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Old 08-02-07, 12:25 PM   #1
ChicagoRed
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more pedaling or more resistance?

have started riding 2-3x a week for purpose of getting healthier, lowering cholesteral, etc...

i'm wondering which is "better exercise" -- riding in a lower gear and pedlaing more, vs. riding in a higher gear with more resistance. If anyone has knowledge on that, your feedback is appreciated.

Thanks,

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Old 08-02-07, 12:50 PM   #2
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Either extreme -- spinning too much (cadence too high) or mashing too much (cadence to low) should be avoided. Your goal, I think, should be increasing the miles you can ride comfortably. I know this isn't an answer to your question (I'm not sure there is a good answer).

I'd work toward increasing your base mileage, and just keep your cadence reasonable.

You might consider getting a heart rate monitor -- it's a valuable training tool and useful for tracking your progress. It will also tell you roughly (based on heart rate only) how hard you're working.
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Old 08-02-07, 02:16 PM   #3
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have started riding 2-3x a week for purpose of getting healthier, lowering cholesteral, etc...

i'm wondering which is "better exercise" -- riding in a lower gear and pedlaing more, vs. riding in a higher gear with more resistance. If anyone has knowledge on that, your feedback is appreciated.
For the beginner, practice using the lower-gears and spinning more. It lowers the muscle-force required at any given speed and stave off muscle fatigue. This will let you ride further and recover quicker between ride. Allows you to do the most numbers of miles in a week possible and get maximum health benefits in terms of improved cardiovascular system, lower body-fat%, lower cholesterol, lower blood-pressure, etc.

Gently increase your distances and total mileage about +10% a week and you'll find that using the easier gears helps tremendously. Saves your knees too.
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Old 08-02-07, 02:21 PM   #4
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I was reading about the coach of the USA Olympic team from the '80's...he made a rule against using "hard" gears in training. He felt that the best way to get in shape and avoid injuries was to learn how to spin rapidly and smoothly in an easy gear.

I find that fast spinning in an easy gear gives my heart and lungs a good workout without any problems with soreness from my feet, knees, or legs. I know of some guys who thought "hard" gears would be a good workout...and their knees paid the price.
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Old 08-02-07, 02:23 PM   #5
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You've got to spin it to win it.
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Old 08-02-07, 02:29 PM   #6
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There's a balance between to two and each effort has a demand on the body, both in a positive direction. Big gear, low cadence relies on muscle strength more than cardiovascular strength and will bring about growth to the involved muscles. High cadence "spinning" requires more cardiovascular strength, but is easier on the muscles and joints. Over time you'll naturally develop a balance between the two. Do you have more leg (Ullrich) or more lung (Armstrong)? Personally I value a stronger cardiovascular system. It's easy to have lots of muscle and a ****ty blood profile, not so with a strong cardiovascular system. In short, find your balance, ride lots, eat your veggies.
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Old 08-02-07, 02:30 PM   #7
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So I can't say the word "****" on here!? What the ****!? =)
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Old 08-02-07, 02:31 PM   #8
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Well, I said "spin it" mostly because most new riders tend to mash too big of a gear anyway. I certainly did. And it took me a few years of focusing on increasing my cadence to comfortably ride at 100 rpm. This is certainly easier on my knees and much more efficient.
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Old 08-02-07, 03:02 PM   #9
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spin it first nothing under 85 rpm get a good bike fit add base miles slowly easy on the hills in the begining and you will not find yourself in my office my fall
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Old 08-02-07, 03:54 PM   #10
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Some great feedback here, thanks for your responses.

I guess what I had thought from common sense -- the more times you move your legs, the better the exercise you're getting -- was pretty much on target.
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Old 08-02-07, 04:01 PM   #11
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Some great feedback here, thanks for your responses.

I guess what I had thought from common sense -- the more times you move your legs, the better the exercise you're getting -- was pretty much on target.

Unless you're climbing, of course.
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Old 08-02-07, 07:16 PM   #12
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I will throw in that after a sufficient amount of base miles, strength training on the bike by intentionally using a big gear/lower cadence is okay. Not for everyday riding, mind you, and not before you have a good base under you...
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Old 08-03-07, 12:14 PM   #13
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What happens on a ride is that you watch the speedometer and after you're warmed up, you notice that the lower gears don't necessarily make you go faster. So then you try upping the gears and presto the speed goes up. You are lured into thinking this is easy. Then you try to maintain the same cadence with the higher gear.

This is where it gets tricky. If you can stay with a high cadence and a higher gear, you think that you somehow got it, got the base miles, and have finally reached some kind of aerobic enlightenment. If you can maintain this new level, then maybe you are in. If not, better back off.

Biking is like constantly seeking that improvement and daring to push yourself towards it. On certain days things work well. On others, due to wind and terrain, or borderline bonking, its back to square one.
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Old 08-03-07, 01:40 PM   #14
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It depends. For the same speed, a higher cadence puts more stress on your cardio system, lower cadence puts more stress on your leg muscles. Some like Armstrong went with high cadence because he was most endowed with heart/lung capacity, others like Ulrich felt they had better performance with strength and had a much lower cadence.

Al
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Old 08-05-07, 09:26 AM   #15
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"have started riding 2-3x a week for purpose of getting healthier, lowering cholesteral"

for your purposes of lowering cholesterol and getting healthier (assuming you mean cardiovascular health), you should be leaning more towards the spinning--lower gearing--type of riding.
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Old 08-05-07, 03:49 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by ChicagoRed View Post
have started riding 2-3x a week for purpose of getting healthier, lowering cholesteral, etc...

i'm wondering which is "better exercise" -- riding in a lower gear and pedlaing more, vs. riding in a higher gear with more resistance. If anyone has knowledge on that, your feedback is appreciated.
Spinning faster puts more load on your cardio system and is kinder on your joints, so if it's for health purposes, a bit faster.

If you can measure your cadence (number of pedal strokes per minute), I'd recommend aiming to ride at 80 RPM (ish).
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Old 08-05-07, 10:15 PM   #17
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I'm curious about the cadence. My husband says a higher cadence wears out his legs so he tries to keep it at 60. When I suggested raising it to 80 tonight on our easy ride around the neighborhood, he thought that seemed too fast.... and I have to admit he looked a little goofy (I think he felt goofy too). I should add that we ride hybrids, so does that make a difference in the recommended RPM?

(I don't want to hijack this thread so I hope the answers benefit the OP.)
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Old 08-06-07, 07:30 AM   #18
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I'm curious about the cadence. My husband says a higher cadence wears out his legs so he tries to keep it at 60. When I suggested raising it to 80 tonight on our easy ride around the neighborhood, he thought that seemed too fast.... and I have to admit he looked a little goofy (I think he felt goofy too). I should add that we ride hybrids, so does that make a difference in the recommended RPM?

(I don't want to hijack this thread so I hope the answers benefit the OP.)
The term hybrid invokes an image in my mind of an erect riding position. If true, it's very difficult to apply power to the pedals or even to spin fast if sitting erect. Something like a 45-degree back-angle (elbows slightly bent) is far better. What made me think of this is that yesterday riding single track (mountain bike) I passed (blew by) three folks who were sitting erect and felt so sorry for them. They were straining, but hardly moving.

In my experience, it takes time to adapt to a different way of pedaling. I trained myself to spin 90 to 100 over 70 to 75 miles when I was more into road riding. That said, I do better at something closer to 80.

Even on single track, if I get really tired, I'll drop down a gear or two and spin higher.

Al

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Old 08-06-07, 10:40 AM   #19
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For a beginner, 85rpm could be considered spinning too fast. Try to keep it at 95.
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Old 08-06-07, 11:05 AM   #20
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What happens on a ride is that you watch the speedometer and after you're warmed up, you notice that the lower gears don't necessarily make you go faster. So then you try upping the gears and presto the speed goes up. You are lured into thinking this is easy. Then you try to maintain the same cadence with the higher gear.

This is where it gets tricky. If you can stay with a high cadence and a higher gear, you think that you somehow got it, got the base miles, and have finally reached some kind of aerobic enlightenment. If you can maintain this new level, then maybe you are in. If not, better back off.

Biking is like constantly seeking that improvement and daring to push yourself towards it. On certain days things work well. On others, due to wind and terrain, or borderline bonking, its back to square one.

I get exactly the same effect mountain biking. If I go to a higher gear even though the gear I was in did not appear too low, I get a speed increase and generally have no problem maintaining it. I used this approach a couple of years ago to help cut my time on an 18 mile single-track loop by almost 25%. Too high a cadance in too low a gear appears to have artifically limited my speed.

Al
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Old 08-06-07, 11:15 AM   #21
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For a beginner, 85rpm could be considered spinning too fast. Try to keep it at 95.
?????

95 > 85
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Old 08-06-07, 01:00 PM   #22
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The term hybrid invokes an image in my mind of an erect riding position. If true, it's very difficult to apply power to the pedals or even to spin fast if sitting erect. Something like a 45-degree back-angle (elbows slightly bent) is far better. What made me think of this is that yesterday riding single track (mountain bike) I passed (blew by) three folks who sitting erect and felt so sorry for them. They were straining, but hardly moving.
The image many people have of riding a hybrid is a completely upright position and the ability to go no more than a few miles. Someone in another forum said they are good for a short ride to Starbuck's and nothing more. I'd like to debunk that myth. My husband and I are both 50+ and re-entered cycling in March. We chose hybrids because of some upper-extremity joint issues and thought the hybrids would be best for us. At the time, we planned to go out once a week or so and ride around the neighborhood. Well, we're now up to 28+ miles (way beyond our neighborhood) and we add a few miles each week. Sure, the trip is slower than on a road bike, but it is certainly do-able. The folks you saw straining on the upright bikes were either in a gear too high for the terrain or their physical condition, or their bikes don't have enough gears. The only time I strain is if I forget to shift into a lower gear when preparing to stop (and I rarely do that). Otherwise, I don't strain because I keep it in the proper gear. Also, I do not ride in a completely upright position; not quite 45 degrees forward, but not 90-degrees upright either. These bikes have served us very well. We're not very fast and I doubt we'll ever blow by anyone (no, wait, we dropped a guy and a couple of gals straining up a hill on a mountain bike one day....), but we're still getting into shape and having a blast and spending quality time together while we do it.

Now that I got that off my chest.... thanks for the additional information about pedaling and cadence.
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Old 08-06-07, 03:45 PM   #23
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The image many people have of riding a hybrid is a completely upright position and the ability to go no more than a few miles. Someone in another forum said they are good for a short ride to Starbuck's and nothing more. I'd like to debunk that myth. My husband and I are both 50+ and re-entered cycling in March. We chose hybrids because of some upper-extremity joint issues and thought the hybrids would be best for us. At the time, we planned to go out once a week or so and ride around the neighborhood. Well, we're now up to 28+ miles (way beyond our neighborhood) and we add a few miles each week. Sure, the trip is slower than on a road bike, but it is certainly do-able. The folks you saw straining on the upright bikes were either in a gear too high for the terrain or their physical condition, or their bikes don't have enough gears. The only time I strain is if I forget to shift into a lower gear when preparing to stop (and I rarely do that). Otherwise, I don't strain because I keep it in the proper gear. Also, I do not ride in a completely upright position; not quite 45 degrees forward, but not 90-degrees upright either. These bikes have served us very well. We're not very fast and I doubt we'll ever blow by anyone (no, wait, we dropped a guy and a couple of gals straining up a hill on a mountain bike one day....), but we're still getting into shape and having a blast and spending quality time together while we do it.

Now that I got that off my chest.... thanks for the additional information about pedaling and cadence.
Good for you for both the chest part and the riding and keep it up. However, I would argue that it's not a myth. The owners that I know rarely ride them. Hybrids are typically garage queens. You may be the exception that proves the rule.

I have never understood hybrids. A road bike can be set-up as comfortably as a hybrid, even an upright position if desired, and it's just so much more fun. My wife and I started with the equivalent of hybrids about 1970. In four or five months we got rid of them and went to road bikes. We now ride mid-priced ($2500?) full suspension mountain bikes in the woods and about that value road bikes. We do use a little wider tires (25mm) for the rougher roads in our area.

Those poor young folks sitting up-right I blew-by yesturday were on true mountain bikes and not hybrids. I'm 68 and the wife is 66.

Al
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