Does Road Riding Increase MTB fitness????

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  • Does Road Riding Increase MTB fitness????
  • NagsNog
    Member

    A lot of folk tell me this but i cant work it out, done some big road rides latley and felt less knackered after 80miles on the road than 30 off road so how does road make ya fitter?
    TA…

    Premier Icon BigDummy
    Subscriber

    There is no magical quality to riding on tarmac that makes you fitter.

    As a general observation on my own riding, on the road I ride:

    – further
    – for longer
    – with faster people
    – more concentratedly
    – without stopping all the time
    – more often

    and as a result tend to get more training benefit than from my mountainbike rides, which tend to involve a lot of playing, waiting around, cake and freewheeling. πŸ™‚

    wors
    Member

    from what i’ve read, it’s better because you can maintain your effort a lot better on the road as the terrain is pretty consistant, where as off road the terrain varies greatly.

    Premier Icon njee20
    Subscriber

    What he said. Also the road is far more constant, pace on a mountain bike is generally dictated by the terrain far more, you can’t do intervals off road particularly successfully.

    It’s more achieveable too, if you’ve got an hour to spare, an MTB ride is not gonna do much, where as you can do some good stuff in an hour on the road.

    Edit: My reply was to BigDummy’s answer, I’ve just repeated what wors has just said πŸ™‚

    cynic-al
    Member

    The benefits are partly control (as above) but more that you are working out the muscles that propel you without knackering the rest of you – and so getting a much better workout from which you recover more quickly.

    Anyone who races mtbs successfully will do alot of road training.

    Premier Icon DezB
    Subscriber

    Like spinning, road riding is good for fitness in general. It don’t help wiv skillz though.

    Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth
    Subscriber

    I did a steady 10 miles on a Computrainer last night*. Harder than the 20 miles I did on the road on the way to work yesterday morning….

    I find my MTBing involves lots of not being able to ride stuff, which tends not to be an issue on the road bike.

    *BD’s brother did a rather harder looking 12 miles uphill….

    corroded
    Member

    i think you feel more knackered after a mtb ride because you’re varying pace much more, using more of your body and generally have a lot more resistance / weight to deal with. On the road at steady tempo I reckon you’re pretty much in economy mode so can go further. But I’ve found road riding helps enormously with fitness – as long as you do it regularly. I’ve never been able to lose weight or build strength just through mtb.

    Keva
    Member

    road riding develops aerobic fitness better than off road riding ’cause of the continuous constant pedalling. That’s about it really.

    Dr_UpGrade
    Member

    Think of mtb’in as ‘hill reps’ (high intensity and recover, and repeat) whilst roadie is, as already said.. overall more of a constant aerobic exercise…

    Premier Icon Sandwich
    Subscriber

    Seems ot be working for me. Not losing weight but pedalling and muscle tone is getting better. Was able to ride the rutted clay round our way for the first time ever recently as a result of lots of road riding. (No car so shopping runs are mixed with 40 mile rides on a regular basis)

    FuzzyWuzzy
    Member

    Whilst road can be a big help with aerobic fitness it can also be used just as well for anaerobic and FTP training, just depends what you do when you’re on a road bike (you don’t have to cruise along at 12mph…).

    Premier Icon njee20
    Subscriber

    Also fat burning occurs whilst riding for a long time at a steady (ie slow!) pace. I’m usually out of the fat burning zone on my MTB.

    cynic-al
    Member

    My own experience has been teh whole fat burnign thing is nonsense – if you are doing enough exercise you’ll burn the fat. High intensity exercise increases the metabolism more/longer after the ride and so has an effect.

    youngj1
    Member

    Personally I find that they both complement each other….

    Road riding improved my fitnes due to longer more sustained rides, esp in the winter when the trails are like a swamp so I am getting more miles in….

    MTB I find improves the bike handling and also a bit of leg power due to the stop/start/random terrain – especially on the SS when having to stand up and power over obstructions all the time.

    It is also an excuse to buy more bike/bits

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Subscriber

    What all of them have said ^^^^

    Keva
    Member

    Whilst road can be a big help with aerobic fitness it can also be used just as well for anaerobic and FTP training, just depends what you do when you’re on a road bike (you don’t have to cruise along at 12mph…).

    I average 11.5mph riding xc on the mtb !

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Road is good for getting in steady less-strenuous exercise known as base training. Google base training and see what you can find out. This is why pros do it.

    My own experience has been teh whole fat burnign thing is nonsense – if you are doing enough exercise you’ll burn the fat. High intensity exercise increases the metabolism more/longer after the ride and so has an effect.

    Sorry mate. There’s a magic threshold under which you exercise using mostly your fat reserves, sometimes called the lactate threshold. If you want endurance and to burn fat, you train at lower intensity. It makes you less hungry afterwards so you eat less.

    It really works.. this is you versus almost every cycling coach, I’m afraid πŸ™‚

    hels
    Member

    XC riding takes much more recovery than road, it is harder on the body, if you train just offroad the quality and quantity dips as you don’t get the recovery.

    I would say though climbing intervals are best done offroad, find a really nasty technical climb at your local trails (at least 10 minutes up)and devise a loop you can do ciruits.

    And if we are all being honest, there is less bike washing and maintenance on the road, and it is easier to find a group who will all ride together, a bit of company !

    Premier Icon I_did_dab
    Subscriber

    Simple answer: same muscles, same heart, same lungs, same metabolism. So yes – general biking fitness improves the more you ride – anything.
    For specific training e.g. technical singletrack (high intensity, low cadence) and downhilling, road riding is not so good.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Subscriber

    It’s easier to get out on the road bike. Less to take, less to get ready, you can just go. An hour or 6, it doesn’t matter, the point is you’re riding far more often than you would be if you just had an MTB (especially if you have to drive to get to the nearest trails).
    And if you’re riding more often, you get fitter. πŸ™‚

    cynic-al
    Member

    Sorry mate. There’s a magic threshold under which you exercise using mostly your fat reserves, sometimes called the lactate threshold.

    There may be such a threshold, my point is that it’s been as/more effective for me to lose weight by exercising at high intensities.

    I don’t think the threshold is the same as the lactate threshold D’oh…FAIL!!!

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    XC riding takes much more recovery than road

    Not so. Easy riding takes less recovery than hard riding. It may be that you ride harder off road than on, but that’s just you πŸ™‚ If you find yourself going slower on the road, then put your back into it! Get a HRM if you want to compare effort quantitavely.

    I don’t think the threshold is the same as the lactate threshold D’oh…FAIL!!!

    There are a lot of terms for these thresholds, and no-one can agree. Personally, I use lactate threshold for the point at which your body starts to produce lactate, and anaerobic threshold for the point at which your kidneys can’t remove it as fast as your muscles are producing it.

    So not fail, no πŸ™‚ I suspect that your low intensity efforts aren’t long enough if you’re not seeing a weight loss benefit. Your body isn’t different to everyone else’s.

    If you think it’s too easy, then I suggest you do 5 hours at a constant power (up and down hills pedalling the same, no coasting, pedalling into traffic lights etc). It’s easy as anything for a couple of hours then it becomes excruciating. Far harder than anything on the mtb πŸ™‚

    Keva
    Member

    yup. I took my commuter bike out for a roadie spin back in January. I can usually ride a mtb xc for over three hours without stopping and still average 10mph or more. After two hours of continuous pedalling bigger gears on the road my legs began to feel quite weak… and then I got a puncture. When I got off the bike and crouched down to get my stuff out, aarghhh my legs ! and they ached the next day which is highly unusual for me… defo not used to the constant road pedalling. It is harder on the legs but the rest of my body was still fresh. I also noticed I recovered a darn sight quicker after the ride, I felt fine, like it was easy, but it wasn’t at the time !

    traildog
    Member

    molgrips. I think the point cynic-al is making is that your body is burning fat all the time. And if you do a harder ride, then you will continue to burn fat even after than ride and well into your sleep.
    Yes, doing long riding at low intensity builds base and is believed to help train your body to use fat reserves better for exercising. However, it’s also fairly well documented that riding as hard as you can for as long as you can makes you lose weight quickly. I recommend this to anyone who always says they are struggling to lose weight, but are always riding lots of steady hours. They need to ride harder and the weight soon flys off them!

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    molgrips. I think the point cynic-al is making is that your body is burning fat all the time. And if you do a harder ride, then you will continue to burn fat even after than ride and well into your sleep.

    That holds true for base riding too, if you do enough of it. The point is that if you flog yourself into the ground you’ll make yourself much hungrier than you usually are and eat more to compensate. This means that you’ll end up with the extra fat and sugar that come with the food you’ll likely eat.

    And, recovery will be longer. If you only ride at weekends then perhaps doing a mega off-road epic might work. But if you do base training you can do three a week easily, and the weight will fly off.

    However one mustn’t do ONLY base riding as you’ll develop the ability to ride anywhere all day, but nowhere fast. This is how I was a couple of years ago.

    MTB-Idle
    Member

    pretty much what everyone has said above plus:

    – if its a choice between going out on your mtb or on the road bike then go out on your mtb
    – if you can do the road miles IN ADDITION to your normal mtb’ing e.g. via a commute to work thenit will definitely improve your fitness for when you go back to the mtb
    – riding more means more fitness

    oldgit
    Member

    Depends what you mean by MTB fitness.
    Also the hour thing, if you ‘knocked your ring out’ for an hour off road I think it would have greater advantages to MTB’ing than a fast hour on the road.
    Whilst I agree top riders will use the road, I think you need to have explored every way of improving off road first. I.e a good roadman might be dreadfull off road and vice versa. I know that applies to me. In road races I’m just a bunch finisher off road er well lets say I do a bit better.

    FuzzyWuzzy
    Member

    The fat burning zone thing is often misunderstood, you don’t stop burning fat at higher intensity you just need to burn more carbs to sustain the effort as well so in percentage terms you might burn less fat at higher intensity however in actual quantity you are burning as much or more fat. So yes there is a zone where you can do less painful training and still burn fat but going above that zone doesn’t mean you’re burning less fat…

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    I know this, FW. But as mentioned above if you burn more carbs it’ll cause you to want to eat more and take longer to recover. And as also mentioned above it’ll train that physiological pathway that uses fat for fuel, so you’ll burn fat more efficiently and more readily. And it’ll be easier to ride for longer in general.

    All coaches tell you what I am telling you. I doubt they’re all wrong, what with having coached loads of cyclists and all.

    riding more means more fitness

    Yep, but there are different kinds of fitness. Those training for 24 hour solos do different training than those training for XC races. Because riding short and hard is physiologically different from riding long and steady.

    stratobiker
    Member

    So going back to the OP. We really need a working definition of fitness before we can discuss further.

    Because, it depends on what he/you/we are trying to achieve.
    Just riding the road bike per se will not necessarily make you fitter.
    However, if it’s part of a structured, progressive, training plan with well defined, achievable, goals….. that’s different.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    Sorry mate. There’s a magic threshold under which you exercise using mostly your fat reserves, sometimes called the lactate threshold. If you want endurance and to burn fat, you train at lower intensity. It makes you less hungry afterwards so you eat less.

    It really works.. this is you versus almost every cycling coach, I’m afraid [:)]
    Well that’s you and the cycling coaches against the physiologists and their testing then (I’m guessing you didn’t try asking Peter Keen, or any of the other top guys who do really know their stuff). Assuming you’re talking about losing fat (which was the context of what you were replying to), then studies have shown that high intensity – and indeed weight training – is more effective than working in the “fat burning zone”.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Indeed. However, road biking makes it easier for a steady workout.. that might be a 5 hour base ride OR it could be a 10 mile TT. It’s also hard to get a good solid half hour max effort off-road, unless you are riding for instance the reservoir road in the Black Mountains or something.

    AndyP
    Member

    Assuming you’re talking about losing fat……..studies have shown that high intensity – and indeed weight training – is more effective than working in the “fat burning zone”.

    Without any qualifiers, that’s absolutely meaningless. Per minute, high intensity will be more effective than lower intensity work. But you can’t keep it going for anywhere near as long.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    then studies have shown that high intensity – and indeed weight training – is more effective than working in the “fat burning zone”

    Some studies?

    What about the after-effects of wanting to pig out after the ride? We’ve all had post-ride munchies, it’s brought on by having exhausted muscle glycogen stores.

    In any case, my comments about recovery and frequency of training sessions still stand. Plus the benefits of increased base fitness.

    I used to hammer balls out everywhere. When I got a blood lactate test, turned out I had virtually no base fitness – lactate levels climbed gradually where they should’ve been flat. My coach had never seen any graph like it. I did my base training and I gained base, gained the ability to burn fat and my weight plummeted.

    Btw my training includes long steady rides, and short balls out efforts, and some stuff in between.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    Without any qualifiers, that’s absolutely meaningless. Per minute, high intensity will be more effective than lower intensity work. But you can’t keep it going for anywhere near as long.

    It is of course for a given exercise time – but then most people interested in losing weight don’t want to spend the time exercising that would mean they couldn’t keep going at a higher intensity. Meanwhile, high intensity is very useful to raise the metabolism, which does mean you’ll carry on burning energy well after you’ve stopped exercising. The point is that the “fat burning zone” is a myth from the POV of weight loss – there is no point at which you stop burning fat, or even at which you decrease the amount of fat you burn. The only thing people have to consider is not to exercise so hard they can’t keep going.

    Yes I acknowledge there is a point to lower intensity work – I went through this one years ago where I spent a couple of months going really slowly limited by heart rate, and taught my body to exercise at lower heart rates. However it’s not the way to go if you’re purely after weight loss – and indeed if you are already doing enough of that, then doing more is less effective than doing some more intense stuff.

    AndyP
    Member

    That’s better. I seem to spend most of my time, whether in my day job or coaching, correcting people who come out with partial statements and either they or others end up believing it…

    cynic-al
    Member

    Molgrips, sorry, I guess I should have caveated my posts, but that would have taken forever to cover the unique situation you found yourself in – which seems just bizarre, for someone who’s taken training seriously & read up on it.

    I don’t doubt that 5 hours at low intensity becomes painful, I’ve never done more than about 3, and that was hard enough.

    For “normal” people who will take a “reasonable” approach to training/fitness (e.g. no constant 5 hour training rides) then I do think higer intensity riding (given they have the base fitness) will burn more fat.

    ac282
    Member

    The reason road riding makes you fitter is pretty simple.

    Typical mtb ride = 40 mintues drive, 10 minutes faff, 3 hours riding, 10 minutes faff, 40 minutes drive, 1 hour cleaning bikes and sorting out muddy kit.

    Typical Road ride = 4.5 hours riding.

    stumpy01
    Member

    I have recently started getting out on the road once a week or so and am finding it really helps. I go for about 2hrs at a steady pace (but am curently fairly unfit) and have found my legs are definitely getting more poweful. I can sustain a certain pace up hill for longer, can ride singletrack standing for longer and generally go further & faster.

    With regard to the intensity thing, I always understood it as this:

    – below a certain threshold you burn mainly stored fat as the rate at which you are using energy is < the rate you are using it. You can exercise at this rate for ages. I thinkt this is termed the fat burning zone, wrongly or rightly (I don’t kow).
    – at a certain intensity, your body starts using stored glucose as it can convert this to energy quicker which it needs to, to maintain your work rate. This work rate can’t go on indefinitely as you will run out of energy stores (isn’t this hitting the wall in marathon running?)
    – above a certain intensity, you are burning energy at such a rate that your body can’t process the waste material. This is anaerobic and can’t be sustained for long periods.

    That’s how I always understood it, although I used to be much more into things like this when I used to run competitively…..

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