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Base Building and Breaks

Old 11-03-08, 07:41 PM
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StevePGN10
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Base Building and Breaks

I just turned 50 and I'm using cycling to lose weight and get into better health. I've read every book in the library on cycling and fitness, but I have a question I didn't find the answer to in the books.

I'm going to spend October through February building a base by riding at least two hours in Zone 2. I intend to do this four times a week. Is there any drawback to taking a break half way through the two hour session? Is it better to do the exercise straight through with no drop in heart rate?

Regards,
Steve
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Old 11-03-08, 08:19 PM
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Depends on your definition of a break. Im not Camichael training or anything but anything more than a dismount and bathroom break is too long. Thats if you have a reason for riding that long in Zone 2.

Id suggest Aero base builder DVD. Its an hour and will get you a solid base for this coming spring.

Good Luck.
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Old 11-03-08, 08:41 PM
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Sure it's better. But tell me, when was the last time you went two hours at a constant speed without stopping on the road?

In a traditional periodised schedule, you have to do a number of hours in a zone. How you do it doesn't matter all that much.

Which, btw, is what I would suggest. A traditional periodised schedule will build fitness as well as help lose weight.
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Old 11-04-08, 08:37 AM
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I'm going to spend October through February building a base by riding at least two hours in Zone 2. I intend to do this four times a week. Is there any drawback to taking a break half way through the two hour session?
Your post doesn't indicate what "zone 2" means to you in terms of perceived exertion. If "zone 2" is supposed to be easy, then stopping a few minutes make no difference to any fitness benefits. If you are stopping because of discomfort or fatigue then you need to address the specific bio-feedback and correct your exercise session's metrics. (use shorter periods, change bike fit)

Typically, the largest percentage of aerobic benefits is realized in about 50 minutes of activity. Unless your base-building work is being conducted in unison with high intensity work, your extra-long sessions are worth even less.
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Old 11-04-08, 09:35 AM
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There will be some advantage on the fat burning front to riding 2 1 hr sessions a day, but you are probably not riding hard enough to maximize it.
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Old 11-04-08, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Richard Cranium View Post
Your post doesn't indicate what "zone 2" means to you in terms of perceived exertion. If "zone 2" is supposed to be easy, then stopping a few minutes make no difference to any fitness benefits. If you are stopping because of discomfort or fatigue then you need to address the specific bio-feedback and correct your exercise session's metrics. (use shorter periods, change bike fit)

Typically, the largest percentage of aerobic benefits is realized in about 50 minutes of activity. Unless your base-building work is being conducted in unison with high intensity work, your extra-long sessions are worth even less.
care to back up that last statement with some evidence?
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Old 11-04-08, 04:04 PM
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Typically, the largest percentage of aerobic benefits is realized in about 50 minutes of activity. Unless your base-building work is being conducted in unison with high intensity work, your extra-long sessions are worth even less.
If by this you mean to say that more than 50 minutes of Zone 2 riding has little aerobic benefit in the absence of high-intensity work, I'm going to strongly disagree. I'd like some clarification or some evidence.
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Old 11-05-08, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by richard cranium View Post
your post doesn't indicate what "zone 2" means to you in terms of perceived exertion. If "zone 2" is supposed to be easy, then stopping a few minutes make no difference to any fitness benefits. If you are stopping because of discomfort or fatigue then you need to address the specific bio-feedback and correct your exercise session's metrics. (use shorter periods, change bike fit)

typically, the largest percentage of aerobic benefits is realized in about 50 minutes of activity. unless your base-building work is being conducted in unison with high intensity work, your extra-long sessions are worth even less.

wtf??? ...
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Old 11-05-08, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by trisaiah View Post
If by this you mean to say that more than 50 minutes of Zone 2 riding has little aerobic benefit in the absence of high-intensity work, I'm going to strongly disagree. I'd like some clarification or some evidence.
It's out there. He's right. It's not that there's "little aerobic benefit," it's that the benefit drops off. At reasonable training levels, you can double the zone 2 hours and get only a few percent benefit. If you're LA, someone's paying you, or you're retired, you would of course choose to double the time and get those few percent. But those of us who are time-limited are vastly better off spending a few minutes with intensity along with our zone 2, and getting a much larger payback.

All that said, if you want to ride base 8 hours a week, that's great. But you'd do even better if you mixed some serious hills into that 8 hours. There's no fitness advantage to avoiding intensity. I train hard all winter, just at a much lower volume than in summer. I take it that this schedule is new to you, so be careful and don't burn out. Work into it and see how it goes.

You major question about breaks - You don't normally want to take a lot of extra breaks. Think about how you'll ride on the road. You'll coast down hills, or at least pedal at a lower intensity. There'll be traffic lights and stop signs. You might need a pee stop after the first hour. You'll get out of the saddle occasionally and rest your butt. So you'll get little breaks all the time, and a 10 minute stop after an hour would not be bad. I wouldn't drag it out. Go again when you feel like you're just standing around. You'll see, if your legs get cold, it's hard to get going again. You don't really get much of a "rest" in just a few minutes. After another ten minutes of riding, it won't seem like you got a break at all. But sometimes when you're really whupped it feels good to just stop for one minute. Gives you the heart to go on.

Whatever it takes to get 'er done. After a few weeks of this, you'll easily want to ride the two hours straight through. Different on a trainer. People can go nuts trying to ride a trainer two hours non-stop four times/week. I know, many of you have done that. My point stands.
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Old 11-06-08, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
It's out there. He's right. It's not that there's "little aerobic benefit," it's that the benefit drops off.
Please link some articles. I'd be curious to see if we are talking about someone new to working out like OP or trained athletes.

However, since one of OP's goals is to lose weight, he's better off with the time in the saddle if he doesn't want to up his intensity.
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Old 11-06-08, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by StevePGN10 View Post
I just turned 50 and I'm using cycling to lose weight and get into better health. I've read every book in the library on cycling and fitness, but I have a question I didn't find the answer to in the books.

I'm going to spend October through February building a base by riding at least two hours in Zone 2. I intend to do this four times a week. Is there any drawback to taking a break half way through the two hour session? Is it better to do the exercise straight through with no drop in heart rate?

Regards,
Steve
If you're riding in Zone 2 for most of the ride, you shouldn't need to take a break (unless you have to use the bathroom or something similar). It should be a mildly comfortable pace. Remember that your zones are relative to your maximum heart rate, so if you're pushing yourself and thinking you're in Zone 2, you aren't.
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Old 11-06-08, 02:00 PM
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Thanks to everyone for their help. I initially asked the question because my behind was uncomfortable after an hour or so and it felt good stopping to massage a little. I noticed that my heart rate would be much lower than Zone 2 when I got back in the saddle.

But I'm now quickly building up endurance and doing two hours straight is getting easier. Now my question is more along the lines of, "Do two one hour sessions equal one two hour session?" It is sometimes easier to find an hour in the morning and another in the evening to exercise than it is to find a two hour period. It sounds like it is equal, so I'll split the sessions on days when it is convenient.

About the diminishing returns thing after 50 minutes, as one responder said, I'm looking to lose weight so the calorie burn is worth the extra time for me. In a month and a half I've lost 20 lbs, and have 25 more to go. I'm doing the riding in Zone 2 based on information in books by Friel and Carmicheal, and from searching threads in this forum. I figure it is a good way to spend the winter. When February rolls around, I'll have to hit the books again and plan how to add some more intensive riding. I hope to weigh 185lbs by then. Later in the year, I intend to be able to pass my archrival-type buddy going uphill. Then I'll set my sights on outriding my twin brother.

By the way, I haven't encountered the misery of riding indoors yet. What with iPods, TV and radios, I keep myself amused during my two hour sessions. It's no match for road riding, but it is still time on a bike and I love the hell out of it.

Regards,
Steve
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Old 11-06-08, 02:48 PM
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For weight loss: 2x 1hr > 1x 2hr. In general. This come from the lingering effects of elevated HR and metabolism. Effect should be greater at higher intensities. If 2x 1hr fits into your schedule better, do it.

Your weight loss is a little on the high side per week, but that could just be from starting out. One to 2 lbs/weeks is sustainable and look for your loss rate to move towards that as you progress. Also, expect to have to do more work to reach that as your body acclimates.
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Old 11-06-08, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by StevePGN10 View Post
Thanks to everyone for their help. I initially asked the question because my behind was uncomfortable after an hour or so and it felt good stopping to massage a little. I noticed that my heart rate would be much lower than Zone 2 when I got back in the saddle.

But I'm now quickly building up endurance and doing two hours straight is getting easier. Now my question is more along the lines of, "Do two one hour sessions equal one two hour session?" It is sometimes easier to find an hour in the morning and another in the evening to exercise than it is to find a two hour period. It sounds like it is equal, so I'll split the sessions on days when it is convenient.

About the diminishing returns thing after 50 minutes, as one responder said, I'm looking to lose weight so the calorie burn is worth the extra time for me. In a month and a half I've lost 20 lbs, and have 25 more to go. I'm doing the riding in Zone 2 based on information in books by Friel and Carmicheal, and from searching threads in this forum. I figure it is a good way to spend the winter. When February rolls around, I'll have to hit the books again and plan how to add some more intensive riding. I hope to weigh 185lbs by then. Later in the year, I intend to be able to pass my archrival-type buddy going uphill. Then I'll set my sights on outriding my twin brother.

By the way, I haven't encountered the misery of riding indoors yet. What with iPods, TV and radios, I keep myself amused during my two hour sessions. It's no match for road riding, but it is still time on a bike and I love the hell out of it.

Regards,
Steve
As long as you haven't really cooled down on a stop (say, less than 5 minutes), it should have little or no effect on how much training you get.

Longer rides have a bigger effect on weight loss, since you are burning a larger amount of fat which means your body will get better at fat burning. It's also more effective because you spend half the time warming up (ie only one warmup). But twice daily is okay as well.

On the longer ones, getting some calories while riding and immediately after (say, 200 cal/hour while riding and about the same afterwards) is important to moderate blood sugar (and therefore moderate hunger).
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Old 11-07-08, 05:47 PM
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It's out there. He's right. It's not that there's "little aerobic benefit," it's that the benefit drops off.
I agree with several posters who have said we need to see some evidence for this. Not because I am claiming you don't know what you're talking about necessarily, but, quite frankly -- I don't know what you're talking about.

First of all, you need to explain what you mean about "aerobic benefit." The word "aerobic" describes the way your muscles are working, not a type of fitness gain. When I see "aerobic benefit," I think "greater capacity to perform aerobically" which includes a huge array of physiological changes.

Now, if two relatively novice cyclists jump on a trainer and one bikes for 50 minutes and the other for two hours, I AGREE that the second sees hugely diminishing (even negative) returns for exercise more than 30-50 minutes in terms of oxygen uptake and muscle growth. In fact, the second biker's leg muscles will go very strongly catabolic after about 3/4 of an hour.

But what about, say, the ability to burn fat preferentially over glycogen stores? Even a novice biker going for 2 hours twice a week is going to be VASTLY more efficient at conserving glycogen then the biker doing 1 hour sessions, after just a few weeks. I think that cardiovascular efficiency (I mean the ability to maintain the training-level-specific power output over a given duration at a lower heart rate) probably sees a substantial improvement as well.

All of this explains to the OP why it's best off to mix duration as well as intensity. Long bike rides have substantial benefits, but maximum overall fitness is achieved with training in multiple intensity zones.
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Old 11-21-08, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by StevePGN10 View Post
I just turned 50 and I'm using cycling to lose weight and get into better health. I've read every book in the library on cycling and fitness, but I have a question I didn't find the answer to in the books.

I'm going to spend October through February building a base by riding at least two hours in Zone 2. I intend to do this four times a week. Is there any drawback to taking a break half way through the two hour session? Is it better to do the exercise straight through with no drop in heart rate?

Regards,
Steve
You would probably be better off doing one hour in the a.m. and one in the evening. Keep the furnace hot!
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Old 11-22-08, 04:54 AM
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Wow, thats a lot of info,Ok, this is just me, but, think about it,you just turned 50?And assuming there is no big red S on your chest,give it a break,Now im gonna say something you have to think about for a sec...... (you are more than what you are when just on your bike!)there are other things you need to do, to be good at what you like!Try getting your head around something like this(http://www.fitnessanywhere.com/index.php) say one hour each,i know its a streach, but just think a bit! good luck, and Enjoy your ride!
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Old 11-22-08, 08:13 AM
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What if that same 50 year old who is predisposed to diabetes do for morning workouts? Work on those glycogen stores, or fat burning?
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Old 11-22-08, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by trisaiah View Post
I agree with several posters who have said we need to see some evidence for this. Not because I am claiming you don't know what you're talking about necessarily, but, quite frankly -- I don't know what you're talking about.

First of all, you need to explain what you mean about "aerobic benefit." The word "aerobic" describes the way your muscles are working, not a type of fitness gain. When I see "aerobic benefit," I think "greater capacity to perform aerobically" which includes a huge array of physiological changes.

Now, if two relatively novice cyclists jump on a trainer and one bikes for 50 minutes and the other for two hours, I AGREE that the second sees hugely diminishing (even negative) returns for exercise more than 30-50 minutes in terms of oxygen uptake and muscle growth. In fact, the second biker's leg muscles will go very strongly catabolic after about 3/4 of an hour.

But what about, say, the ability to burn fat preferentially over glycogen stores? Even a novice biker going for 2 hours twice a week is going to be VASTLY more efficient at conserving glycogen then the biker doing 1 hour sessions, after just a few weeks. I think that cardiovascular efficiency (I mean the ability to maintain the training-level-specific power output over a given duration at a lower heart rate) probably sees a substantial improvement as well.

All of this explains to the OP why it's best off to mix duration as well as intensity. Long bike rides have substantial benefits, but maximum overall fitness is achieved with training in multiple intensity zones.
To clarify: So far this winter, I'm riding an average of 6.5 hrs./week, spending 1 hour at or above LT and one hour in zone 3, with many short, very hard efforts. So 4.5 hrs in zone 2 or below. This training mix allows me to mix it up with my riding buds. I can ride a century on any given day. That's what I'm talking about. I could increase to 8 hours/week of zone 2 and not get much additional benefit for this time of year. That's more or less my summer schedule. A few percent - might drop my climbing time by 1 minute/1000'. Increasing zone 2 time does increase endurance, allowing all day, multi-pass rides, but that's not important to me in winter, and probably not important to the OP at this time. OTOH, I could ride 8 hours/week in zone 2, leaving out the work in zones 3 & 4, and do very considerably worse. I agree that at least one 3-4 hour ride/week is critical, year-round.

So I'm arguing that the fetish for only riding in zone 2 for base building is a lot of time-wasting. It may make sense if you earn your living by riding and need every fraction of a percent. Or maybe not even then. I don't believe there's any research to show that only-zone-2 riding has any benefits at all. There is research showing that increasing total weekly riding time from 10 to 20 hours results in gains of only 2-3%, but I can't find it at the moment.
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