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  1. #1
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    What is a decent workout?

    I am fairly new at riding bikes (just over 1 month), I am 42 and I started riding for a couple of miles a day before I was out of breath, but now I am up to 10+ miles a day, every day except Saturdays and Sundays. On Saturdays I try to go for a 20+ mile ride and I take a break on Sundays. Since my endurance and speed are increasing quite rapidly I would like to know where is a good place to keep as my comfort zone?

    I just want to get a little more fit.

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    Senior Member Terrierman's Avatar
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    45 minutes to an hour where you are breathing hard, sweating and so on. If you can comfortably carry on a conversation, you're not working out in a cardio zone.
    It's all downhill from here. Except the parts that are uphill.

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    Terrier man basically said it. It all depends on what is challenging for you at your fitness level. You want to get your heart rate up to a safe rate for 30+ minutes. Mileage isn't always a great indicator of this. It depends on whether those miles were on a flat surface or rolling hills and also how fast you completed those miles. Sounds like you're doing great. 20+ miles on a even flat surface would be a challenge for many beginners like myself.

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    Thanks for the replies. I am in Fl, so everything here is pretty much a flat even surface. The only thing that makes a noticeable difference in the ride is the wind direction. I try to stay at around 15mph at the hardest (slowest pedaling but more resistance) gear I can handle, that is usually 3 on the big gears and 5 or 6 on the small gears. Much lower gear when I encounter a draw bridge on my Saturday rides to the beach. I basically want to make sure I don't develop any bad habits that will take away from my progress.

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    Senior Member bikecrate's Avatar
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    I suppose it depends on the person.
    When I started cycling again I was overweight by 40 pounds. I began like you did with a few miles. Every time I went out I would go a little farther and a try to go a bit faster. Once the pounds started to come off I sort of reached that breakthrough moment when I could handle a 30 + mile ride at a decent pace.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fcarpio View Post
    Thanks for the replies. I am in Fl, so everything here is pretty much a flat even surface. The only thing that makes a noticeable difference in the ride is the wind direction. I try to stay at around 15mph at the hardest (slowest pedaling but more resistance) gear I can handle, that is usually 3 on the big gears and 5 or 6 on the small gears. Much lower gear when I encounter a draw bridge on my Saturday rides to the beach. I basically want to make sure I don't develop any bad habits that will take away from my progress.
    Working a slow cadence against gearing resistance is a different sort of workout than working a higher cadence against speed/wind resistance, kind of like sprints vs. longer runs. I'm an unabashed fan of high cadences - I've been slammed for recommending it here before by people who don't think a 90+rpm pace is achievable by the "average" rider, but if I can do it in my 50's on a hybrid, I see no reason why anyone else can't eventually adapt to it. There's a place for both, but slower cadences are (IMO) harder on individual joints and muscles in a "more likely to sustain damage" way. It's just a more efficient way to do things, and reaching the cardio zone isn't difficult at 120rpm.

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    I find myself incapable of riding long distances because once I'm on the bike, I can't help but push myself to my limits. I go vigorously until either the lactic acid in my legs is too painful or I can't catch my breath and then I coast for 10-20 seconds and then pedal at a moderate pace until I'm recovered and then I start the process again. I figure I'm doing interval training rather than long and slow endurance training. For me, a long ride is 10 miles but at the end, I'm exhilirated and can't wait to do it again.

    A long time ago I bought a road bike and started going for distance and 19 miles was my record. I just found myself bored with riding in straight lines while watching out for traffic. I sold the road bike and went back to neighborhood and bike path riding on a hybrid.

    In regards to Superdave's last post, I'm definately a spinner rather than a masher. I tend to spin as quickly as I can do so smoothly while in the hardest gear that allows me to do that without knee pain.
    Currently riding a 2013 Handsome Devil custom build and an 80's Takara Highlander (MTB built in the style of an 82-84 Stumpjumper).

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    Well, I think I am somewhere in the middle shooting for speed while trying to ride long distances. I keep my riding at just before the burn, if I start feeling the burn I back down just a notch and keep going. At the rate I go a quick burst is nearly impossible as I would burn out right away, but I can keep going for a longer time at just below the burn.

    Since time is an issue for me in the morning I may just keep my daily rides at 10 miles and shoot for lower times.

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    Heart rate 120-160bpm for 25-30min.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fcarpio View Post
    I am fairly new at riding bikes (just over 1 month), I am 42 and I started riding for a couple of miles a day before I was out of breath, but now I am up to 10+ miles a day, every day except Saturdays and Sundays. On Saturdays I try to go for a 20+ mile ride and I take a break on Sundays. Since my endurance and speed are increasing quite rapidly I would like to know where is a good place to keep as my comfort zone?

    I just want to get a little more fit.
    Try this from Dr. Kenneth Cooper:


    65% of your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) for a minimum of 30 mins and work your way up on time duration.

    Your MHR per minute = 205 minus 1/2 your age

    EG: 60 years old cardio workout would be = (205 - 30) x.65 = 113.75 or 114 beats/min heartrate for a minimum of 30 minutes.

    Try that pace for 30 minutes and recover. If you have more in the tank get the heartrate back up to 114 beats/min. and repeat the process. You'll be amazed how strong you will get over time.

    This is how they get cardio patients back up to speed.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by Afdica; 07-19-12 at 01:16 PM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member elcruxio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terrierman View Post
    45 minutes to an hour where you are breathing hard, sweating and so on. If you can comfortably carry on a conversation, you're not working out in a cardio zone.
    This is actually not completely correct.
    Yes, one must also do workouts with your heart rate at such a level that you can't carry on a conversation comfortably. But that's only like 10-20% of your overall training regime. 70-80% should be within a lower heart rate zone where you are breathing hard but also, you MUST be able to carry out a conversation. This is called endurance training and is the basis for all other training. It is also the most important part of your training. Even if you don't do anything else, do this. (some say that doing harder workouts is more beneficial, but since this has not been proven unanimously yet, I'd go with the old style)
    If you don't have a heart rate monitor, that's ok. Just make sure you're riding hard enough to make you out of breath, but you'll still be able to carry out an conversation. And make sure to avoid lactid acid forming in your muscles. That's when you are going too fast.
    Seems like you are not starting out too fast. But I would keep more resting days than one. 3-5 hours of exercise a week is great for a beginner.
    Keep in mind that this is just a training perspective. If you want to go fast, go for it. When riding for fun, everything's allowed. I actually do my interval training in the city center, where I can race cars. Not actually as effective as well planned timed intervals but it's more fun.

    And cadence! Keep it at at least 80 rpm. Preferably 90 or higher. With only a little bit of riding the cadence does not matter. But when you start really doing distance, there is a greatly increased risk of busting your knees. higher cadence will also improve your speed and efficiency

    And most importantly, just ride. All of this really does not matter that much in the beginning.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
    This is actually not completely correct.
    Yes, one must also do workouts with your heart rate at such a level that you can't carry on a conversation comfortably. But that's only like 10-20% of your overall training regime. 70-80% should be within a lower heart rate zone where you are breathing hard but also, you MUST be able to carry out a conversation. This is called endurance training and is the basis for all other training. It is also the most important part of your training. Even if you don't do anything else, do this. (some say that doing harder workouts is more beneficial, but since this has not been proven unanimously yet, I'd go with the old style)
    If you don't have a heart rate monitor, that's ok. Just make sure you're riding hard enough to make you out of breath, but you'll still be able to carry out an conversation. And make sure to avoid lactid acid forming in your muscles. That's when you are going too fast.
    Seems like you are not starting out too fast. But I would keep more resting days than one. 3-5 hours of exercise a week is great for a beginner.
    Keep in mind that this is just a training perspective. If you want to go fast, go for it. When riding for fun, everything's allowed. I actually do my interval training in the city center, where I can race cars. Not actually as effective as well planned timed intervals but it's more fun.

    And cadence! Keep it at at least 80 rpm. Preferably 90 or higher. With only a little bit of riding the cadence does not matter. But when you start really doing distance, there is a greatly increased risk of busting your knees. higher cadence will also improve your speed and efficiency

    And most importantly, just ride. All of this really does not matter that much in the beginning.
    Thanks for the reply, lots of good info BUT can anyone explain what is this cadence thing and how do I know if I am doing it right?

  13. #13
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    I see what cadence is (Google). So I guess it would be a good idea to keep the same cadence/pace as if I was running, right?

  14. #14
    Senior Member elcruxio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fcarpio View Post
    I see what cadence is (Google). So I guess it would be a good idea to keep the same cadence/pace as if I was running, right?
    Never thought about it that way but yes, that'll work.
    Try checking out clips of pro cycling in youtube to get the idea.
    If you want go for a HR-monitor, get one with a cadence meter. Works wonders if insecure about cadence.

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