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-   -   After how many miles a day do we get diminished returns with our fitness? (https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=1232695)

fredlord 06-19-21 04:06 PM

Last year I was doing 120 - 200 fairly cruisy kilometres every weekend and very little in-between.

This year I'm making myself do 30 hard kilometres five days a week.

I feel much happier (like, ridiculously happier) and much more powerful and fit this year. A host of bodily niggles seems to have vanished, my weight has dropped, and I can't stop palpating my legs and arse and marvelling at how muscly they feel! My lungs feel 1.5 times their normal size. When not riding, I feel like I have an enormous store of energy to draw from.

ymmv :)

Phil_gretz 06-21-21 10:34 AM


Originally Posted by shelbyfv (Post 22109110)
Every time I see one of these compilations of OP's threads I'm reminded how impressive it is that he has continued to contemplate cycling when confronted by so many obstacles!

It's obvious that the thread titles are contrived, and brilliantly so. I imagine that he spends hours contemplating just the right phrasing. This is superior work, and should be recognized as such. I wonder if there are international awards for this sort of ... thing.

CliffordK 06-21-21 10:59 AM

If you are planning on riding in a 4,200 mile bike race over about 16 1/2 days...
Or you are planning on riding in a grand tour with 21 days, and stages from around 100 to 150 miles at an average speed of just under 25 MPH.

Then you should be fine training riding around a park 20 miles once a week. There is no possible way to improve your fitness and preparedness.

CliffordK 06-21-21 12:24 PM

As far as how much training you really need, part of it will be goal oriented. What are you planing? Recreation? Professional rider?

I personally am a bike commuter, plus some recreation. I find cycling is very good for my knees. I've gotten away from cycling a bit, but getting back into it now. So, it has been over a year since the last "century" ride.

One year I had a goal of averaging about 20 miles a day, or a little over 7,000 miles for the year. Whew!!! And those numbers were chosen because I was getting a lot of commuting miles (riding between half and 2/3 of the days, so each ride tended to be substantially more than 20 miles).

Somebody above suggested riding 100 miles to train to ride 100 miles. But, I find that if you ride 150+ miles in a day, then that 100 mile ride gets much easier. But, if you aren't racing, you don't have to do that every day.

Nonetheless, for those occasional longer rides, there are fitness benefits from doing those 150+ mile rides.

roadie77 06-23-21 11:20 AM


Originally Posted by DreamRider85 (Post 22101710)
After how many miles a day do we get diminished returns with our fitness?

I think that an answer to this question framed in miles is probably not going to be the best way to go. Kilojoules of energy per kilograms of weight per week would probably be the most detailed way but it would be hard to come up with an actionable plan based on this metric. Hours per week is a pretty good compromise. My gut feeling is most people would get increasing returns on 20 minute power from moderate zone 2 sessions on 5-7 hours a week of training. Diminishing returns from 7-16 hrs per week. Almost nonexistent returns over 16 hrs. Just to clarify, once you've attained whatever fitness level you're going to attain based on 5-7 hours a week of zone 2 you will have to increase either volume, intensity, or both to continue improving.

asgelle 06-23-21 11:24 AM


Originally Posted by roadie77 (Post 22114288)
My gut feeling is most people would get increasing returns on 20 minute power from moderate zone 2 sessions on 5-7 hours a week of training. Diminishing returns from 7-16 hrs per week. Almost nonexistent returns over 16 hrs.

So you don't believe in progressive overload?

PeteHski 06-23-21 11:35 AM


Originally Posted by roadie77 (Post 22114288)
I think that an answer to this question framed in miles is probably not going to be the best way to go. Kilojoules of energy per kilograms of weight per week would probably be the most detailed way but it would be hard to come up with an actionable plan based on this metric. Hours per week is a pretty good compromise. My gut feeling is most people would get increasing returns on 20 minute power from moderate zone 2 sessions on 5-7 hours a week of training. Diminishing returns from 7-16 hrs per week. Almost nonexistent returns over 16 hrs.

The real limit is how much training volume you can actually tolerate, even if you have the spare time. Most average people start to struggle with more than about 12-14 hours per week of mixed intensity riding, but it varies a lot individually. It's very easy to over-train and then hit a plateau or even start losing fitness. Structured plans at the way to manage both volume and intensity and are usually goal oriented.

roadie77 06-25-21 11:10 AM


Originally Posted by asgelle (Post 22114293)
So you don't believe in progressive overload?

I absolutely believe in progressive overload. What is it about my comment which apparently led you to believe otherwise?

asgelle 06-25-21 11:17 AM


Originally Posted by roadie77 (Post 22117322)
I absolutely believe in progressive overload. What is it about my comment which apparently led you to believe otherwise?

That you give benefits for weekly durations without concern for how long someone may have been training at that volume. At some point, if the rider who used to improve at 6, 10, or 16 hours per week doesn't increase the duration, she will stagnate and may even regress; hence, progressive overload.

roadie77 06-25-21 11:18 AM


Originally Posted by PeteHski (Post 22114310)
The real limit is how much training volume you can actually tolerate, even if you have the spare time. Most average people start to struggle with more than about 12-14 hours per week of mixed intensity riding, but it varies a lot individually. It's very easy to over-train and then hit a plateau or even start losing fitness. Structured plans at the way to manage both volume and intensity and are usually goal oriented.

Agreed, provided the conversation is about any kind of fitness returns at all on the investment of training hours as opposed to increasing returns on that investment which typically only occur when starting from an untrained state. The OP seemed only to be interested in the latter.

roadie77 06-25-21 11:32 AM


Originally Posted by asgelle (Post 22117333)
That you give benefits for weekly durations without concern for how long someone may have been training at that volume. At some point, if the rider who used to improve at 6, 10, or 16 hours per week doesn't increase the duration, she will stagnate and may even regress; hence, progressive overload.

Agreed. The OP seemed to me to be someone who wasn't putting in a lot of volume and was looking to increase volume but only up to the point where he would get increasing returns on fitness, and wasn't interested in a prescription beyond that point. My comment was only directed at that situation and shouldn't be seen as entailing anything about my beliefs on progressive overload in general.

livedarklions 06-25-21 11:40 AM


Originally Posted by CliffordK (Post 22111515)

Somebody above suggested riding 100 miles to train to ride 100 miles. But, I find that if you ride 150+ miles in a day, then that 100 mile ride gets much easier. But, if you aren't racing, you don't have to do that every day.

Nonetheless, for those occasional longer rides, there are fitness benefits from doing those 150+ mile rides.


I think I was that "somebody", but I was misinterpreted. The question was whether someone should prepare for a 100 mile ride by riding several 50 mile rides, and my response was actually that I thought it was better to increase the distance in steps from 50 up to 100 because the "best way to prepare to ride 100 miles is to ride 100 miles". All I meant by that was the building up of mileage was going to get to the point where one could do 100 mile ride comfortably faster than doing a bunch of shorter ones that never got longer.

I was doing weekly 150 mile rides two summers ago, but didn't last year because I want a long indoor break in the middle of a ride that long, and there was nowhere to stop for one during COVID protocols. I did weekly 100 mile rides last year because that was about as long as I could enjoy without a break. I've been doing weekly 100 mile rides this year, but last Saturday, I actually rode over 125 miles for the first time in almost 2 years. There's no question in my mind that for me, nothing burns fat on me faster than a very long ride.

I absolutely agree with you that if you do 100+ mile rides, 100 mile rides get easier. I also like riding my bike to places I like to visit, so the longer the ride, the more places I can go.

rsbob 06-25-21 10:12 PM

In my 30s and really started getting into cycling, I would ride 7 days a week, pushing my speeds and distances. I wanted to improve so badly I pushed and pushed myself and constantly felt tired and was constantly getting sick. I did this for about a year until I got so sick I had to get off the bike for 3 weeks. After that rest, I felt great and thought there must be something to taking a day off regularly and alternating light and heavy days - this is all pre-internet, so no quick answers or forums back then. Experiential learning.

alloo 06-26-21 05:07 AM

What about if you're not training for an athletic event? What is the distance for diminishing returns for us mortals and not olympians? What about for commuters? Is they're a time or distance that it doesn't make sense to bicycle?

wolfchild 06-26-21 06:33 AM


Originally Posted by alloo (Post 22118250)
What about if you're not training for an athletic event? What is the distance for diminishing returns for us mortals and not olympians? What about for commuters? Is they're a time or distance that it doesn't make sense to bicycle?

It makes no difference if you're an elite level athlete or a commuter cyclist or just an average guy riding for fun and fitness. The rule of diminishing returns applies to everybody. The rule of diminishing returns is the same for everybody. That's just how human body works.

CliffordK 06-26-21 11:24 AM


Originally Posted by alloo (Post 22118250)
What about if you're not training for an athletic event? What is the distance for diminishing returns for us mortals and not olympians? What about for commuters? Is they're a time or distance that it doesn't make sense to bicycle?

I am a bike commuter. Or, at least I was. :backpedal:

That includes Double-Century commutes. Not a lot of them, but a few.

The way to expand one's comfort zone is to push oneself outside of the comfort zone. So a 10 mile or 20 mile (each way) commute becomes mighty average after a 200 mile commute.


Originally Posted by livedarklions (Post 22117370)
I think I was that "somebody", but I was misinterpreted. The question was whether someone should prepare for a 100 mile ride by riding several 50 mile rides, and my response was actually that I thought it was better to increase the distance in steps from 50 up to 100 because the "best way to prepare to ride 100 miles is to ride 100 miles". All I meant by that was the building up of mileage was going to get to the point where one could do 100 mile ride comfortably faster than doing a bunch of shorter ones that never got longer.

I was doing weekly 150 mile rides two summers ago, but didn't last year because I want a long indoor break in the middle of a ride that long, and there was nowhere to stop for one during COVID protocols. I did weekly 100 mile rides last year because that was about as long as I could enjoy without a break. I've been doing weekly 100 mile rides this year, but last Saturday, I actually rode over 125 miles for the first time in almost 2 years. There's no question in my mind that for me, nothing burns fat on me faster than a very long ride.

I absolutely agree with you that if you do 100+ mile rides, 100 mile rides get easier. I also like riding my bike to places I like to visit, so the longer the ride, the more places I can go.

A 150 mile ride every week is mighty ambitious.

I'm not a real fast rider, so it can be a struggle mixing speed and distance.

Again, some of this will be goal driven.

Why 100 miles?
Race?
Century Ride?
Go visit the inlaws?
Mad Craigslist Purchase?

It may be that one needs to mix things up a bit. So, do those 100+ mile rides for distance.

Add some hills for some high power endurance.

Add some cargo for using muscles differently.

Some "shorter" rides... say 20 miles and 40 miles which one can concentrate on speed more.

CliffordK 06-26-21 11:33 AM


Originally Posted by livedarklions (Post 22117370)
There's no question in my mind that for me, nothing burns fat on me faster than a very long ride.

I don't know about burning fat. But, a good hard ride can leave me ravenously hungry.

I take the Strava calorie estimates with a grain of salt. Yet, they may well be representative (also ignoring if I'm carrying or pulling a load).

I still need to get a working power meter!!!

The first day of my Crater Lake trip a few years ago, Strava estimated 6,937 calories consumed. My two "double century" rides estimated 4,000 to 5,000 calories. And, none of that included the load, panniers, etc. Pulling a trailer for 150+ miles?

But, I think I eat enough to make up for the calorie deficit, so I'm not just skin and bones after a long ride.


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