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  1. #1
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    I am having trouble figuring out where my heart rate zones should be and
    how best to obtain aerobic conditioning in order to build speed.

    I am 41, 5'10 about 245 pounds (big heart attack gut). This will begin my
    second year of cycling. My primary goal right now is to lose 10 pounds
    (for starters, so I can wear pants comfortably) and then to focus on
    building speed. I did well achieving my endurance goals last season,
    feeling comfortable at the end of 50 miles and doing a couple rides that
    were close to 60 miles. At the end of last season, I could get to about 14
    to 14.5 mph with some exertion. Got weight below 230. Right now, I can't
    even get to 14 without a lot of exertion (which is fine as a means to an
    end, but by the end of the Spring, I'd like to be able to maintain at least
    15 mph for rides of at least 50 miles). Longer term goals are to get weight
    below 200 and get solo speeds to 17 mph (comfortably).

    Due to weather and schedule/family considerations, my training for the next
    month will occur on a stairstepper
    with the exception of one or two rides
    per week. I used an indoor trainer once, hated it with a passion and
    besides I don't have any money for one.

    I am using the stepper for aerobic development. Additionally using weights
    for some core weight training, (legs back and abs) to build some strength.
    (I enjoy working with weights for my legs, they are enormous, as is the
    torso that rests atop them, I have the physique from my mother's side of
    the family, whereas my siblings and father are much more "chicken-legged",
    mine are like tree trunks, I am not in the least bit slender, I am built
    like a truck, my father called me "Tank" for years.)

    I know I will get some heat for this, but I just am much more comfortable
    working out in a gym than ruining a perfectly good bike ride by focusing on
    zones and timing and intensity while out riding. I like the bike for the
    fun of it and just and am so uncertain as to how to use it in real world
    situations to train. If I had the money and time, I'd hire a trainer.

    Below 135, I am sweating and able to talk with no difficulty. Perception of
    exertion: I feel like it's a waste of time.

    From 140- 150 bpm, I am reasonably comfortable, feel good that I am working
    this hard but not really pushing hard, sweating very heavily (when you're
    245 and italian, it doesn't take a lot of effort to induce profuse
    sweating) and able to converse with only moderate difficulty. No one talks
    to me, how should I know!

    At about 150 bpm I am working "hard" but am still able to consume my drink
    without trouble. Can talk briefly.

    At 155-160 it's pretty hard to drink (just small quick sips), I feel like I
    could continue at this pace indefinitely (or at least a half hour).

    162-169, I can feel soreness developing in my calves afer a minute (I assume I am now above LT) and am unable to drink
    at all because I can't catch my breath long enough to swallow. Exertions
    between 162-169 at this pace are hard after a few minutes but I generally
    will do intervals of 20 mins, cool down for 5 at about 140 bpm then 14 mins
    and cool down again and then 8 mins and a final cool down. Each successive
    interval is increasing the perception of exertion. I intentionally allow
    only a partial cool down between intervals.

    I can do exertions of 170-175 bpm for about 3 mins and then cool for 3 then on
    for 3. It's very uncomfortable. High perception of exertion.

    Above 175 bpm I feel like I might hurl and feel maximum exertion. Unable to
    continue after a minute or two. (well, I could put up with it a little
    more if, like, people were shooting at me, but I wouldn't do it for no
    reason) Heart rate does not stabilize, it just keeps going up for as long
    as I do it at that level.

    Any recommendations (other than to get out on the bike) on how to use the
    stepper to raise LT and hopefully use aerobic conditioning to build speed.
    I am not sure what my max heart rate is (probably between 190-210, I
    usually use 190) and am concerned for my health of attempting an all out
    effort to find out. I have a nature that generally allows me to work
    through pain and knowing myself, I would work through the pain right up to
    the point when the ambulance/coroner gets called.
    Last edited by ggusta; 02-03-06 at 06:41 PM. Reason: font too small

  2. #2
    Killing Rabbits
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    My guess is your LT is around 145 - 150, the point where you can still drink and speak a little. Figure out what setting you need on the stair machine to get this heart rate. Once you know that level work at one or two levels less for the workouts that you have the most time (goal 1 –4 hours) and 2 or 3 levels above for your 2-5min intervals.

    After several weeks of above, retest and adjust your LT level. You should be able to work at, if not above, LT for at least 30min.

  3. #3
    Don't Believe the Hype RiPHRaPH's Avatar
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    nothing good will happen for you above 150-155. You can just about bump right up to it, but it is not necessary.
    Reverse your perception of speed and working hard.
    You need an aerobic base. Begin with 4-6 weeks of nothing but HR's between 130-150 (trust me) You need to rev your fat burning machine. You need oxygen to burn fat.

    Don't think that working harder = more result. Be patient.

    Don't just think max HR. It matters what your resting HR is as well. In the morning, before you lift your head off the pillow, take your pulse rate.

    You don't get fit by being above LT or pushing your max. Your max is largely predetermined at birth. You don't train your max. You train to increase your LT.

    Once you get efficient while training at 130-140 for weeks (if you're not going to be patient this won't work for you) then you'll find that you can push to 150 and still be comfortable.

    You can't fake fitness. It took you 41 years to get here, and it will take some time to reverse some of the mistakes of the past.

    I don't care if you stairstep, walk, weight train, ride....as long as you obey the HRM.
    You'll see the results this season if you do this for all of feb and the first part of march.

    Do not train my mph or sweat or perception. Go by the HRM. Even early rides. Resist the urge to 'see what i can do' and do it right. This cannot be rushed.

    Fitness comes in all shapes and sizes.

    After the base season you can add some interval workouts, some hard workouts, recovery workouts..... you can do this.
    I have enough words to get me into trouble, but not enough to get me out of trouble.

  4. #4
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    First of all, if you want a clear explanation of heart-rate zone training, buy and read Joe Friel's book: "The Cyclist's Training Bible."

    Second, you don't need to train by heart-rate zones, yet.

    Just get out and exercise vigorously for an hour 2 times during the week. Then on Saturday get in a 3 or 4 hour workout. Combine that with a sensible diet and you will shed pounds, as well as become more fit.

    When and if you decide to get serious about cycling (racing, or other competition) then you can start training scientifically. Friel's book teaches you to be your own coach.

    In the meantime, keep in mind that up until about a decade ago, athletes trained at a very high level and achieved levels of fitness much higher than you probably ever will, without the use of heart rate monitors.

    Bob

  5. #5
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    i can't figure them out either - heart rate zones

    I'm in a similar situation except I have just started cycling this year. I started riding in late March and I'm now up to riding at least 5 days a week, with longer rides on the weekends.

    I've ridden a little over 800 miles so far and just recently bought a HRM. I have checked my resting rate upon waking and it's been 60-63; I've had the HR up to 195 while working hard on a hill (once), but most of the time I'm seeing 177-180 for max's. I had a stress test in 2003 and they wanted me to get the rate up to 158 (best I can remember) - that couldn't possibly be a max, but a % of my max? How do they (stress test doctors) figure out max HR? Not sure what to use as a MHR; some online calculators give it to be 179 (Karvonen method) to 182 (217-(age*.85)) and this website (I downloaded the pc version) http://www.machinehead-software.co.uk/index.html gives it to be 179 based on age(41), sex(F), weight(210).

    Anyway, when I ride, I feel that anything below 140 and I'm not working very hard at all; there's no difficulty in talking or getting something to eat or drink. 140-150 and I still feel fairly comfortable, but not like I'm working very hard. I can talk but I don't think they are prolonged conversations (riding solo, you know), and I'm able to take a drink somewhat comfortably. My average HR the last few rides have been 142-145 range.

    150-155 I feel like I'm starting to work harder and maybe a little difficulty in talking/drinking. 155-162, I feel that I could ride forever on a long flatish section of roadway. There's not a lot of talking in this range, as I am breathing heavier, but I'm comfortable if I don't try and talk much.

    162-168/169 I can't drink or talk as I'm breathing quit heavily now. 170-175 and above I feel like my legs are going to explode and I will coast a little till I feel that I can continue on. Haven't got the point where I feel like I'm gonna hurl though.

    When I do coast, after these exertions, the HR will drop fairly quickly to the 160-165 range, then if I don't ramp it up again too much but maybe pedal easily, it will drop to the 155-160 range and I feel a ton better. When I hit 195 the other day, I felt like I was gonna die! I stopped pedaling and coasted a little till the HR got back down around 170, which didn't take very long. Then pedaled somewhat easily in the 155-160 range till I was done. This 195 was in the last 5mi of a 35mi ride and up an incline. Maybe it was a false reading?

    I just really don't know how to "train" using these heart rates. I want to build endurance for riding 50+ miles at a time and then to increase my speed. Right now, I have ridden one 60 mile ride and I felt really good except for the last 10 miles. I think that was from ineffective hydration/eating. Currently, I can comfortably ride in the 15-16mph (solo) range, and would like to increase it to 17-18mph (solo) by next year. Will it be possible to accomplish this (riding 50+ and feeling good during the ride and increasing speed)?

    I do have Friel's book and have read it once, but I can see that it's gonna take more than reading it once. I don't have the money to spend on a personal trainer or a power meter. I would like to use my HR to train if that will be effective. Would it be beneficial to get one of the books by Carmichael or Sally Edwards?

    Any suggestions for what I need to do to build more endurance, speed, and lose some weight? Thanks a bunch - Karen.

  6. #6
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    At 245 lbs, you aren't a racer so speed should not be your concern. You should be more concerned with basic aerobic conditioning and burning calories. I suggest you concentrate on riding longer, not faster. You should ride at a pace that is comfortable for the time you are riding. On weekends, you should try to do a long ride of several hours or more as your conditioning allows. During the week, ride for about an hour. You can ride a bit harder on shorter rides.

    As you put in the miles, your conditioning will improve and your weight should go down. As this happens, your speed will naturally rise. Just keep riding at the same exertion level (average HR) and it'll all work out.

    Time in the saddle is what burns calories.

  7. #7
    Its Freakin HammerTime!!! C_Heath's Avatar
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    Heres something interactive, right at your computer and free, scroll to the bottom, punch in your values and it will come up with your needed stats.

    Oh yea, READ it all. Stay in the 60-70% zones to burn fat, dont burn the legs, do it, it works, guaranteed, no apologies. I was 211 on Feb 1st, this morning 176. All from BELOW LT training thanks to Edzo.

    Here.,,,,,,,

    http://www.brianmac.demon.co.uk/hrm1.htm

  8. #8
    Its Freakin HammerTime!!! C_Heath's Avatar
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    Heres something interactive, right at your computer and free, scroll to the bottom, punch in your values and it will come up with your needed stats.

    Oh yea, READ it all. Stay in the 60-70% zones to burn fat, dont burn the legs, do it, it works, guaranteed, no apologies. I was 211 on Feb 1st, this morning 176. All from BELOW LT training thanks to Edzo.

    Here.,,,,,,,

    http://www.brianmac.demon.co.uk/hrm1.htm

  9. #9
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    those numbers seem more reasonable than the numbers i was getting from just a % of mhr. numbers are similar to karvonen method.

    so, you really only rode or trained in the 60-70% range the past 3 months and you lost weight; how has your cycling improved? other than the weightloss helping to improve your riding, did riding in only that zone help build your endurance, etc? did you find it hard to stay in that zone when riding for long periods, 2+ hours?

    K

  10. #10
    Pat
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    The above seems like good advice to me.

    I would encourage you to continue with your weight training and your stair climbing. It seems to be working for you and an exercise that you do is far better for you than one that you don't do. I think your bike rides will be a nice complement to your normal pattern.

    I would not be afraid of pushing it as hard as you can except for one caveat. I have seen people push so hard on bikes that they cease to be aware of their surroundings and they crash. Obviously, that is not good. But I have seen people really really push themselves and not suffer any ill effects so I don't think it poses a risk for a normal healthy person. But as people here have said, going all out is not really necessary as a conditioning thing. It is more of a gee whiz sort of thing.

  11. #11
    1st Timer, be gentle... aubeONE's Avatar
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    You and I seem to have roughly the same goals: lose some weight, get better/faster, and have fun doing it. That is, however, where the similarities end.

    I am soon to be 25, weighing-in at 185 and 5'10" tall. My primary goal is to ride until my "winter coat" disappears and I get back down to around 175. After reading alot about heart rate monitors and zones for specific goals, I purchased a Polar HRM and have been using it less than a month. The point, you ask, is what I'm about to tell you next.

    I had previously assumed that finding my ideal zones would be a simple calculation of subtracting my age from 220 and working out the target zones of 60-70%, 70-80% and 80+. This couldn't be further from the truth either because I'm in better shape than the math would suggest, or I just simply have a higher heart rate than those my age.

    How I discovered this was the first time I went out for a ride with my new HRM, and by the time I got down the stairs I was in the 70's (% not bpm), then I went for an easy ride which according to my HRM put me at a 94% avg hr...you see the problem.

    So what I have been advised most recently is that the best way to find your max hr is an LT test, but for those of us without the means to do that, riding as hard as you can sustain a constant speed for 30 minutes (after a good warm-up of course) as the next best way to find your max hr. Then the simple math kicks in to find the zones.

    As far as which zone you should be in to achieve your goals, here's what I've been told:

    60-70% of max HR weight loss and building endurance
    70-80% " " " weight management and improving cardiovascular fitness
    80%+ interval workouts

    I hope I helped even a little...
    If at first you dont succeed, sky-diving probably isn't for you.

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