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  1. #1
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Ride Harder And Ride Less?

    Some cyclists ride slowly, others ride hard. This study of bike commuters in Denmark says that riding harder (higher perceived effort and intensity, pushing hard enough to feel "breathless") gives the most health benefits (measured by mortality rate). How hard you ride has far more effect than how long you ride, the study concludes.

    http://cyclingresourcecentre.org.au/...ce_to_heart_he

    I think I've read other articles saying that brief but "high intensity" exercise improves heart health, perhaps more than longer periods of lower intensity exercise.

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/0...ve-our-health/

    What do you think? I imagine that most of us go for longish rides - a few hours, 30 to 50 miles - at an effort level that isn't anywhere near our maximum - otherwise we couldn't sustain it for hours on end. How about going out, repeating 30 second all-out sprints followed by a couple minutes of recovery, and wrapping it up in ten minutes? Anyone do that? Lack of time or poor weather would no longer be an obstacle, hmm.
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  2. #2
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    When I was pushing for performance I used this routine:
    The Time-Crunched Cyclist - By Chris Carmichael‎

    This is basically his drill - short high intensity bursts (interval training) you wrap up in an hour or so.
    It will improve your ability to go fast and I suspect will improve your fitness.
    Done over the course of a month or so will also probably improve you enjoyment for the rest of the season.
    I have not done it this year as I have no fitness goals and my one cycling goal can be met with a few long distance rides prior to the event.
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
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  3. #3
    Senior Member osco53's Avatar
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    I get and maintain a nice warm 'Leg muscle burn' when I ride my LWB recumbent, nothing to cause hard breathing, just good deeper than walking breathing.. I Ride my Mountain bike hard, very hard and as far as I can hold out. I ride until I can no longer lift myself up off the seat. I ride until my muscles reach 'Point of failure' like weight lifters do. Why ? because it feels good XD
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    Quote Originally Posted by osco53 View Post
    I ride until my muscles reach 'Point of failure' like weight lifters do. Why ? because it feels good XD
    If it feels good, you're doing it wrong.

  5. #5
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    That Copenhagen study is a classic post hoc ergo propter hoc. Data dredging at its worst.

    That doesn't mean the conclusion isn't true. But the study is crap.

    Why do you ride a bike? I ride it for a sense of adventure and release. I love going from here to there. I enjoy beautiful sunny days out on country roads.

    I also like burning calories so I can eat more without gaining weight.

    I don't ride to add years to my life (it might shorten it, as a matter of fact), or improve my physiology (though that is nice), or to make a political statement, or to reduce my carbon footprint, or to meet the right people, or to seek fame and fortune.

    I ride because its fun. I like long rides because it prolongs the enjoyment. And I'm not changing that on the basis of crap studies tossed out there so some academic can publish enough to get tenure.

  6. #6
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kenji666 View Post
    If it feels good, you're doing it wrong.
    Except for a sick-masochist-excuse-me-I-meant-cyclist.
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    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kenji666 View Post
    If it feels good, you're doing it wrong.
    Sooooo quotable!


    When time does not permit me to ride 3 or more hours AND show up dead for a meeting () I grab the racer and do just that. An hour of hard riding will do wonders for your health....BUT, that next ride called "saddle time" is going to hurt a little. That's cycling. :shrug:
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  8. #8
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Ride Harder And Ride Less?

    That sounds like the worst of both worlds. Ride more at whatever intensity suits you works better for me. But I ride for the enjoyment of riding. Health and fitness benefits are great, but they are not why I ride. The riding itself is the reward.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

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    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    My current strategy is to do two rides each week:

    1. About 16 miles with 4-5 high-intensity intervals (as the OP described).

    2. Something around 60 miles with minimal effort (something like a brisk walk).

    The advantage of the second type is that it avoids the "active couch potato" syndrome, in which one exercises for less than an hour, and spends the remaining 15 hours of the day at the computer or in front of the TV.

    Add a strength-training day, and a long walk, I'm good for the week.
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  10. #10
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    BTW:
    I own these two books: Cycling over 50 by Friel, and Base Building for cyclists by Chapple. If someone is willing to pay for postage I will give them to you gratis.

  11. #11
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    I suspect both intense and endurance work have their benefits and place in one's regimen. I have always had mostly slow-twitch muscles, and I have never had much power or raw speed in any sport, but I have pretty good endurance, particularly on a long climb. Your mileage may vary.
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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    There seems to be increasing evidence that high-intensity exercise has lots of benefits, including lowered blood pressure, reduced insulin resistance, and improved VO2 max. This latter is interesting, it seems to indicate a big reduction in mortality risk and it is one of the things that doesn't change much with long, moderate sessions.

    If you want to be really fit, the recipe appears to be the traditional one. Build a big aerobic base by putting in the time at moderate intensity and then add in short, very hard sessions to increase VO2 max. If you only have limited time and want the health benefits, it appears that going hard is the answer. None of this is exactly counter-intuitive, is it? If you spend a lot of time exercising, it's good for you. If you exercise intensively for a shorter time, it's good for you. If you only exercise for a short time and don't work very hard at it, it does much less for you.

    Personally I ride because I like it, and part of the reason I like it is that I relish the physical challenge of going hard from time to time. Lucky me, apparently.
    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.

  13. #13
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyl View Post
    Some cyclists ride slowly, others ride hard. This study of bike commuters in Denmark says that riding harder (higher perceived effort and intensity, pushing hard enough to feel "breathless") gives the most health benefits (measured by mortality rate). How hard you ride has far more effect than how long you ride, the study concludes.

    http://cyclingresourcecentre.org.au/...ce_to_heart_he

    I think I've read other articles saying that brief but "high intensity" exercise improves heart health, perhaps more than longer periods of lower intensity exercise.

    What do you think?
    I think it depends on the purpose(s) or reason for cycling. Since I ride for enjoyment and as well as practical (transportation) purposes, the health benefits of whatever amount are just an added bonus. I put in whatever effort it requires to maintain my enjoyment, and not a bit more.

    IOW, it doesn't make the slightest bit of difference to my cycling routine, what "better" health benefits are offered by some other exercise/effort scheme.

  14. #14
    Senior Member RoyIII's Avatar
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    If I feel like riding hard, I do. If I feel like taking it easy, I do. I ride just enjoying the ride.

  15. #15
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Why not have both?

    I like getting 2 to 7 hours of riding in when possible. I don't like shorter rides. Once I'm on the bike, I want to prolong the enjoyment.

    When I ride, I'm getting multiple hours of activity with my heart-rate in the 130 to 155 BPM range. I'm also seeing 160 BPM or more for a few minutes on most rides. Here is a 57 mile ride in 3:14 with an average heart rate of 147 BPM and a peak of 167: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/199487583
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  16. #16
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    I'm just thinking about the periods when life's other demands cut into cycling time, such that you can't hope to get in a three hour ride before turning to the chore list, but could swing a hard half hour. After all, family responsibilities sometimes come first.

    Or, we could all be like this guy. http://youtu.be/LJAsUHsmJAo
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    I don't see a lot of 70+'rs out there on the trails, but I do see a lot of them in the obits. I figure that ANY exercise - bicycling, swimming, walking, resistance training, etc., is far better than almost all the folks I know in my age group, who, if they do anything, it is so little, it is of minor help.

    So, I ride, swim, walk, lift weights, etc., for the fun and enjoyment and figure that there are also some great things happening to my body. If not, so what? But, I suspect that there are. However, to program those out in some sort of regimen that I am required (even if only in my mind) to follow would simply ruin the whole thing for me. Besides, I love to hear the birds sing and see the deer along the creek beds, catch a glimpse of a coyote or a beaver, and watch the sunrise, and see the thunder clouds, and say "Hi!" to fellow riders, and sometimes even stop and chat for a bit.. YMMV and that is OK, also.
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    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    Ride Harder And Ride Less?

    That sounds like the worst of both worlds. Ride more at whatever intensity suits you works better for me. But I ride for the enjoyment of riding. Health and fitness benefits are great, but they are not why I ride. The riding itself is the reward.
    ^^This! It's why I ride.
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  19. #19
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    hoc ergo propter hoc-Thats two phrases I had to look up today.

    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    Ride Harder And Ride Less?

    That sounds like the worst of both worlds. Ride more at whatever intensity suits you works better for me. But I ride for the enjoyment of riding. Health and fitness benefits are great, but they are not why I ride. The riding itself is the reward.
    +1
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  20. #20
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    God planned Little Rock with such sprints in mind. He called them hills. There are 25 between my home and downtown Little Rock. Climb, coast, climb, coast...
    Last edited by Artkansas; 05-14-13 at 10:13 AM.
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  21. #21
    Seat Sniffer Biker395's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
    That Copenhagen study is a classic post hoc ergo propter hoc. Data dredging at its worst.

    That doesn't mean the conclusion isn't true. But the study is crap.

    Why do you ride a bike? I ride it for a sense of adventure and release. I love going from here to there. I enjoy beautiful sunny days out on country roads.

    I also like burning calories so I can eat more without gaining weight.

    I don't ride to add years to my life (it might shorten it, as a matter of fact), or improve my physiology (though that is nice), or to make a political statement, or to reduce my carbon footprint, or to meet the right people, or to seek fame and fortune.

    I ride because its fun. I like long rides because it prolongs the enjoyment. And I'm not changing that on the basis of crap studies tossed out there so some academic can publish enough to get tenure.
    ^ +1 ... every word.

    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    I think it depends on the purpose(s) or reason for cycling. Since I ride for enjoyment and as well as practical (transportation) purposes, the health benefits of whatever amount are just an added bonus. I put in whatever effort it requires to maintain my enjoyment, and not a bit more.

    IOW, it doesn't make the slightest bit of difference to my cycling routine, what "better" health benefits are offered by some other exercise/effort scheme.
    Ditto.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member az_cyclist's Avatar
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    A mix has always worked for me. I started riding with a club in north Phoenix in 2004. The Saturday rides were about 50 miles @ 15 mph ave. This is slow for some, average for some, and fast for others. It was a moderate pace for me. From mid-May thru the end of August there is enough light in the morning to get in 12-13 miles at a faster pace (my goal was to ride at 20 mph ave). By the end of the summer I found I was stronger. About 2 years ago I started riding with a second club (the Arizona Bullshifters), who average 17+ on B rides and 20+ for A rides. I alternate riding with both clubs, and a moderate pace for me is now faster. I enjoy my new level of fitness.

  23. #23
    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    I'd say if you have too many chores at home cutting into your cycling time it's worth investing some time in just to see the results......Like putting some wind sprints into those short rides.

    I'm too old and lazy myself and would rather do the long relatively slow rides on one day of a weekend nowadays and my home upkeep on the other day of the weekend.

  24. #24
    Senior Member digibud's Avatar
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    get a copy of the The First 20 Minutes. It explains the benefits of HIIT. If you ride the same distance/effort regularly you will get to that level of fitness and hold it. HIIT training avoids that stagnations. You can also increase distance... which has it's own benefit.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by John E View Post
    I suspect both intense and endurance work have their benefits and place in one's regimen. I have always had mostly slow-twitch muscles, and I have never had much power or raw speed in any sport, but I have pretty good endurance, particularly on a long climb. Your mileage may vary.
    This.

    Variety is the key, if your goal is training to a higher level of fitness (whether for longevity, or some other purpose, like competition); I remember the days, years ago, when I studied the numbers, read the advice of consulted coaches (like in Bicycling magazine, when they'd interview Carmichael), and did the math for heart rate targeted training. I did have some benefit, but I don't feel it was enough to keep up the focus. I was losing the reason I was RIDING in the first place -- JOY!

    The (LOL'd) idea of "if it feels good, you're doing it wrong" has SOME truth, but when you enjoy the suffering -- huff/puff/burn, 80-85% MHR -- I'll take being told I'm doing it wrong. I can ignore that!

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