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Base training and hills: developing leg strength vs. staying in the right HR zone

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Base training and hills: developing leg strength vs. staying in the right HR zone

Old 03-31-16, 12:26 AM
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vinuneuro
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Base training and hills: developing leg strength vs. staying in the right HR zone

I'm a novice. At 29, 5'11 and ~155lbs (70kg) I'm in relatively decent health but not a high level of fitness. There are rolling hills all around me and while I've been trying to stay in Zone 2 HR, I seem to blow past it very easily, maybe another indicator of my poor fitness. The vicious catch 22 I seem to be caught in is that:

1. To develop leg strength it seems that maybe I need to be in a lower gear with lower cadence rather than spinning my way up.
2. This causes my HR shoot up quickly.
3. Staying in a high HR for more than a quick burst drains me quickly and kills my endurance.

So what to do?
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Old 03-31-16, 12:36 AM
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Firstly, you've got it wrong about the cadence. For a given speed, a high gear-low cadence will keep your HR lower than a low gear-high cadence.
Secondly, don't worry too much about leg strength, it is almost never the limiting factor. If your legs are strong enough to allow you to run up a flight of stairs, they're strong enough to climb a hill on a bike. The key is to be aerobically fit enough to keep it going. So keep working on your aerobic fitness.
You're doing the right thing by spending most of your time in Z2. Just slow down, don't worry if you seem to be crawling along; your cruising speed will improve as the weeks pass. And don't worry if some hills push your HR into Z3 for a while, it's not a disaster.
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Old 03-31-16, 07:02 AM
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If you're base training then do base training. If your plan was to stay in a certain zone then stay in a certain zone.
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Old 03-31-16, 12:20 PM
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When I started cycling again at 50, I went at it entirely differently than the usual advice. I simply tried to ride my bike anywhere I wanted. I rode up hills if they were in the way. I rode up hills even if it felt like my head would explode. That's the simple person's Time Crunched Cycliist program. It was after I was able to ride 50-70 miles in the hills that I reverted to the usual advice and started serious base training. At that point, I had the strength to have fun while riding at a low effort. I rode low effort during the week, and then rode my heart out on one weekend day. 20 years later, I still do that.

The thing is, for the untrained even the slightest effort sends the HR skyrocketing. To doom them to slowly putting about seems cruel. When I started training, I read that zone 2 was the proper pace to ride a century. That seemed insane or at least inapplicable, since the slightest hill sent me to zone 4 if not 5. Now, of course I ride 18-19 in zone 2 and it's plenty fun and hard enough.
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Old 03-31-16, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by vinuneuro View Post
I'm a novice. At 29, 5'11 and ~155lbs (70kg) I'm in relatively decent health but not a high level of fitness. There are rolling hills all around me and while I've been trying to stay in Zone 2 HR, I seem to blow past it very easily, maybe another indicator of my poor fitness. The vicious catch 22 I seem to be caught in is that:

1. To develop leg strength it seems that maybe I need to be in a lower gear with lower cadence rather than spinning my way up.
2. This causes my HR shoot up quickly.
3. Staying in a high HR for more than a quick burst drains me quickly and kills my endurance.

So what to do?
You're 29, fer crissakes. Forget about "zones" and just get out there and ride hills and have fun. Go riding with other people. You'll get in shape.
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Old 03-31-16, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by vinuneuro View Post
I'm a novice. At 29, 5'11 and ~155lbs (70kg) I'm in relatively decent health but not a high level of fitness. There are rolling hills all around me and while I've been trying to stay in Zone 2 HR, I seem to blow past it very easily, maybe another indicator of my poor fitness. The vicious catch 22 I seem to be caught in is that:

1. To develop leg strength it seems that maybe I need to be in a lower gear with lower cadence rather than spinning my way up.
2. This causes my HR shoot up quickly.
3. Staying in a high HR for more than a quick burst drains me quickly and kills my endurance.

So what to do?
Different training rides should have different goals, and recreational rides needn't have any.

On endurance days you want to stay below your aerobic threshold, where breathing becomes rhythmic, conversation doesn't flow, and lactate plus hydrogen ions accumulate. That could be Z1 relative to your lactate threshold. Trying to define zones off the statistically average maximum heart rate where yours is a standard or deviation or two higher than average it could be much more.

That will stress your slow twitch muscle fibers and oxidative energy system, making you good at riding slow.

Depending on your size, your slow all-day pace could become 17-18 MPH or 20+ MPH. After dropping his training pace below his aerobic threshold (8 minute + miles) Mark Allen's slow pace increased enough to set a 2:40 Ironman marathon split record in 1989 which still stands.

Going harder engages your glycolytic energy system with the shift sticky. You don't want that. Ride so slowly children on tricycles fly past if you need to. Get lower gears. Let your cadence drop below 60.

Have a hard day a week with intervals past your anaerobic threshold which is about the average heart rate from the last 20 minutes of an all-out 30 minute effort.

Climb 7-10 minute hills as hard as you can and repeat 3-4X. If you're not getting to your anaerobic threshold in the last 1/4 stop because you're hurting your training by accumulating more fatigue without stressing yourself enough to optimize adaptations. That will lift your anaerobic threshold which mostly determines how fast you are for durations up to an hour.

Have an easy week out of every 3-4 so you can recover and adapt.

Don't forget to have fun whatever that means to you - group rides, long solo rides, racing, organized metric or imperial centuries, etc.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 04-04-16 at 04:40 PM.
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Old 04-01-16, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by vinuneuro View Post
I'm a novice. At 29, 5'11 and ~155lbs (70kg) I'm in relatively decent health but not a high level of fitness. There are rolling hills all around me and while I've been trying to stay in Zone 2 HR, I seem to blow past it very easily, maybe another indicator of my poor fitness. The vicious catch 22 I seem to be caught in is that:

1. To develop leg strength it seems that maybe I need to be in a lower gear with lower cadence rather than spinning my way up.
2. This causes my HR shoot up quickly.
3. Staying in a high HR for more than a quick burst drains me quickly and kills my endurance.

So what to do?
Hmm, sounds like a pacing issue. Why not try to get a powermeter. That's the best way to pace yourself on climbs. HR is too variable. Cadence, heat, hydration, all these things can throw your numbers off.
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Old 04-04-16, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Corbah View Post
Hmm, sounds like a pacing issue. Why not try to get a powermeter. That's the best way to pace yourself on climbs. HR is too variable. Cadence, heat, hydration, all these things can throw your numbers off.
That's a pretty expensive option for a beginner who just needs to ride more. But if he's got the money burning a hole in his pocket, why not?
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There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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Old 04-04-16, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
That's a pretty expensive option for a beginner who just needs to ride more. But if he's got the money burning a hole in his pocket, why not?
Powertap wheels go for like 200-300 on ebay.
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Old 04-04-16, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Corbah View Post
Powertap wheels go for like 200-300 on ebay.
Still strikes me as pricey for the level the OP is at, a lot more useful when one is training at higher levels, and genuinely needs to have regular zone 1/2 days. Wonder where he went?
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Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
Originally Posted by noglider
People in this forum are not typical.
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Old 04-04-16, 05:57 PM
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I'm 29, 5'11, and about 160 lbs. So we have similar body types. The easiest way to improve 'right now' is to go out and find some people to ride with. Pretty much anyone with > 1 year experience is going to be faster, so don't let it get to you. Just keep up as best you can, and if you fall off the back, be thankful you found a group that's going to make you better. Rinse, Repeat. This is pretty much the way it goes for everyone, myself included.
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Old 04-08-16, 05:34 AM
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Honestly, my best advice is to turn off whatever is monitoring your heart rate and just go. I got hung up on heart rate coming off of an ankle fracture and two severely torn ligaments in my ankle and it was holding me back so much. Maybe there's purpose for zones in some ultra-conditioned athletes, but for probably 99% of the population, there's just no need.
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