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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 06-01-09, 07:46 PM   #1
palladio
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Best ways for newbie to start training?

I am a 40 year old reasonably athletic male, who hasn't ridden other than leisure rides for many years. In the past year I got back into riding, for fun and as an alernative exercise to running due to herniated discs.

For the past few months I've been riding between 6 and twelve miles almost every day, other than inclement weather. On weekends I have done 20-30 in a day without too much fatigue.

Should I ride every day, or do I need a rest period like in weight training? What are a few basics I need to focus on to improve my fitness? Distance? Cadence? Harder shorter rides or longer ones with less speed/muscle effort? Is there a good resource you could direct me to with the basics of cycling for fitness? I'm not training for triathalons or any event (yet!), but just want to become a stronger rider and drop a few lbs. along the way.

BTW, I've mostly been riding a fixed gear bike with 70 gear inches, which is pretty easy for me to spin other than up steep hills. I have a geared bike, but really enjoy the feeling of riding fixed.

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Old 06-01-09, 09:41 PM   #2
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For right now, if your goal is to get stronger on the bike, you can take those routes and aim to complete them in less time. This will require that you "go harder" on your ride, which will, in turn, help you become stronger. You can also find tougher routes, such as roads with more climbing, and do the same with those. After a while, you might want to look into riding with groups to not only gage where your fitness level is, but also help improve yours to match that of the group.

To build endurance and stamina, you should focus on doing longer distances. Increase your mileage every weekend by a small amount, and just keep adding. If you reach a plateau, then work on completing that distance before progressing further.

Most importantly, rest is key to recovery. It's during your rest period where your muscles actually grow and improve, so you should take a day or so off the bike, or do easy, light spinning to relax the muscles and help acclimate them to the cycling "motion."

I hope that this helped!
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Old 06-01-09, 10:20 PM   #3
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If your goal is to lose weight, then get more time on the bike. You will burn more Calories per hour if you ride faster, but you burn more total Calories if you go for a longer ride.

More riding will also make you a stronger rider and build a base that you can use later for whatever events you ride.

But until you have an event in mind, whatever it may be, there's not much point to doing "training". Riding for fun will do as well, and it's more enjoyable.
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Old 06-01-09, 11:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by palladio View Post

Should I ride every day, or do I need a rest period like in weight training? What are a few basics I need to focus on to improve my fitness? Distance? Cadence? Harder shorter rides or longer ones with less speed/muscle effort? Is there a good resource you could direct me to with the basics of cycling for fitness? I'm not training for triathalons or any event (yet!), but just want to become a stronger rider and drop a few lbs. along the way.
1. Make sure your bike fits. Get a good, knowledgeable pro to fit you to the bike / get a bike that fits you.

2. Rest is key. It's every bit as important as weights, riding harder, faster....

3. Other than the above, the single biggest thing that helped me when I started (14 years ago), was buying a cadence meter and learning from the beginning to ride 90+. As a result, my "normal" cadence now is 95.

In my opinion (I am sure others will have other opinions), it pays big dividends in terms of speed, endurance, etc. Also, it's hard to change from being a slower cadence rider to a higher cadence after you've been riding for years. It's much easier to just learn it as the only way now at the very begining of your cycling adventure.
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Old 06-02-09, 12:34 AM   #5
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When I was in about the same place you are, I got a book that helped a lot. It's the Lance Armstrong Performance Program. It gives you a solid foundation of the basics regarding training, cadence, handling, etc. without making a major project out of it. There are three plans based on your current fitness level, and after the evening it takes to read you're out on the road riding with purpose.

G/L!
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Old 06-02-09, 01:39 AM   #6
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Thanks for the advice to a newbie question.

My bike fits so that is not an issue (I have friends who work in bike stores and a few who are hard core riders, so I took care of this when I started riding again).

Several posters talk about the importance of rest, but how do I put this in practice? Day on day off? Six days a week but alternate hard/easy rides, or distance and short rides? I am familiar with rest/recovery cycles for weight training using push pull routines or days off but don't know a good program for cycling. Honestly I haven't really had much soreness from riding and my body feels like it can handle more days per week than it could lifting weights. This may be counterproductive though.

I'll check out that Lance Armstrong book, and maybe it will answer all these questions. And a cadence meter will be my next purchase. Any recommendations on what's the best entry level computer to buy?
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Old 06-02-09, 10:46 AM   #7
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I've used the Cateye Astrale for many years. Cheap and reliable, especially if you rubberband a plastic cover on it when it's raining. The contacts get wet and short out, though the computer is not affected other than to stop reading.

Putting hard/easy into practice involves studying the mechanics of periodization. The LA book is good, as is Friel's Cyclist's Training Bible. You want to sort of build a deficit over some period, days in microcycles, weeks in mesocycles, and then reduce the training load to accomplish the fitness increase. Usually the training load is decreased by reducing both volume and intensity, but not stopping training. 1-2 days off a week will be appropriate early in the macrocycle, then these are gradually replaced with easy days as fitness increases. Cyclists are usually so enthusiastic that the main problem is not overdoing it and not doing the easy rides.
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Old 06-02-09, 11:07 AM   #8
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It's tough to beat the Blackburn Delphi 5, which has computer, cadence and heart rate in one unit, under $100. You can usually find it on sale somewhere online.
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Old 06-02-09, 11:15 AM   #9
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I never needed rest. After a hard ride, I just take longer to warm up. If I feel good, I go harder. If I don't feel like riding hard, I don't.

It seems to me that the only way some people know how to ride is to hammer. If that is the only way a person rides, then they need to get off the bike to recover.
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Old 06-02-09, 11:35 AM   #10
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Just ride and enjoy, preferably with a parner for the long rides.
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Old 06-02-09, 11:42 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spreggy View Post
It's tough to beat the Blackburn Delphi 5, which has computer, cadence and heart rate in one unit, under $100. You can usually find it on sale somewhere online.
REI used to have them up for sale $49.83 when I bought. It's only in the stores though. Not online.
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