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Distance vs RPMs for weight loss

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Distance vs RPMs for weight loss

Old 04-25-05, 07:11 AM
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Dewbert
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Distance vs RPMs for weight loss

Hi folks--
I'm a newbie and still figuring a lot of things out.

I just purchased a Giant Cypress (flat handle road bike hybrid) and am trying to figure out whether I'll loose more weight my riding longer distances at lower cadence or shorter distances at higher cadence. For example, on Friday I rode 35 miles at a fairly leisurely pace and was tired but felt pretty good. On Sunday, I rode 7 miles, but kept a cadence somewhere around 100 rpms and felt very very tired afterward. Advice?

(Note: I have some knee problems, so I'm trying to keep that in mind as I build up my distance. Knees are OK in both scenarious above.)
Thanks.
Dewbert
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Old 04-25-05, 07:15 AM
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Higher cadence but build up to it,say 85-90 until you dont have to work at it and then 90-95 and so on.
I keep the same cadence on all my rides.
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Old 04-25-05, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by shokhead
Higher cadence but build up to it,say 85-90 until you dont have to work at it and then 90-95 and so on.
I keep the same cadence on all my rides.
I agree with this. I can't see any reason the change your cadence according the the length of the ride. I also have some knee problems, and I find it really helps to keep the cadence high. I've never bothered to calculate exactly what my cadence is, but I try to spin pretty fast most of the time,

So the answer is... high cadence AND long distance!
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Old 04-25-05, 07:56 AM
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Higher cadence would make pedalling more efficient. It's the work done or the distance covered that will burn calories. However, body fat is burned more efficiently when you're exercising at 65-80% of your max HR ( maximum heart rate). Therefore, I reccommend that you get a HR monitor. Am I understanding correrctly that you increased your cadence, while maintaining the same speed on your ride? (meaning: you used lower gear).

Last edited by wheelin; 04-26-05 at 04:37 AM.
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Old 04-26-05, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Crashtest
I can't see any reason the change your cadence according the the length of the ride.
Yeah, I thought that a little odd too.


Dewbert, are you sure that "distance vs RPM's" is the correct avenue of thought? Are you riding a fixie or something?
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Old 04-26-05, 02:54 PM
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Spin yourself into exhaustion or ride easily for long distance?

Easy. Take the happy medium. Spin faster/get your HR up, but only so much that you can sit your bike for a long time. More duration will burn more calories.
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Old 04-26-05, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Dewbert
Hi folks--
I'm a newbie and still figuring a lot of things out.

I just purchased a Giant Cypress (flat handle road bike hybrid) and am trying to figure out whether I'll loose more weight my riding longer distances at lower cadence or shorter distances at higher cadence. For example, on Friday I rode 35 miles at a fairly leisurely pace and was tired but felt pretty good. On Sunday, I rode 7 miles, but kept a cadence somewhere around 100 rpms and felt very very tired afterward. Advice?

(Note: I have some knee problems, so I'm trying to keep that in mind as I build up my distance. Knees are OK in both scenarious above.)
Thanks.
Dewbert
Its better to build a good skill base of riding at developing an efficient cadence (the right speed and right form) first - then train to be able to maintain a good cadence throughout your ride. Be patient with weight loss. If you spend decent time on the bike with good form/technique and enjoyment and generally eat healthy, the weight will eventually come off.

Al
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Old 04-26-05, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by alison_in_oh
Spin yourself into exhaustion or ride easily for long distance?

Easy. Take the happy medium. Spin faster/get your HR up, but only so much that you can sit your bike for a long time. More duration will burn more calories.
I tend to spin at more or less the same RPM all the time. My speed and effort expended are both controlled by the gear I'm riding in.
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Old 04-26-05, 04:52 PM
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If you burned 20 calories a mile on a 37 mile ride then you would burn 740. Now, even if you worked 3 times as hard and burned 60 calories a mile on a 7 mile ride, you would still fall short (420 calories). That is of course dependent on your weight, the wind, how many hills and a multitude of other factors. I'm not a trainer or a physician, but I think- the longer you stay in the saddle the more calories you will burn, the more weight you will lose.
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Old 04-26-05, 08:15 PM
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Focus on keeping yourself at a moderate intensity for the longer rides, eat right, and keep at it. You'll need to ride 5- 6 days a week to see some real results. Don't look for the big, sudden weight losses. Focus on just staying consistent with your exercise regime and sticking through it for the long haul. Rmember, it should be treated like a lifestyle change, not a diet to lose weight.

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Old 04-27-05, 07:13 AM
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Wow--Thanks for all the responses and advice.
Dr. Morbius--I guess what I'm getting at is what Allison_in_OH said. Long easy rides vs. harder shorter rides. Since this post, it's been too cold and rainy to be out much, but I'm going to focus on steadily increasing my spinning speed and using lower gears, rather than peddling slowly in higher gears to go longer distances.

I'm an insulin dependent diabetic and I've lost 72 pounds in the last year by eating right (whole foods, lots of fruits and veggies and only complex carbs), doing Yoga every day and climing lots of stairs. I've recently added biking to get some more cardio work into my schedule. I'm well on my way to a healthier lifestyle and think that biking may just help me get those last few pounds off and keep them off.

Thanks again, all!
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Old 04-27-05, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Dewbert
Wow--Thanks for all the responses and advice.
Dr. Morbius--I guess what I'm getting at is what Allison_in_OH said. Long easy rides vs. harder shorter rides. Since this post, it's been too cold and rainy to be out much, but I'm going to focus on steadily increasing my spinning speed and using lower gears, rather than peddling slowly in higher gears to go longer distances.

I'm an insulin dependent diabetic and I've lost 72 pounds in the last year by eating right (whole foods, lots of fruits and veggies and only complex carbs), doing Yoga every day and climing lots of stairs. I've recently added biking to get some more cardio work into my schedule. I'm well on my way to a healthier lifestyle and think that biking may just help me get those last few pounds off and keep them off.

Thanks again, all!
Dewbert
Congratulations on the weight loss. That's pretty impressive for anyone let alone a diabetic. Diabetes runs in my family and I can feel the heavy influence of it so I know how hard it is to do something like that.

Long easy rides vs. harder shorter rides doesn't have anything to do with the RPM's of your cranks, i.e. spinning - unless you have a fixed gear or single speed bike and the only way to go faster is to pedal faster. That's why I didn't get the original question of distance vs. RPM's as the two are not at odds with each other. You can spin at fast RPM's and go either fast or slow or you can spin at lower RPM's and go fast or slow.

Basically, when it comes to RPM's you should train at a cadence that allows you to generate the most power (i.e. wattage). Most people do that between 80 to 100 with the exception of Lance Armstrong. Pedal at a cadence that feels comfortable provided it is between 80 to 100. Do NOT worry about spinning overly incredibly fast because when Lance retires and Jan Ulrich or somebody with a much lower cadence starts winning the TdF then spinning at outrageous cadences will lose popularity. It's just fashionable for cyclists to spin at higher cadences these days.

If you're exercising primarily for weight loss and to increase your fitness levels from a former sedentary person, then there isn't much of a reason for you to push yourself into the higher heart rate zones. At least not yet. Save that kind of intensity for when you've lost the weight and are wanting to go from fit to extremely fit. What that means is that you can hover between 65% to 75% of your maximum heart rate for fairly long periods of time without the fear of overtraining. Once you are down nearer to a bodyweight where you want to be, then perhaps you could bump up the intensity to really push those fitness levels. Of course, that will require shorter workout programs.

Keep it up. Sounds like you're doing very well thus far.
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Old 04-27-05, 10:09 AM
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My understanding is that you probably will burn more calories the longer the distance; and, that the distance traveled (or even the speed over a given distance) does not have to be a function of whether you try to be a spinner (low gears) or are a pusher (prefer low gears) over a given distance.

For example, Jan Ulrich and Lance Armstrong go the same distance in a race but they choose different gears to get there: Jan is a pusher and Lance is a spinner. The way the science has been explained to me over the years, in analyzing Lance's style and methods of training, is that it takes the same power (e.g., number of watts) to raise two bicyclists of the same weight, the same height in the same amount of time, whether the cyclists are spinning in high gears or pushing in low gears. In the '02 TDF, for instance, Lance would get to the top of L'Alpe Duez before Jan every time, even if both riders produced the same number of watts, because Lance was lighter.

So, my thought is, you try to go the distance, and you also try to work on perfecting spinning to preserve the knees. At any a given distance, you could burn up even more calories if you do the distance in less time because it will take more energy to increase the speed, everything else equal. However, you also would burn the same number of additional calories if you rode more miles with no increase in speed.

The only problem is, whether you are spinning or pushing, if you are like me, the more miles you do the hungrier you get, the more you eat, i.e., no weight loss.

Last edited by wagathon; 04-27-05 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 04-27-05, 11:02 AM
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DISCLAIMER. this is not a prescription but rather some suggestions based on my education, research and experience. GET YOUR DOCTORS APPROVAL BEFORE STARTING ANY EXERCISE PROGRAM!

Weigth ( Fat) loss is more a matter of what your heart is doing that what your legs are doin'. GET A PHYSICAL and tell your Dr. that your planning to lose weight by riding a bike. Invest in a heart rate monitor with "zone' setting", set the zone to 60-70% of your MAX HR. and ride in that zone. (probably won't rade as hard as you usually do). As long as you stay in this zone you are "aerobic" that is your muscles are receiving enough oxygen to use stored carbs to burn fat.
The trick here is also to be eating a balanced diet. You are foolish to try to exercise away fat while on any of these ridiculous fad diets(Atkins, South Beach). You need both protein and carbohydrates to function properly.
Intersperse your "Fat Burning Rides' with "Muscle Building Rides" where your HR zone is 70-80% MAX HR doing short powerful sprints to build your Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings and Ankle flexors. More muscle mass = increased Basal Matabolic Rate (more calories burned while you play couch potato a couple nights a week).
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Old 04-27-05, 01:40 PM
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Great info, capt'n!

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Old 04-27-05, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Crashtest
I tend to spin at more or less the same RPM all the time. My speed and effort expended are both controlled by the gear I'm riding in.
I believe you've got it right. That's why I reccommended that you get yourself an HR. Try to keep your heart rate around 70-75% of your max HR, and your cadence around 80-90 rpm, and you'll be burning fat efficiently, while building up your cardio. Don't forget to warm up, stretch, and stretch again after your ride, and the 35 miles trip will be a piece of cake. Best wishes.
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Old 04-28-05, 08:56 AM
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On Sunday, I rode 7 miles, but kept a cadence somewhere around 100 rpms and felt very very tired afterward. Advice?

Take it easy.... The great thing about cycling, is that you could do it all day, if you just "take it easy".

Use your gears in a way that keeps your knees from hurtng. Usually it's better to ride longer and slower for general fitness. You can pedal easy gears, without spinning "high rpms".

Take a while to get used to riding, then try for harder work......
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