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Beginner program?(zone 2 questions)

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Beginner program?(zone 2 questions)

Old 04-30-20, 02:28 AM
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GreenCyclist
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Beginner program?(zone 2 questions)

Two months ago I quit smoking and since then I've fallen in love with cardio and endurance sports! I have a vague goal to get as fit as possible. I just want to have great fitness and endurance and stamina. I would like some help and advice with my training. I have all the time in the world for awhile now currently so I don't mind any high, high volume/time programs. I will do whatever it takes, whatever's ideal to achieve the best fitness level I possibly can.

So I've been cycling for the past two months mostly doing a hard ride on a certain route I have that at first I couldn't complete, but then it took me over 40 minutes and I got my best time down to 36. I've also been running and made a lot of progress rather quickly, but I've decided to switch for now to primarily cycling until I both get fitter and lose about 20-30 pounds I need to lose because I had some knee problems and different foot injuries here and there from running too often and too hard. I still may run every other day a few easier miles or something.

For my running I was doing mostly easier/slower zone 2 training type runs, but on the bike I pretty much went out and pushed it because I figured it would be a lot easier to recover from than running. On the forums researching zone 2 training I saw someone recommend a beginner to do about 6 months of lots of base building.

So today I just finished a 2 hour zone 2 ride. It felt really easy in terms of soreness and that after getting off the bike while I didn't feel like getting back out there immediately I had a sense that I could probably recover from it a lot quicker than my harder efforts with lots of climbing and intensity. So my max heart rate is 193 and I kept my heart rate around 115-125 on that ride. Not sure if that's the ideal spot, but hope it's okay at least.

Can someone please recommend how much zone 2 training I should do to achieve all my goals? If I should spend 6 hours a day doing only zone 2 for the next however long period of time I will do that or if I need to be more intense with shorter duration or whatever I would do that.

Thank you so much for any help. Love cycling!
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Old 04-30-20, 03:24 AM
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It's a complicated question. Probably moreso than it seems.

First off, decide which "standard" you are going to use. 5 zones for heart rate is pretty common (Strava uses 5) But 7 zones is common too if you have a power meter. They seldom play on the same field nicely together. Meaning heart & lungs adapt at a different rate than legs & muscles.

I'm assuming you have a heart rate monitor & that's the standard you have chosen.

The first thing you should dispell yourself of is: "On my ON days, I need to peg my heart rate at 193 & keep it there for the duration." That's a great way to get a heart attack. Though, 80‐85% plus is a great way to force improvement.

When you become fit, your heart rate will recover quickly. The fitter you are, the faster you will recover to some nominal low‐ish heartrate.

Zone 2 is a relaxed pace, just about what you experience with a brisk walk.

I would suggest, (& I freely admit to having no credentials whatsoever) that for a beginner 2x as much zone 2 as time spent in 80% plus.

So a 30 minute hammerfest at 180-ish bpm one day ought to be followed up with about an hour at a relaxed pace the next day. Probably 4 days a week 5 tops, on the bike to allow for recovery on consecutive days.

As you progress, your recovery times will recover quickly enough that with every stop, keeping a high average heart rate for a ride will take real effort. Chasing a high average for the sake of a high average becomes more of a fools errand the fitter you become. So it becomes a different ball game at that point. Switching in a year or 2 from the straight intensity game of a beginner to the duration times time at intensity of a more advanced rider...Cruising along at 20mph for 2 hours just won't do at Zone 2.5. Some periods (2-5 miles or more) at 25mph/longer hill climbs or short sprints at 30 mph/intense hill climbs are how more advanced performance oriented cyclists progress...A recovery for this level of cyclist is later on that same ride when stopped at a red light, then off the bike at home that evening with a good nights sleep to do it again the next day.

All this is a long way of saying: There is no right answer. It depends on your fitness, your freshness, your fatigue, your strength, your time off the bike, your nutrition, your hydration, & a million other factors that are individual to any particular cyclist at any particular time.

The most important thing is to listen to your body. Period. There is nothing linear about your progression. The first year will be have the largest gains. From then on progress will be hit-miss-plateau-breakthrough as your various body systems adapt. Take it easy when it's time to take it easy. Go hard when it's time to go hard. Don't mix 'em up & don't focus on heart rate only as the only metric. There is a lot going on.

Last edited by base2; 04-30-20 at 03:39 AM.
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Old 04-30-20, 04:00 AM
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
It's a complicated question. Probably moreso than it seems.

First off, decide which "standard" you are going to use. 5 zones for heart rate is pretty common (Strava uses 5) But 7 zones is common too if you have a power meter. They seldom play on the same field nicely together. Meaning heart & lungs adapt at a different rate than legs & muscles.

I'm assuming you have a heart rate monitor & that's the standard you have chosen.

The first thing you should dispell yourself of is: "On my ON days, I need to peg my heart rate at 193 & keep it there for the duration." That's a great way to get a heart attack. Though, 80‐85% plus is a great way to force improvement.

When you become fit, your heart rate will recover quickly. The fitter you are, the faster you will recover to some nominal low‐ish heartrate.

Zone 2 is a relaxed pace, just about what you experience with a brisk walk.

I would suggest, (& I freely admit to having no credentials whatsoever) that for a beginner 2x as much zone 2 as time spent in 80% plus.

So a 30 minute hammerfest at 180-ish bpm one day ought to be followed up with about an hour at a relaxed pace the next day. Probably 4 days a week 5 tops, on the bike to allow for recovery on consecutive days.

As you progress, your recovery times will recover quickly enough that with every stop, keeping a high average heart rate for a ride will take real effort. Chasing a high average for the sake of a high average becomes more of a fools errand the fitter you become. So it becomes a different ball game at that point. Switching in a year or 2 from the straight intensity game of a beginner to the duration times time at intensity of a more advanced rider...Cruising along at 20mph for 2 hours just won't do at Zone 2.5. Some periods (2-5 miles or more) at 25mph/longer hill climbs or short sprints at 30 mph/intense hill climbs are how more advanced performance oriented cyclists progress...A recovery for this level of cyclist is later on that same ride when stopped at a red light, then off the bike at home that evening with a good nights sleep to do it again the next day.

All this is a long way of saying: There is no right answer. It depends on your fitness, your freshness, your fatigue, your strength, your time off the bike, your nutrition, your hydration, & a million other factors that are individual to any particular cyclist at any particular time.

The most important thing is to listen to your body. Period. There is nothing linear about your progression. The first year will be have the largest gains. From then on progress will be hit-miss-plateau-breakthrough as your various body systems adapt. Take it easy when it's time to take it easy. Go hard when it's time to go hard. Don't mix 'em up & don't focus on heart rate only as the only metric. There is a lot going on.
Are you a trainer? It seems that you really know what are you talking about.
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Old 04-30-20, 04:13 AM
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You do not have to zone 2 exclusively for a year. What could be good for you is to get a training program from one of the websites. That will give a guide to follow. On YouTube, Trainer Road has a bunch of podcasts where the four coaches talk about all sorts of training related topics. You can also send them an email and ask a question.
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Old 04-30-20, 04:33 AM
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The simple answer is your body responds to what you make it do, so lots of Zone 2 riding makes you better at Zone 2 riding. Not a bad thing at the start and the more minutes you are turning the pedals the more calories you burn each day - a good thing, too.

I am not a trainer, but that is true of all exercise. I bought a great book "The Time Crunched Cyclist" that explained everything very well and contains very doable training plans for different levels of cyclists who aren't going to be on a bike for much more than 6 hours a week. If you don't want to buy the book, a lot of the concepts are discussed here.

I used that to get in some structured training before I did last years Seattle to Portland 2 day 206 mile ride and I saw benefits. But, most of what I do is try to do hilly rides - those are kind of like doing intervals, compared to long flatter rides, and I always see benefits - even from the shorter, hilly rides.
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Old 04-30-20, 08:04 AM
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If you have just started cycling, the best advice for the first year or so is - ride lots. Dont get into structured training yet.

Generally speaking, in the early part, it is good to spend most of your time riding at a relatively easy pace - this is an effort which is faster than just riding idly and where you have to pay attention to the effort, but not high enough that you get winded or get lactic burn in your legs. The benefit of this is that it will build a good cardio base, and also it is easy to recover from this. If you want to throw in some harder efforts, feel free to do so, but dont kill yourself - in the long run, a hard effort today is going to reduce your ability to ride more tomorrow, and in the early stage, a heavy emphasis on volume is your friend.

It is possible to replace volume with intensity (eg, the Time Crunched Cyclist referred to above) but given that you have time, you will get the best results from putting in the volume. It also has the additional benefit of making it easier for you to lose the pounds as well.
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