fitness help for a newbie
I am pretty much brand new to the sport of mountain biking. I live in Santa Cruz, California -- so there are a ton of trails here I have been trying.
Here is my question: Can any of the more experienced riders give me fitness suggestions. I have been having a serious problem with my lung capacity -- I get winded very easily. I am not in great shape, but I am not in terrible shape either. I realize that I can drop some weight and that that should make it easier on my body. I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions for me, ie. different excercises which you might use to suppliment your bike riding, diet / nutrition, or other activities to specifically improve cardio-vascular fitness. I have the most trouble on the steep uphill portions (I realize also that may be normal).
I apologize in advanced for the seeming stupidity of this post.
Your problem is not with "lung capacity".
What the heart does is pump blood to the lungs. The blood picks up oxygen. The blood returns to the heart where it is pumped to the body. Now with normal people (that is anyone without severe lung damage), the blood gets essentially fully saturated in the lungs. People seem to have plenty of lung capacity normally.
OK so why in tarnation do you start panting when you exercise? Well, this involves delivery of blood to your muscles. As you exercise harder and if you are out of shape, your muscles shift from aerobic metablism to anaerboic metabolism. Anaerobic metabolism produces a lot of C02. When C02 levels in the blood go up, you start panting. You are probably going anaerobic.
So what you need to do is improve the amount of power you can put out in aerobic metabolism. As you train, your body adapts. Your muscles get larger. I think blood flow to the muscles improves. Your heart enlarges and pumps slower at rest. That means when you exercise, you deliver more blood to your muscles.
So you have the most trouble on hills? The problem many riders have is they go too hard up a hill. They go anaerobic (which can only be sustained for a short period of time) and they "blow up". The trick is to learn how to reach your anaerobic threshold on a climb and not go over it. That way you can sustain the pace up the hill.
Yesterday we did a ride with some hills. I was the strong rider in the group. On one hill, 3 people passed me. I looked at them and figured I was either much more beaten up then I thought or they were overdoing it. So I maintained my pace and they pulled ahead and then blew up and I passed them.
There are 2 ways to help in this. The first way is check your gearing. Do you have low enough gears to handle the kind of hills you want to climb? Switching your cassette out to get some bigger cogs (lower gears) often works pretty well.
Another thing you can do, is get a heart rate monitor. Your basic inexpensive heart rate only monitor is fine for these purposes. Go out and ride and when your mouth is hanging open and your tongue hanging out, look at the monitor and get the reading. After awhile you should be able to figure out the max heart rate you can sustain without blowing up. That should help you in pacing yourself on hill climbs.
I found that just doing longer slower rides helped me the most. It seems that it gets my heart rate up and my aerobic system taxed enough to make improements, but not enough to wind me. See if you can find a path or even ride the road. It makes doing the distance easier (well it did for me), and then hit the dirt and smoke all your friends.
Unless you are a competative sportsperson, then any riding will give you enough excercise, that scientific fitness stuff is not critical. If you concentrate on having fun, fitness will take care of itself over the long run. Don't expect to become "cyycling fit" in a week or 2, it takes at least 3 months.
As a general rule, an aerobic fitness base is developed by riding long, slow miles, at least 40mins of steady pedalling. Sprint and climbing fitness is something you need to develope on top of an aerobic base.
thank you very much
Originally Posted by Pat
Originally Posted by MichaelW