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Training & Nutrition Learn how to develop a training schedule that's good for you. What should you eat and drink on your ride? Learn everything you need to know about training and nutrition here.

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Old 01-26-06, 08:49 AM   #1
srrs
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I stopped getting stronger!

I'm trying to figure out what I need to do to keep getting stronger. Currently, I eat a very low-calorie diet (about 1300/day), with few carbohydrates (almost all veggies and vegetarian protien sources like beans and tofu and egg whites, except oatmeal for breakfast) and go to the gym every other day, where I spin @100 rpm for 1/2 hour, row for 20 minutes, run for 20 minutes, and weight train. I'm a 125 lb 5'6" female.

I figure I should be eating more whole-grain carbohydrates and probably more fat too; does this sound right? Also, that I should go to the gym more often, but vary the training exercises more - cycle for an hour one day, then the next day run for an hour, etc. Also, will the cross-training help with my cycling (which is the ultimate goal anyway), or should I JUST be cycling to help with that? any help is greatly appreciated!
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Old 01-26-06, 09:10 AM   #2
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What are your goals for cycling? Endurance? Speed?

My first advice is to eat MORE food. Sounds like your nutrient balance is pretty good, but 1300 calories is barely BMR for women our size. Quite frankly, it's no wonder you don't feel strong! My caloric intake for weight loss is 1800 Cal/day, roughly.
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Old 01-26-06, 09:23 AM   #3
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The diet should be in balance with your expenditure. You can't expect to 'get strong' and lose weight at the same time.

As far as training stimulus, the stimulus has to be progressive, causing a manageable overload, followed by a period of deloading (so that the training can be assimulated). An example of a loading period would be 3 weeks of progressive stimulii targeted at specific energy systems. Then deload for 1 week. The deloading period would be filled with easy recovery sessions and maybe 1 day of full rest.

After the season is over or if you plan to peak twice in a year, you do a more extensive deloading period.

Repeat.

This is very simplistic, but explains how to train in a nutshell.

Last edited by NoRacer; 01-26-06 at 09:29 AM.
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Old 01-26-06, 11:14 AM   #4
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Try whey protein for your recovery.
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Old 01-26-06, 12:32 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by alison_in_oh
What are your goals for cycling? Endurance? Speed?
endurance and strength (hill climbing and the such). I'd also like to be significantly stronger in general; for example i'd like to be able to do pull-ups. and, you know, being faster wouldn't hurt. i like fast.
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Old 01-26-06, 12:51 PM   #6
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To add to what "no racer" said. add some weight every 10 days or so and reduce the reps so you can complete the sets, then gradually increase the reps/sets at the new weight. When you can do the 20 reps for 3 sets, or whatever, increase the weight again and go back to about 12 reps. Every 3rd or 4th week don't increase the workload or maybe reduce it back to the load from two weeks ago. The load could look like this, week1, week2, week3, week2, week4, week5, week6, week5 or week 4. Same can go for your rowing and cycling.

Also do some slightly harder efforts for 4-5 minutes to start, maybe 3 of those. Next week add minutes to the efforts, then next week add another effort, then next week add minutes, etc. Basically, add to the total time of the work efforts for about three weeks, take a little rest, then progress again. If you don't feel pretty good when it's time to add, or are certain you can't complete the new workout, then don't to the load.

Lots of good books around that describe "Periodized Training". They include the principle of "progressive overload".
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Old 01-26-06, 01:01 PM   #7
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Altho small, and female, you should be aware that muscle is heavier than fat, and that as you lift, ride and run, the stronger muscles will enlarge somewhat and the fat component will shrink somewhat so you could concievable gain some weight. Not talking about a lot, but 3-5# is not unreasonable. With a little time and lot of effort your power output for your weight could allow you to outride a lot of male riders up hills. That is true of half a dozen or so young ladies in my area. You won't end up looking like the weight lifters on TV either as it takes extraordinary efforts to do that
for men and women both.
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Old 01-26-06, 01:48 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by alison_in_oh

My first advice is to eat MORE food.
+1
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Old 01-26-06, 01:51 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by sch
Altho small, and female, you should be aware that muscle is heavier than fat, and that as you lift, ride and run, the stronger muscles will enlarge somewhat and the fat component will shrink somewhat so you could concievable gain some weight. Not talking about a lot, but 3-5# is not unreasonable. With a little time and lot of effort your power output for your weight could allow you to outride a lot of male riders up hills. That is true of half a dozen or so young ladies in my area. You won't end up looking like the weight lifters on TV either as it takes extraordinary efforts to do that
for men and women both.
Steve
Even at that low caloric intake?
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Old 01-26-06, 04:35 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by sch
Altho small, and female, you should be aware that muscle is heavier than fat, and that as you lift, ride and run, the stronger muscles will enlarge somewhat and the fat component will shrink somewhat so you could concievable gain some weight. Not talking about a lot, but 3-5# is not unreasonable. With a little time and lot of effort your power output for your weight could allow you to outride a lot of male riders up hills. That is true of half a dozen or so young ladies in my area. You won't end up looking like the weight lifters on TV either as it takes extraordinary efforts to do that
for men and women both.
Steve
i really don't mind gaining weight at all, as long as i still fit into my jeans! the reason i eat such a low-calorie diet is that i was trying to get healthy after a long period of relative inactivity and bad nutrition. so i succeeded, but i got too used to carefully counting calories, and now i'm having a hard time increasing my calorie intake to maintain my weight and fuel muscle development. my training regimen is also a little monotonous - i think i'll start working on the perodic training soon. and looking forward to spring, too, of course, when i can actually get outdoors to ride more often!
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Old 01-26-06, 06:06 PM   #11
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OK, cool. So now you know that the first step is to increase your intake. For piddling amounts of cardio, especially indoors, I am personally cool with about 1800 calories -- I don't always count, but it amounts to a mild restriction. I lose weight readily at that level if I am doing something active daily.

As spring comes, I am going to move into more and harder training. To maximize the quality of my training, to make recovery efficient, and to provide the building blocks for my growing muscles, I am going to ease up most restrictions, as well as making sure to get some known "protein foods" at every meal. By the time I am approaching race form, I expect to be eating around 3000 calories daily -- which is really tough for me psychologically! But my body needs it. I lose weight even at that level, as I am working out hard for about 12 hours a week.

Does your gym have an assistance pullup machine? I love those things, the compound movement works all kinds of muscles, and you can work better if you start by lifting only a fraction of your body weight.

All those stationary machines are going to be approximately equivalent for your training, they're all just cardio and are kind of maintaining your heart health. Your cycling-related training will happen on the bike, and you can kick-start it with spinning classes (which are the closest thing to a real bike that you're going to get indoors!)
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Old 01-27-06, 09:29 AM   #12
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A few thoughts on this one. You might want to take my comments with a grain of salt because I am a guy and things are different for women.

I think you should increase the carbohydrate portion of your diet which would help you fuel aerobic workouts. You can increase it just a bit and just on days when you have a longer aerobic event. I checked your calories consumed per pound and you are burning less with your exercise than I figure my BMR to be. It seems to me that you have really restricted your caloric intake.

I know gaining weight is disheartening because it is so hard to lose weight.

Another thing about gaining weight. What is important is the fat and not the lean weight. Models have ridiculously low weights for their size because they generally have no muscles at all. Why are thin female couch potatoes supposed to be attractive? Women with muscle tend to be pretty heavy even when they are lean.

A way I keep track of my fat is to just to look at the thickness of my skin fold in various parts of my body. I know where I gain weight first and it works pretty well even if it is by guess and by gosh.

Remember improving fitness follows a declining curve. You get the biggest gains when you start out. Initially since you did nothing, it takes nothing to keep your level of unfitness. As you get fit, it takes workouts just to keep what you have. As you get better and better it takes more and more work and intelligent training to improve. Do you think that Lance Armstrong could easily get fitter? (admittedly a very extreme example).

As for climbing, that is mainly power to weight ratio. Now certain things will help climbing. I think out of the saddle work on a spinning bike would be good and also stair climbers. Of course, what is best is climbing hills on your bike. In our club, one of our ladies is just about the best climber in the club. I can get her on the flats but not on the hills.

Another thing, I have never been better than a fit recreational rider. But it takes a very strong female to beat me (usually a successful racer). Women operate at a disadvantage to me on a bike as far as speed goes. Look at any fast group of riders and you will see about a 9 to 1 ratio of men to women (or even worse). Men have higher concentrations of hemoglobin in their blood and bigger cardiac outputs that allow them to deliver more oxygen to their muscles and that is what it is about in aerobic exercising. The thing is that the men have a big advantage over you. Of course many of them will end up with triple bypass operations or prematurely end up pushing up daisies from heart attacks so I guess it evens out. What am I thinking? Who cares about living 7 years longer? What is important is how fast you can ride!
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Old 01-27-06, 11:26 AM   #13
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FYI, climbing ability and weight are not as related for women as they are for men. Leah Goldstien is about your height, has 15lbs on you, and can beat just about any woman up a mountain or hill. 1800 is a bare minimum for an active woman who cares about performance, eat more.
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Old 01-27-06, 12:20 PM   #14
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FYI, climbing ability and weight are not as related for women as they are for men.
Yeah, we usually have to work on the "power" end of the equation, which often means gaining muscle -- and therefore weight.
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Old 01-27-06, 01:01 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by alison_in_oh
Yeah, we usually have to work on the "power" end of the equation, which often means gaining muscle -- and therefore weight.
I'm not sure if I agree with this. IMHO, it's more of developing the aerobic engine which doesn't necessarily include an increase in muscle mass. It's more of an increase in mitochondrial volume and individual size, capillary proliferation, increased aerobic enzymes, neuromuscular facilitation, and the ability to use fuels more efficiently.
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Old 01-27-06, 01:32 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by NoRacer
I'm not sure if I agree with this. IMHO, it's more of developing the aerobic engine which doesn't necessarily include an increase in muscle mass. It's more of an increase in mitochondrial volume and individual size, capillary proliferation, increased aerobic enzymes, neuromuscular facilitation, and the ability to use fuels more efficiently.
Well, OK, consider me duly corrected -- if that's your *humble* opinion. (Edit: I can't write this without sounding snarky. I'm not, I swear -- I appreciate your language that avoids saying "EEEHHHTTT! Wrong." )

I don't know the physiology as well as you obviously do. I simply know that, heuristically, my climbing ability has been known to improve with my leg-press strength during a time when I was losing little overall weight but gaining approximately 1-2 lbs. lean body mass. (This is nonstandard, and I believe I did some mini bulk- and cut-cycles inadvertently.) Since we're told that power vs. weight is the measure of climbing ability, and since I don't seem to climb as well as a man who weighs as much as I do but has 15% less body fat, I guessed that muscle mass might make a difference. But I can see where gender-based differences in aerobic capacity, and the effects of training on myriad systems, could also explain the discrepancy.
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Old 01-27-06, 08:59 PM   #17
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ok! I went out and bought some healthy carbohydrates.. Quinoa, couscous, whole wheat pasta and whole wheat tortillas. (Well, mostly healthy - I also bought brownie mix! ) I could already begin to feel the difference when I was exercising today. So I definitely know that I need to be eating more, consistently.

It's so funny how hard it is to break habits in relation to food. Took me forever to start being careful about calories, and now it's incredibly difficult to break that habit! It's a fight to decide to actually make pasta or rice for dinner, because I know it's higher calorie than the broccoli I usually eat. I don't even want to lose weight, I just got myself trained to think "all calories = bad." Silly.

Now all I have to do is keep working on my training regimen, and I'll be able to beat the boys up the hills in no time!
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Old 01-27-06, 09:45 PM   #18
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I suspect that the low-calorie diet is also causing some muscle-catabolism during the recovery phases after the workouts. You end up losing muscle and undoing the repair done during recovery. Eat some more carbs after the ride and incorporate a progressively tougher workouts.
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Old 01-27-06, 11:20 PM   #19
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I suspect that the low-calorie diet is also causing some muscle-catabolism during the recovery phases after the workouts. You end up losing muscle and undoing the repair done during recovery. Eat some more carbs after the ride and incorporate a progressively tougher workouts.
Carbs WITH protein. 4:1 to 8:1 ratio will enable best absorption of each.
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Old 01-28-06, 10:12 PM   #20
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I'm trying to figure out what I need to do to keep getting stronger. Currently, I eat a very low-calorie diet (about 1300/day), with few carbohydrates (almost all veggies and vegetarian protien sources like beans and tofu and egg whites, except oatmeal for breakfast) and go to the gym every other day, where I spin @100 rpm for 1/2 hour, row for 20 minutes, run for 20 minutes, and weight train. I'm a 125 lb 5'6" female.

I figure I should be eating more whole-grain carbohydrates and probably more fat too; does this sound right? Also, that I should go to the gym more often, but vary the training exercises more - cycle for an hour one day, then the next day run for an hour, etc. Also, will the cross-training help with my cycling (which is the ultimate goal anyway), or should I JUST be cycling to help with that? any help is greatly appreciated!
Eat more.

Increase cardiovascular exercise. A mouse couldn't lose fat on that kind of training program.

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Old 01-30-06, 08:00 AM   #21
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if you are talking about getting stronger on the bike, then you need to mix up the workout on the bike. 1/2 hour at 100rpm is just a fast spin that won't build power (which is what you are really asking here, power)
You've got to do some intervals, where you warm up for 5-10 minutes, then spin quickly at 100+rpm for 5-10 minutes. If you are on a spin bike, then turn up the intensity and either stand and stomp or sit and spin much slower (around 80rpm) till you are worn out, recover then repeat.
This should stimulate muscle growth, which stimulates power, which should lead to a great appetite. It will all cascade from there.

Start with more intensity, then worry about the diet to keep up. You are presently doing a comfort workout.
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Old 01-30-06, 08:33 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by srrs
endurance and strength (hill climbing and the such). I'd also like to be significantly stronger in general; for example i'd like to be able to do pull-ups. and, you know, being faster wouldn't hurt. i like fast.
Not saying this is what to do but this is what I do that works for me... I train hills riding but also run them.. I lift weights for my legs and do tons of squats..
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Old 02-22-06, 10:13 AM   #23
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You gotta eat more. Sounds like you aren't eating enough for how active you are try adding 250 calories for a week if you still feel weak add another 250
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Old 02-22-06, 10:30 AM   #24
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went to a dietician and she told me i wasn't getting enough protien or carbohydrates. or calories for that matter. I've modified my diet accordingly, eating 1800-2000 calories a day, basically doubling my protien intake and adding healthy carbohydrates and i'm feeling great. I just moved my weights up another notch at the gym. It's been really interesting to watch how the change in diet affected my body. For a couple weeks, I gained weight like mad and craved sweets. Now I'm settled into the diet, and I'm not losing any weight but it's redistributing itself - I'm starting to see more muscle.
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Old 07-05-07, 09:10 PM   #25
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Quinoa is a great source of protein.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinoa

It's usually for sale in bulk stores or Organic stores.
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