Climbing economics, sitting or standing



mitosis

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Jun 21, 2004
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daveryanwyoming said:
Righhhhhht, like "immediate feedback" for the intensity of a sprint or the first five minutes of a time trial when your HR is still playing catchup to your efforts.

Been there, done that for nearly 2 decades, no thanks....

That's simply not true and there's lot's of data to demonstrate the ways that HR can be a very misleading measure of exertion.

-Dave

They are still the most reliable training tool. If you are getting misleading data it is probably because you are using them in one-off situations or on athletes where there is no prior imformation.

If you've got all that experience you don't need me to tell you the over a period of time the power metre gives useful feedback - like the first 5 minutes of a TT. But if you want accurate, momentary data the power meter is useless - hence for climbing, where standing and sitting occur for seconds for most riders, the HRM gives a measure of exertion while the PM provides no meaningful data.

I'll put my 20 years of training, racing and coaching cyclists and triathletes against yours but anyone can make claims on these forums.

For every bit of data about misleading HRM feedback I'll give you 50 success stories from their use. As a poster states above - there is a role for both in cycling training, as long as you realise the limitations of them both.

But getting back to my original claim. A heart rate monitor will give you an almost immediate measure of exertion that a power meter cannot. A HRM would provide useful data on whether standing or sitting is more efficient on a climb. A power meter is simply the wrong tool for that job.
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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Well, you still haven't really made an argument that HR is a better measure of exertion, immediate, near immediate or otherwise. I concede your experience, but touting credentials doesn't win debates.

I take it you've read Andy's piece for the USAC manual, particularly the introduction and the graph of HR vs. power for outdoor cycling: http://www.midweekclub.ca/articles/coggan.pdf

Take a careful look at the spread in HR values for a fixed power while riding outdoors at just about any point on the graph. At 250 watts for instance the measured HR outdoors varied between ~125 and ~160 bpm for the athlete tested. How much would a 35 point uncertainty in HR influence training, racing or the kind of testing you've advocated?

or as he put it:
Andy Coggan said:
Compared to measuring speed or HR, measuring power has the advantage of providing both a more direct and a more immediate answer to the question “how hard am I working?”
But maybe by 'exertion' you mean something other than 'how hard am I working'.

With two decades of coaching experience I'm sure you're familiar with Billat's work on RPE as a valid measure of exercise intensity. Sounds to me that his research places it above HR as a measure of overall training exertion.

Bottom line, HR is an output or response to stress, not the stress itself. It varies due to many hard to control parameters including emotional state, hydration, outside temperature and humiditiy, etc. It's slow to respond (as is RPE admittedly) to changes in actual intensity so it can mask pacing issues including going much too hard at the start of an effort, soft pedaling during the effort or fading late in an effort.

If you truly want to measure efficiency differences between seated and standing climbing you're gonna need a metabolic cart and gas exchange. HR will almost certainly tell you that your heart is beating faster while standing as you engage more muscle groups but that doesn't really tell you anything about efficiency.

I doubt I'll convince you nor are you likely to convince me but blanket statements like:
...HRM's are still the most reliable way to measure overall exertion..
just don't hold water. The HRM tells you with great accuracy how fast your heart is beating. They don't tell you why your heart is beating that fast and are influenced by many things in addition to exertion.

-Dave
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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An HRM is useful if you want to know the relative state of your body. An example would be its use with diabetes. An unusual response seen on the HRM could cue the rider to check blood sugar levels, or for any rider, maybe hydrate yourself......or eat. Of course, it requires knowing, in general, how your heart responds in the cycling environment.

Dave's right, though: as a measure of performance, an HRM really doesn't help much.
 

mitosis

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Jun 21, 2004
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daveryanwyoming said:
Well, you still haven't really made an argument that HR is a better measure of exertion, immediate, near immediate or otherwise. I concede your experience, but touting credentials doesn't win debates.

I take it you've read Andy's piece for the USAC manual, particularly the introduction and the graph of HR vs. power for outdoor cycling: http://www.midweekclub.ca/articles/coggan.pdf

Take a careful look at the spread in HR values for a fixed power while riding outdoors at just about any point on the graph. At 250 watts for instance the measured HR outdoors varied between ~125 and ~160 bpm for the athlete tested. How much would a 35 point uncertainty in HR influence training, racing or the kind of testing you've advocated?

or as he put it: But maybe by 'exertion' you mean something other than 'how hard am I working'.

With two decades of coaching experience I'm sure you're familiar with Billat's work on RPE as a valid measure of exercise intensity. Sounds to me that his research places it above HR as a measure of overall training exertion.

Bottom line, HR is an output or response to stress, not the stress itself. It varies due to many hard to control parameters including emotional state, hydration, outside temperature and humiditiy, etc. It's slow to respond (as is RPE admittedly) to changes in actual intensity so it can mask pacing issues including going much too hard at the start of an effort, soft pedaling during the effort or fading late in an effort.

If you truly want to measure efficiency differences between seated and standing climbing you're gonna need a metabolic cart and gas exchange. HR will almost certainly tell you that your heart is beating faster while standing as you engage more muscle groups but that doesn't really tell you anything about efficiency.

I doubt I'll convince you nor are you likely to convince me but blanket statements like: just don't hold water. The HRM tells you with great accuracy how fast your heart is beating. They don't tell you why your heart is beating that fast and are influenced by many things in addition to exertion.

-Dave

Your heart rate gives you a slightly delayed reading of the amount of work your body is doing. Yes, it varies with temperature, day to day, illness etc but for a measure of your bodies exertion, like standing up pedalling or sitting down pedalling it will give a reading of the level of exertion of your body. Now I'm sure you will understand (although I suspect you already do) that not all of the energy being used by your body when cycling is being used ot propel the bike.

So if you are cycling up a hill with a power metre and putting out the same amount of power while sitting and standing then you must be exerting yourelf the same amount? Maybe. The heart rate monitor will give you feedback regarding the work input by your body and will almost certainly give a different reading for standing and sitting despite the constant power output. And therefore is of much more use if you are trying to work out what will be more sustainable on a significant climb.

You will probably be having quite a laugh at this stage because if you have the experience you state then you should have the understanding - and while we are on the subject you are the one who bragged about your experience first.

My original post stated that the output from a heart rate monitor will give feedback at the time of the climb about whether sitting or standing is more efficient. If you want to pursue the use of a power meter you would have to align the data collected with the times sitting or standing once you get off the bike. The HRM will give feedback to the rider at the time of the climb and when the information is downloaded at the end of the ride.

So which is the most useful? If you can't figure it out I suggest you try getting some hard evidence of your own. But I suspect you already know.
 

Jono L

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Apr 28, 2005
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mitosis said:
And therefore is of much more use if you are trying to work out what will be more sustainable on a significant climb.
.
Why not just ride as hard as you can up the hill standing then try it again seated.

Whichever averages the highest power wins.
;)
 

frenchyge

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Apr 3, 2005
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mitosis said:
The heart rate monitor will give you feedback regarding the work input by your body and will almost certainly give a different reading for standing and sitting despite the constant power output. And therefore is of much more use if you are trying to work out what will be more sustainable on a significant climb.

How would your HRM ensure that your power output hadn't changed during the standing vs seated portions?

When I climb seated I'm usually 1-2 gears lower and pushing a faster cadence than if I were climbing the same hill standing. Since HR is affected by cadence (even when power is constant), how would you propose to resolve that effect vs. the exertion effects that you're talking about? Or does a faster cadence necessarily produce greater exertion, in your experience?

JonoL's got the point of my original post: if you can ultimately *do more* in one mode than the other, then that already factors the degree of exertion into the equation.
 

swampy1970

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Feb 3, 2008
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Jono L said:
Why not just ride as hard as you can up the hill standing then try it again seated.

Whichever averages the highest power wins.
;)

Judging by the way some people cant ride in a straight line when out of the saddle with their bars wobbling left and right, I'd settle for highest average speed. They'd have to put out and extra 50 watts just to compensate for the extra distance and 'tire squish' from constantly turning the fecking front wheel from side to side...

Talking about climbing economy is one thing - putting it into perspective and then coming to the realization that most people don't race up several Hors Category climbs on a given race day, it kinda makes this topic kind of a moot point. If your climb only gains ~1000ft or less then it's going to be the case that it's a mad dash to the top and economy be damned. If you're racing something like the Everest Challenge (28,000ft altitude gain over 2 days) then you have a valid need to find something that works over a long period of time.
 

doctorSpoc

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Nov 18, 2005
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mitosis said:
Power meter will only tell you your power output. Won't tell you how much you are energy you are expending getting it to the pedals. So won't give you any useful feedback about the most efficient position.

Most strong climbers alternate between sitting and standing because it doesn't come down to just expended energy but to recovery of muscles. Alternating allows you to reach high levels of lacate in muscles used when sitting then allow them to recover (to some extent) when you stand and vice versa.

i think you are right on two counts...

1) efficiency is basically irrelevant... max speed/power output for the required duration is the only think that really matters in a race unless you have limited food (but in every race i've been in you're allowed to eat so..). if you need more energy then eat another gel or bar or energy drink. the faster you go the more inefficient you are, but the goal is to be fast and last as long as necessary.. not be efficient... forget efficiency!

2) alternating between sitting and standing and using different muscles between the two and during either or and also using more muscles when more power is necessary is what you want to do... basically what ever way you can produce more power for the required duration... do that.
 

Piotr

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Jan 29, 2007
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Jono L said:
Why not just ride as hard as you can up the hill standing then try it again seated.

Whichever averages the highest power wins.
;)

There are 1 mile hills and there are 15 mile "hills" and so the results will be different based on which hills we're talking about. There's no doubt that one can produce more power standing. But for how long and at what cost? When someone argues for standing while climbing I'm reminded of this line:

"First rule in government spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price?" - S.R. Hadden in "Contact"

To paraphrase: why just go fast when you can go a little faster using a lot more energy. I think it brings us back to the subject of climbing "economics".
 

64Paramount

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Jul 25, 2009
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longfemur said:
Like I've said before, if it's a long climb and you don't want to end up walking, use whatever gear is appropriate to allow you to stay seated. Sit farther back on the saddle and grab your drop bars on the tops or the hoods. Tops is good for better breathing. Hoods is good too. If you need some muscle relief as you go up, drop down a gear or too (to a harder gear) and stand for a while.

For short climbs, stand and dance all the way up with your hands on the hoods. You can even do it in the drops if your handlebars are higher. You will go up much faster, but you will tire more quickly too.

It's more efficient to stay seated in terms of endurance. It's more efficient to stand in terms of speed (but more short-lived).


What longfemur said is pretty much how it works for me.
 

bbrauer

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Feb 27, 2007
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daveryanwyoming said:
Well, you still haven't really made an argument that HR is a better measure of exertion, immediate, near immediate or otherwise. I concede your experience, but touting credentials doesn't win debates.

I take it you've read Andy's piece for the USAC manual, particularly the introduction and the graph of HR vs. power for outdoor cycling: http://www.midweekclub.ca/articles/coggan.pdf

Take a careful look at the spread in HR values for a fixed power while riding outdoors at just about any point on the graph. At 250 watts for instance the measured HR outdoors varied between ~125 and ~160 bpm for the athlete tested. How much would a 35 point uncertainty in HR influence training, racing or the kind of testing you've advocated?

or as he put it: But maybe by 'exertion' you mean something other than 'how hard am I working'.

With two decades of coaching experience I'm sure you're familiar with Billat's work on RPE as a valid measure of exercise intensity. Sounds to me that his research places it above HR as a measure of overall training exertion.

Bottom line, HR is an output or response to stress, not the stress itself. It varies due to many hard to control parameters including emotional state, hydration, outside temperature and humiditiy, etc. It's slow to respond (as is RPE admittedly) to changes in actual intensity so it can mask pacing issues including going much too hard at the start of an effort, soft pedaling during the effort or fading late in an effort.

If you truly want to measure efficiency differences between seated and standing climbing you're gonna need a metabolic cart and gas exchange. HR will almost certainly tell you that your heart is beating faster while standing as you engage more muscle groups but that doesn't really tell you anything about efficiency.

I doubt I'll convince you nor are you likely to convince me but blanket statements like: just don't hold water. The HRM tells you with great accuracy how fast your heart is beating. They don't tell you why your heart is beating that fast and are influenced by many things in addition to exertion.

-Dave

HR is an analog to stress, not the stress itself...correct. But then again, so is power.

I haven't read Coggan's link yet, but I would question the test if the result is a 35 BPM spread at submaximal intensities at a steady state isopower effort for a meaningful time duration when the athlete is similarly rested for each test.

Actually, the variation in HR during submaximal training at a steady state is one benefit of a heart rate monitor. Variations can give you insight into how your body is responding to stress when cross referenced with power and RPE. It actually directly measures one aspect of what your cardiorespiratory system is doing.

Yes, touting credentials doesn't win debates, but why is there a need for a debate in the first place, aside from making comparative phallus measurements for the sake of competitive ego gratification.

I agree absolutely with most of the argued limitations of HR measurement, and I've heard since power first burst on the scene in a big way how HR was now worthless and irrelevent, and how anyone who still used HR was an anachronistic incompetent. I personally no longer really use one, either, but they are useful in providing an additional level of information. It's a little unfair to use Billat as an example of why HR is worthless. Her research was: 1. based on runners, so power is not an option and RPE will have to do; and 2. her research focuses on short, high intensity efforts, which for the reasons you cited, make HR less than ideal.

I read one interesting insight about standing and sitting. He posited that occassional intervals of standing, higher force pedaling served a useful purpose by mobilizing glycogen or energy in those specific muscle recruitment patterns by creating lactate, which could then migrate via the lactate shuttle to fuel glycogen depleted SO fibers firing in the sitting position. It was a question to ponder.

My short answer: you get good at what you do all the time. For me, I can squeeze out more power standing during a hard climb when my quads are burning with H+. My breathing rate shoots up. In terms of overall efficiency from a non-metabolic perspective, out of the saddle efforts help me maintain speed and momentum over shorter rollers, so they're worth the higher metabolic cost.

Unless Veronique is now a man's name - you never know with those Frenchies - Billat is a she.
 

frost

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Oct 25, 2007
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bbrauer said:
... It actually directly measures one aspect of what your cardiorespiratory system is doing.
...

Yes, it directly measures the heart rate. This however should not be confused with cardiac output or oxygen consumption.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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frost said:
Yes, it directly measures the heart rate. This however should not be confused with cardiac output or oxygen consumption.

I don't think anyone did.
 

doctorSpoc

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Nov 18, 2005
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mitosis said:
If you want to get an immediate feedback on level of exertion on a bike you should be using a heart rate monitor. Seems like too many cycle coaches have forgotton these in favour of power meters. HRM's are still the most reliable way to measure overall exertion.

mitosis... an HRM can be safely dismissed as a useful training tool to measure level exertion over useful intervals of time for training.. precisely BECAUSE it ca not provide immediate feedback.. there is a huge time lag in heart rate after onset of stress. most coaches have happily ditched HRMs because they've discovered how incredible useless they are as a training tool because of this short coming..
 

doctorSpoc

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Nov 18, 2005
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mitosis said:
They are still the most reliable training tool. If you are getting misleading data it is probably because you are using them in one-off situations or on athletes where there is no prior imformation.

If you've got all that experience you don't need me to tell you the over a period of time the power metre gives useful feedback - like the first 5 minutes of a TT. But if you want accurate, momentary data the power meter is useless - hence for climbing, where standing and sitting occur for seconds for most riders, the HRM gives a measure of exertion while the PM provides no meaningful data.

I'll put my 20 years of training, racing and coaching cyclists and triathletes against yours but anyone can make claims on these forums.

For every bit of data about misleading HRM feedback I'll give you 50 success stories from their use. As a poster states above - there is a role for both in cycling training, as long as you realise the limitations of them both.

But getting back to my original claim. A heart rate monitor will give you an almost immediate measure of exertion that a power meter cannot. A HRM would provide useful data on whether standing or sitting is more efficient on a climb. A power meter is simply the wrong tool for that job.


WTF??? LMAO!!

you have obviously never used a power meter, not read much about them and don't understand there use, limitation etc, etc.. and quite frankly, what you've said here in comparing HRMs and PMs is completely bass akwards
 

bbrauer

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Feb 27, 2007
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doctorSpoc said:
WTF??? LMAO!!

you have obviously never used a power meter, not read much about them and don't understand there use, limitation etc, etc.. and quite frankly, what you've said here in comparing HRMs and PMs is completely bass akwards

Although I think Mitosis chooses the wrong words when he describes "immediate feedback", but I understand what he's trying to say and it has merit to some degree. I think the continued value of using HR for certain applications is precisely because its feedback is not immediate....at least it terms of transient changes in work or intensity. It has its own smoothing effect to consistent efforts, whereas power jumps all around if you have to ease up for a second to turn or adjust to slight changes in grade, etc. Yeah, you can get pretty good at keeping power consistent by constantly watching it and adjusting your effort, and this is effective if you want to time trial; but in a way, this much focus on keeping a power readout from bouncing around is not what happens in race scenarios.

If you can get access to a power meter and a heart rate monitor and establish power zones and their corresponding hear rates, then HR is an acceptable substitute for sustained effort up to your threshold. HR is perfectly fine if you want to stay in zone 3 or SST.
 

frenchyge

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Apr 3, 2005
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bbrauer said:
I think the continued value of using HR for certain applications is precisely because its feedback is not immediate....

For "certain" applications, or for the application that is the subject of this thread?

Any statements implying that HRMs are worthless are without merit, but I fail to see how an HRM would contribute to the question that the OP asked in this thread, *especially* when the OP most likely has a powermeter at their disposal.

Frankly, it's the HRM advocates who have restarted this debate by claiming that they had a better method for answering the question than a power meter would provide.