Advice on how to build up my fitness level

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by Mak'em Lad, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. Mak'em Lad

    Mak'em Lad New Member

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    Hi,

    I've just recently got myself a MTB and have replaced the tyres for 'hybrid' type (mostly ride hard pack with some road work). I also have a set of wheels set up with slicks for road work. I can now ride on the level at approx. 15mph most of the time & can reach & maintain 20 for a couple of mins. over the 6 mile run on the hybrid tyres. It's still hard work but at first I struggled to maintain 10mph so am getting fitter slowly.

    I'm overweight by 40lbs and have a breathing problem which hospital have not been able to identify.

    I get out of breath very easy and although I have always been active a knee problem has resulted in a reduction of my general fitness & leg strength. I prefer eating all the wrong things (sweet & fatty foods) but have done so for so long now it's a hard habit to break.

    OK, I know that I have 'let myself go' and have only myself to blame but I really need to get fit & loose weight (mostly off the belly) before I'm too old to (nearly there already :().

    I started riding about 6 miles each time & kept trying to maintain a high average speed. I don't do hills as they nearly kill me (literally). Inclines really slow me down but I can't avoid these.
    Thinking this was the wrong way to go about things I changed to an increased distance but at a more comfortable speed.

    I think I need advice on the best way to build up.

    At the moment I find it difficult to ride more than twice a week but am trying to change things at home to alter this.

    I don't have the option of using a trainer at home but do have an exercise bike. I have read about cadence but am finding it difficult to maintain a steady peddling rhythm as the legs tire quickly & feel like jelly for a while after. I gasp for breath, especially on ANY incline but I do feel fitter now than when I started.

    Can anyone suggest a suitable program I can use as a basis to build on?
     
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  2. fergie

    fergie Member

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    Sounds like you have made an excellent start.

    I work on a hard day easy day approach and have 1 day as a rest day. On your hard days I would be looking for little (1%) gains from each ride whether that be extra distance or extra speed (taking into account weather and riding conditions) and on the easy days just getting out and enjoying riding the bike.

    I have been pretty focused on my coaching and studies so am in a similar position where I need to build up to riding the hills. I train with a power meter so I have a power to weight I am trying to hit before I hit the hills. So I either have to get faster or drop weight to hit that mark.

    But the key is consistency, getting a ride in 6 days a week even if it's 20min on the rollers. Does wonders for my head space and the weight is dropping off nicely. Hmmm, think I might get out for a ride NOW!!!

    Have fun and enjoy your cycling!
     
  3. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    This is the first thing to sort out if you really want to progress.

    Consistency and gradual overload (with enough recovery) are very important if you want to progress fitness.

    This means working up to doing more than 2 rides/week. 4/wk minimum, 5 is better.

    Then do as Fergs suggests by adding a little more duration each week until you run out of time, then add a little more intensity (e.g. by choosing more challenging routes) to the mix.
     
  4. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

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    The preceding posts are great advice on the riding component of your fitness. However, you're gonna have to make a real decision about how important it is for you to get truly fit.

    Your diet MUST change to reap the full benefits of your exercise. You will effectively shoot yourself in the foot if you go out and do a nice ride and then come home and consume 2000 calories of junk...don't delude yourself into thinking that because I did a good ride that when I get home I can eat anything and everything I want...if getting fit is indeed important to you, you will make the necessary changes to your diet...if not, you'll use the cycling as an excuse to eat more...gotta decide...I applaud you in getting started, but you've gotta take advantage of the momentum you've got going...
     
  5. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Excellent point on the diet. Diet discipline is tougher for me than the riding/training part. I've been riding 4000-5000 miles for the last seven years, while watching my weight creep back up from a low of 172 lbs in 2003 to 195 now. The extra weight of course means slower climbing, as well as a tougher time in the brutal heat we've had this summer in the southeastern US.
     
  6. quenya

    quenya New Member

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    Tony I agree 100% but I think infreqent treats or splurges are beneficial. No it does no good to pour back the calories you just expended, and more, regularly. I find that when training I really look at food differently, calories become fuel and what I put in will affect what I have available to pour out when I'm riding. That said my pre-epic ride dinner is a double quarter pounder with cheese, large fries and a large Dr. Pepper or coke. I have had tons of training rides where other guys have had cramps and other issues because they don't have a routine and while I know my pre ride fare isn't ideal it tops of the glycogen stores, provides salt, and mood elevating lipids on the morning I have quinoa with smashed banana raisins and a splash of almond milk about 2-3 hours before the ride.
     
  7. Mak'em Lad

    Mak'em Lad New Member

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    Thanks for the input.

    I'm not a big eater (never have been) but I do tend to eat the wrong things. This didn't matter so much when I was younger as I was fit enough and didn't carry surplus fat (actually I was underweight & nothing I ate altered that). My eating habits have changed a lot & although it's still not right it's a damm sight better than it used to be.

    Age (35-38 at the time) & working 12 hr shifts away from home, drinking 2-3 pints every night for 3 years, started the weight gain but it wasn't excessive. It's really the last few years where it got out of control, partly due to the knee & the breathing problems & the rest down to me not getting the exercise I normally would.

    I'm 5'8.5" & 13 stone (was 13st 8lbs till 3-4 weeks ago) but as I have said it's the belly where the excess weight is. I need to reduce my weight to see if this helps with the breathing problem (up and down the stairs at home 3 times normal speed leaves me gasping for breath).

    I am trying to arrange things at home in order to get out on the bike more often but have so much to do it's not practical at the moment but it is looking more likely that it will be possible in a month or two.

    I have always been a brisk walker & used to walk 5-8 miles every day for 9 years in my job but the breathing & knees forced me to change jobs 3 years ago.

    The commitment to loose weight & get fit is there, I have spent time, effort & money getting started, it's the how best to proceed from here I need help with.

    As 2 days on the bike is about all I can do at the moment and a trainer is out of the question (at least for now), how do I use the exercise bike to help for now.

    Is it best to work at a reasonable cadence increasing the time/power level I maintain it for or to work at a power level & build up the cadence/time?

    On my bike rides should I ride at speed & build up distance or go for a distance & increase the speed?

    The weight will come off through time with exercise & controlled eating, it's leg strength, stamina & overall fitness I want to concentrate on.
     
  8. Konaguy

    Konaguy New Member

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  9. kokojo

    kokojo New Member

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    Hi Mak'em Lad,

    Sounds like I'm in a similar boat to you. I'm a similar height, but a bit heavier. It does get easier. You also get good days and some terrible days, but stick with it.
    I struggle on the minor hills as weight kills my power to weight ratio. I find the longer rides at plodding pace in a good gear does me great for getting my weight down.
    My only advice would be to consider some off the bike excercise too. Find an outside step or kerb and step up with both feet (one after another) and then back down one foot after another. Do this as fast as you can for 1.5 mins and repeat 3 times with a mintues rest in between. It s good for cardio and only takes 10 minutes. If you can do this daily and adjust the length of time it should help you riding.
     
  10. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Just to translate for folks on the left side of the pond - 13st 8lb is 190lbs and at 5'8" that's a lot.

    I can speak from experience (being 5'11" and have been 190+lbs a few times and have had, and still do have, breathing issues) that the junk that you have in your gut will affect your breathing. It'll make everything you do seem harder - alot harder. Your diaphram not only has to work hard in order to get the air in and out of your lungs it's now got that cr*p to move in order to do it's job...

    But thankfully, a bike is a wonderful tool to shed that weight as it's not a weight bearing exercise and it's kind to your knees as long as you get the basic saddle/handlebar position somewhat correct.

    Diet. As Tony pointed out it's a given that you must change your dietry habbits but I took a slightly different approach - take the foods that you like and see if they can be made healthier. I like burgers, actually I love anything that can be done on a grill... so does my wife 'n daughter. It's no secret that fast food burgers are mountains of fat and a million calories but if you get the burger patties from the butchers that are made from ground sirloin and contain no more than 7% fat you suddenly have a tasty gourmet burger that's not all that 'bad' for you. Slap on a bit of onions, tomato 'n stuff and add a few homemade cooked in cranola oil fries and you have your favorite burger and fries that not only taste better but way less calories, additives and fat.

    Same deal if you want to cook a spaghetti bolognese - get the same low fat ground sirloin, brown it but dont drain it and it's a great base to add the tomato sauce and all the other goodies too. Same principle for home made chili. Very quick, very tasty... but watch the portion size.

    You mileage may vary on this point but I find that very hard shorter efforts of upto 2 hours leave me wanting to eat more food, where as longer 2+ hour rides that are done at a stiff pace don't have that same effect despite using the same amount of calories if not more.
     
  11. quenya

    quenya New Member

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    Swampy is right and, at the risk of gross over-generalization, anything you prepare yourself can be made much less calorie dense than eating out.

    But as Swampy said mileage may vary when it cones to appetite after a ride. IME an endurance or longer tempo ride leaves me ravenous whereas shorter intense rides with intervals targetting LT or higher suppress my appetite to the point that I have to force myself to get recovery calories.
     
  12. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Of course I'm right, foolio... :p

    I 'think' my problem is that with the longer rides I'm keeping my glycogen levels fairly OK, which is why I'm not ready to eat a hungry horse afterwards, whereas with the spuds out near FTP rides I'm not able to keep those levels up and I'm ready to eat Champion the Wonder horses' rotting carcass...
     
  13. Mak'em Lad

    Mak'em Lad New Member

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    Judging by the response it seems that (unless I have read it wrong)

    My rides should be a mixture of short fast rides & longer slower one

    That any exercise in between rides is better than none

    Getting out of an evening during the week is a must (so must get things at home sorted ASAP)

    My diet will have to change EVEN more (stopped the cream cakes, sweets & a lot of the fatty foods several years ago but 'must try harder' :()

    I must keep busy, I eat less the busier I am. I don't need or eat big meals but sometimes have supper because it's supper time (not because I need it)

    Only people who haven't suggested the breathing problem could be the size of the belly are the doctors who have been investigating the problem. In recent months several family/friends have mentioned it, now forum members. Must be some truth in it.

    I did get down to 11st (154lbs) 3 years ago but a break between jobs didn't help. Gets you down applying for jobs & not even getting replies (I don't cope well not working)

    Quenya you said 'anything you prepare yourself can be made much less calorie dense than eating out'. By 'eating out' do you mean takeaways etc. or 'piggin' out' (eating for eating sake). I have a Chinese meal on average once every 6 weeks & meal in pub/restaurant about the same. A lot of my meals are home cooked . I really don't know why the weight is not coming off, I may have to make notes of what I do eat to get the 'true picture'

    Typical days meal

    Breakfast.
    2 Slices toast (light danish bread), thin butter & syrup of ginger preserve.

    Lunch.
    2 packets Quavers (99 cal crisps) of small corn beef pie.

    Dinner.
    1 chicken breast + 3 small potatoes or veg stir fry
    or
    2 fillets mackerel + 2 slices danish + butter
    or
    small portion meat casserole

    Supper.
    bowl of cornflakes or 3 weatabix with milk.

    a couple of bananas or small oranges & 5 cups tea over the day.

    I do drink 1 to 1.5 ltrs of cold liquid (milk and/or 'sports' drinks) each day in addition to any water I drink.

    Thanks for all the suggestions, will work on them and hopefully I can get the correct 'mind set' I need to make it work.
     
  14. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    That 1.5 liters of milk is going to pack in a massive amount of calories - about 750. Add to that the milk you have with the cornflake and weatabix and you're looking at about 900 calories in milk alone which is over 1/2 your recommended days worth.

    Sports drinks. Overated. If you're going out for a couple of hours on the bike then fine... but otherwise forget them. Not all sports drinks are created equal... Maltodextrin based drinks tend to be better. I'm guessing from the reference to stones and pounds you're in the UK - in which case your local bike shop may carry producted from SIS, such as PSP22. The big cans of powered gatorade that you use to make your own drinks with aren't too bad but the pre made bottled stuff uses a different formula and a bunch of high fructose corn syrup. Fark that.

    If you're drinking 1.5L of milk AND 1.5L of sports drinks a day then it's no wonder that you ballooned up from 154lbs. :p
     
  15. quenya

    quenya New Member

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    By eating out I meant prepared by a restaurante, though itsounds like this is not an issue.

    I've lost 40 pounds and now that I'm at a much better weight, 157 from 197, and training as much as 6 days a week, dieting is not an issue now. It's all about controlling calorie input and consistently training. 2 days a week isn't enough to make dramatic improvements. Once you've achieved the level of fitness you're after twice a week might be just enough to maintain fitness or lose it very slowly to the point that a couple of busy weeks won't derail your whole effort, but if you are like everyone else who goes through this you'll find that life is so much better when you get to ride regularly!
     
  16. Mak'em Lad

    Mak'em Lad New Member

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    Swampy, It is 1.5ltrs total. Usually 50/50 but I take you point, I didn't realize the calorie content of the milk. If I drank only water (to consume the amount of cold liquid I feel I need) it would cause an upset stomach (past experience, hence the milk/sports drink combo).

    Thing is that I used to stay static at 148lbs (for those over the pond ) and drink 4-6 pints milk daily + pop (the real thing) 3 or 4 cream cakes for breakfast along with all the sugary & fatty foods I could find. It's only since cutting out 90% of the (tasty) rubbish I started putting on weight & can't get it off.

    OK so it looks like I'll have to get the wife to read the labels & count the calories for me. Keeping a record for a few days to get the true picture may be the best way to reduce/control the calorie intake.

    Again, thanks for the help, sometimes you just need someone to point out the things you overlook before you realize what you are doing is that bad.
     
  17. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    You could always take the other approach and figure that you'd probably go through about 600 to 700 calories an hour if you went on the bike, hard. That's a big vanilla slice and a glass of milk. Mmmmmm, yum.
     
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