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  1. #1
    Senior Member davin1023's Avatar
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    Building stamina for a complete newbie...

    So what is the best way to build stamina? I've just started riding and I'm way out of shape. I road 1.5 miles my first day in about 20 minutes and added a half mile the next day (today), but when I got home and felt like I was walking on spaghetti legs.

    I know most folks laugh off 2 miles, and I would like to get to that point, but I'm not sure of the best route.

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    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Make sure your seat is high enough. Your leg should be nearly straight on the downstroke. With a low seat, it will kill your legs in short order (unless you're a skinny kid). It's like walking; you can walk all day and be fine, but try doing a duck-walk for 50 yards, and you'll kill your legs.

    Use lower gears and pedal faster as opposed to higher gears and pedaling slow and hard.

    Otherwise, just keep riding. You'll build up some muscle and likely lose some weight, too.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  3. #3
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    It's really not that hard especially if you keep it simple. For the first 4-5 weeks I advice to stay away from hills as much as you can. Lots of guys will tell you hitting the hills will make you stronger, which is true but just hold off on them for awhle. So say you do 6 miles this week total, add 10% the next week so say 6.5 miles then add 10% again now your close to 7.5 miles in another week you will be up to 8.5 miles and so on. You can speed it up by adding 10% every ride. If you do weekly thing you will be doing almost 20 miles in 10 weeks. I did the 10% every ride but had decent physical fitness level. Most important thing to remember is 2 miles on the bike is way better than none on the sofa. Also don't forget recovery days, you build strength when muscle repairs itself.
    Best thing about cycling is when I'm at work I'm thinking of cycling, when I'm cycling I'm thinking about cycling.

  4. #4
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    You'll get a lot of good advice on this forum, but I'll put my 2 cents in anyway. If 2 miles causes spaghetti legs stick with 1.5 for as much time as it takes to be comfortable, then step up by 1/2 or 1 mile. Don't know how old you are or how long it's been since you've been in shape, but since you're not training for anything take your time. Maybe only ride 2 out of 3 days. Riding uses different muscles and requires a different posture than normal activity so it's going to take time to get comfortable.

    Bicycling is a life "sport" so no one on this forum is going to laugh at someone who is getting started. Congrats on taking the first step.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member jaxgtr's Avatar
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    Eddy Mercx gave probably the best answer for this type of question. Answer: Ride Lots. Just ride what your body feels is comfortable, but challenge it a little as well. You will see your condition improve and before you know it, you will be posting the I just rode my first Metric.

    Keep at it and you will be fine.
    Brian | 2013 Cannondale SuperSix 5 | 2003 Trek 7300 | 2014 Trek CrossRip Comp
    Quote Originally Posted by AEO View Post
    you should learn to embrace change, and mock it's failings every step of the way.

  6. #6
    Laid back bent rider unixpro's Avatar
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    Listen to your body, though. Rest is just as important as exercise, especially when you're just starting back. Some pain might be something to work through, but pain to the point where you can't move your legs is not. Give that a day off the bike and then try again.

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    Congrats on starting to ride ! Keep it fun & just keep riding. You will be amazed at how fast your stamina will improve. Also, you may want to consider a good pair of cycling bibs / shorts when you start to achieve longer rides.

    +1 on the rest days.

    Congrats & enjoy !!
    You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. - Robin Williams

    Never be frightenend to walk out of step with others because you will walk on ground no one else touches

    Remember, hard work pays off later but procastination pays off now!

    My Rides: '06 Giant OCR Limited & '95 GT OUTPOST

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    Ride an hour a day...and make sure your seat is adjusted high enough. Every few days take one off.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by davin1023 View Post
    So what is the best way to build stamina?
    Keep riding, this is the only thing that will help. When I first started in August I could barely go around the block twice. The only thing that helped was riding.

  10. #10
    Member Theologic Bear's Avatar
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    I weigh 315 lbs and just started biking one month ago. When I started, I began to think that maybe buying a thousand dollar bike was not the best idea because I would get worn out and winded in twenty minutes. I posted a thread kinda like you, and people said that it would get better quickly. Guess what? It did! I was impressed out how fast my stamina and strength increased. For instance, just today, one month later, I rode for 3 hours averaging 9 miles per hour~26mi. Quite an improvement for me! My weight hasn't gone down as fast as I had hoped, but it is going down, and I know that I am shifting gobs of that weight to muscle. Keep it up. It will get better fast if you just ride, ride, ride.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davin1023 View Post
    So what is the best way to build stamina? I've just started riding and I'm way out of shape. I road 1.5 miles my first day in about 20 minutes and added a half mile the next day (today), but when I got home and felt like I was walking on spaghetti legs.

    I know most folks laugh off 2 miles, and I would like to get to that point, but I'm not sure of the best route.
    2 miles is 2 miles further then 95% of the population over then age of 20 will ever ride again. Okay, now take one day off, then try for 1 mile, most books on exercise training will tell you that off days are more important the on days, A book I have on bicycle training has distances for Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday when getting started, so take tomorrow off, then ride one mile, when you feel like 1 mile is no longer pushing it, then go to 1.5 miles, then 2 miles, then 3 miles, then 5 miles, come up with a ride schedule that works for you. When you get up to about 5 miles, then pick a day where you can do a longer ride, so maybe you do a 5 mile ride on Wednesday, a 6 mile ride on Saturday, then a 5 mile ride on Sunday. The logic here is to have the long ride on Saturday when you have more time to commit to it. The shorter Sunday ride is intended to be a recovery ride. Plan to add about 10% to your total each week, 1/2 to 3/4ths of that is added to your longest ride....

  12. #12
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    First things first, enjoy your successes!
    In just one day you increased your riding distance by 33%!
    Yes, it was 1.5 miles to 2 miles, which is two miles further than you rode two days ago! Congratulations on the start, and success to you in the future!

    As for building stamina.... get back on the bike, ride. Then get off, and get some rest. Repeat. Enjoy your successes, revel in your glory, and don't forget to tell us about them!

  13. #13
    SERENITY NOW!!! jyossarian's Avatar
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    Ride to the store, the pub, the restaurant, the library, the video store, the dry cleaner, to work...
    HHCMF - Take pride in your ability to amaze lesser mortals! - MikeR



    We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Jtgyk's Avatar
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    I started out by taking a 2 mile pledge (that I would ride anywhere, within a 2 mile radius of my house, that I would normally drive) and got a rack and grocery panniers for my bike.

    I was pleased with how quickly I got used to multiple 2 mile rides a day. 8 months later 35 mile rides were no problem.
    Hey, I'm just this GUY...you know?
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    I was in the same boat. I started from zero and thought the first two mile ride I did with my daughters was going to kill me. The important thing is to keep going. Push your self a little at a time but keep cycling on a regular basis. When I started, I wheezed going up a flight of stairs. Now, I can tell a significant change in my lungs and my stamina is greatly improved. I am not progressing as fast as some of the others on the forum but I can see steady improvement in myself.

    The bottom line is keep riding, your stamina will improve. Before you know it, rides you do now will not even seem like a big deal.

  16. #16
    NC cyclust
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    Since everyone has told you to "just keep riding", I won't add that again[ although that's really the best advice] , but I will sugest something new. Stretching. If you are getting "spagetti legs", try stretching both before and after your ride. It might just help with your recovery.

  17. #17
    HenryL HenryL's Avatar
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    Congrats on starting to ride. I would suggest a physical before proceeding. If 2 miles is tireing you out, a complete physical is on order if only to be certain you are ready to tackle extended periods of exercise. Next is check your gearing, if you are pushing hard on the pedals AND you aren't in shape yet, then you are asking for trouble. Also check the seat height so you are using your whole leg. Tire inflation is another thing to check, rolling resistance is something that can really increase friction.

    Take your time, set small obtainable goals and it will all fall into place.

  18. #18
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Give it a few weeks. My first ride was 3 miles, and I was exhausted. A month later, I completed a 33 mile road ride. And so it goes. Within a week or two, you should see a dramatic increase in mileage.

  19. #19
    Senior Member munski1968's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nccyclust View Post
    Since everyone has told you to "just keep riding", I won't add that again[ although that's really the best advice] , but I will sugest something new. Stretching. If you are getting "spagetti legs", try stretching both before and after your ride. It might just help with your recovery.
    +1 on the stretching. Aso, keeping propery hydrated will help your muscles from cramping. I know it sounds crazy when it's only 20 degrees, and you feel more like an icicle after a ride, but lack of hydration will cause your muscles to get that spaghetti feeling. Drink plenty of water, and stretch.
    I also (mainly because of my weight-loss surgery), drink protein powders. I have a serving of a product called "Muscle Milk", before, and after a ride. It helps muscle synthesis after your body goes into a catabloic state, and keeps the muscles burning fat.
    Keep riding, and enjoy it. Pain, and soreness is a deterent you dont want to deal with right now.

  20. #20
    staring at the mountains superdex's Avatar
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    * don't stretch cold muscles (http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com...tretching.html)
    * 'nearly straight' is different than 25-30 degrees
    * yep, keep at it!

  21. #21
    Senior Member davin1023's Avatar
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    I wanted to thank everyone for their great advice on this. As of today I hit a milestone for me. 5 miles in one ride. Tired afterward, but not as tired as after 2 miles a couple of weeks back.

  22. #22
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    Can someone explain this to me?

    "Use lower gears and pedal faster as opposed to higher gears and pedaling slow and hard."

    Is it because you get a better cardio/vascular workout or maybe endurance is better in this mode? I'm guessing here..
    I used to be young and pretty. Now I'm just pretty

  23. #23
    Rabbit Habbit! Jerry in So IL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buttmonkey View Post
    Can someone explain this to me?

    "Use lower gears and pedal faster as opposed to higher gears and pedaling slow and hard."

    Is it because you get a better cardio/vascular workout or maybe endurance is better in this mode? I'm guessing here..

    I'll take a shot...the higher RPMs and lower force is easier on the knees and muscles.

    Jerry
    I'll be needing that for squirels and such....

  24. #24
    Senior Member Jtgyk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buttmonkey View Post
    Can someone explain this to me?

    "Use lower gears and pedal faster as opposed to higher gears and pedaling slow and hard."

    Is it because you get a better cardio/vascular workout or maybe endurance is better in this mode? I'm guessing here..
    It's just more efficient for your body....the correct balance of cardio to strength.
    Hey, I'm just this GUY...you know?
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  25. #25
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Suppose you took a bicycle out to a steep hill and tried riding over it in different ways. You might put it in the very highest gear and find out you can't ride up the hill at all. So you try some lower gear and discover you can just barely make it over the hill. And then in some lower gear, it'll be a bit easier. And in some super-low gear, you'll be going so slow, it won't seem worth the effort. So there's got to be a mid-point in there somwhere, where it's the easiest and best way to get up that hill. And that high gear where you just barely make it up, is not going to be the one to use, unless you just want a good workout out of it. If you do ride over the hill in that just-barely gear, you may not make it over the next hill.

    The original poster mentioned problems with endurance, without going into detail, and I mentioned some things that could cause problems- and going uphill in that just-barely-make-it gear is one of them.

    The intent is to do whatever is easiest, just it may take some experimenting to find out what is easiest. If you're riding up hills in some higher gear and it works for you, by all means keep doing it. Remember the quote where they asked the bike racer if it was better to spin a low gear or mash a high gear and he said you need to spin the high gear?
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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