Starting Training - Getting the Parameters Right

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Elisa Francesca, Jan 23, 2003.

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  1. So, I went ahead and bought myself that aero-magnetic home-trainer with on-board computer and
    chest-strap heart-monitor that I asked advice for in this forum about a month ago.

    It is genuinely much more quiet than the Tacx home trainer with my real cycle in it. So far no
    complaints from the neighbors, and I can't hear it over the earphones when I watch TV. May it so
    last, as unlike the Tacx, this thing represents an investment of 400 € and I would be extremely
    miffed if I couldn't use it at any hour of the day or night.

    So, now that I have all this extra information, I have a few questions about statistics and targets
    to ask you experts.

    The first thing that strikes me is that the new trainer seems much too easy! I don't sweat, I'm not
    out of breath, and unlike the Tacx on which I could never sustain more than 10 minutes in one stint
    without collapsing and needing to gulp half a liter of water, on this machine I took two initial
    test drives that lasted 30 minutes and could easily have gone on! This despite the fact that I am
    extremely unfit: the recovery on my first run was F5 ,and F6 on the second, on a scale from F1,
    Excellent Physical Condition, to F6, Unsatisfactory.

    Now, I'm 46 years old, so calculating with those formulas you gave me a month ago, my Max Heart Rate
    should be 174 and my Aerobic Range between 113 and 139 pulses per minute.

    On yesterday's test drive, I had the wheel resistance set at level 6 (out of 10, which is 25 kg, so
    6 must be just over half that, perhaps 15 kg, but the lower levels seemed too easy). For most of the
    trip, my pulse was at 147, so about 85% of Max Heart Rate and theoretically already well into my
    "Anaerobic Range". Wheel revolutions per minute were about 63. I covered 13 km.

    On today's drive, I lowered the wheel resistance to 3, then to 1, to keep the pulse under 130. Most
    of the time it was between 120 and 130. Since I recollected that someone had told me the wheel rpm
    should be between 70 and 90, I tried to keep it over 70 - most of the time it was at about 77. I
    covered 15 km.

    My first question is, why so easy? If I was in my Anaerobic Range on the first trip, why was there
    so little pain or breathlessness? Is this how it is supposed to be? It scarcely feels like exercise!
    Does this mean my heart-monitor is up the creek and should be returned to factory? Or am I just a
    disappointed Puritan masochist?

    Then I'm a bit confused about all this aerobic-anaerobic stuff. I gather that what is best for
    fat-burning isn't necessarily what is best for the heart? I'm certainly interested in both benefits.

    A month ago, you told me there were scarcely any benefits to be had from training in only 10 minute
    stints, as I was doing on my Tacx. Then there was an argument about whether that was OK for
    high-intensity training or not, and whether that was even suitable for a beginner. I had the
    impression I was getting much more training then than now! Was I inadvertently courting a heart
    attack? Maybe I'll experiment tonight putting the wheel resistance up to max and seeing if I get the
    same kind of intensity, and what that does to heart rate. It's curious that the recovery was better
    when I was pumping away at 85% of Max than when I was keeping soberly to about 72%.

    Anyway, thanks for your comments and patience. I'm determined to get the hang of this in 2003.

    Elisa Roselli Paris, France
     
    Tags:


  2. "Per Elmsäter" <[email protected]> wrote:
    : Just go all out on your trainer and see how high your HR goes by the time nothing in the world can
    : keep you going anymore. Then use this as your HRmax until you come up with another one.

    You need to do this with gradually increasing effort over 20 minutes or more (starting from very
    light pedalling) so your heart has time to react maximally.

    : Unless you have a heart condition of any kind of course. Then try to bring up a discussion with a
    : physician about what may be fit. In that case a calculated HRmax does come to good use even if it
    : is not exact.

    It's a very good idea to check this beforehand. Determining MHR is not safe for everyone, and also
    in training I think there really is no need to reach your MHR. Also if you are starting a fitness
    program from a scratch it's strongly recommended to see your physician first.

    Things like this are even more important if you're already well over 20 or if your family has some
    history with heart (or other similar) conditions.

    : There are also different ways of calculating your Pulse zones. Some use a percenteage of the HRmax
    : and some use a percentage of the span between HRmin and HRmax. Most of the time it is difficult to
    : figure out which one they are talking about.

    I think most accurate results would come from spans between resting heart rate, aerobic threshold,
    anaerobic threshold and maximum heart rate ;)

    --
    Risto Varanka | http://www.helsinki.fi/~rvaranka/ varis at no spam please iki fi
     
  3. Can't you plug your trainer into a PC and get the statistics downloaded on the fly ;) I have a Polar
    HRM and it downloads to the PC after a training session into a Workout diary where I can sit and
    compare my cadence with my speed and HR etc. You'd love that I can hear.

    Sounds like you can go all out whenever you feel like it. Just remember to stay in the lower zones
    and just occasionally peak into a higher HR in the beginning anyway. However. Whatever your
    calculations say. If you don't get just a little bit short of breath you'r not in an aerobic
    training zone.

    As you get fitter you will start sweating earlier. A fit person reacts quicker to the bodys demand
    of cooling.

    You will notice as you continue that you can pull the same load at a lower HR. Your resting HR
    will go down.

    --
    Replace the dots to reply

    Perre

    "Elisa Francesca Roselli" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Thanks for the pointers. I'm dazzled by all the new information. I'm one
    of
    > those people who loves tracking things. Even for my kick-scooter I
    designed
    > an Access database to keep track of my performances, and it turned out to
    be
    > a really useful because I was able to discover some interesting correlations. So I think I'll
    > expand the same database to cross-refer to
    my
    > cycle-training.
    >
    > I have no known standing heart condition, but there is a history of it in
    my
    > family and I have had problems with circulation (i.e. phlebitis in the
    leg).
    > I think I am in good time to start training. I'm at an age where some of
    my
    > friends and contemporaries have started having really major health
    problems
    > and there have been some deaths (2 to cancer...). It's like the Gods are warning me, but I still
    > have a second chance.
    >
    > Elisa Roselli Paris, France
    >
    >
    > "Per Elmsäter" <[email protected]> a écrit dans le message news:
    > [email protected]
    >
    > > Just go all out on your trainer and see how high your HR goes by the
    time
    > > nothing in the world can keep you going anymore. Then use this as your
    > HRmax
    > > until you come up with another one. Unless you have a heart condition of
    > any
    > > kind of course. Then try to bring up a discussion with a physician about what may be fit. In
    > > that case a calculated HRmax does come to good use
    > even
    > > if it is not exact.
     
  4. "Elisa Francesca Roselli" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Now, I'm 46 years old, so calculating with those formulas you gave me a month ago, my Max Heart
    > Rate should be 174 and my Aerobic Range between
    113
    > and 139 pulses per minute.

    Don't worry so much about the calculated HR ( Heart Rate). It is no more than a calculation. I
    imagine very few people fit in very exactly there, since there are individual variations. Myself I'm
    52 and have a HRmax of
    190. It is not because I'm fit but just because I have it. I was a heavy smoker until a year ago. it
    is the HRmin that determines how fit you are. Mine was over 60 a year ago and today it is under
    45. This is because I've been training.

    Just go all out on your trainer and see how high your HR goes by the time nothing in the world
    can keep you going anymore. Then use this as your HRmax until you come up with another one.
    Unless you have a heart condition of any kind of course. Then try to bring up a discussion with a
    physician about what may be fit. In that case a calculated HRmax does come to good use even if it
    is not exact.

    There are also different ways of calculating your Pulse zones. Some use a percenteage of the HRmax
    and some use a percentage of the span between HRmin and HRmax. Most of the time it is difficult to
    figure out which one they are talking about.

    I am sure others that know more about these things than I do will point you more specifically to
    what you are asking. Myself I just use these figures to kind of get to know my own limits. I know
    that I can't stay at 175 indefinitiely but I can ride for several hours at 165 etc.

    As for the load on your trainer. You should be able to vary this with your gearing also. Your top
    gear will always give you more resistance than your low gear. But again others can answer these
    things too, better than I can.

    --
    Replace the dots to reply

    Perre
     
  5. Harris

    Harris Guest

    "Elisa Francesca Roselli" wrote:

    > I don't sweat, I'm not out of breath

    > Now, I'm 46 years old, so calculating with those formulas you gave me a month ago, my Max Heart
    > Rate should be 174 and my Aerobic Range between
    113
    > and 139 pulses per minute.

    85% of 174 would be 148. But the "220 minus age" Max Heart Rate formula is very approximate.

    > For most of the trip, my pulse was at 147, so about 85% of Max Heart Rate and theoretically
    > already well into my "Anaerobic Range".

    If you were truly in the anaerobic range, you would have been breathing very hard.

    > My first question is, why so easy? If I was in my Anaerobic Range on the first trip, why was there
    > so little pain or breathlessness? Is this how it is supposed to be? It scarcely feels like
    > exercise! Does this mean my heart-monitor is up the creek and should be returned to factory? Or am
    > I just a disappointed Puritan masochist?

    At this point in your training, you don't want to knock yourself out. But you should have somewhat
    elevated breathing and heart rate. I would put more faith in how you feel (your perceived level of
    effort) than in the trainer's F1, F6 ratings.

    You should not be pushing yourself to the point where you are short of breath (unable to sing or hum
    a song), but you should feel like you're getting a workout. You should be sweating at the end of a
    30 minute workout. In fact you will probably need a fan to keep from overheating. It sounds to me
    like you should try increasing the resistance. Also, the pedals should be spinning about 80-90
    revolutions per minute, not the wheels.

    > Then I'm a bit confused about all this aerobic-anaerobic stuff. I gather that what is best for
    > fat-burning isn't necessarily what is best for the heart? I'm certainly interested in both
    > benefits.

    Aerobic means "with oxygen" (your breathing and heart rate will be elevated somewhat, but you won't
    be gasping for air). Anaerobic means that you're working so hard that your heart and lungs cannot
    supply the amount of oxygen that your muscles need. This "oxygen debt" is what causes gasping for
    breath. Supposedly, the Anaerobic Threshold is the ideal place to train (just below the point where
    you gasp for air). But as a beginner, you should probably be working at a lower level of exertion
    until your build a fitness base.

    Art Harris
     
  6. S. Anderson

    S. Anderson Guest

    I would recommend sticking to the guidelines that are generally accepted regarding heart fitness.
    It's not a competition to see how long you can go on your first time out or how hard or fast, it's a
    program that you will (hopefully) continue for a very long time and you need to build a certain
    fitness level to go further safely. Personally, I would not evaluate any progress for at least a
    month. Use the HRM and stick in your aerobic zone religiously for a month and at the end of this
    period begin to evaluate how you feel, if you're improving or not etc. Every book I've ever read
    regarding heart fitness stresses being in your aerobic zone for as long as possible, 30 mins being
    the accepted minimum and an hour being very good. Generally, I'm only sweating and breathing hard
    during my 75-85% of MHR phase of my workout, which is the last 20min. before my 5 min. cool down.
    For the first 20 mins, I'm ramping up from 60% to 75% and I can comfortably carry on conversation
    and don't sweat a great deal. Even between 75 and 85% I don't sweat profusely. And make sure you
    keep your pedalling cadence between 70 and 90 (that's rpm's of the crank, not wheel..).

    You can start evaluating your fitness using your resting heart rate (when you first wake up in the
    morning..). As someone else here stated, 70 is a bit high I think, 60 is pretty good and below that
    is the pulse typical of someone on a regular fitness program. (again, these are guidelines and may
    not fit you specifically). Weight loss is almost entirely predicated on how many calories your burn
    versus how many you consume. How you lose the calories is up to you. However, I think a sensible
    approach like committing to an aerobic exercise program, combined with conciously evaluating your
    diet is the best approach. You will lose weight and you will be healthier. Incidentally, you might
    not lose as much weight as you would think initially. A better way to gauge progress is by measuring
    your waist size. You will gain muscle and lose fat, but your weight might remain stationary for some
    time. Only after 2 or 3 months will you begin to see some weight loss..

    Incidentally, I played hockey a few years ago with someone who was quite knowledgeable about
    training and heart fitness. Heart attacks among middle-aged hockey players in Canada are a concern
    here according to him. One of the reasons is people of questionable fitness jump on the ice with
    little or no warm-up and immediately hit their MHR in a few minutes or less. These guys can skate
    quickly and are strong, but their conditioning just isn't up to the game. After hearing this, as I
    approach middle-age, I started playing the entire hour or two of hockey instead of taking shifts.
    The other players hate me (ice-hog) but I'm sure my heart loves me!! I play 3 games a week, 2 are
    played as "training" games where I treat it just like a cycling workout, the third I actually try to
    compete and take shifts. Hopefully, I'll avoid dying on the ice!!

    Cheers!

    Scott..

    --
    Scott Anderson

    "Elisa Francesca Roselli" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > So, I went ahead and bought myself that aero-magnetic home-trainer with on-board computer and
    > chest-strap heart-monitor that I asked advice for in this forum about a month ago.
    >

    <<snip..>>

    >
    > Anyway, thanks for your comments and patience. I'm determined to get the hang of this in 2003.
    >
    > Elisa Roselli Paris, France
    >
    >
    >
     
  7. Thanks for the pointers. I'm dazzled by all the new information. I'm one of those people who loves
    tracking things. Even for my kick-scooter I designed an Access database to keep track of my
    performances, and it turned out to be a really useful because I was able to discover some
    interesting correlations. So I think I'll expand the same database to cross-refer to my
    cycle-training.

    I have no known standing heart condition, but there is a history of it in my family and I have had
    problems with circulation (i.e. phlebitis in the leg). I think I am in good time to start training.
    I'm at an age where some of my friends and contemporaries have started having really major health
    problems and there have been some deaths (2 to cancer...). It's like the Gods are warning me, but I
    still have a second chance.

    Elisa Roselli Paris, France

    "Per Elmsäter" <[email protected]> a écrit dans le message news:
    [email protected]

    > Just go all out on your trainer and see how high your HR goes by the time nothing in the world can
    > keep you going anymore. Then use this as your
    HRmax
    > until you come up with another one. Unless you have a heart condition of
    any
    > kind of course. Then try to bring up a discussion with a physician about what may be fit. In that
    > case a calculated HRmax does come to good use
    even
    > if it is not exact.
     
  8. "Harris" <[email protected]> a écrit dans le message news:
    [email protected]

    > You should not be pushing yourself to the point where you are short of breath (unable to sing or
    > hum a song), but you should feel like you're getting a workout. You should be sweating at the end
    > of a 30 minute
    workout.
    > In fact you will probably need a fan to keep from overheating. It sounds
    to
    > me like you should try increasing the resistance. Also, the pedals should
    be
    > spinning about 80-90 revolutions per minute, not the wheels.

    I start sweating about 10 minutes in, but it's not as much as I expected. This just may have
    something to do with it being minus 4°C outside and having the French window wide open and no
    heating in the flat (I hate heat). Previously on the Tacx, I went really slithery and drippy, but it
    was also about 15 degrees warmer outside. Still, the effort definitely isn't as much. The Tacx
    offered none of these wonderful statisitcal tracking functions that my geeky spirit so enjoys, so I
    have no idea what kind of heart-rate or rpm I was pulling at the time. It would have been
    interesting to compare.

    > Aerobic means "with oxygen" (your breathing and heart rate will be
    elevated
    > somewhat, but you won't be gasping for air). Anaerobic means that you're working so hard that your
    > heart and lungs cannot supply the amount of
    oxygen
    > that your muscles need. This "oxygen debt" is what causes gasping for breath. Supposedly, the
    > Anaerobic Threshold is the ideal place to train (just below the point where you gasp for air). But
    > as a beginner, you
    should
    > probably be working at a lower level of exertion until your build a
    fitness
    > base.

    So, it sounds like I'm doing it more or less right. I should try to increase the rpm a
    little perhaps.

    What actually happens as one trains that I should be looking out for? I mean, what are the
    indications of progress? Will I be able to sustain more resistance at a lower heart rate or will my
    resting heart rate go down? (Yippee, more statistics to track ; > )

    Elisa Roselli Paris, France
     
  9. Elisa Francesca Roselli <[email protected]> wrote:
    : Previously on the Tacx, I went really slithery and drippy, but it was also about 15 degrees warmer
    : outside. Still, the effort definitely isn't as much.

    Maybe you have improved already ;) Or then the resistance is just smaller... can't you put them side
    by side and compare? :)

    : The Tacx offered none of these wonderful statisitcal tracking functions that my geeky spirit so
    : enjoys, so I have no idea what kind of heart-rate or rpm I was pulling at the time. It would have
    : been interesting to compare.

    Last night a friend of mine suggested I use a database for my training log instead of XML, which
    makes lots of sense. I'm going to log different sports, so I can have one generic log and a sublog
    for each sport. I'm thinking about using MySQL and Python, though :)

    :> breath. Supposedly, the Anaerobic Threshold is the ideal place to train (just below the point
    :> where you gasp for air). But as a beginner, you
    : should
    :> probably be working at a lower level of exertion until your build a
    : fitness
    :> base.

    To begin easy and not ramp it up too fast are good guidelines for anyone. "Easy" needs to be
    relative, of course. For a very unfit individual, getting up from the couch would already be
    demanding exercise.

    I guess an individual not in a very good shape would show considerable improvement each month, if
    she (or he) exercises regularly and gradually ramps up the challenge. Over the years one could apply
    different kind of exercise, from all the heart rate zones. Like the ones in
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~rvaranka/hpv/train_types.html , though it's written primarily for someone
    already in a very good shape. In the beginning, one would stick to the BA/F zone. Eventually, when a
    given level of exercise starts feeling all too easy and you really feel like going faster, you can
    add exercises from the next level higher up, time to time. But even if you were an elite athlete,
    you would continue to train train in the lower zones regularly. Of course, elite athletes training
    in the lower zones will go much faster than the rest of us ;)

    In the beginning it's important to get the parameters right, and avoid overload and overtraining. Of
    course, there's a million of other questions too =) If it feels good, and every now and then you
    have a new burst of vigour, and you get results over time, you must be doing something right... :)

    Some people strongly recommend resistance training (gym, weights) for beginners, as it helps to
    develop muscles you can use in endurance training. One wouldn't just go squat 100kg or so, but
    instead would use gym machines with a very small resistance. Setting the resistance to the optimum
    is rather important, and quite easy to do with gym machines. I'm young and healthy, but I've only
    done resistance training for a few months now. I could push 120 kg in leg press, but I squat only
    with 20 kg (plus the barbell of course). For training the arms, 5 kg hand weights are good and in
    the bench press kinda machine I set the resistance at 15 kg.

    : What actually happens as one trains that I should be looking out for? I mean, what are the
    : indications of progress? Will I be able to sustain more resistance at a lower heart rate or will
    : my resting heart rate go down?

    Yes :eek:) Tracking resting heart rate is also a good check against overtraining.

    : (Yippee, more statistics to track ; > )

    Just don't overdo it, or you'll spend your freetime designing your log and trying to coach everyone
    you know ;)

    --
    Risto Varanka | http://www.helsinki.fi/~rvaranka/ varis at no spam please iki fi
     
  10. Scott wrote:>You can start evaluating your fitness using your resting heart rate (when
    >you first wake up in the morning..). As someone else here stated, 70 is a bit high I think, 60 is
    >pretty good and below that is the pulse typical of someone on a regular fitness program. (again,
    >these are guidelines and may not fit you specifically).
    IIRC, women tend to have a higher RHR than men-smaller hearts, on the average. 70 would be low
    normal for a woman, I think. Just my US$0.02.

    Tzahi Ben-Moshe

    Elen sila lumenn' omentielvo!
     
  11. Pbwalther

    Pbwalther Guest

    Well people have told you about the problems with heart monitors. The maximum heart rate is just a
    guess on the calculation and individuals often deviate quite a bit from it. A friend of mine in his
    late 40s could hit about 210 when pushed hard.

    You seem concerned about the exercise not feeling "intense" enough. I think this may be from an
    experience with other sports that tend to be strength sports built on all out effort vs aerobic
    sports built on sustainable effort. Cycling really does not hurt unless you are pushing yourself
    quite hard.

    There is a benefit to be had from riding hard. But just going out and riding easy helps much
    more than you would think. Another thing, if you want to stay in the sport it is good to enjoy
    it. If you are going to get on the bike and just inflict pain, well after awhile you probably
    will stop doing it.

    As for improving conditioning, one of the best ways is just do it each and every day within reason.
    Every day works great for me, but most people do better with 1 or 2 days off per week.

    As for tracking your improving condition, that is a bit hard on a trainer. You really don't have
    references. If you get out on the road, you have more references. For example, you notice quite
    quickly if climbing a certain hill wipes you out or not.

    It seems that people advocate weight training. Weight training is great at increasing muscle tone,
    especially in the abs and upper body. But when I weight lift, I see vitually no benefit in my
    cycling. It just seems that if I want to improve my cycling, I need to cycle.
     
  12. Art Harris

    Art Harris Guest

    Pbwalther wrote:
    > As for tracking your improving condition, that is a bit hard on a trainer. You really don't have
    > references. If you get out on the road, you have more references. For example, you notice quite
    > quickly if climbing a certain hill wipes you out or not.

    I agree with everything you said except the above. To me, there are too many variables on the road
    (wind, traffic, etc) to do truly repeatable workouts. On the trainer, you can collect data on speed
    and heart rate under controlled, repeatable conditions, and gauge your progress. (Although I'll
    admit that after a winter on the trainer, the first few hills encountered on the road are murder!)

    Art Harris
     
  13. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    "Art Harris" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Pbwalther wrote:
    > > As for tracking your improving condition, that is a bit hard on a
    trainer.
    > > You really don't have references. If you get out on the road, you have
    more
    > > references. For example, you notice quite quickly if climbing a certain
    hill
    > > wipes you out or not.
    >
    > I agree with everything you said except the above. To me, there are too many variables on the road
    > (wind, traffic, etc) to do truly repeatable workouts. On the trainer, you can collect data on
    > speed and heart rate under controlled, repeatable conditions, and gauge your progress. (Although
    > I'll admit that after a winter on the trainer, the first few hills encountered on the road are
    > murder!)

    I agree. I don't do any formal training, but I get a lot of benefit from riding the flats of South
    Carolina for a week, vs. riding around here in the hills. I guess I'm not a good enough rider to
    keep a perfectly steady effort in such varying terrain. It's much easier on flat terrain, where you
    can go 20 minutes at a time at near max effort, without any interruption. This is why MTB racers
    train on road bikes, and why road racers go to flat places like Houston.

    Matt O.
     
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