very unfit, how to improve

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very unfit, how to improve

Postby simonr23 » Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:41 pm

i'm very unfit- skinny and generally healthy, but i dont do anything strenuous day to day. i've been cycling now for a couple of months to change my fitness (maybe 30-40mins 2 or 3 times a week) how long should it take me to improve, especially in muscle endurance?

i dont always feel totally tired or sore, but my legs just give up and feel a bit jelly like after 25mins or so, when i'm pushing myself(hr160+). i can ride until i do feel sore, but i dont get the stiffness the next day that i expect(and used to get when doing athletics and footy). i have a bryton gps/hrm/cad thingo and have been looking at my heart rate and cadence particularly and i'm doing the 'right' things i think (keeping in my hrm zones(3-5 usually) and cadence around 85-95) but i still cant ride any further before my legs go south now, compared to the first ride i did. if i ride at a bit lower intensity i can ride(flatish ground) for as long as i want. i though by now things would be improving. my avg speeds are pretty low and are only better now due to buying a road bike (23 vs 18kph) for my typical ride(6.5kms each way, a bit hilly both ways)

i dont drink alchol, no smoking, eat fairly well, drink heaps of water and juice and what not. generally i'm fairly sensible and understanding of what i need to do.

any tips or ideas that i'm not considering?
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by BNA » Mon Jan 23, 2012 11:57 pm

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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Mon Jan 23, 2012 11:57 pm

In the past did you have to work to control your breathing after running to a bus for fear of looking like you were not up for it? What happens now when you run after that same bus? With a little reflection and without thinking you need to have to put a number to it there are any number of ways that you can assess yourself.

Really you are the person who can answer this best. You should already be seeing some functional improvements in your abilities, in your recovery time, in the depth of your breathing. You should already be confident that you have improved.

Your question is too much in the nature of "how long is a piece of string". So while others here can and certainly will give you some response, what we say will not be any better than your own honest assessment. And does it matter anyway? Are you going to stop riding if it does not meet some hard to measure target? I hope not.
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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby twizzle » Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:53 am

Doesn't sound unfit to me... given the period of time you have been riding.

Cycling is considered a "ten year" sport - if you put the training effort in, you will continue to make noticeable performance progress for around ten years. Unless you are starting from a fairly high level of fitness (ie. stair runner or rower), it takes a lot more than a couple of months to build up the required muscles. The ability to ride hard for long periods of time requires muscle mass to store the fuel in, and well-developed aerobic muscle tissue (the mitochondria) to power it. It really can take years.

If you want to get faster, ride more often... and recover. And have a training plan. From when I first started riding again (unable to walk up stairs after the first 5km ride!), I was averaging 30kph average after three years. Now, after six years of riding (and three of racing), a 30kph average for me is 'easy endurance', and I can hold around 40kph for an hour on the flat. All it took was six years and about 40,000km of riding. All now I have to spend around 10 hours a week in the saddle to maintain it. :roll:
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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:24 am

simonr23 wrote:any tips or ideas that i'm not considering?

Ride more, and more frequently. 4-5 days/week and gradually increase how much riding you do.
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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby MikeyD360 » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:00 am

As above -
I started a year ago (AT) almost 140kg and made the jump from hybrid to roadie.

6km morning ride (AT) 15km/h used to be my peak and now I can comfortably hit 70km (AT) 29-30km/h average before I start to bonk, and even then I feel with a food stop in the middle somewhere I could probably go further.

It's a bit cliched but the only way to improve is to keep up the km and ride through the pain :)

Tackling a few ascents can be really good for building strength and endurance too - nothing makes a flat ride seem easier than doing a few climbs :) I started off just heading up to seacliff - a gradual incline - and then moved up to waterfall gully and then Eagle on the Hill - not quite ready to try Mt Lofty or Corkscrew road yet :P

Just keep riding and you will improve.
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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby Abby » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:53 am

Ride lower intensity, with the aim of riding for longer each time, and on more days per week (aim for 4-5 days). Once you are comfortably riding that often, start to lift your durations on the easier days, and the intensity on only 1 or 2 of the days.

Biggest newbie mistake is to try and ride at a hard intensity all of the time.

Cheers,
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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby simonr23 » Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:37 pm

Thanks for all the tips. Ill make more of an effort to increase the number of rides per week. When I ride at a lower intensity im only travelling at around 15kph on the flat and walking pace uphill. This is on a triple chainring hybrid. I havent done any serioud hills on the new bike yet. This seems pretty ordinary, compared to other new riders stories.
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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby MikeyD360 » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:06 pm

simonr23 wrote:Thanks for all the tips. Ill make more of an effort to increase the number of rides per week. When I ride at a lower intensity im only travelling at around 15kph on the flat and walking pace uphill. This is on a triple chainring hybrid. I havent done any serioud hills on the new bike yet. This seems pretty ordinary, compared to other new riders stories.


My first attempt up Eagle on the Hill was at 4.5km/h on the third ring and the biggest cog I had on my hybrid - 26 on the crank and 32 on the cassette... think pedalling like crazy to achieve walking pace.
Even then I barely made it and this was after 6 months of cycling.
If you have been sedentiary for a long time, especially if not used to riding a bike regularly it will take a while to get the fitness up.
In the meantime just make sure your bike fit is proper as a poorly fitted bike will waste your energy and cause more fatigue when you are riding in a biomechanically incorrect fashion.
Also abby said it well - trying to hit your maximum every day is counter productive as your body builds its aerobic foundations better at lower HR zones.
Sounds like you are doing well for what is still very early days in your cycling journey :)
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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby sogood » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:36 pm

With that 15km/h pedestrian speed, I wouldn't bother with hills as it'll kill those legs and stop the ride. It's better to aim for higher speed on the flat and keep it sustained for a much longer period of time. Introduce hills when average has gone up to 20km/h or more, at least.
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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby Addictr3 » Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:44 pm

Abby wrote:Ride lower intensity, with the aim of riding for longer each time, and on more days per week (aim for 4-5 days). Once you are comfortably riding that often, start to lift your durations on the easier days, and the intensity on only 1 or 2 of the days.

Biggest newbie mistake is to try and ride at a hard intensity all of the time.

Cheers,
Abby


Common mistake I see across peoples training is; hard days are never truely "hard" in terms of HIIT etc. and recovery days are never slow enough;

I would suggest you focus on a plan where you split you riding into different categories; things like Frequency, intensity and duration.

Frequency - Ride more but change up the rides!
Intensity - Harder rides followed by Tempo/ Recovery/Rest Days
Duration; Weekly hours, time on the bike etc. 12 hours would be a good base program to start with.
If you can't explain it simply, then you don't understand it well enough.
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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby twizzle » Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:31 am

Addictr3 wrote:Duration; Weekly hours, time on the bike etc. 12 hours would be a good base program to start with.


Lol - I rarely get to 10 hours a week!
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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby Addictr3 » Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:42 pm

twizzle wrote:
Addictr3 wrote:Duration; Weekly hours, time on the bike etc. 12 hours would be a good base program to start with.


Lol - I rarely get to 10 hours a week!


Do you ride to work?
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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby waramatt » Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:02 pm

simonr23 wrote:Thanks for all the tips. Ill make more of an effort to increase the number of rides per week. When I ride at a lower intensity im only travelling at around 15kph on the flat and walking pace uphill. This is on a triple chainring hybrid. I havent done any serioud hills on the new bike yet. This seems pretty ordinary, compared to other new riders stories.


Hi Simon. There's lots of good advice here - it's a bit like a smorgasbord I guess. Take the bits you like and leave the rest. :) The only thing I'd add that doesn't seem to have been mentioned is the value of a journal.When I started out getting fit 16 years ago as a runner I borrowed an HRM from a friend, and bought a $2 day to a page diary from one of the cheap shops.

I spent 2 mins after each outing recording a few important points such as distance travelled, max HR, ave HR, temp, terrain, location, time of day and basic reflections like how I felt mentally. (and obviously any injuries, twinges etc)
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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby gururug » Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:55 pm

Abby wrote:Ride lower intensity, with the aim of riding for longer each time, and on more days per week (aim for 4-5 days). Once you are comfortably riding that often, start to lift your durations on the easier days, and the intensity on only 1 or 2 of the days.

Biggest newbie mistake is to try and ride at a hard intensity all of the time.

Cheers,
Abby


Very good advice. I'd also add, don't make your rides too long ( unless you really enjoy it ). Ride as far as you feel comfortable with. You don't wan't to get bored. I found that at first 20-30mins was good then built up to 1 hour rides. Every so often i'll do a longer one.

Just get into a routine of getting out on the bike, riding and most importantly, enjoying it! :mrgreen:
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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby Dizz » Sun Jan 29, 2012 11:39 pm

Addictr3 wrote:Common mistake I see across peoples training is; hard days are never truely "hard" in terms of HIIT etc. and recovery days are never slow enough....


+1, :!:
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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby dynamictiger » Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:27 am

You could consider joining a spin class at the local gym. This helped me emmensely over about 7 months once a week but putting the effort in not just sitting there and pedaling at every class.
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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby trailgumby » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:44 am

simonr23 wrote:Thanks for all the tips. Ill make more of an effort to increase the number of rides per week. When I ride at a lower intensity im only travelling at around 15kph on the flat and walking pace uphill. This is on a triple chainring hybrid. I havent done any serioud hills on the new bike yet. This seems pretty ordinary, compared to other new riders stories.


You can only play the cards *you're* dealt. So I'd suggest forgetting about what others can do and how fast the guys on road bikes are going past you up hills. They have a few years' lead over you. Focus instead on improving as much as you are able to right now.

My recommendations:
Allow for recovery.
It's not just how hard you work, it's the training + recovery couplet that improves performance. If you don't allow enough rest so that your body has recovered and improved from the last training ride, you won't get better, you'll just tread water or - worse - get into a downward spiral. I used to ride to work 20-30km 4 days a week. I've found by cutting that back to two with a longer ride on the weekend, and spacing them out properly I perform better both on the bike and at work during the week. Less has been more.

Increase total volume by no more than 10% per week.
Volume = rate of perceived intensity (a score out of 10) for a given ride x minutes on the bike. Add that up for all the rides in teh week and you have weekly training volume.
Exceed this and you're on the road to injury

Take a regular planned recovery week
If under 40, one week in four (ie, 3 hard weeks, 1 easy). At the start of the next hard week you'll be faster and more powerful than at the start of the previous 4 weeks. I'm over 40, so I do 2 hard one easy. If I break this rule I not only stop improving, I get sick and injured.

Work on your core stability and endurance
Your core is your chassis. No point in having a Ferrari F1 engine in a chassis that flexes like a wet noodle. Your chassis has to match the performance of your engine. If not, you'll perform poorly and end up with overuse injuries.
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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby lethoso » Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:45 pm

ride further/harder, eat lots (aim for uncomfortably full), and sleep as much as you can.
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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby wombatK » Thu Feb 02, 2012 5:58 am

Legs getting totally sore during long rides after two months suggests you are not building up stamina
as quickly as you should. TG might be right about lack of recovery time. But it's also worth a visit
to your GP to get some blood tests done to see if there's any underlying issues (e.g. insulin resistance,
cardiac or liver/kidney trouble). You haven't mentioned your age, but even if you're young its worth
having a baseline for these things to compare how you do age.

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Re: very unfit, how to improve

Postby simonr23 » Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:53 am

its not that my legs get sore. they just weaken/fatigue rather quickly. i am starting to ride up my local hills faster and with fewer/no stops.

i'm 29. during highschool and just after i was a national level athletic sprinter. endurance has never been my strong suit. after this time i took up footy more seiously for a couple of years and slightly improved my endurance.

this thread has been me hoping that i can return to my previous leg strength and fitness levels.

thanks again for the feedback.
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