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How much does weak lungs weaken your legs?

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How much does weak lungs weaken your legs?

Old 12-05-18, 01:10 PM
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How much does weak lungs weaken your legs?

Lately, it seems like I'm having trouble getting enough air. However, my legs are burning up right along with my lungs so I wouldn't be any faster with more oxygen unless they were stronger.

My question is if finding a way to get more air by itself will get me more leg power? I'm trying to find a way to get faster (or more accurately, mitigate the gradual slowing down process) without strength training.
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Old 12-05-18, 01:36 PM
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I cannot comment on legs burning with lungs but cardiopulmonary response is key to an aerobic sport. One thing you can do to improve lung function is to exhale forcibly and inhale using the lower part of the chest I.e. belly breathing. The forceful or deliberate exhale discharges CO2 and the belly breathing pulls in more fresh air. You can see belly breathing in pro cyclists doing a time trial depending on when the pic is taken. Sometimes they appear to have a large belly which we know is not the case. They are expanding the lungs.

Also, more news on the aging front. The lungs begin to collapse and shrink with age. Any breathing exercise that expands the lungs is great for hopefully mitigating the “shrinkage” problem.

So more O2 and less CO2 in the lungs will improve the prospective of getting more O2 to muscles for power production.
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Old 12-05-18, 02:03 PM
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Generally, we are not limited by the ability to get oxygen to the blood, but rather from the blood into the muscles. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10647532
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Old 12-05-18, 02:20 PM
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Same here, partly asthma, partly poor technique.

I still practice using an incentive spirometer from my last hospitalization. My first breaths are usually feeble. After a few tries it improves.

Regarding breathing from the diaphragm, that technique was apparent from watching Emma Pooley on GCN videos. I could actually see her abdomen expanding and contracting during hill climbs.

Reminded me how bad my technique is and how to help correct it. I tend to tense up when I begin breathing hard, which makes it worse. Gotta remind myself to relax and breathe from the diaphragm.
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Old 12-05-18, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat
Same here, partly asthma, partly poor technique.

I still practice using an incentive spirometer from my last hospitalization. My first breaths are usually feeble. After a few tries it improves.

Regarding breathing from the diaphragm, that technique was apparent from watching Emma Pooley on GCN videos. I could actually see her abdomen expanding and contracting during hill climbs.

Reminded me how bad my technique is and how to help correct it. I tend to tense up when I begin breathing hard, which makes it worse. Gotta remind myself to relax and breathe from the diaphragm.
+1 on the importance of relaxation breathing. Just inhaling (deeply) through the nose and (slowly) exhaling through pursed lips some of the time has a grounding effect for me which helps me take stock of my anxiety level and my perceived versus real fitness level on any particular day.

As as an allergy sufferers and a person with a nasty history of sinus infections I would also mention that it is a good idea to do whatever is necessary to make sure you can breath clearly through your nose as well as your mouth. I now just use Flonase if I really need it but I do take Zyrtec (Cetirizine) daily which I believe helps. The way I look at it, breathing through your nose and mouth optimizes incoming air (along with the belly breathing already mentioned) in a way that will allow you to make the “burning” in your legs more of a moving target, such that you can validate gains in your fitness level over time.
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Old 12-05-18, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes
I cannot comment on legs burning with lungs but cardiopulmonary response is key to an aerobic sport. One thing you can do to improve lung function is to exhale forcibly and inhale using the lower part of the chest I.e. belly breathing. The forceful or deliberate exhale discharges CO2 and the belly breathing pulls in more fresh air.
I always wondered why I always find myself doing this when I push myself. I always assumed the benefit was primary psychological so it's good to know it's helpful for real.
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Old 12-05-18, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by banerjek
Lately, it seems like I'm having trouble getting enough air. However, my legs are burning up right along with my lungs so I wouldn't be any faster with more oxygen unless they were stronger.

My question is if finding a way to get more air by itself will get me more leg power? I'm trying to find a way to get faster (or more accurately, mitigate the gradual slowing down process) without strength training.
I can’t answer your question about legs and lungs. You state this is a recent thing. Shortness of breath can be a symptom of many underlying medical problems including heart problems, maybe get it checked out by a doctor to see.
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Old 12-05-18, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by redlude97
Generally, we are not limited by the ability to get oxygen to the blood, but rather from the blood into the muscles. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10647532
Correct. Lungs have much redundancy in them. So unless you have underlying lung disease like COPD or asthma etc., it’s unlikely your lungs are limiting you. It’s likely your cardiac output.
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Old 12-05-18, 06:00 PM
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I recently moved from a mountainous area where I frequently rode trails in the 6500 foot plus range. Now that I'm at sea level for all intents I have never felt stronger despite my advancing years. Maybe I should go back to the mountains on occasion just to remind myself how good it feels at sea level. hmmm
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Old 12-05-18, 06:15 PM
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For a few reasons, over the last couple of years, my gearing has changed, and I've stopped doing as many hard standing hill climbs. All the while, my annual mileage has been increasing.

I think my legs have become weaker for those really strong efforts, but my overall endurance has increased considerably.

I haven't been monitoring my cadence a lot, but my sprocket selection also suggests choosing lower gears (larger rear sprockets).

I do need to work on my speed a bit, and probably should get back to some short hard efforts, as well as some hills. However, earlier this summer, I clocked my fastest ever "commute", clocking the first 15 out of 16 miles at 20 MPH, not that I have repeated that.

At least for moderate effort, I am now limited by my legs and overall fatigue. But, I still wonder if high effort would still be lung and CV limited.
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Old 12-05-18, 06:18 PM
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Legs burning has nothing to do with strength. It has to do with training at intensity which helps get rid of the waste products which cause the burning. My understanding is that anaerobic training lifts all limits, aerobic included. That's mostly because it's not really anaerobic, just a small percentage is, but for sure it's at your aerobic limit, which is the point. You know you've gone anaerobic when no matter how hard you try to do deep diaphragm breathing, you start to pant. That's called VT2, or the second ventilation threshold. When you do this, you're not oxygen deprived - anaerobic processes are, by definition, anaerobic. What you have is an excess of CO2 and you're panting to get rid of it.

There are several ways to do this sort of training. 4 X 8' VT2 intervals are very effective, done once a week or as recovery allows. Also over/under intervals are much used. See the 33 workout recipe thread. All high end intervals protocols help.

I'd say that if your legs and lungs are burning at the same time, you're doing the right thing. Lower cadence = more leg stress, less lung stress, and vice versa for higher cadence. So there's that.

IME the answer to your question is yes, but it's more complicated than that. Your muscles would like more oxygen and they'd like to get rid of waste products faster and not only that, but to accumulate them more slowly. On that last point, lots and lots of base are helpful. Increasing one's ability to burn fat helps at all intensities. Burning fat makes virtually no waste products. I try to work the problem at both ends: lots of steady state at VT1 (where one just begins to breathe faster) and as much high end as my bod will allow. I start with zone 4 work, at least 45'/week and when that goes well, add VT2 (zone 5) work. I have lots of hills to practice on, but flats work too.
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Old 12-05-18, 06:29 PM
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Building muscle tissue is fairly straightforward. if your legs are limiting you there are numerous training techniques which Will work if you do them properly and repeatedly over a span of time. Increasing lung capacity is a lot harder, it seems to me, and increasing VO2---basically gas exchange for fueling and exhaust ... there is a reason the pros use EPO.

I am not a doctor nor an exercise specialist or really much of anything ... but as i understand it the legs burn because (I think (carbolic acid (CO2 (cell exhaust) mixing with other compounds) becomes lactic acid and actually is burning your capillaries if you cannot extract it quickly enough. When you have reached your maximum volume of gas exchange, your cells cannot pick up waste mater and deliver fuel as fast as it is needed. The muscles starve and weaken, and the waste builds up and causes pain.

Therefore, better breathing Should increase fuel delivery and more important, waste evacuation, which would lessen the burning sensation.

I am sure a dozen people at least will tell me 20 ways I am wrong, and at least of third of those posters will use facts, and about a fifth will use relevant facts.

I use google. Not only are my odds of finding the real facts a lot higher, I don't have to listen to people say things like, "Studies have shown that lactic acid isn't a thing and wouldn't matter if it was."

I didn't google any of the stuff above, so you have about 40 percent odds of 40 percent of it being accurate---you decide which portions you want to believe. That's how it is done, nowadays. Alternative facts rule!
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Old 12-05-18, 06:31 PM
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@Carbonfiberboy is a fitness freak, and he grew up in a time when there actually were facts and stuff. I'd trust most of what he says about training.
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Old 12-05-18, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Baboo
I can’t answer your question about legs and lungs. You state this is a recent thing. Shortness of breath can be a symptom of many underlying medical problems including heart problems, maybe get it checked out by a doctor to see.
I can see how I came across that way, but it's been gradual. There's no medical issue.

I saw a couple docs who told me the only problem I had was accepting the aging process. When I asked for what I could do to improve, they told me to continue to do whatever I was doing.

The reason I asked here is that many "normal" people (including docs) view me as some kind of extreme athlete who wants to do things sane people shouldn't be doing. As such, they see complaints as based on unrealistic expectations. But people who do this stuff get it.

I know my best days are behind me, but I want to make sure I'm doing what I can so I can keep enjoying what I love. I'm not competitive, but lungs, legs, and speed are essential for some activities to be accessible. This was from last weekend's outing...

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Old 12-05-18, 07:35 PM
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Well, do intervals and train at altitude. Follow @Carbonfiberboy's advice. (he's 72 (or maybe 73 by now)) so he understands fighting off age-based decay.

This is the internet age. There must be websites with good advice for aging extreme athletes--what you can do, what you can expect.

I'd never listen to a GP for advice for anything but the most general medical issues. At some point they all say, "You're just getting old." To which one might reply ... "That's just it. I am just getting Old, not decrepit." But to most doctors, preserving life by limiting life is the accepted path---do less and less so you can spend more time doing less and less.
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Old 12-05-18, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs
Building muscle tissue is fairly straightforward. if your legs are limiting you there are numerous training techniques which Will work if you do them properly and repeatedly over a span of time. Increasing lung capacity is a lot harder, it seems to me, and increasing VO2---basically gas exchange for fueling and exhaust ... there is a reason the pros use EPO.

I am not a doctor nor an exercise specialist or really much of anything ... but as i understand it the legs burn because (I think (carbolic acid (CO2 (cell exhaust) mixing with other compounds) becomes lactic acid and actually is burning your capillaries if you cannot extract it quickly enough. When you have reached your maximum volume of gas exchange, your cells cannot pick up waste mater and deliver fuel as fast as it is needed. The muscles starve and weaken, and the waste builds up and causes pain.

Therefore, better breathing Should increase fuel delivery and more important, waste evacuation, which would lessen the burning sensation.

I am sure a dozen people at least will tell me 20 ways I am wrong, and at least of third of those posters will use facts, and about a fifth will use relevant facts.

I use google. Not only are my odds of finding the real facts a lot higher, I don't have to listen to people say things like, "Studies have shown that lactic acid isn't a thing and wouldn't matter if it was."

I didn't google any of the stuff above, so you have about 40 percent odds of 40 percent of it being accurate---you decide which portions you want to believe. That's how it is done, nowadays. Alternative facts rule!
Thanks for the kind mention.

My understanding is similar to yours, with the addition that it's really, really complicated at the molecular level. You really want to talk to a PhD in computational biology, which is a very hot field right now. So if you know any super-talented teens, head 'em in that direction. I know a little about this because I've been riding with a research physiologist for many years and have listened to him go on about his projects, which usually involved exercising dogs and trying to figure out what happened during that process. He loves dogs, but it's science right, and they don't let you cut up humans. He's been a series research-dog adopter and is a very nice guy, really.

Anyway, it's not lactic acid, it's technically lactate. That knowledge won't get you anything off a latte at Starbucks and is actually not much help, partly because it's not the lactate that makes your legs burn, it's some other chemical with a great long name, which I've forgotten. As you point out, going hard does increase lactate, which will eventually shut down your muscles, even if it's not the source of the burning. Good discussion here: A question about Lactate Threshold and blood ph
None of that really helps. All we need to know is that certain training inputs have certain performance outputs. In between is a black box or at least for practical purposes it can be regarded as such.

One thing in the black box which we do know is that oxygen deprivation causes the kidneys to release EPO which, (if my memory is correct) will in about a month's time result in mature red blood cells (RBCs) which transport oxygen. The way to achieve that oxygen deprivation is to absolutely turn yourself inside out on the trainer and drop your blood oxygenation below 93%. Or go to high altitude and just do jumping jacks, much more tolerable. I've tested this with with a blood oximeter. At sea level, I haven't been able to drive my oxygenation below 97% because I simply don't have the talent to burn that much oxygen in my legs. Some athletes have experimented with putting the trainer in a low oxygen chamber, which works, but because it's low oxygen, their effort is also lower and results of these experiments were inconclusive. Or simply train low, sleep high. Use your helicopter.

So about all you can do is what cyclists have always done: train hard, and train right. Easiest way to do that is with a coach but most of us are content with planning our own suffering. Back in the day, it was a custom to go out in the forest, far from the city and do deep breathing exercises. I have no doubt that is helpful.

Other than the EPO thing, and as I think has been mentioned, the first thing that happens during hard training is that plasma volume increases. This is pretty quick, a couple weeks maybe. The next thing is that heart ejection fraction increases. This is a lot slower and keeps getting better for a long time, years. This is one of the reasons that resting HR drops in hard-working endurance athletes. I have a buddy who has on his Rider ID: "My resting HR is 40," just in case some EMT gets all worried about it. When I'm training hard, mine will be about 45 when well rested and 50-52 when recovering. That's pretty normal. Some elites will be down in the 30s.
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Old 12-05-18, 08:43 PM
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Back in the 90s we showed that the muscle response to magnetic brain stimulation decreased after exercise-induced fatigue, long before the response to nerve stimulation changed at all. That is, fatigue was occurring before the muscle was in any sort of metabolic failure. This is called “central fatigue” and it is likely a major factor in fitness and performance. I can dig up the papers and subsequent work if anyone’s interested.
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Old 12-05-18, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by masi61
As as an allergy sufferers and a person with a nasty history of sinus infections I would also mention that it is a good idea to do whatever is necessary to make sure you can breath clearly through your nose as well as your mouth. I now just use Flonase if I really need it but I do take Zyrtec (Cetirizine) daily which I believe helps. The way I look at it, breathing through your nose and mouth optimizes incoming air (along with the belly breathing already mentioned) in a way that will allow you to make the “burning” in your legs more of a moving target, such that you can validate gains in your fitness level over time.
I was at the hospital earlier today for a post surgery check-up anyway, so I visited the urgent care clinic for a persistent sinus headache.

Turns out I have a pretty bad infection with inflammation. So, steroid injection, Prednisone and antibiotics to take home.

I'll know in a couple of weeks if it helps . Otherwise I'll find something else to blame for my mediocre climbing. 🤔
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Old 12-05-18, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha
Back in the 90s we showed that the muscle response to magnetic brain stimulation decreased after exercise-induced fatigue, long before the response to nerve stimulation changed at all. That is, fatigue was occurring before the muscle was in any sort of metabolic failure. This is called “central fatigue” and it is likely a major factor in fitness and performance. I can dig up the papers and subsequent work if anyone’s interested.
I'm interested. Never heard of magnetic brain stimulation other than in the context of using a device to treat depression, nothing to do with muscles.
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Old 12-05-18, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat
....

Regarding breathing from the diaphragm, that technique was apparent from watching Emma Pooley on GCN videos. I could actually see her abdomen expanding and contracting during hill climbs.

Reminded me how bad my technique is and how to help correct it. I tend to tense up when I begin breathing hard, which makes it worse. Gotta remind myself to relax and breathe from the diaphragm.
Yup. Look at all the older pro racers. That "flabby gut"? They learned years ago to relax those abdominal muscles so they could pull that diaphram down. Another trick - exhale. This from a swim coach. She stressed it matter little how much we inhaled and everything how much we exhaled. Reason? It is by exhaling very deeply that we clear the old air from the lowest portion of our lungs - where the lung's best oxygen receptors hand out. With a partial inhale, what we didn't expel is left nullifying those super oxygen receptors. Her words were that if we exhaled everything (easy in freestyle; you have a long stretch with your face underwater) and only get a 1/4 breath because a wave just slapped our face, we would be way ahead of the guy doing less than complete exhales.

And now, on the bike - when I am dying on a hill, remembering those words and exhaling everything, despite that seeming completely wrong, I always speed up near instantly. At the hill top, recovery happens much faster.

And to the OP's question - yes, with inadequate oxygen your legs will hurt more. Lack of oxygen, either through huge muscle demands or lack of supply, hurts, both upstairs (lungs, etc, and in your legs. You can ride a higher gear. This wil lower your oxygen demand as you will be in anaerobic mode, ie a metabolism that doesn't use blood oxygen. Helps with this issue, but has its own limitations.

Ben
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Old 12-05-18, 10:03 PM
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I say none. But it will definitely shorten your recoup time.
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Old 12-05-18, 10:48 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney
Yup. Look at all the older pro racers. That "flabby gut"? They learned years ago to relax those abdominal muscles so they could pull that diaphram down. Another trick - exhale. This from a swim coach. She stressed it matter little how much we inhaled and everything how much we exhaled. Reason? It is by exhaling very deeply that we clear the old air from the lowest portion of our lungs - where the lung's best oxygen receptors hand out. With a partial inhale, what we didn't expel is left nullifying those super oxygen receptors. Her words were that if we exhaled everything (easy in freestyle; you have a long stretch with your face underwater) and only get a 1/4 breath because a wave just slapped our face, we would be way ahead of the guy doing less than complete exhales.

And now, on the bike - when I am dying on a hill, remembering those words and exhaling everything, despite that seeming completely wrong, I always speed up near instantly. At the hill top, recovery happens much faster.

And to the OP's question - yes, with inadequate oxygen your legs will hurt more. Lack of oxygen, either through huge muscle demands or lack of supply, hurts, both upstairs (lungs, etc, and in your legs. You can ride a higher gear. This wil lower your oxygen demand as you will be in anaerobic mode, ie a metabolism that doesn't use blood oxygen. Helps with this issue, but has its own limitations.

Ben
While I agree that as complete an exhalation as possible maximizes breathing efficiency, as it minimizes the amount of residual "stale" air in the lungs and replaces it with fresh, fully oxygenated air, there are no "oxygen receptors" in the lungs, super or otherwise - gases diffuse in and out of the lungs through the thin fluid layer that coats the alveoli (the "air sacs") - it's a purely physical process, the rate and direction of which depend on (i) the gas concentration gradient between the blood in the vessels surrounding the alveoli and the air in the alveoli, and (ii) the area available for gas exchange. The reason an essentially passive process like gas diffusion can provide the body with sufficient oxygen to support activity comes down to the enormous gas exchange area in the lungs - which in the average set of lungs is about half the area of a tennis court.

Breathing while swimming is an interesting issue, synching inhalation/exhalation with the stroke notwithstanding. I was talking with a accomplished triathlete a while back, getting her opinion on why good swimming is essential to successful triathlon competition (my daughter is a competitive swimmer, and while she runs like a tree and can hardly stay upright on a bike, she kicks even seasoned triathletes' arses in the water), and she told me that, while most people can develop into decent runners and cyclists, learning to swim effectively takes much longer, as the swimmers have to physically adapt to the slight but real compression on the chest and lungs from water pressure, and this can take years. Coaches looking for promising triathletes look for swimmers first, knowing that the other disciplines can be taught

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Old 12-06-18, 12:39 AM
  #23  
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Another thing I learned from using the post-surgery spirometer -- besides the fact that my breathing technique is lousy. Breathing is hard work. Just breathing can get you out of breath. Good example of how little I used my diaphragm properly, despite being in pretty good "bicycle shape."

The incentive spirometer I got from the hospital tops out at 5000. Right out of surgery I could barely do 2000, but I'd just had throat surgery and my trachea was raw from being intubated for anesthesia. By the next day I could do 3000. But to reach 4000-4500, I have to forcibly expel as much air as I can, then spit and sputter out every bit of air in my mouth, then pinch off my nose. I can do it, but it's exhausting just breathing like that, without moving the rest of the body.

Now I can see the reason for interval training that emphasizes spinning in an easier gear as fast as the legs can go until the lungs are cooked. Usually I push harder gears until my legs are cooked. But I still gas out on hills about halfway or 2/3 up.

Even without any other exercise, deep breathing may prolong a healthy life. By the time my grandparents and mom were in their final years they could barely nudge an incentive spirometer at all. Yeah, they were older and tired. But they'd also fallen into a sedentary lifestyle, mostly sitting all day and night, not even doing any range of motion exercises to keep the joints limber, or deep breathing to clear the lungs and mind.
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Old 12-06-18, 02:15 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat
But I still gas out on hills about halfway or 2/3 up.
Training the legs and lungs doesn't help much with that. That's all a matter of whether you're riding an appropriately-geared bike and chose an appropriate pace.

Even professional racers have no difficulty gassing themselves early on climbs, all they need to do is don't not do it.
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Old 12-06-18, 05:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
I'm interested. Never heard of magnetic brain stimulation other than in the context of using a device to treat depression, nothing to do with muscles.
Mark George and I started that whole depression thing in about 1994. I can dig that paper up too.

Muscle twitches were the first phenomenon observed with TMS and it’s still a big deal in motor physiology, which is how I got involved back in 1989. We used the muscle twitch threshold to determine the individual intensity of stimulation used in depression (and other) treatment and that’s still what the FDA-cleared package insert says to do.

I will pm the exercise stuff.
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