Cycling stamina vs. Walking / Stairs

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by Powderfinger, Jun 13, 2003.

  1. Powderfinger

    Powderfinger New Member

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    So I'm perplexed...

    I'm recovering from a major illness and I started cycling to improve cardiovascular health and general muscle atrophy from sitting on my ass (literally) for a year. I've been cycling about 40 min. 4 X a week for a few months.

    What is perplexing me is that I can now ride for about an hour at 14/15 mph and a pretty high level of perceived exertion, and still be okay after the ride, but one small flight of stairs knocks me on my ass. I was walking up a hill at a concert the other night and was barely able to get up it without keeling over! What's going on?

    Do you think I can ride my way into better walking shape, or should i chill out on the bike and just start doing stairs and very short jogs?
     
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  2. J-MAT

    J-MAT New Member

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    Powderfinger:

    First of all, good to hear you are over your illness. Good health is the ultimate wealth!!!

    Anyone will suffer tremendous atrophy from being inactive for a year. Sounds like you have taken to the bike well and like it.

    The problem is that riding at 14-15 mph on the flats won't make you strong. It could even make your legs weaker possibly.

    Due to your illness, you have an overall weakened state of muscular strength from head to toe. Cycling is good for your heart and lungs, but riding as you are currently won't help to regain your strength very much if at all.

    Climbing stairs is pitting your bodyweight against the attraction of gravity. Cycling on the flats at 14 mph does not. That is why you found it so difficult to climb stairs. You really need a general strength training program to get you back to normal levels of strength. This means lifting weights.

    For the time pressed, or those not really into lifting, just do a few sets of bench presses, pullups (not chinups - palm away), and military presses for the upper body and leg presses for the lower body. This would take about 30 minutes.
    The pullups will be the hardest to do. Do them. Most people can't do more than one or two, especially elite riders with undeveloped upper bodies. Boxers and kickboxers can easily do 20-30 or more. Start with 3x1 reps to start. It's much better to do one pullup with full bodyweight, than do a lesser weight on a lat pulldown machine. I can't say enough good things about pull-ups. They are very hard to do at first, but the results are well worth it. When you get better at them with time, widen your grip as much as possible, up to at least twice the width of your shoulders. You might have to buy bigger shirts, because your back and shoulders will get wider!!!

    Good health for the average person means decent cardiovascular fitness combined with decent muscular strength. If you are not into the "gym experience" you can get stronger by doing bodyweight exercises and climbing stairs or climbing hills on your bike.

    Do some bodyweight exercises like pushups, sit-ups/crunches, and pullups for upper-body strength. City parks and high schools probably have a pull-up bar you can use. Check out this book: "Navy SEAL Exercises," ISBN 0-9654093-0-92495, a good book for starting out with bodyweight exercises. Climb stairs or climb hills on the bike for lower-body strength.
    Since your legs are really weak right now, it might be safer to stick with the stairs until you feel a little more solid on your feet. If your legs quit on a climb, you might fall off your bike and get hurt.

    Recovering from long-term illness requires a rehabilitation program to return the body to pre-illness strength and fitness. The body thrives on hard work, getting strong and fit. Conversely, it falls apart when not used. Your quality of life will improve dramatically if you rehab your muscles from head to toe. Additionally, strength training will improve your posture and appearance as well. Workout for strength and ride for cardiovascular health. You can jog, but after a mile or two you will be reminded of how good it feels to ride a bike. Don't stop riding!!!

    Good luck!!!
     
  3. Powderfinger

    Powderfinger New Member

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    :)

    Thanks for the reply J-Mat... From what I've read I thought the thing to do was get a base of 500 miles or so at a pretty mellow pace before stepping up the mph, but maybe that's not going to get it done. I've slowly been adding very short hills, but they kick my ass so i'm hoping to build a little more strength before doing hills seriously.

    I did buy a weight bench but have been pretty lazy about using it. do you think i should do high reps low weight to begin with, low reps high weight?

    Everyone says TITS is important, but I think I'll add a few weights workouts and see what that does for my riding.
     
  4. clever_guy

    clever_guy New Member

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    Powderfinger;

    medium to high reps at low to medium weights.

    You can also just do push-ups, dips between chairs, lunges, air squats and situps/crunches for the first month. Then look at a weight set - that way you can start increasing your strength but at the same time are less likely to injure yourself.

    -CG
     
  5. J-MAT

    J-MAT New Member

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    Powderfinger:

    If you are into riding by all means keep riding. If you want to race or ride a lot faster recreationally you for sure need a solid base. Don't shy away from the hills if you are already doing them, just add the climbing slowly, and do most of your rides on the flats until you get more miles under your belt.

    Try to get at least 1200 miles over two months. That's about 20 miles a day, 7 days a week. Of course you don't have to ride 7 days a week, 5 days is good. So bump up the miles on one or two rides a week. The harder you are going to push your body the more miles you should get. Consistency is the most important factor, log your miles day to day.

    You have a bench but are experiencing motivation problems. One of the best parts of weight training is it takes very little time. You can knock out a few sets of benches in 15 minutes, including the warmup.

    You should rebuild yourself with weights from head to toe, but the weights may or may not help your riding. Generally, the less trained you are as a rider, the more weights will help your riding. At the top amateur and professional level, weight training may not help at all, and even take away from performance. It all has to do with specificity. Lifting is specific to lifting and riding is specific to riding. Plus, riding is an aerobic sport that can last for hours. Endurance is the polar opposite of strength. Running is simple. Cycling is complex because you need lots of strength at times for sprinting, climbing, and closing gaps. The strength obtained in the gym does not transfer overly well to the bike. This applies to general road riding. Track sprinters lift massive weights all the time.

    Light or heavy??? Start light and build up slowly, especially if you don't have any prior weight-training experience. Heavy weights can tear your tendons and ligaments. Muscles will be healed and ready for more work long before tendons and ligaments will be. It's better to start slow and not get hurt than have to take time off from an injury.

    Just dust off your bench and start using it. Due to your illness, I have no idea of how strong you are now. Try something like 2 sets of 6-10 repetitions with a light weight like 40-50 pounds to start. This will probably be very easy, and you will quickly need more weight to get the proper resistance. Have someone "spot" you if you are unsure of your abilities. The spotter will help to get the bar off your chest if you get stuck.

    When lifting "heavy" weights, it is critical to have a good spotter or preferrably do the exercises inside a power rack, which is a metal cage that you can rest the bar on. "Heavy" means heavy relative to your current abilities. For someone who can bench 400 pounds 8 times, 275 lbs is "light." For someone who can bench 180 pounds 10 times, 225 pounds might be "heavy." Weights are fantastic, but they can hurt you if you don't respect them. Know your abilities beforehand.

    Good luck!!!
     
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