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  1. #1
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    How to best get in shape?

    I'm 50 years old and out of shape. Over the past couple weeks I have began road biking again, something I did in college. My question is how to measure my progress?

    1. Over time keep pushing to ride further?
    2. Pick a route that I can handle now (with some effort) and keep pushing my self to ride it faster?

    I do have a biking computer so I assume that helps.

    FYI - Riding hills are out of the question since all riding is done in S. Florida.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Mix it up. It's nice to have a particular route that's free of traffic so you can gauge your strength and speed, but the last thing you should do is ride that every time. I wouldn't do that more than once every two weeks.

    I would push to ride further, but only do that every few rides. Do shorter rides and medium length rides as well. Give your body time to recover between very long or high intensity workouts.

    Take your time building up. It takes two weeks for a workout to finally make your body stronger. So it will be a long gradual process. If you grow your training long and gradually it will be successful.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgeesaman
    Mix it up. It's nice to have a particular route that's free of traffic so you can gauge your strength and speed, but the last thing you should do is ride that every time. I wouldn't do that more than once every two weeks.

    I would push to ride further, but only do that every few rides. Do shorter rides and medium length rides as well. Give your body time to recover between very long or high intensity workouts.

    Take your time building up. It takes two weeks for a workout to finally make your body stronger. So it will be a long gradual process. If you grow your training long and gradually it will be successful.
    +1. I might add to get a computer with cadence and learn to spin as well as getting the bike fitted to maximize your muscle output AND comfort.

    Since you can't do hills, perhaps get a trainer and simulate climbing or use some of your days to push a heavier gear and lower cadence. Where I'm from, it's finding flat rides that's the challenge.

  4. #4
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    yes, I second the computer with cadence suggestion. Or at least be conscious of cadance and start developing good habits right away.

    From a pure get in shape perspective pushing hard is more effective than more miles comfortably (in my opinion) but how to mix the two depends on your goals. To state the obvious: If long distance is your thing do more of that and if getting faster is your thing do that and work in some sprints once you feel ready.
    Put in the work but remember twice the work isn't twice as good. Take it semi-slow. No real winters where you live so no big rush.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow
    yes, I second the computer with cadence suggestion. Or at least be conscious of cadance and start developing good habits right away.

    From a pure get in shape perspective pushing hard is more effective than more miles comfortably (in my opinion) but how to mix the two depends on your goals. To state the obvious: If long distance is your thing do more of that and if getting faster is your thing do that and work in some sprints once you feel ready.
    Put in the work but remember twice the work isn't twice as good. Take it semi-slow. No real winters where you live so no big rush.
    Definitely get a good computer and avoid grinding (low cadence) ASAP. I rode for many years, but the cadence helped me immensely right off the bat. I only wish I had done it sooner. Something like a Polar with a built in heart rate monitor might be a good option, too.

    Regardless, there are many ways to get in shape with cycling. I'm a racer, so I can't necessarily project my goals, but work on endurance pacing, shorter and faster efforts, intervals, etc. The key is to build everything up gradually and not overdo it. If your legs feel sore, pushing yourself very hard the next day won't necessarily work towards your goal. It may sound odd, but an easy or rest day can be much more beneficial after a hard effort. Moderate paced endurance rides are also an easy, albeit time consuming way to lose weight. I'm pretty thin, but I dropped some weight accidentally during my aerobase because it didn't really stimulate me to eat massive food quanties, which I'd normally do after hard intervals since this typically burns mostly glycogen.

  6. #6
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    All good points thanks. Bike has a Polar CS200 installed so I'm set there.

  7. #7
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    Most relatively inexperienced riders/racers make the mistake of riding way too fast on their slow rides, and way too slow on their fast rides. As mentioned above intervals and a varied training schedule will work best. I used to use something like this:

    Mon. Long, slow ride of at least 40 miles. Slow means averaging about 13 mph. This builds endurance, burns fat, and gets you ready for long hours in the saddle as well as working out the kinks from the weekend races.

    Tues. Sprint day. On a flat, deserted road, pick 2 spots about 50 meters apart. Roll up to the start line at about 6-8 mph in your lowest (easiest) gear. When you cross the line sprint for all your worth, give 120% effort until you cross the other line. Do Not stand up, do not shift gears. Make sure your hands are in the drops at all times. Repeat this 5 times, and then do the same thing in a moderate gear. Repeat 5 times. Lastly, pick a spot about 100-125 meters from the start - roll up to the start at about 15-18mph, then sprint as hard as you can for the 150 meters. Use any gear, shift any time you want. Stand on the pedals if you want. Then ride slowly home 12-14mph. You're done for the day. One caveat - you might want to eat lightly that day. That way if you puke, less will come up.

    Wed. Strength day. Find a not too steep hill maybe 1/4 mi. long. A long, steep overpass or bridge will do. It should be about an 8% climb. Start at the base of the hill in your highest (hardest) gear. Climb to the top of the hill as fast as you can. Very important...don't just climb the hill...climb it against the clock. Use your computer to time yourself. This should be an all out-I don't care how much it hurts, I'm not gonna quit-effort. Two very, very important things...never shift gears, stay in your highest gear. Even if you think you're going to stall and fall over...too bad! Don't shift. The other extremely important thing is NEVER stand up. EVER! You must do the entire distance seated. When you're finished, coast down the hill, ride around at 5-10mph until rested, and then do it again - same way. Do this at least 3 times, but not more than 5. You're done for the day. Ride home slowly - 10-13 mph.

    Thurs. Intervals followed by LSD. Ride along where it's reasonably flat at about 15mph. After warming up increase your speed - go as hard and as fast as you can using any gear, keeping your hands in the drops. The interval should last 60 sec. Use your computer to time yourself. Rest for 60 sec. without letting your speed drop below ~15mph - Do another interval for 60 sec - rest for 60 sec. etc, etc. You should do a minimum of 5 intervals. After that, go for a nice medium slow ride ~14-15 mph for 20-30 miles.

    Fri. Time Trial - map out a distance of about 8-10 miles. Warm up. Start from a dead stop, any gear you want, hands in the drops for the entire distance, and ride the route as fast as you can. I always wear a heart rate monitor. That way I can tell if I'm riding at my max. If I don't, my brain will tell me I'm in too much pain and I should slow down. The HRM will very likely tell me otherwise.

    Sat. Your choice. A day off the bike, or an LSD (long, slow, distance) ride. For me on an LSD ride I never allow my heart rate to exceed 115-120 bpm. That's plenty.

    Sun. Race day.

    When I was an active racer that was my training schedule. I would vary it a little because I'd get bored after a while, but I wouldn't change it by much.

    Good luck. If you put in the work, you're going to do much, much better. Practice makes better.
    Before you criticize someone walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them you'll be a mile away & you'll have their shoes.

  8. #8
    A wheelist
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    My goodness Mr Versatile, the OP did say "out of shape. Over the past couple weeks I have began road biking again". If he tries to follow your schedule he'll be burned out in two weeks.
    .
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T.
    My goodness Mr Versatile, the OP did say "out of shape. Over the past couple weeks I have began road biking again". If he tries to follow your schedule he'll be burned out in two weeks.
    I would have given up after Monday's first 40 miles.


    missin44, I started riding again about 5 weeks ago and though I have kept myself in relative good shape for my 52 years, it has been work. I've lost some 25lbs now, my endurance and strength have really increased and my everyday energy level has soared.

    I would recommend your number 2 to start but do not overdo it. You do not have to necessarily try to cycle it faster everytime. An alternate day of faster time mixed with days of added distance to break things up to start. Variety is the best!

    Stretch out both after the ride and the next day. Work your core muscles as well. Strengthening the core will really save your back.

    Best of luck to you... you can do it.

    Bones

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones519
    I would have given up after Monday's first 40 miles.
    I couldn't do what Mr V suggested, never mind the OP, but then I've only been cycling enthusiastically for 48 years. I can't recover from more than 3 good rides per week and I only average (an honest) 18.5 mph at age 62 and my last ride, two days ago, was 55 miles at this average speed. So how the heck the OP, no matter WHAT his age and potential, could manage the suggested routine, is beyond my wildest imagination. But then maybe that's why I'm slow.
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  11. #11
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    Hate to jump in but I have been "training" for about 3 mos, I have to try Mr. Versitiles regime.... Looks great...

    Missin44-I would love to give you some advice but I have none. I am 45 and getting into shape, but I am convinced seat time will help alot.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones519
    I would have given up after Monday's first 40 miles.

    Bones
    Me too!

    Keep it enjoyable. Find routes you like to ride and people you like to ride with. If itís fun you will keep doing it, and if you keep doing it you will get in shape. Speed and distance will just happen. No need to get into a puke and hurl training regimen if fitness is your only goal.

  13. #13
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    If you're just getting back into cycling concentrate on building your aerobic system. This is best done using LSD or "long steady distance." This should be at a pace that makes you sweat, but not one where you feeling like you're gasping for breath. Concentrate on getting longer and longer rides, building up in length. My goal in the spring is to built to where I can comfortably ride 3 hours at a time. Once you have a good aerobic system, then concentrate on speed.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by laffeaux
    If you're just getting back into cycling concentrate on building your aerobic system. This is best done using LSD or "long steady distance." This should be at a pace that makes you sweat, but not one where you feeling like you're gasping for breath. Concentrate on getting longer and longer rides, building up in length. My goal in the spring is to built to where I can comfortably ride 3 hours at a time. Once you have a good aerobic system, then concentrate on speed.
    The OP, or anyone that's into more "recreational" but sporty riding for that matter (not racing) can do far worse than to subscribe to RoadBikeRider.com -

    http://www.roadbikerider.com/

    Every Thursday, if you sign up for free, you get this freebie site landing in your e-mail box. Along with the weekly news info it sells all kinds of e-books and e-articles on riding and training topics for the Average Joe. They're relatively cheap, written by knowledgeable people and you can shop in your underwear.

    Then if you sign up for the $25 full monte you can access a whole load of back articles on everything cycling from soup to nuts. Ed Pavelka and Fred Matheny (owner and main writers) both average about 10-15,000 miles per year and have for decades so what they don't write about ain't worth reading.
    .
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    I'm not cranky; I just have a violent reaction to stupid people.

  15. #15
    More carbon fiber please!
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    50 here too. Road and mountain bike in the summer. Ice hockey in the winter. Works great. Unless you break any bones. Then it sucks. Unless they're someone else's.
    http://inlinethumb36.webshots.com/48...600x600Q85.jpg'05 Giant NRS C1 & '06 Giant TCR Advanced
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T.
    My goodness Mr Versatile, the OP did say "out of shape. Over the past couple weeks I have began road biking again". If he tries to follow your schedule he'll be burned out in two weeks.
    Well, you're right. maybe it was late, I was tired, or maybe I was confused (a common state of mind for me) There are some questions that are asked frequently and I have "boiler plate" responses to them on Word docs. When I come across one I just copy & paste. I should have read the OP's post more carefully.

    When I was racing this was the training regimen I followed. I haven't raced since the mid 80s but I still use parts of this schedule. I ride LSD most of the time now that I've turned 67, but the hill climb in high gear, and the sprint practice also get frequent use.
    Before you criticize someone walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them you'll be a mile away & you'll have their shoes.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Versatile
    Well, you're right. maybe it was late, I was tired, or maybe I was confused (a common state of mind for me) There are some questions that are asked frequently and I have "boiler plate" responses to them on Word docs. When I come across one I just copy & paste. I should have read the OP's post more carefully.

    Mr. V, this may not have been the answer the OP was looking for, but like JimT, I think I might incorporate it into my training regimen. Thanks!

    Missin44, I think all the 'mix it up' suggestions are dead on. Finding a local club that does group rides would be a good idea, too, if you have one — start with the slowest, easiest group ride they offer, then you can work your way up to the harder, faster rides as your fitness improves. Riding with other cyclists makes it easier to challenge yourself and push your boundaries a little.

    Good luck!
    Good idea: riding in to the office.
    Bad idea: riding into the office ... through a window.

  18. #18
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    I'd say Mr. Versatile's routine is good, but perhaps too aggressive for a beginner. The trick is to work up to goals gradually. A lot of this is also knowing when to hit it hard and when to rest.

  19. #19
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    Oh man I've got a lot to look forward to once I get to starting.

  20. #20
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    I would get Tony Horton's P90 workout or 10 min trainer and schedule that in along with biking. I did Tony's programs and went from 235 down to 195 and everyone said I was looking too thin so I ate my way back up to 205-209 and all seems good.

    Need to watch what you put in your mouth as well for best results. My .02

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by missin44 View Post
    I'm 50 years old and out of shape. Over the past couple weeks I have began road biking again, something I did in college...
    I suggest first building a base by working up to longer rides at a moderate pace--some exertion but not out of breath. Work in a good number of rest days and easy days, and even a light week out of every 3 or 4 weeks.

    Once you can do 1 and1/2 to 2 hours comfortably, then you might want to start adding some rides with periods, 5 to 10 minutes, at a somewhat faster pace. Don't do these everytime, and again mix your rides for variety, pacing, and rest or easy days.

    Good luck.

  22. #22
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    Iím not a racer and donít have the time to do the type of training Mr. V describes but I enjoyed reading it and will probably incorporate some of it. It was good info for me.

    To the OP Ė Since you are a beginner, I would say to concentrate on saddle time and form (learn to spin, pedaling technique, light grip on the bars, etc.) and donít focus too much on performance yet Ė ignore MPH, give major priority to cadence. Give yourself a few weeks. Otherwise you will get discouraged. There will come a point when the sport becomes less laborious and youíll be able to push through a nice, satisfying workout and still do anything you want that day.

    The thing I think halts new riders in their tracks is the sheer effort needed to ride a bike far with a sustained nice pace over different terrain Ė then come the surges in speed but thatís for the future. They quickly feel inadequate and that the sport just isnít for them. So start slow.

    One big thing that most newbies fail to do is warm up well. Ride the first few miles at an easy pace Ė spin, spin, spin and loosen up really well before picking up the pace and beginning the work out. We all want to hammer as soon as we clip in so it takes a bit of patience and mental pain to learn to go easy at first and let other riders blow by you. Iím fine with it now but have to be honest that it took me a while to not want to stand up (well, I do still want to but can easily resist) and hammer so they knew I wasnít a weakling. I donít know why that isÖI sometimes care too much about weird things I suppose. But Iím human and have testosterone and will admit these embarrassing things that shouldnít bother me but do. It takes me about 5 miles to get warm. I go very easy those first few miles. If you get warm first, you wonít be gasping for breath so early and feel inadequate. Get over the warm up hump and donít forget to hydrate.

    Edit: don't forget to stretch after the ride for recovery and to increase flexibility.
    Last edited by BostonG; 06-24-2011 at 07:55 AM.
    I ride mostly in the honorable pursuit of being kissed on both cheeks at the same time by one blond and one brunette. But not redheads, they scare me.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roadone View Post
    I would get Tony Horton's P90 workout or 10 min trainer and schedule that in along with biking. I did Tony's programs and went from 235 down to 195 and everyone said I was looking too thin so I ate my way back up to 205-209 and all seems good.

    Need to watch what you put in your mouth as well for best results. My .02
    Don't listen to "everybody". In the US we are used to seeing overweight and grossly overweight people. It skews our perception of normal. Normal for a human is different from normal for an american human.

    I went from 235 down to 175. Many people said I didn't need to lose weight in the first place. I'd like to know why I should carry around an extra 60 lbs. I judge by how I feel and whether my stomach is flat. If my abs are visible, I'm not overweight. As I add muscle, I'm putting back on weight very slowly to keep my fat level at the "abs just visible" level.

    The challenge is good diet. Fully 75% of any successful workout or fitness program should be nutrition. If you don't fuel yourself properly, you may feel weak long before you get down to healthy fat levels. My problem now is finding shirts that aren't "belly cut". Truly fitted shirts are as rare as truly fit people.

    I'm 50 and have been riding seriously since mid April. I'm up to 206 miles last week. 76 miles yesterday. I ride in the hills and don't know what flat terrain feels like for any distance. Of course, this is just one man's opinion.
    My cycle tour blog; raymoorerides.blogspot.com

  24. #24
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    sorry for getting off topic
    My cycle tour blog; raymoorerides.blogspot.com

  25. #25
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    Cycling newbie here....Thank you Mr. Versatile for posting your training tips....will try to incoporate it in my riding once I built my miles ;)

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