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Fat Man Pedaling
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
:confused: :confused: I am having trouble figuring out where my heart rate zones should be and
how best to obtain aerobic conditioning in order to build speed.

I am 41, 5'10 about 245 pounds (big heart attack gut). This will begin my
second year of cycling. My primary goal right now is to lose 10 pounds
(for starters, so I can wear pants comfortably) and then to focus on
building speed. I did well achieving my endurance goals last season,
feeling comfortable at the end of 50 miles and doing a couple rides that
were close to 60 miles. At the end of last season, I could get to about 14
to 14.5 mph with some exertion. Got weight below 230. Right now, I can't
even get to 14 without a lot of exertion (which is fine as a means to an
end, but by the end of the Spring, I'd like to be able to maintain at least
15 mph for rides of at least 50 miles). Longer term goals are to get weight
below 200 and get solo speeds to 17 mph (comfortably).

Due to weather and schedule/family considerations, my training for the next
month will occur on a stairstepper
with the exception of one or two rides
per week. I used an indoor trainer once, hated it with a passion and
besides I don't have any money for one.

I am using the stepper for aerobic development. Additionally using weights
for some core weight training, (legs back and abs) to build some strength.
(I enjoy working with weights for my legs, they are enormous, as is the
torso that rests atop them, I have the physique from my mother's side of
the family, whereas my siblings and father are much more "chicken-legged",
mine are like tree trunks, I am not in the least bit slender, I am built
like a truck, my father called me "Tank" for years.)

I know I will get some heat for this, but I just am much more comfortable
working out in a gym than ruining a perfectly good bike ride by focusing on
zones and timing and intensity while out riding. I like the bike for the
fun of it and just and am so uncertain as to how to use it in real world
situations to train. If I had the money and time, I'd hire a trainer.

Below 135, I am sweating and able to talk with no difficulty. Perception of
exertion: I feel like it's a waste of time.

From 140- 150 bpm, I am reasonably comfortable, feel good that I am working
this hard but not really pushing hard, sweating very heavily (when you're
245 and italian, it doesn't take a lot of effort to induce profuse
sweating) and able to converse with only moderate difficulty. No one talks
to me, how should I know!

At about 150 bpm I am working "hard" but am still able to consume my drink
without trouble. Can talk briefly.

At 155-160 it's pretty hard to drink (just small quick sips), I feel like I
could continue at this pace indefinitely (or at least a half hour).

162-169, I can feel soreness developing in my calves afer a minute (I assume I am now above LT) and am unable to drink
at all because I can't catch my breath long enough to swallow. Exertions
between 162-169 at this pace are hard after a few minutes but I generally
will do intervals of 20 mins, cool down for 5 at about 140 bpm then 14 mins
and cool down again and then 8 mins and a final cool down. Each successive
interval is increasing the perception of exertion. I intentionally allow
only a partial cool down between intervals.

I can do exertions of 170-175 bpm for about 3 mins and then cool for 3 then on
for 3. It's very uncomfortable. High perception of exertion.

Above 175 bpm I feel like I might hurl and feel maximum exertion. Unable to
continue after a minute or two. (well, I could put up with it a little
more if, like, people were shooting at me, but I wouldn't do it for no
reason) Heart rate does not stabilize, it just keeps going up for as long
as I do it at that level.

Any recommendations (other than to get out on the bike) on how to use the
stepper to raise LT and hopefully use aerobic conditioning to build speed.
I am not sure what my max heart rate is (probably between 190-210, I
usually use 190) and am concerned for my health of attempting an all out
effort to find out. I have a nature that generally allows me to work
through pain and knowing myself, I would work through the pain right up to
the point when the ambulance/coroner gets called.
 

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It's simple

You basically need to just ride, or use the stair machine, or whatever, as follows:

recovery - I can sing!
endurance - I can talk in full sentences
tempo - I have to talk slowly
threshold - grunt
sprint - huff, huff, huff, huff

To improve your ability to go fast, do 2 or 3 10 minute intervals close to threshold, with recovery in between. The reason most people don't get faster on the bike is because they don't ride faster - you have to push it. If you want to get more precise, ride 30 minutes as fast as you can (maximum sustainable speed) and note your HR in the last 20 minutes. That is your threshold HR, aka Lactate Threshold, or Anaerobic Threshold, within reason. You can find lots of information about LT or AT heart rate training.
 

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For president!
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I would tailor your stair workouts to the amount of time you want to spend. If you're spending a half hour or less, do most of it at a high intensity, above 150 bpm. If you are willing to spend an hour on there, do a couple of 20 minute intervals around 155, with 5-10 minutes of recovery down to 135 in between.

This will really work your aerobic system, and allow you to do this every day without too much necessary recovery.

When you can get out on the bike, do as long a ride as possible, staying in your endurance HR, somewhere between 135-150. This will help you lose weight.

My only concern is that at your weight a stairstepper may not be the best choice. It will put a lot of strain on your knees. If you're working out at a gym, you may be better off on an elliptical machine.

Silas
 

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Just another opinion - by no means am I an expert on any of this but this is my 2 cents worth. I do not think that it is going to be a fruitful endeavor to focus too much on zones and interval training as much as you sound like you are. The path to good fitness and weight loss is long and slow. I am 48 yrs old and just got back into cycling last July. I started at 5’9.5” and 190 lbs, I’m now 172 lbs. I rode all summer into the fall; 4 – 5 days a week at 20 – 30 miles per ride on rolling hills. Although I saw improvement in my endurance I had minimal weight loss. Upstate NY winters drove me indoors in November and I’m now riding the trainer 1 – 1.5 hours per day, 5-6 days a week. I started my trainer workouts with various spinnerval DVDS, all recovery or interval workouts. Sometime around December I read something that made me change my routine to spinning for an hour or so with my HR between 130 – 140 bpm. For me this equates to between 70-75% mhr. Fat burning, aerobic base building work, much easier riding than I’d been doing (I felt like I was wasting my time). Additionally I do at least one day a week with the musclel building #11 BIG GEAR STRENGTH DVD. I lost most of my weight indoors while following this regime.

The other side of this equation, in my opinion, is not how much I ride but what and how much I eat. I have gone from eating lunch and dinner only with PM TV snacking to where I am now - an oatmeal breakfast, fruit and yogurt at 10 AM, soup for lunch fruit at 2 PM ride 1 hours plus, and a dinner with moderate portions. I have eliminated all beverages but water, tea and sports drinks. I have cut out as much fat in my diet as possible; no cheese (I’m Italian too so I still have to have my pasta w/ cheese), no fast food and I read all the labels before I eat anything. Nothing too Draconian, a lot of fruit, veggies, whole grain bread and cereal. I still eat pasta 2+ times a week but only two bowls at a time. I’m real close to where I want to be weight wise and I think I’m building a decent base so starting in March I will be cutting my aerobic time to 45 min each session and then I’ll fill in the rest of the workout with intervals and strength drills. By April I’ll be back on the pavement full time I hope.

I would suggest you concentrate on the aerobic / weight loss type sessions and drop some weight; 70 – 75% MHR. The rest will fall into place as your overall fitness levels rise and your weight drops. I think what I’ve learned is that a workout need not have to hurt to be of real benefit and weight kills you on hills.
 

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gastarbeiter
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that's a good list.

mine defined like this:

recovery - spinning in lighest gear
endurance - I can talk in full sentences
steady - can speak, but need to concentrate
AC - (aerobic capacity) can answer direct questions - like yes, and no - although absolute focus is on riding


Kerry Irons said:
You basically need to just ride, or use the stair machine, or whatever, as follows:

recovery - I can sing!
endurance - I can talk in full sentences
tempo - I have to talk slowly
threshold - grunt
sprint - huff, huff, huff, huff
 

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must Reading

"The Heart Rate Monitor Book For Cyclists" By Sally Edwards and Sally Reed

A must read for all beginning cyclists
 

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the spyder said:
"The Heart Rate Monitor Book For Cyclists" By Sally Edwards and Sally Reed

A must read for all beginning cyclists
I've read mixed reviews for this book - some love it while others find it lacking. If you wouldn't mind, could you give us a distillation of the main points made in the book. Thanks
 

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If I were you, I wouldn't use the heart rate monitor until I was in better shape. Why not just ride how you feel and do some fartlek training on the hills. Ride endurance pace on the flat (a pace you can carry on a conversation with) and ride hard up the hills. This will give you the occassional hard interval session to improve your fitness while also giving you long miles at endurance pace to burn fat. If it happend to be flat where you live, use some other method that you decide to get some intervals like riding hard after every time you stop for 30 to 60 seconds and then ease off into endurance pace until you stop again. There are many people that don't use the heart rate monitors, many racers even. Think about it, if you are in a race and want to keep up with the group, you need to go as hard as it takes to stay with the group when the pace jumps regardless of what your heart rate montior says.
 

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I’m confused too…..
ggusta said:
I am having trouble figuring out where my heart rate zones should be and
how best to obtain aerobic conditioning in order to build speed.
and yet….
ggusta said:
I just am much more comfortable
working out in a gym than ruining a perfectly good bike ride by focusing on
zones and timing and intensity while out riding.
So you want to figure out your zones and how to use them, but don’t want to actually use them because it will ruin your bike ride?

I think the answer you are looking for is “This is how you get fit for cycling using a stepper and weights…” Sorry, but you’ll never hear that. To get fast on a bike you have to ride the bike fast. Gym work is OK to suplement cycling, but cannot replace it.

SilasCL, Spinnerman and Kerry Irons are right, but I’ll add a little more detail to the zones you report:

ggusta said:
From 140- 150 bpm, I am reasonably comfortable, feel good that I am working
this hard but not really pushing hard, sweating very heavily (when you're
245 and italian, it doesn't take a lot of effort to induce profuse
sweating) and able to converse with only moderate difficulty. No one talks
to me, how should I know!
This is where most recreational riders ride. Good for general fitness and weight loss. Either this or the next zone should form the core of your riding. 2-4 times per week

ggusta said:
At about 150 bpm I am working "hard" but am still able to consume my drink
without trouble. Can talk briefly.

At 155-160 it's pretty hard to drink (just small quick sips), I feel like I
could continue at this pace indefinitely (or at least a half hour).
This is the core aerobic training zone for competative cyclists. You will see a marked increase in fitness and weight loss in this zone, but it is also quite hard/uncomfortable and therefore not commonly ridden at by recreational riders for sustained periods. This zone increases blood flow to the muscles, increase the hearts ability to pump blood and increases the bodies ability to work at high intensity before the onset of fatigue. To wit you will be able to ride both faster and longer. A goal would be to stretch your riding time at 155-160BPM to 2 hours.

ggusta said:
162-169, I can feel soreness developing in my calves afer a minute (I assume I am now above LT) and am unable to drink
at all because I can't catch my breath long enough to swallow. Exertions
between 162-169 at this pace are hard after a few minutes but I generally
will do intervals of 20 mins
This is close to your aerobic threshold. It stresses the aerobic system and conditions the body to maintain high aerobic power output before fatiguing. Ultimately should be done in one block of 25-30mins with a good warm up/down, but due to the intense nature it is often broken down into smaller blocks of 10 mins with small 5 minuit breaks. If you have the time then you could do these 1-2 times a week on top of the lower intensity rides, but not to replace them.

ggusta said:
I can do exertions of 170-175 bpm for about 3 mins and then cool for 3 then on
for 3. It's very uncomfortable. High perception of exertion.

Above 175 bpm I feel like I might hurl and feel maximum exertion. Unable to
continue after a minute or two….
These (and above) are anerobic intervals and should really only be done with a strong base level of fitness and be prescribed by a coach for specific (usually race oriented) training. I.e. don’t do them.

ggusta said:
Any recommendations (other than to get out on the bike) on how to use the stepper to raise LT and hopefully use aerobic conditioning to build speed.
Nope. You’ll just keep hearing the same thing over and over again: Get out on the bike, at least 2-4 times a week. Sorry, but you won’t hear the answer you’re looking for…. You can’t get cycling fit using a stepper and weights alone. You need to actually ride the bike.

Also bear in mind: It is useless tuning up the engine if you’re not gasing up with rocket fuel. Make sure you’re eating right.
 
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