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  1. #1
    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    Heart rate and weight loss- y u so confuzin?

    Ok, perhaps this can turn into some good future info for someone, maybe be added to a sticky thread, but I have been doing some reading. Ok, a lot of reading, on heart rate (HR) and weight loss (WL) and here is what I have learned.

    I should also preface, for clarification sake, this is all being done while on a low-carb, high protein, high veggie diet. I try to limit myself to 1700 calories a day while watching things like my sugar and salt intake.


    Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but at the same time I am a bit lost, question is below.

    What I have been reading is that you need to figure out your Max HR (MHR), which is generally 220- age for males, although I found another method and now can no longer find it but the age method puts me at 191, the other method gave me 187.

    So with HR and WL I have been reading some semi-conflicting info.

    1) Some people suggest that you work at a 60-70% of MHR to be in a WL zone because otherwise you will be in an anaerobic state which means your muscles and body will convert glucose (sugars and carbs) into fuel and therefore reducing the need to use ATPs (the energy "currency") which is what your mitochondria use to produce energy on the cellular level and is/can be derived from fats stored in your body. This is where your body burns more FAT CALORIES (so stored fat) versus just calories.

    2) Other suggest you workout at an 80-90% of MHR which puts you into an anaerobic state meaning your body will use glucose more readily because it is converted quicker into fuel, and usually more readily available. This also puts you near or above most persons lactic thresholds (LH) which means your muscles are working with less oxygen then they are used to. This is where your body just flat out burns more calories but usually isn't burning more fat calories.

    3) And the final area seems to be where you participate in high intensity interval training (HIIT) and that seems to "blend" the 2 different styles above into one. You push yourself for short periods, and then recovery, and then repeat for a short period of time. This pushes the muscles to work in the anaerobic state and then the recovery, and subsequent time after working out, has your body using more oxygen and therefore using more energy as it recovers.

    I ask all this because that is a rather large variance in HR when trying to burn fat. Obviously I want to make sure I am doing things correctly, but what have you all found to be effective? If I am reading correctly, the lower spectrum is the easiest and least fatiguing of the WL styles, 50-70% MHR would put me around 113-130 BPM, whereas the other would put me much higher and in an anaerobic state. If it is the lower end that is most effective I now know I need to slow down on my long rides, but I also don't want to take 5 hours to go 20 miles .

    After all this reading my guess is that HIIT would be the most effective way. Curious to know what others have experienced.


    Some sources of my learning:
    Long-ish article on HR, target HR, and WL
    http://correct-weight-loss.net/2011/...r-weight-loss/

    Shorter article tailored to cyclists and training with a HRM
    http://www.cycling-inform.com/heart-...e-your-cycling

    General info on HIIT
    http://www.active.com/cycling/Articl...-for-Beginners

    Research done at some point to compare HIIT to regular cardio training (I think someone else referenced this on here when I did some searching)
    http://www.exrx.net/FatLoss/HIITvsET.html
    Last edited by Chitown_Mike; 05-03-13 at 01:59 PM.
    Looking forward to my winter commuting adventure.....

  2. #2
    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    And some more sources I read from:

    Heart rate charts
    http://www.heart.com/heart-rate-chart.html

    About.com article
    http://exercise.about.com/od/weightl...rning-Zone.htm
    Looking forward to my winter commuting adventure.....

  3. #3
    Senior Member ClydesMoose's Avatar
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    I've always heard diet has far more of an impact on weight. Eat to lose weight, and exercise to get healthy. /shrug

  4. #4
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    This whole "fat burning zone" stuff is BS... In my humble opinion. I suppose theoretically, if you are going slow enough you'll convert fat stores to energy rather than using the glycogen stored in your muscles but I think the best strategy is to work out, work out often and manage your calories in and calories out to achieve the deficit you desire. That's how you will lose weight.

    That 220 - age isn't really a good formula either, it's just an estimate.

    If you want to get fancy, you can test your lactate threshold hear rate and base your workouts on that value, particularly if you want to do intervals.

  5. #5
    Living 'n Dying in -Time JBHoren's Avatar
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    In the mid-1990s (when I was in my mid-40s), I used to jog 5K, six days-a-week, and dutifully wore-and-monitored my Polar HR chest-strap transmitter and wristwatch. I'd be watching the road, watching for traffic, and watching my watch, trying to keep my heart rate between an upper and lower limit, in that elusive Weight-Loss Zone. As I got older, I moved to indoor rowing, and kept monitoring my heart rate, chasing the Weigh-Loss Zone. After years of being in-thrall to heart-rate measurements, I finally realized that I'd graduated to the realm of Perceived Exertion: if I feel like I'm working too hard, I slow down; if I feel like I'm not working hard enough, I speed up; and if I feel good, I go with it.

    All of which is to say that good workouts, in any sport, are not "one day" affairs; rather, it's a process of (apologies to AA) "stringing good workouts together, one workout at-a-time". Now, I'm 61; so I (try to) work-out five days-a-week: three days of long(er), slow(er) rides, and two days of intervals. I live in flat South Florida, so I tend to take advantage of even the slightest uphill terrain and work harder.

    The formula I've always liked (hat-tip to Covert Bailey) is FIT: Frequency, Intensity, and Time. Do it regularly, do it with sufficient intensity, do it for long enough... and you'll get FIT (and lose weight).

    Regardless of what you do, twenty-minutes of any workout, done indifferently and/or haphazardly, won't build strength or endurance... and, just as important, won't build self-confidence.

    Of course, YMMV!

  6. #6
    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClydesMoose View Post
    I've always heard diet has far more of an impact on weight. Eat to lose weight, and exercise to get healthy. /shrug
    I should have had a preface to my message! I 100% agree with you, and that's where I have seen my results from the most.



    Quote Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
    This whole "fat burning zone" stuff is BS... In my humble opinion. I suppose theoretically, if you are going slow enough you'll convert fat stores to energy rather than using the glycogen stored in your muscles but I think the best strategy is to work out, work out often and manage your calories in and calories out to achieve the deficit you desire. That's how you will lose weight.

    That 220 - age isn't really a good formula either, it's just an estimate.

    If you want to get fancy, you can test your lactate threshold hear rate and base your workouts on that value, particularly if you want to do intervals.
    I go into the doc's in a little over a week, I want to make sure I am good to go before I get all into HIIT and wanting to lose weight. Also going to ask about seeing if she should write a recommendation for me to see someone who can test LT and all that jazz. I would rather have insurance cover it since I rarely use it anyway. I just want to be more effective, lately I have hit a wall and even with my calories under my daily allowance (and I track everything) I haven't been losing weight after just having lost 13 lbs.
    Looking forward to my winter commuting adventure.....

  7. #7
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    You can estimate your LTHR on the road... just go balls out for 20 min. and see what your average HR is. Your effort should be fairly consistent for the 20 min.

  8. #8
    Senior Member mr_pedro's Avatar
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    Forget about the "fat burning zone". If you want to loose fat you should create a calorie deficit, e.g. 500-1000 per day, and make sure to eat enough protein (about 0.7g per day per lbs of target weight), that's it!

  9. #9
    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
    You can estimate your LTHR on the road... just go balls out for 20 min. and see what your average HR is. Your effort should be fairly consistent for the 20 min.
    That's the goal this weekend. I have a MUP that is basically only cyclists early morning and there is a several mile stretch with no stops so I plan on running hard on that, taking it easy, then going again.



    Quote Originally Posted by mr_pedro View Post
    Forget about the "fat burning zone". If you want to loose fat you should create a calorie deficit, e.g. 500-1000 per day, and make sure to eat enough protein (about 0.7g per day per lbs of target weight), that's it!
    See I have been doing that, more like 400-500 deficit, and plateaud really bad this last week. BUT I can feel myself getting stronger on a bike and my legs have significantly toned up, my wife noticed more than I did ( ). But I also know that I am not riding as I should on a bike and when I have been lately I have found myself burned out before the ride is over, but then quickly recover after.
    Looking forward to my winter commuting adventure.....

  10. #10
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Forget about the 220-age formula, it was never scientific in the first place and max HR varies enormously between individuals and doesn't seem to mean much.

    Do the LTHR test, as others have suggested. Then use that figure to set your HR zones. I use Friel's system:

    Zone 1: 65-80% of LTHR
    Zone 2: 81-88%
    Zone 3: 89-93%
    Zone 4: 94-99%
    Zone 5a: 100-102%
    Zone 5b: 103-105%
    Zone 5c: > 105%

    I don't think the "fat-burning zone" is complete BS, though it is often misunderstood. Riding at low intensities, in Z1 and z2, will mean that you get almost all of your fuel directly from fat stores, and will conserve the glycogen in your liver and muscles. The more intense the effort, the less fat and more glycogen you burn, until in Z5c it's all glycogen

    This does not mean, however, that you lose more weight by riding at lower intensities. Calories out is calories out, and if you exhaust your glycogen stores those calories still have to be replaced, so a hard hour will shift more weight than an easy hour. Nonetheless, doing longer rides at lower intensities does have advantages. It conditions your system to keep fuelling itself from fat at slightly higher intensities, and this will improve your endurance on the bike. In addition, my personal experience is that riding for three hours to burn 1800kcal leaves me less ravenous than riding for two hours to burn 1600kcal (I can't ride hard enough to burn 1800 in two hours). I think it is something to do with the body demanding that exhausted glycogen stores are replaced. YMMV, of course.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  11. #11
    Senior Member IBOHUNT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    Forget about the 220-age formula, it was never scientific in the first place and max HR varies enormously between individuals and doesn't seem to mean much.

    Do the LTHR test, as others have suggested. Then use that figure to set your HR zones. I use Friel's system:

    Zone 1: 65-80% of LTHR
    Zone 2: 81-88%
    Zone 3: 89-93%
    Zone 4: 94-99%
    Zone 5a: 100-102%
    Zone 5b: 103-105%
    Zone 5c: > 105%

    I don't think the "fat-burning zone" is complete BS, though it is often misunderstood. Riding at low intensities, in Z1 and z2, will mean that you get almost all of your fuel directly from fat stores, and will conserve the glycogen in your liver and muscles. The more intense the effort, the less fat and more glycogen you burn, until in Z5c it's all glycogen

    This does not mean, however, that you lose more weight by riding at lower intensities. Calories out is calories out, and if you exhaust your glycogen stores those calories still have to be replaced, so a hard hour will shift more weight than an easy hour. Nonetheless, doing longer rides at lower intensities does have advantages. It conditions your system to keep fuelling itself from fat at slightly higher intensities, and this will improve your endurance on the bike. In addition, my personal experience is that riding for three hours to burn 1800kcal leaves me less ravenous than riding for two hours to burn 1600kcal (I can't ride hard enough to burn 1800 in two hours). I think it is something to do with the body demanding that exhausted glycogen stores are replaced. YMMV, of course.
    ^that

    and to this deal:

    http://www.heart.com/heart-rate-chart.html

    Now that there is funny!
    Someone sure don't want sued by writing that bit. Safe heart rate = 60%. Well DUH!

    Go do the 20 min test and you'll know what your maxHR is. I found a hill it would (used to) take me 20 min to go up.

    From the Training and Nutrition forum:

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...threshold-test

  12. #12
    Senior Member mr_pedro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chitown_Mike View Post
    See I have been doing that, more like 400-500 deficit, and plateaud really bad this last week. BUT I can feel myself getting stronger on a bike and my legs have significantly toned up, my wife noticed more than I did ( ). But I also know that I am not riding as I should on a bike and when I have been lately I have found myself burned out before the ride is over, but then quickly recover after.
    Loosing weight and running at a calorie deficit is not the best of times to do hard physical work.

    Couple of things if weight is not going down. It could be extra muscle forming that makes the weight go up again, you could try to measure fat layers with a caliper or judge it by how clothes fit, to see if you are making progress. It is also possible that you are overestimating calories burned or underestimating calories eating? Especially when loosing weight, your BMR will also go down. So after a while you need to recalculate the deficit again.

    I would not try to do too hard or too long of a work out while loosing weight. More something like 30 minutes, 3-4 times a week at a moderate-high intensity.

  13. #13
    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    I found that reading and thinking less, and riding more worked for me.

    you can think weight loss to death sitting in a chair and won't lose a pound. It's really much simpler than most people make it out...and I will never be convinced its all diet. I am in the it's the real effort you put out camp. I am not suggesting you can eat a large pizza a day and ride ten miles and lose weight, but I found if I am working hard 5 days a week, I don't have to watch every calorie.

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    Senior Member mr_pedro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post

    This does not mean, however, that you lose more weight by riding at lower intensities. Calories out is calories out, and if you exhaust your glycogen stores those calories still have to be replaced, so a hard hour will shift more weight than an easy hour. Nonetheless, doing longer rides at lower intensities does have advantages. It conditions your system to keep fuelling itself from fat at slightly higher intensities, and this will improve your endurance on the bike. In addition, my personal experience is that riding for three hours to burn 1800kcal leaves me less ravenous than riding for two hours to burn 1600kcal (I can't ride hard enough to burn 1800 in two hours). I think it is something to do with the body demanding that exhausted glycogen stores are replaced. YMMV, of course.
    The mistake is when people think that the fat burning zone is the intensity to aim for in order to loose fat.
    You are always burning fat and my understanding is that you are burning most fat at the highest intensities. It is just that as glycogen starts to be used as well, the relative amount of energy coming from fat starts to go down.

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mr_pedro View Post
    The mistake is when people think that the fat burning zone is the intensity to aim for in order to loose fat.
    You are always burning fat and my understanding is that you are burning most fat at the highest intensities. It is just that as glycogen starts to be used as well, the relative amount of energy coming from fat starts to go down.
    Yes to the first part, no to the second. Once you are full-on sprinting the amount of fat being used drops to Zero, or nearly so. But of course, such effort can't be sustained for long. And anyway, it doesn't really matter in that you are still burning calories faster than you would when you're cruising.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mr_pedro View Post
    The mistake is when people think that the fat burning zone is the intensity to aim for in order to loose fat.
    You are always burning fat and my understanding is that you are burning most fat at the highest intensities. It is just that as glycogen starts to be used as well, the relative amount of energy coming from fat starts to go down.
    What many people fail to take into account is that as their fitness improves, the energy required for a certain physical output reduces, at least in comparison to when they started out.

    So the people you see power walking the streets with weights week after week will likely reach a weight-loss plateau (if their food intake stays the same) because the intensity at which they are working out is subtly reduced... so subtly, in fact, that they almost don't realise it. That hour's walk at lunchtime seems easier (and it is) but there is a drop-off in weight loss which leaves them puzzled.

    They really need to increase the weight they carry or increase the speed of their walk (or even break into a run) to up their energy consumption. Often these people don't use heart rate monitors, and they don't really have much understanding of perceived effort.

    There have been quite a few posters in the past (in forums other than Clydes/Aths) who have stopped losing weight after commuting for while. They have specifically stated that they ride at high intensity all the time. That is the clue to how fat-burn zones do exist... in my opinion.

    It's a bit like a moving target.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    Senior Member mr_pedro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    Yes to the first part, no to the second. Once you are full-on sprinting the amount of fat being used drops to Zero, or nearly so. But of course, such effort can't be sustained for long. And anyway, it doesn't really matter in that you are still burning calories faster than you would when you're cruising.
    Here is a source for how you burn more fat at higher intensities:http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/E...Fat-Faster.htm

    Maybe it goes to zero at max intensity, they don't discuss that.

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mr_pedro View Post
    Here is a source for how you burn more fat at higher intensities:http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/E...Fat-Faster.htm

    Maybe it goes to zero at max intensity, they don't discuss that.
    if you look further, you'll see that the linked articles explain that once you go anaerobic, your muscles can't metabolise fat because that process is oxygen-dependent. You rely entirely on glycolysis. However, like I said, it really doesn't matter. We are arguing about the minutiae when the OP's question related to the bigger picture.

    And the bigger picture is, surprise surprise, what athletes have discovered to work through trial and error over hundreds if not thousands of years. The recipe is extensive exercise at a level one can sustain for a long time, punctuated by intensive efforts to build strength and speed. Don't choose between them, do both, and you'll burn plenty of calories. The difficulty for weight loss about relying too much on HIIT is that you end up doing a lot of workouts which simply aren't long enough to burn thousands of kcal, and anyway you need to be well-fuelled to reach the level of intensity required. So intensive training and staying in big calorie deficits is pretty tough to do.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    Problem with trying to loose weight going by HR is that HR can be affected by so many different things besides exertion. Plus what works for me might not work for you. I'm 42 and most of my rides my average HR is between 135-150, huge difference. I ride around 10000km a year but if I don't watch what I eat I don't loose anything. The longer I'm around the more I believe you just have to find what works, the so called experts are always preaching something to make money.
    Best thing about cycling is when I'm at work I'm thinking of cycling, when I'm cycling I'm thinking about cycling.

  20. #20
    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    First off I appreciate the feedback from everyone who has had some input, I am excited to delve more into this whole arena and report what I have found to work for me. All the info and feedback allows me to have a more open thought process to pursing a healthy weight loss and lifestyle.

    _________________________________________________________________________________________

    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    if you look further, you'll see that the linked articles explain that once you go anaerobic, your muscles can't metabolise fat because that process is oxygen-dependent. You rely entirely on glycolysis. However, like I said, it really doesn't matter. We are arguing about the minutiae when the OP's question related to the bigger picture.

    And the bigger picture is, surprise surprise, what athletes have discovered to work through trial and error over hundreds if not thousands of years. The recipe is extensive exercise at a level one can sustain for a long time, punctuated by intensive efforts to build strength and speed. Don't choose between them, do both, and you'll burn plenty of calories. The difficulty for weight loss about relying too much on HIIT is that you end up doing a lot of workouts which simply aren't long enough to burn thousands of kcal, and anyway you need to be well-fuelled to reach the level of intensity required. So intensive training and staying in big calorie deficits is pretty tough to do.

    So, correct me if I am wrong, but you're thought is HIIT style training is good at times, but there is benefit to (for instance) a 30 mile ride at a pace that can be sustained without over exertion and there be "breaks" during it that require a higher exertion to complete (like hills or sprints)? From what I have read, HIIT training should be no more than 30-40 minutes, and unless you are superman there is no one who could do 30 miles in that time, but never thought of "combining" the 2 in a way like that. If, that is, I am following what you are saying.
    Looking forward to my winter commuting adventure.....

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chitown_Mike View Post
    So, correct me if I am wrong, but you're thought is HIIT style training is good at times, but there is benefit to (for instance) a 30 mile ride at a pace that can be sustained without over exertion and there be "breaks" during it that require a higher exertion to complete (like hills or sprints)? From what I have read, HIIT training should be no more than 30-40 minutes, and unless you are superman there is no one who could do 30 miles in that time, but never thought of "combining" the 2 in a way like that. If, that is, I am following what you are saying.
    I'm saying there is probably no need to overthink it. If you have the time, riding longer at a moderate pace (not slow, but steady, something you can maintain for two or three hours) is going to burn more calories than a one-hour hard session. (The amount of power I can put out at my threshold means that it is not possible for me to burn 1000kcal in a single hour, for instance, and if I got close to that figure I would be fried and have to stop: whereas I have no problem at all riding for three hours at 600kcal per hour for a total of 1800). And if in the course of that three-hour ride there are hills, by all means attack them, or sprint for some road signs, or whatever. Injecting those bursts of intensity will burn a few extra calories and boost your fitness at the same time. Riding rolling hills is a sort of interval training in itself, and one of the nice things about riding a bike is that one can vary the intensity in a single ride.

    But if you are short of time, and the priority is to burn as many calories as you can in an hour or so, then of course going hard is the answer. For most people, some combination of the two fits their lifestyle. Sometimes one has time for long rides at endurance pace with a few hills or whatever thrown in, sometimes one has only an hour or so and can best use it for a warm up, 30 minutes of intervals, and warm down. And that mix, spread across the week, happens to be good training, as well as helping with weight control.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  22. #22
    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    Something else I am pondering, what about using heart rate to calculate our calories burned? I guess overall that is my general question is heart rate in relation to calories burned. I am not a details kinda guy, but I also hate not knowing how much I am ACTUALLY doing when I ride.

    I have been using a 35 calorie/mile burn rate, but I also know that is more for someone more fit than myself. I have found some equations that take into account age, weight, duration, and heart rate. Those calculations seem high. For instance, I took a spirited 10 mile ride today which at 35 calories/mile would be 350 calories, but when I calculate out the calories with my heart rate it jumps to 600 calories (which is what it feels like I burned lol).

    I have found some calculators/formulas online at places like Live Strong and such, but not sure I can trust they are accurate in NET calories burned and not gross. Anyone have any inside info on this?
    Looking forward to my winter commuting adventure.....

  23. #23
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Most calorie calculators are inaccurate to varying degrees. If one has a power meter one can make a decently accurate calculation, but the algorithms used by HR monitors etc. seem to give wildly different results. Your 35kcal per mile estimate is probably reasonable - maybe a bit low if you're very heavy.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    I'm 56 and I've found that once a week is good enough for Interval training. If you're younger it may be beneficial to do it more often. What I do is warmup for 10 minutes and then do 30 seconds as hard as I can and 30 seconds recovery. I do 10 reps. By rep 7 I'm getting in the 95% max heart rate. Rep 8,9 10 is pure misery but you have to pay close attention injury avoidance. I then do 10 minutes of warm down at a slower than warm up rate. So while my interval workout is 30 minutes long only 10 minutes is doing intervals and of those 10 minutes only 5 are high intensity. My other workouts are are typically in the < 70% max heartrate.

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    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    Most calorie calculators are inaccurate to varying degrees. If one has a power meter one can make a decently accurate calculation, but the algorithms used by HR monitors etc. seem to give wildly different results. Your 35kcal per mile estimate is probably reasonable - maybe a bit low if you're very heavy.
    Not very heavy, but 243 currently on a 6' frame. I think I will just keep with the 35 cal/mi to keep myself honest for right now, lol.
    Looking forward to my winter commuting adventure.....

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