep (delta sleep) is achieved.  Delta is usually associated with deep, slow-wave sleep, where the body is at total rest. This allows a very important phenomenon to occur promoting the health of the brain.

Among our neurons are Glial cells of which there are several varieties, one of which has a special purpose to protect the other cells from damage, much like how styrofoam protects fine crystal in a box.  Once the body ceases to have strong movement, these cells shrink to one tenth their size, thus allowing fluids to be exchanged and the brain to be cleansed of debris, such as dead cells, cellular waste, and harmful chemicals like MSG and accutane. This could easily explain the 200% increased chance of developing Alzheimer’s when OSA is not corrected.

Earlier I mentioned sleep hygiene.  There are many factors that interfere with sleep in addition to OSA. For millions of years, when the sun went down, all we had for a light source was fire, which stimulates the production of melatonin, the opposite of serotonin. Now we have blue light in the form of TV, cell phones, computers, games and fluorescent lights. Between smart meters and wifi we are now flooded with EMF (Electromagnetic Frequency), which has also been found to mess up your sleep hygiene.

Eating too soon before bed can also cause poor sleep, especially if alcohol or sugar are added. In an earlier ALIVE article I mentioned that lights ought to be removed from soccer fields so that kids can get a family dinner with conversation, and achieve healthy sleep. It’s frightening to think what the youth of today may face in the form of mental health, as they age due to these many modern abuses.

I am fortunate to belong to several medically-oriented societies—especially alternative medicine—and I see a shift happening today in the medical community toward considering our evolution and ancient history more seriously in terms of health. Changing dietary, lifestyle and family practices, among other rituals, can have disastrous consequences. There was a lot of very useful knowledge in Plato’s time and before, that would serve present day man quite well.

At AODTC all of our methods come from a holistic approach.  Our results demonstrate the benefits.  For more information please visit




Calming Restless Legs Syndrome Naturally

What exactly is restless leg syndrome?

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterized by throbbing, pulling, creeping, or other unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable, and sometimes overwhelming, urge to move them. Symptoms occur primarily at night when a person is relaxing or at rest and can increase in severity during the night. Moving the legs relieves the discomfort, which can range in severity from uncomfortable or irritating to painful.

The most distinctive or unusual aspect of RLS that lying down and trying to relax activates the symptoms. Most people with RLS have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Left untreated, the condition causes exhaustion and daytime fatigue. Many people with RLS report that their job, personal relations, and activities of daily living are strongly affected as a result of their sleep deprivation.

Who’s at risk for RLS?

  • Individuals with iron deficiency anemia
  • Individuals on antidepressant medication
  • Pregnant women
  • Frequent blood donors
  • Those who have undergone gastric surgery
  • Chronic smokers and alcoholics
  • Children with ADD/ADHD

RLS has been linked to low levels of dopamine. The neurotransmitter Dopamine is an important messenger in the brain helping to regulate much of our body’s functions, including thinking, behavior, mood, and especially in the case of RLS – rest and movement. Low levels of dopamine can trigger the urge to move our limbs, as found in RLS.

RLS drugs and their side effects

The drugs approved by the FDA for treatment of RLS are Mirapex, Neupro and Requip. These medications (originally developed for treatment of Parkinson’s disease) work by making dopamine more available to receptors. These medications can have side effects from nausea, depression, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, and impulse control disorders. RLS will certainly affect quality of life, but so do these other severe side effects. Research is now revealing the significant role of nutrition, and other natural approaches to RLS.

Key ingredients to reduce RLS

Both iron and folate play key roles in the production of dopamine. In fact, iron deficiency anemia is a known condition associated with RLS. Magnesium and zinc levels also have an impact on RLS. I personally believe in running specific blood tests in order to zero in on what is deficient in each individual to ensure the most effective outcome. Micronutrient Testing allows a person to know exactly what to eat and specifically what to supplement in order to support the healing of their RLS.

Healing your RLS

Conditions like restless legs syndrome can significantly interrupt daily life, but we work to figure out what the body needs, and provide that in a course of treatment. Through natural techniques based in science such as specialty lab testing, personalized supplementation, low force chiropractic to restore nerve function and laser therapy to speed up the healing process we can correct the critical imbalances causing the RLS.There is nothing more gratifying than helping a patient resolve an issue utilizing natural therapies that give them their life and their joy back.

Dr. Niele Maimone, DC is the owner of Align Healing Center in Danville, CA.  For more information or to set up a complimentary consult call 925.362.8283 or visit