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Legs or Lungs?

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View Poll Results: What Typically Gives Out First?
Legs
105
59.66%
Lungs
71
40.34%
Voters: 176. You may not vote on this poll

Legs or Lungs?

Old 04-19-10, 07:37 AM
  #1  
Daytrip
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Legs or Lungs?

What's your limiting factor, especially when climbing? For me, it's always my legs. I'm rarely winded when riding and I'd ride harder if my legs didn't get in the way. If you don't mind, post your age. I think that might be interesting to compare.

Me, I'm 51 and a relative noob. I started road cycling 18 months ago and have logged about 4,000 miles. If you subtract two winters and two major surgeries, I'd say I've got about 12 months of pretty regular riding chalked up. Legs are getting stronger, though I'm not sure they hurt any less. I just hammer in a higher gear.
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Old 04-19-10, 07:42 AM
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16. Legs. Something is wrong with my fit so my knees effing kill me. Literally if I sprint (or just ride hard without really sprinting) for 30 seconds I have to coast for 5 seconds it hurts so bad. This is an issue I have with racing.

I tend not to have issues with legs or lungs getting exhausted though, other than knee pain.
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Old 04-19-10, 07:45 AM
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My legs are my limiting factor, but I'm a longtime runner and total noob to biking. A 42 y/o, life long runner, O2 has never been an issue for me.
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Old 04-19-10, 07:46 AM
  #4  
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Top speed is limited by legs, climbs by lungs. 48 ex-smoker.
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Old 04-19-10, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by mzeffex View Post
16. Legs. Something is wrong with my fit so my knees effing kill me. Literally if I sprint (or just ride hard without really sprinting) for 30 seconds I have to coast for 5 seconds it hurts so bad. This is an issue I have with racing.

I tend not to have issues with legs or lungs getting exhausted though, other than knee pain.
Don't wait to get this fixed...

I left my "knee pain" alone for too long and now I'm facing surgeries in the near future. The repetitive motion when cycling is just like running (without the impact)...Even if its something small now.... Fix it. Because it won't be small after a few million cycles/revolutions

As for me, Legs.
Although, I do not have very many "climbs" in Ontario... On longer rides its my legs that bonk, not my lungs.
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Old 04-19-10, 07:51 AM
  #6  
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59. Legs. There comes a moment when I just haven't the strength to go faster.
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Old 04-19-10, 07:55 AM
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62, lungs. There is very little "flat" here so climbing is the daily workout. I lose control over my breathing long before the legs give up. I'm not very fast but just grind up the climbs
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Old 04-19-10, 07:58 AM
  #8  
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Seems I'm the opposite of most of you. My legs are good to go when it comes to climbing and sprinting, I'm usually gasping for air before my legs give out.

The exception would be on long, slower (like 100k+) rides, then my muscles are going to fatigue first.

34 y/o

Last edited by graphs; 04-19-10 at 09:09 AM. Reason: to add age
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Old 04-19-10, 08:23 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by graphs View Post
Seems I'm the opposite of most of you. My legs are good to go when it comes to climbing and sprinting, I'm usually gasping for air before my legs give out.

The exception would be on long, slower (like 100k+) rides, then my muscles are going to fatigue first.
Ditto for me. 21.
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Old 04-19-10, 08:25 AM
  #10  
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Lungs.....and I know why. Trying desperately to give up the cancer sticks......when I am on my bike I never smoke.......so the answer is ........ ride all of the time. Seriously I am working hard at not smoking, my riding buddies think I will be dangerous if i can quit completely.
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Old 04-19-10, 08:34 AM
  #11  
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Sorry to disagree, but I believe the "correct" answer (unless you have lung disease, or a neuromuscular disease) is your HEART, specifically cardiac output.

Unless your lungs are shot, the gas exchange potential is way redundant.

Any physiology experts care to back me up on this one?
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Old 04-19-10, 08:35 AM
  #12  
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Legs, and I'm 21.
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Old 04-19-10, 08:37 AM
  #13  
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43 - Legs ... I am an ex-smoker who's put around 5000 miles on my bikes the last three years. This year I started doing longer and more regular rides with other (faster) people and and my legs go long before I get winded. It's usually the last 10-15% of the miles. My legs just cant be "pushed" any more. I just ease up on my spin and finish at my own pace. I had great 62 mile ride with a bunch of younger and faster guys this weekend. Learned about about riding in the pace line and had some good couching by the guys. I pushed hard but ran out of leg juice around mile 50.
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Old 04-19-10, 08:37 AM
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I'm 27 and my legs give out first with climbing, headwinds, flats, whatever. I'm just naturally a skinny guy without a whole lot of power. It was most noticeable to me on a long climb like Mt. Rose, which is a 16.3-mile climb. If I was going hard (and I usually was), once I got near the summit my lungs would certainly be burning, but not as much as my legs. I could always shift to the granny and spin a higher cadence, which felt like running in place, but I could never shift to a harder gear and just muscle my way to the top. I was always happier to rest my legs on the descent than to catch my breath again, though both were nice.
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Old 04-19-10, 08:45 AM
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my lungs and left knee
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Old 04-19-10, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
Sorry to disagree, but I believe the "correct" answer (unless you have lung disease, or a neuromuscular disease) is your HEART, specifically cardiac output.

Unless your lungs are shot, the gas exchange potential is way redundant.

Any physiology experts care to back me up on this one?
I was going to say "cardio," since as you suggest, it's a more accurate description. But I think most people feel it in their lungs. I don't think a poll asking "what gives out first, your heart or your legs?" would really get the job done.
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Old 04-19-10, 09:01 AM
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Something is got to give, and with me it is lungs. I would rather it be legs because I think there is more than can be done to improve performance with legs. I had surgery to repair a Hiatel Hernia which had collapsed my left lung. So I was riding with one functioning lung. I really hope that now that I have two working lungs, I will eventually become a better climber.
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Old 04-19-10, 09:05 AM
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It depends on how many miles into the ride I am and what point in the season I'm at. A month ago my legs felt like jell-o after 20 miles. My legs seem to strengthen quicker than my cardio, so my lungs are having trouble keeping up with my legs at this point. After a few more weeks they'll both give out at the same time, though hopefully further into the climb/ride.

Now that I think about it, spinning is hard on my legs, and hammering out of the saddle is harder on my lungs.
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Old 04-19-10, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
Sorry to disagree, but I believe the "correct" answer (unless you have lung disease, or a neuromuscular disease) is your HEART, specifically cardiac output...Any physiology experts care to back me up on this one?
I took the OP's question as 'Legs or Cardio'.
The heart is just one component of the system. Muscle fiber type and vascularity can also be limiting components. So can temperature and altitude.
But it's all interlinked.

Maybe a better question would be 'Where do you feel it most?'
For me, at sea level, legs.
At 5000', lungs.
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Old 04-19-10, 09:22 AM
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39. Lungs are my shortcoming. Lack of an ability for a high cadence.
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Old 04-19-10, 09:24 AM
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Legs... but I think that's because I always pedal at a high cadence (100+) and usually never drop below 90. I've been trying to work on low cadence drills to get some more leg endurance.
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Old 04-19-10, 09:28 AM
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When absolutely fresh and starting very steep climb lungs give up first. When trying to sprint or hard climb after few miles of fast riding legs give up first. 49 yo. Riding experience few months short of 2 years.
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Old 04-19-10, 09:39 AM
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37 male and BOTH. Legs go first tho. When I cant stand or sit and spin, its over. Legs go first tho.

Sucks.
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Old 04-19-10, 09:46 AM
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There's actually a way to balance this. The old saw is pretty accurate: Legs hurt, gear down, Lungs hurt gear up.

So, those of you that answered your legs are the limiting factor might try riding higher cadences.
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Old 04-19-10, 10:04 AM
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Legs went first up to age 40.

Then, within one summer I mysteriously developed exercise-induced asthma, which is like driving a car that redlines at 8000 rpm, and having the air intake shut down at 5500.

Sucks ass.
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