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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 08-02-10, 12:17 PM   #1
markdavid570
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Burning Calories with Time, Distance, Hills, etc.

First, let me start off by saying that I'm not looking for advice on how to lose a ton of weight...I know...burning more calories than what is taken in...best way is through a proper diet...

With that being said, I wanted to see what the general opinion is on how to burn more calories in a set amount of time. The reason I ask is this: I have two routes that I usually ride on weeknights. They both can (and usually are) slightly varied depending on how much time I have and what I feel like doing at the time. One route has a lot of hills (I'm in central PA, so they're not huge mountains but rather many rolling hills that can get pretty steep at times). The other is a bit flatter throughout most of the ride. The flatter ride is usually about five miles longer, but I can finish them both in a similar amount of time, which is important to me for weeknights as I like to be done by a certain time.

Now, I know that getting better on hills is important for many reasons, so I'm not trying to get out of that. What I'm trying to find out is whether there would be any significant change in the estimated number of calories burned between a 20-mile ride with lots of hills and a 25-mile ride that is flatter but takes roughly the same amount of time? Either way, I plan to switch them up regularly enough to keep myself from getting bored with any one specific ride.

Also...who spins up hills and who climbs out of the saddle? For longer, steadier climbs I try to get into a rythm and spin my way up. Lately, though, on shorter/steeper climbs, I've been standing up. Just curious.
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Old 08-02-10, 12:24 PM   #2
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If the rides are of more or less equal time, I'd go for the hills. It makes sense to me that you'd be working harder over the same period of time. But that's just my opinion, with nothing scientific to back it up.

I tend to spin up hills more than stand, though I do stand on occasion. Standing is a time-honored way to get over short hills quickly (aka sprinters' hills). I'd probably stand more but for the fact that my leg muscles tire much more quickly doing that than spinning. Plus I've never been very good at guessing how much higher a gear I need to shift into in order to be at the right, slower cadence for standing
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Old 08-02-10, 01:13 PM   #3
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My climbing position varies with the hill. Like CraigB pointed out, short hills can get attacked in a higher gear while standing for leverage. On long hills I'll gear it down and settle into a pace. I rode a 16 mile climb this weekend and varied myself between spinning and standing just to change things up every once in a while.
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Old 08-02-10, 01:38 PM   #4
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One way to look at this, short of having a power meter, is: heart rate.

On which ride is your HRavg higher? The higher the HRavg, the more work you did, which equates to more kcals burned.

(Please note, things like colds/flu, stress, or even environmental factors can effect HR. So this is a general guide only.)
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Old 08-03-10, 07:25 AM   #5
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That's a good point. I went on the ride with more hills yesterday and felt a bit more "worn out" after. However, I did notice that while I spent more time going up hills...I also spent more time recovering from those hills. On the flatter ride I feel like I spin much more consistently over the whole ride.

Haha...all in all I think I just need to mix it up and do both because it's no use trying to get out of climbing!
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Old 08-03-10, 07:31 AM   #6
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Just keep attacking those hills and it will get easier each time.
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Old 08-03-10, 07:35 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markdavid570 View Post
That's a good point. I went on the ride with more hills yesterday and felt a bit more "worn out" after. However, I did notice that while I spent more time going up hills...I also spent more time recovering from those hills. On the flatter ride I feel like I spin much more consistently over the whole ride.

Haha...all in all I think I just need to mix it up and do both because it's no use trying to get out of climbing!
Mixing it up is good. The more intense ride will certainly burn more calories, and will get you fitter, faster - but you may also find that you need to eat more afterwards because you will have depleted the sugars stored in your muscles. And ideally any training regime should include a mix of hard and easy rides.

As for climbing standing or seated, its probably more efficient to stay seated most of the time, but as you've discovered, standing can enable you to power over small hills without losing your momentum. And sometimes it helps to get out of the saddle just to vary your position and recruit a different set of muscles.
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