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Getting lean/baseline fit in the Autumn

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Getting lean/baseline fit in the Autumn

Old 09-29-22, 01:47 PM
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threeteas
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Getting lean/baseline fit in the Autumn

I posted this in the racing section, but it was mentioned that I might get some better responses here.

I'm your classic over the hill, middle aged cyclist (early 50s--I'm one of those guys who is old enough to have my name in the results page of Velonews). I was personally kind of run through the ringer during Covid, gained some weight and really got out of shape the last 2 1/2 years. I'm on a mission now--to drop the 30+ I gained and race again. This is what I'm doing and I'm hoping I can get some input on it.


1. Nutrition first--I usually eat a super light breakfast or just have some lemon juice with water along with my coffee. I've never been super into breakfast unless I'm really training hard. I then have a lunch that consists mainly of a supergreens (mostly spinach) smoothie with peanut butter for protein or pea protein, plus flax seed or chia seeds for fiber, adding blueberries and some frozen fruit and a dash of honey. I'll then have a light snack around 3pm of something that has protein--usually come low-fat cheese or meat jerky. I then eat a regular dinner with about normal portions, maybe a little less, heavy on protein and veggies if possible. This is a time to enjoy food with my family. I totally skip dessert or snacks after 7pm. I'm usually just slightly hungry during the day but nothing bad at all because that's when I binge. Getting lean seems like the key for me at this point to be a successful cyclist again.

2. HIIT and strength training--my sister, who was a competitive swim coach for 15 years, has devised some killer HIIT workouts for us to do at least twice a week. This involves a lot of core work, kettlebells, running stairs, stair-master, and also isometric exercises using bands. I'm also working on strengthening any weaknesses I may have gotten over the past few years in my legs through isometric strength training.

3. Riding: One, maybe two Z2 rides in the fall weather, just enjoying the scenery. I also commute to work which totals at least 6 miles per day. I'm just trying to concentrate on form and spinning as much as I can.

All of this has been devised through conversations with other riders, but mostly on my own. I'm not counting calories because I find it super distracting. I want to be at around 205 by the time training really starts in earnest in February! This means about 34 pounds need to be shed. The remaining weight would be shed just through natural warmer weather training after that--I'm a pretty lean 6ft., 190-195lbs and raced pretty successfully as a Cat. 3 at that weight in the 1990s. Just built like a linebacker.

Any further input would be appreciated!
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Old 09-29-22, 03:50 PM
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Well, it truly is calories in calories out, but not all calories are created equal in terms of delivering the energy you need to sustain workouts, or keep you full enough during the day or night, keep the bowels moving consistently, etc. I know you don't want to count calories, but it would be a good idea to at least count them for a little while to get an idea of how much is in the food you are eating, before doing it all by feel.

Meal frequency is very personal. I do much better with mostly 3 equal sized meals, and not varying the content a lot. Some do really with with 1 big meal a day, or eating 5-6 smaller meals a day. You'll have to see what works the best for you.

Using the scale to adjust your portions is a bad way to do things. Weight can fluctuate 3-5 pounds even over 24 hours based on sodium, water, and glycogen changes. It's better to pick a caloric intake, and stick to it and trust that it's going to work, because it does. Use the scale to track things on a macro scale, week to week or month to month.

I also caution to not be overly gung ho about it. You just gained 35 pounds due to lack of exercise and poor diet, if you try to change 180 degrees all at once you'll likely find your body does not like it and will make you feel like you're starving within a few weeks, even if you're not. I wouldn't do more than 500 calorie / day deficit at first, to hopefully avoid this.

Last, I'd stay away from high calorie dense foods like peanut butter, and go for low calorie dense foods like veggies or fruit. They will keep you full longer, and as you start to drop weight and your body realizes it's in a deficit, the more full your stomach stays the less it will feel like you're in one.

For what it's worth, I've been down to 5-6% body fat. Veins up my abs and down my quads. Sorta gross to be honest. To get super lean you're going to need more than just "eating healthy and exercising", and I think you'll likely find that doing some super easy math once in a while to keep you on track isn't that difficult or intrusive.

Good luck!
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Old 09-29-22, 11:05 PM
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not gonna get real specific, but maybe point out some things which might be considered for your return. There may be others who might get more specific.
I think you might consider what elements, in what phase, are gonna bring you the results you might be looking for.
90's was 30 yrs ago, so you would have been in your 20s. now in your 50s. Things change, and what worked back then might need some modification and massaging.
You say you were 195 racing weight, so I'm assuming your racing was mostly Crit (which pretty much predominates theses days also), not TT, and likely not many longer circuit races.
What you didn;t say is how much riding you've been doing in the past 2.5 yrs, when you gained weight. Nor how how much you've done recently, the past 8 mos or so.
SO assuming you haven't really ridden in the past 2.5 yrs and maybe longer - there no magic to your legs all of a sudden being able to do much of anything on a bike. #1 element is getting the legs to each level of efficiency and strength.
If you've been off for a long time, and now 240 ish lbs... - you're not 195 lbs of muscle and the rest in overweight fat. There's gonna be a lot less real muscle, and a lot more fat.
If you're current weight is holding steady, then you're currently eating for 240 lbs - you'll need to modify for whatever you believe the weight you want to be, so if 195, then you need to eat for 195, and adjust accordingly... Losing 35 lbs can be done in a number of ways. Quick, hard 'dieting' gets weight off, but also burns muscle off at a higher rate than if you made a steady, concerted, balanced plan over a longer period. Focused on burning fat more than muscle.
HIIT at this point will assure you burn a lot of muscle and doing it 2x a week will also keep you from rebuilding, because muscle torn down, needs time to build up again.
A 2x a week HIIT plan might work for a rider already in good form, but not likely you.
you need to build the 'cycling' engine, leg and core muscle efficiency, and loss the extra weight. That's high Z2 and low Z3, interspersed, but consistent. 2x a week is not that.
6 mi commute is great - for the head. Not much for further development
You need time on the bike. You never mentioned where you are, so, if it can;t be 'outdoor' riding then it needs to be indoor - trainer/rollers - either needs to be 4x, 5x better, a week.
With 'recovery' type ride on some days to allow the muscles to rebuild.
What Metrics are you going to use to measure your progress? Riding for scenery is wonderful, but not really productive for getting to a Cat 4 racing level.
Are you doing this solo or are you joining a club/team ? Solo is much more difficult. Racing Club or team will certainly help in focusing, being productive and still keeping it enjoyable.
Are you doing an assessment of your current condition/status? That's important to see how each phase of development is working.
February is closer than it seems. Especially for non-20's or 30's riders.
Masters' 50+ crits of 45 min don;t really need a lot to be able to go around a few laps, but being in the final gallop is gonna need a bit more...
Do a proper assessment, and if you don;t want to , then go out and ride 45 min. trying you're best to get close to a Crit pace - the reality of either might have you considering a bit more in depth for what you need to do.
Development happens in steps/stages and somethings won;t happen to until other things are brought up to a level where the next step is possible.
Ride On
Yuri

EDIT: I didn;t go into aerobic fitness at all, because that is, of course at the very foundation of everything. That will take much longer than 4 mos to build effectively.

Last edited by cyclezen; 09-29-22 at 11:12 PM.
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Old 09-30-22, 08:28 AM
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Procrit commented on weight loss. I will comment on strength training. With all due respect to your sister, what matters to cyclists is deadlifts, back squats, leg presses, Bulgarian split squats (one leg squats) and jumping. And strength training has to be coupled with on the bike work and periodized to support an event schedule.

I have not found that Pilates, core work and etc does much for my cycling. A back squat with an Olympic bar with weight works my legs, back and core. And this should be as heavy as possible without injuring oneself which is hard to do. And jumping is important and can be done as squat jumps, box jumps or one leg jumps over a bench and land like a cat. The landing is critical in jumping so as not to injure oneself - no slam dunking basketballs.

Core work, Pilates, yoga and all the other attending exercises are great for ones health. But it the goal is getting faster on the bike and racing then one needs leg and back strength and a core that is engaged when the legs and back are loaded. YMMV.
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Old 09-30-22, 08:44 AM
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I'm not sure what you are wanting to know either. You seem to have described a plan of action.

If you are wanting to get better at riding, then you need to ride further more often than it sounds like you are going to ride. Short rides never did my for my weight loss. Long rides at a slow pace did/does do a lot for my weight. Diet any way you care too. If you have a cycling goal you aren't meeting, then maybe we will have something to discuss. Just don't skimp on hydration with at least water for any length of ride over 15 minutes long.

As for the HIIT and strength training, go for it. You'll benefit from it greatly. I wish I had the determination to do that. But I don't. I just pretty much ride my bike.
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Old 09-30-22, 01:26 PM
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I really appreciate this--it's really given me a lot of great ideas!

It makes me wonder if I should give this a go with far lower expectations--perhaps just trying to get in good enough shape to hang decently in group training races next year but with no racing. Getting to be a very fit 52 year old and then specialization and periodization in 2024. TBH, I'm actually trying to literally get my health back right now. Racing should just come as a secondary thing?
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Old 09-30-22, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I'm not sure what you are wanting to know either. You seem to have described a plan of action.

If you are wanting to get better at riding, then you need to ride further more often than it sounds like you are going to ride. Short rides never did my for my weight loss. Long rides at a slow pace did/does do a lot for my weight. Diet any way you care too. If you have a cycling goal you aren't meeting, then maybe we will have something to discuss. Just don't skimp on hydration with at least water for any length of ride over 15 minutes long.

As for the HIIT and strength training, go for it. You'll benefit from it greatly. I wish I had the determination to do that. But I don't. I just pretty much ride my bike.
I guess I was looking for some insight into my plan of action--which I think is decent for getting in shape and lean again but not necessarily for racing again at this point? I do really, really appreciate this invaluable feedback--from all of you! Lots to think about. Most especially perhaps concentrating on getting my health back and very fit again--racing perhaps in 2024.
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Old 09-30-22, 04:48 PM
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Personally overall diet plans aren't what I like to discuss here. I'm of the opinion that what ever works for you is okay. If you wish to lose weight and you are losing weight, then the diet must be working. With the caveat that if you have things you won't do while cycling because you think that voids your diet plan, then we'll be at a crossroads. Especially if your riding is suffering and not improving.

While you are on the bike, your overall diet goals are not important any more. On the bike, you should do what ever it takes to fuel yourself for the ride. 45 minutes to an hour after you get off the bike, you can go back to whatever your favorite diet lifestyle is. We don't have to know what that is.
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Old 09-30-22, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by threeteas View Post
I really appreciate this--it's really given me a lot of great ideas!
It makes me wonder if I should give this a go with far lower expectations--perhaps just trying to get in good enough shape to hang decently in group training races next year but with no racing. Getting to be a very fit 52 year old and then specialization and periodization in 2024. TBH, I'm actually trying to literally get my health back right now. Racing should just come as a secondary thing?
Goals and the motivation to do things is great ! If a goal is constantly tugging us to improve, that's great. No need to lower expectations; but building in 'stages' helps keep the goals within reach.
It's less obvious at 40 or 50, but once a person gets into the 60's, the difference between those who are paying attention to their physical and mental being and those who are just moving thru time, is brutally obvious.
Setting reachable fitness goals will help get you to the racing goals, and they don;t need to be secondary; just a further out 'stage'.
I believe riding with others, who have similar inclination (not necessarily same goals) helps pull us along and improve quicker. So group rides really help hold that motivation, and they show when improvement happens and when the legs aren't willing. Training races, great stuff ! We have Wed. Eve Crit practice around here (during Daylight Savings time), and it brings out a real assortment of young newbs, solid young high level type and some of us over the hill gang. You jump in and hang on as long as you can... similar to what was always available on the track. With Sprints every 5 laps.
40 tempo miles with a small group is way more fun than slogging along on your own. Developing fitness and bringing the legs back is really the core to anything in the future.
And there's really a ton of experience here on BF, of riders who focus on fitness, some racing, and all meeting the challenges and surprises of aging.
Robert Marchand is high on my list of idols, Although I'm fairly certain I won;t even reach near that age and active goal. All good. The fun is in the doing.
https://cyclingtips.com/2021/05/robe...r-dies-at-109/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Marchand_(cyclist)
Ride On
Yuri
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Old 10-01-22, 07:12 PM
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Racing…Since you made Cat 3 in the 90s, you have the talent for racing and you have skills albeit rusty. IMO, you need some base / tempo aerobic fitness, high end work and pack rides to sharpen up the racing skills and then race. There is nothing better to get into race shape than racing.
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Old 10-10-22, 04:30 AM
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Originally Posted by threeteas View Post
[color=#222222] I'm not counting calories because I find it super distracting.
In my N=1 experience counting calories is the only way I can hit a specific weight target when losing weight. If I try to lose weight without counting calories it is invariably less successful. But this is maybe not so critical when first starting out from an over-weight baseline. But as you get fitter, it gets much harder to lose those last few pounds.

As for training, I think consistency is the key. You can always play around with your training regime as you go along and develop specific performance goals, but consistently doing "something" is what will matter in the coming months.
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Old 10-20-22, 06:46 AM
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You wish to lose 34 pounds of fat in basically 100 days or about 2.5 lbs per week or 1300 kcal loss per day thru a combination of exercise and diet. This level of weight loss is possible but not easy.

You need massive Z1/Z2 volume and dietary restriction to achieve that goal. I would ditch the honey and blueberries, the rest looks good. Personally, I eat a breakfast with eggs and no carbs after riding when in a weight loss pattern and then a dinner of dark greens, veggies, and often fish or chicken. If you are say running a deficit of 500 cals per day, you need 800 cals of exercise. For me, that is about two hours of low intensity. Personally, I cannot do HIIT work when dieting at my age. YMMV. GL
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