An hour at zone 3, is it useful?

A light bike doesn't replace good fitness.

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dim
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by dim



you can find training plans on the internet such as this one:

https://www.trainingpeaks.com/training- ... ower-based

sample workouts for the above :
https://www.trainingpeaks.com/training- ... ower-based

or if you are flush with cash, you can hire a coach who will work out a training plan and check the daily data as you ride

these training programs are good as you can enter the date of your race, give the amount of time from when you start training, and it will work out a training plan ensuring that you peak on race day
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TheRich
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by TheRich

guyc wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:35 pm
So looking at this as bluntly as possible. 5 rides a week of, say, 2hrs at 60% HR. Or should you look to vary that 10 hours across rides of varying lengths?
Definitely vary the length and intensity as your schedule allows.

As amateurs, it doesn't have to be that complicated, because just about anything we do on a bike is going to give some sort of benefit.

The sword we're sharpening is pretty blunt and will probably never be as sharp as it could be.

X hours/week is X/hours a week. Are there optimal approaches? Sure, but do they keep you engaged, do they work with your schedule? Just use the time you have effectively, do some intensity, work on your endurance, ride just to ride (especially for mountain bikers), get some rest, repeat. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

by Weenie


guyc
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by guyc

I’m lucky in that my job allows me a decent amount of time during the week (self-employed) so I have the luxury of doing a 3 hour easy tomorrow day, followed by a 90 min the day after. Then I’m working. Then 4 days off. That kind of thing. Much of the work I do here can be done evenings anyway.

iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

TheRich wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:30 pm
I'm not sure doubling up translates from running or even swimming to cycling, unless you're doing short intervals and are time limited in your sessions but not the frequency.
I agree the need to double up isn't as pressing in cycling. Doubling up is necessary in running because of the impact stress and the much higher risk of injury the longer you are on the road at a single time.

But any aerobic effort at 90 minutes or longer is going to be draining your glyocogen reserves and causing a high amount of stress on your body and will leave you tired, which may not be something us full-time workers can tolerate on a daily basis. Obviously if you have a more flexible working arrangement and can afford to take naps during the day or just sit around resting and recovering, longer single rides (other than maybe interval or tempo days) are ideal.
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peted76
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by peted76

iheartbianchi wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:05 pm

The point is, to train your body to be able to do the same effort as before, BUT AT A LOWER HEART RATE! Let that sink in...

So you used to ride 30km/hr at 135bpm for 3 hours? The goal is, for you to be able to do 30km/hr at 120bpm, or lower. Why? Well quite simple...so you can go faster at those higher, costlier heart rate zones. So efforts that would have pushed you close to lactate or Vo2Max will now be a purely aerobic effort that you can maintain for extended periods of time. If you look at highly trained cyclists, it is uncanny how fast they are going at heart rates under 150bpm. It's not that they are able to simply ride faster than you because they can simply push higher watts...no...it is, "at the same heart rate (effort), they are able to go faster than you."
That explanation is a revelation. Thank you.
Last night, I sat on my turbo for the longest time ever and just plodded out the rotations, 100mins at 130-140w (annoyingly my HR strap is playing up). That is 60-65% of FTP. Another potentially obvious/basic question, but as no HR monitor was in play.. do your FTP %'s match against HR %'s as a general rule? (I understand how outside factors can vary your HR performance, tired, ill etc.. )

iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

peted76 wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:48 am
iheartbianchi wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:05 pm

The point is, to train your body to be able to do the same effort as before, BUT AT A LOWER HEART RATE! Let that sink in...

So you used to ride 30km/hr at 135bpm for 3 hours? The goal is, for you to be able to do 30km/hr at 120bpm, or lower. Why? Well quite simple...so you can go faster at those higher, costlier heart rate zones. So efforts that would have pushed you close to lactate or Vo2Max will now be a purely aerobic effort that you can maintain for extended periods of time. If you look at highly trained cyclists, it is uncanny how fast they are going at heart rates under 150bpm. It's not that they are able to simply ride faster than you because they can simply push higher watts...no...it is, "at the same heart rate (effort), they are able to go faster than you."
That explanation is a revelation. Thank you.
Last night, I sat on my turbo for the longest time ever and just plodded out the rotations, 100mins at 130-140w (annoyingly my HR strap is playing up). That is 60-65% of FTP. Another potentially obvious/basic question, but as no HR monitor was in play.. do your FTP %'s match against HR %'s as a general rule? (I understand how outside factors can vary your HR performance, tired, ill etc.. )
Sorry, but I don't think you understand yet.

FTP can't possibly be directly correlated to HR. You pointed out injury, fatigue, etc., but there are other factors as well, including fitness levels, muscular development, cadence, etc., that will change over time. Let me demonstrate by showing a sample progression assuming a rider who only does 90 minute rides at 120bpm everyday every week:

Week 1: 22kmh @ 120bpm
Week 2: 22.1kmh @ 120bpm
Week 3: 22.2kmh @ 120bpm
Week 4: 22.3kmh @ 120bpm
Week 5: 22.4kmh @ 120bpm
Week 6: 22.5kmh @ 120bpm <-------- there are 52 weeks in a year, and after only 6 weeks, this rider has increased their average pace by 0.5kmh. Imagine the increases after a year, and after 5 years!

Assuming this rider does only 90 minutes at 120bpm, naturally, the HR stays constant but the speed goes up, as does the FTP over time.

Now let's take a rider who focuses their training on FTP and doesn't look at HR data, and see what happens (using a hypothetical rider):

*a variation, but same as below, is keeping the watts stable over time but increasing duration
Week 1: 90 minutes @ 120w <------- see how the metric has changed from speed and HR to time and power? This is a critical distinction.
Week 2: 90 minutes @ 130w
Week 3: 90 minutes @ 140w
Week 4: 90 minutes @ wait for it...140w OR LESS! Why? See below...
Week 5: Recovery
Week 6: 90 minutes @ 130w <------ see how this has has set you back 4 weeks? And this cycle will repeat itself over the course of a year and this rider will only see marginal improvements each year, before completely flatlining

1) You have plateaued. What the above FTP training doesn't show you is, the HR has been increasing drastically to achieve those incrementally higher watts. You were probably pushing 80-85% max HR by the end of those rides. Your body has become fatigued, energy stores are gone. Your muscles have been suffering from microtears everyday and you've never given them a chance to recover, so in fact you have had NEGATIVE muscular development over 4 weeks. Your tendons/ligaments are strained. And what do most riders do when they plateau? They either rest, thus losing fitness during this time (while the slow aerobic guys are gaining), or they do something crazy like pushing even harder, which is the absolute worst thing to do as this will kill your season and set you back weeks if not months. This is why basing a training program around time and speed/power is so dangerous and so ineffective.

2) What is the fundamental failure of basing your training on the variables of time and power? None of these variables represent your body! They are external measurements! So you are looking at time spent at a certain wattage, without even looking at the physical condition of your body! You are essentially "hoping" that some increase in distance or watts will result in some benefit to your body, but who knows how much! This is not science...it's just...I don't know what it is. Compared to the HR / time method, where each training ride is completely dictated by your physical condition, and you take the guesswork out of it completely.

So FTP is a tool to measure your current power output (that's it, nothing more), and good for real-time analysis of your efforts, but IMHO, a HR monitor gives you far better data. The reason I think cycling has adopted FTP rather than HR is because well, the industry needs to sell cranksets, and it's "cool" seeing your power output. To clarify, why "everyday cycling" has adopted FTP, as serious and WT cyclists are training based on HR, and they only look at power data to measure their progress. But what really matters is your HR at any given speed (or power output).

So the goal is, once again, for any given HR, to increase your speed (and power) over time. And by FAR the best way to do this consistently is to:

(1) ride at a comfortable (and sometimes "steady") aerobic HR for an equal duration of TIME, or
(2) ride at a comfortable (and sometimes "steady") aerobic HR for a greater duration of TIME

Option 1 is safer, Option 2 is more advanced and requires very careful monitoring to ensure you aren't fatiguing yourself, because the key is to be able to repeat this training as many times as possible each week, each month, each year.
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853guy
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by 853guy

iheartbianchi wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:07 pm
FTP can't possibly be directly correlated to HR. You pointed out injury, fatigue, etc., but there are other factors as well, including fitness levels, muscular development, cadence, etc., that will change over time. Let me demonstrate by showing a sample progression assuming a rider who only does 90 minute rides at 120bpm everyday every week:

Week 1: 22kmh @ 120bpm
Week 2: 22.1kmh @ 120bpm
Week 3: 22.2kmh @ 120bpm
Week 4: 22.3kmh @ 120bpm
Week 5: 22.4kmh @ 120bpm
Week 6: 22.5kmh @ 120bpm <-------- there are 52 weeks in a year, and after only 6 weeks, this rider has increased their average pace by 0.5kmh. Imagine the increases after a year, and after 5 years!

Assuming this rider does only 90 minutes at 120bpm, naturally, the HR stays constant but the speed goes up, as does the FTP over time.

Now let's take a rider who focuses their training on FTP and doesn't look at HR data, and see what happens (using a hypothetical rider:

Week 1: 90 minutes @ 120w <------- see how the metric has changed from speed and HR to time and power? This is a critical distinction.
Week 2: 90 minutes @ 130w
Week 3: 90 minutes @ 140w
Week 4: 90 minutes @ wait for it...140w OR LESS! Why? See below...
Week 5: Recovery
Week 6: 90 minutes @ 130w <------ see how this has has set you back 4 weeks? And this cycle will repeat itself over the course of a year and this rider will only see marginal improvements each year, before completely flatlining

1) You have plateaued. What the above FTP training doesn't show you is, the HR has been increasing drastically to achieve those incrementally higher watts. You were probably pushing 80-85% max HR by the end of those rides. Your body has become fatigued, energy stores are gone. Your muscles have been suffering from microtears everyday and you've never given them a chance to recover, so in fact you have had NEGATIVE muscular development over 4 weeks. Your tendons/ligaments are strained. And what do most riders do when they plateau? They either rest, thus losing fitness during this time (while the slow aerobic guys are gaining), or they do something crazy like pushing even harder, which is the absolute worst thing to do as this will kill your season and set you back weeks if not months. This is why basing a training program around time and speed/power is so dangerous and so ineffective.

So FTP is a tool to measure your current power output (that's it, nothing more), and good for real-time analysis of your efforts, but IMHO, a HR monitor gives you far better data. The reason I think cycling has adopted FTP rather than HR is because well, the industry needs to sell cranksets, and it's "cool" seeing your power output. To clarify, why "everyday cycling" has adopted FTP, as serious and WT cyclists are training based on HR, and they only look at power data to measure their progress. But what really matters is your HR at any given speed (or power output).

So the goal is, once again, for any given HR, to increase your speed (and power) over time. And by FAR the best way to do this consistently is to:

(1) ride at a comfortable (and sometimes "steady") aerobic HR for an equal duration of TIME, or
(2) ride at a comfortable (and sometimes "steady") aerobic HR for a greater duration of TIME

Option 1 is safer, Option 2 is more advanced and requires very careful monitoring to ensure you aren't fatiguing yourself, because the key is to be able to repeat this training as many times as possible each week, each month, each year.
Thank you, iheartbianchi.

It took me years and years to appreciate that many small, reversable changes over time - rather than fewer large, irreversable changes over time - reaped better long-term results. It produced a greater degree of convexity that not only increased the potential for cumulative gains (albeit, with much slower progress), but more importantly, decreased the potential for cumulative and catastrophic losses/harm. Perhaps not surprisingly, this has proved true in domains not limited to health/fitness.

I'm greatly appreciative of your posts, and look forward to more.

Best,

853guy

spartacus
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Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:53 pm

by spartacus

Can these 90 minute, low to moderate intensity rides be split up throughout the course of the week? What about adding in longer rides or intervals? What I’m taking away from this is that I can use my commute to get faster while not exhausting myself by pushing hard every day. I guess the trick is to try really hard to limit your heart rate, 60% max HR at most?

iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

spartacus wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:59 pm
Can these 90 minute, low to moderate intensity rides be split up throughout the course of the week? What about adding in longer rides or intervals? What I’m taking away from this is that I can use my commute to get faster while not exhausting myself by pushing hard every day. I guess the trick is to try really hard to limit your heart rate, 60% max HR at most?
Basically yes. But rides of less than 45 minutes aren't really that useful unfortunately. I don't know your circumstances that well, but this long slow aerobic training requires more time than HIIT, so you will need to evaluate your goals and your lifestyle.
Last edited by iheartbianchi on Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

853guy wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:30 pm

Thank you, iheartbianchi.

It took me years and years to appreciate that many small, reversable changes over time - rather than fewer large, irreversable changes over time - reaped better long-term results. It produced a greater degree of convexity that not only increased the potential for cumulative gains (albeit, with much slower progress), but more importantly, decreased the potential for cumulative and catastrophic losses/harm. Perhaps not surprisingly, this has proved true in domains not limited to health/fitness.

I'm greatly appreciative of your posts, and look forward to more.

Best,

853guy
The mental block is that intervals gives you quick benefits, but this long slow aerobic has such a long time horizon (and no guarantee of results - you may get sick, you may have kids, new job, who knows) so it's difficult for people to commit to plan that will take at least a year (if not more) to really pay off! Sort of like studying in high school when all your friends are out partying and getting some action :wink:
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AJS914
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by AJS914

I was in that plateau phase this summer. I was constantly bumping up against fatigue (feeling like I was coming down with a flu) and then having to take some days off. About 7 weeks ago I decided to do a full reset with long slow base miles. I think I'm already seeing the benefits. The only intensity I've been doing is the Saturday group ride smash fest. It's about 2 hours long and then I've been tacking on another hour of slow riding at the end ending up with 8-10 hours for the week. I benchmark myself on two climbs we do on that group ride. Every week for the last three weeks I've set new PRs.

I'm curious, what would give one the most bang for the buck?

a) 2 x 3 hours

b) 3 x 2 hours

c) 4 x 1.5 hours

Or would there not be a huge difference? I do notice that on 3+ hour rides I'll feel this sort of slow burn in the leg muscles after hour three. It feels like the workout is doing more but maybe it's just glycogen depletion?

peted76
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by peted76

Thank you iheartbianchi.
This started as a motivational cathartic thread to get myself off the couch, however it's turned into something wholly educational for me. It's one thing being told to do the low intensity stuff just because.. but it's another to have it explained in such a clear manner. I'm totally sold on it now.

iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

AJS914 wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:30 pm
I was in that plateau phase this summer. I was constantly bumping up against fatigue (feeling like I was coming down with a flu) and then having to take some days off. About 7 weeks ago I decided to do a full reset with long slow base miles. I think I'm already seeing the benefits. The only intensity I've been doing is the Saturday group ride smash fest. It's about 2 hours long and then I've been tacking on another hour of slow riding at the end ending up with 8-10 hours for the week. I benchmark myself on two climbs we do on that group ride. Every week for the last three weeks I've set new PRs.

I'm curious, what would give one the most bang for the buck?

a) 2 x 3 hours

b) 3 x 2 hours

c) 4 x 1.5 hours

Or would there not be a huge difference? I do notice that on 3+ hour rides I'll feel this sort of slow burn in the leg muscles after hour three. It feels like the workout is doing more but maybe it's just glycogen depletion?
I think it depends on what your goal is and how much time you have. Let's assume time is not a factor, and you're not anymore inconvenienced riding 4 times a week vs. 2 times, or 3 hours at at time vs. 1.5.

In terms of aerobic benefit:
C -> B -> A...C is the clear winner, but not much difference between B and A...this is because you hit the 90 minute threshold 4 times in C, wheras you only hit it twice in A and three times in B

In terms of ability to do longer rides/centuries/tours (energy efficiency):
A -> B/C tie

In terms of muscular strength / biomechanics:
C -> B -> A

In terms of recovery / risk of injury / fatigue:
C is quite easily the worst (due to micro tears, lactic buildup and glycogen depletion), which is somewhat offset by longer recovery periods (assuming you're not doing the two 3 hour rides back to back), B is slightly worse than A.

That burn you feel in your muscles on 3+ hour rides isn't glycogen depletion, but rather, a build up of lactic acid (once your body runs out of fast energy sources, it starts metabolizing your muscle fibers for energy, resulting in less muscle mass and lactic acid as a byproduct) and a buildup of micro tears in your muscles (think of them as rubber bands...they're durable, but they'll start tearing if they are continuously stressed for an extended period of time).

Glycogen depletion is basically when you bonk. Your quick sources of energy are all depleted, and all you have left are muscle and fatty tissue to digest, which takes time, and is really harmful for you (in terms of requiring a day or more to recover from). Which is also why you need to train your body to produce the same power but for less energy (and become better at essentially slow burning fat for energy instead of gobbling up all your glycogen stores and digesting your muscle tissue). This is where the long rides are critical.

So if long events are on your horizin, you should target A. My preference would be for b over c, just because I don't enjoy riding more than 3 times a week! I have to cancel too many plans or miss too much TV :) But whatever you do, try to space your rides out. It's worse to do 3 days on 4 days off than going every other day for example, because you lose more fitness doing no aerobic over 4 days than single days of no aerobic spread over a week.

The longest period you should go without any aerobic is 3 days (because around day 3 you really start to rapidly lose the fitness you fought so hard to gain - I think the very rough math was roughly you lose 2 days worth of aerobic gain from an easy aerobic day in 1 day of no activity, which is why injuries/ilness are so devastating to a training regime, poor Sagan...). So if possible, it's best to limit "off days" to 1 day a week if ANY. A professional, serious training program will have you training every single day of the week. For example, I never saw a professional cyclist or Olympic level endurance athlete who took Sundays or Saturdays off. Of course they build in easy training days each week to serve as their recovery and on these days they're not actually trying to "build" aerobic base, they are merely preventing any loss of fitness (so it's like, they have 4-6 days to work on something, and 1-3 days to recover and stop losses of fitness).
Last edited by iheartbianchi on Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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spartacus
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by spartacus

iheartbianchi wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:12 pm
spartacus wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:59 pm
Can these 90 minute, low to moderate intensity rides be split up throughout the course of the week? What about adding in longer rides or intervals? What I’m taking away from this is that I can use my commute to get faster while not exhausting myself by pushing hard every day. I guess the trick is to try really hard to limit your heart rate, 60% max HR at most?
Basically yes. But rides of less than 45 minutes aren't really that useful unfortunately. I don't know your circumstances that well, but this long slow aerobic training requires more time than HIIT, so you will need to evaluate your goals and your lifestyle.
My commute is 45 minutes to an hour, but I can find a way to extend that, if so, I should shoot for 90 minutes each way? I’m wondering if twice a day will make this more effective, and assuming I’m doing 60-90 minutes twice a day 4-5 days a week, how often should I do higher intensity? Thank you for your insights.

TheRich
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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:36 am

by TheRich

AJS914 wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:30 pm
I was in that plateau phase this summer. I was constantly bumping up against fatigue (feeling like I was coming down with a flu) and then having to take some days off. About 7 weeks ago I decided to do a full reset with long slow base miles. I think I'm already seeing the benefits. The only intensity I've been doing is the Saturday group ride smash fest. It's about 2 hours long and then I've been tacking on another hour of slow riding at the end ending up with 8-10 hours for the week. I benchmark myself on two climbs we do on that group ride. Every week for the last three weeks I've set new PRs.

I'm curious, what would give one the most bang for the buck?

a) 2 x 3 hours

b) 3 x 2 hours

c) 4 x 1.5 hours

Or would there not be a huge difference? I do notice that on 3+ hour rides I'll feel this sort of slow burn in the leg muscles after hour three. It feels like the workout is doing more but maybe it's just glycogen depletion?
When you compromise, you have to accept that you're making a compromise.

With just 6 hours to play with, you'd probably get more results from 4x1.5 or 3x2 with some pretty good intensity depending on whether you're talking about a trainer or outside (which then depends on your route).

If I did 2x3 at low intensity, that would create ~320 TSS/week
3x2, my typical interval ride length, would generate ~450 TSS/week depending on the interval type.
If I changed my route to turn the 2 hour interval ride into a 1.5, it would generate even more TSS over the space of a week because of the additional ride.

If we trust the underlying premise of the Performance Management Chart, what counts above all else is consistency. Twice a week just doesn't cut it (from a performance perspective) because there's so much time between between rides that you aren't creating much real training stress. You'd quickly plateau at a lower CTL or fitness without boosting your strength (FTP or VO2max) much. Shorter rides, with intensity, wouldn't cause the physiological changes that long rides do, but they'd boost your power and fitness.

by Weenie


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