Viewing 27 posts - 1 through 27 (of 27 total)
  • Fitness gains without the planning
  • Premier Icon the00
    Free Member

    I have always ridden my bike for fun, the fitness benefit is nice, but not my driving motivation. I like of idea becoming fitter and faster, especially uphill, but I have always been put off by loosing the fun factor of my hobby to a serious program of workouts and stats. I’ve never even worn a heart rate monitor etc.

    A friend recently purchased a Garmin smart watch. Among dozens of other features it has a stat called ‘Body Battery’. It’s obvious that all different sorts of fatigue factors will effect physical performance, but I really liked the idea of having a reason behind not riding so well (an excuse?).

    I suppose the problem with getting fitter is that it is only noticeable when measured. I don’t want to see my heart rate is x% lower, or a climb is completed x% quicker. And if I get to the top and feel better (less exhausted) does that mean that I’m actually putting in less effort and therefore not improving?

    How can I become fitter without tracking what I do? Riding with faster people perhaps?

    It would be nice to have some tech that knew my current state, and then only when I requested some guidance from it, it could help me by suggesting a beneficial activity… So for example I decide I have a couple of hours this evening. I don’t have a training plan so this is purely based on feel and availability – i do not want to feel like I have to do anything. The tech would know what I have done, and what state I’m in, and suggest I take an easy ride, or that I’ll feel great and should really push myself. Or perhaps it’ll tell me I’m knackered and should just rest instead. Is there a state where some strength training or other workout is more beneficial?

    Does this tech and interface exist for those put off by planning and targets?

    Premier Icon chiefgrooveguru
    Free Member

    Pedal harder and for longer when you’re trying as hard as possible and pedal softer and easier when you’re chilling out. Apparently most people don’t do this unless they’re using power meters and training zones, they spend too much time at closer to middling effort.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog
    Full Member

    I suppose the problem with getting fitter is that it is only noticeable when measured.

    It’s not really, it’s noticeable when you get to the top of the hill before your mates, or with them, and simply feel better. It’s noticeable when you find you can ride further and for longer without feeling as battered. It’s noticeable because you just generally feel better. It’s basically something that lets you do what you enjoy – riding bikes presumably – more, if you want to.

    ‘Fitness’ has got bound up with a whole mindset of self-inflicted pain and planning and doing stuff you don’t really enjoy to get ‘fit’. My take is that a better way of approaching it is to find something you enjoy doing enough that you just do it more.

    The app you’re talking about exists and it is your brain. If you’re tired, rest. If you feel restless and rapid, go for a fast ride. If you feel mellow and want to look at the scenery, go for a stroll or a slow, steady ride. You can sort of techify this stuff – various HRV measuring apps and wearable fitness devices will do a bit of it – but I’m not sure it needs to be that complicated.

    Premier Icon dknwhy
    Full Member

    Garmin pretty much does this.
    I have a Fenix 6 Pro watch. The body battery feature tracks sleep, stress levels (based on HR variations), oxygen levels and factors in previous activities and exertion.
    Based on that, it has a “suggested workout” for today when I open up an activity and look for a workout.
    There are a couple of other steps around having a couple of previous activity and HR readings for a base level.
    I find the body battery one of the more useful tools and it helps to confirm how i’m generally feeling and seems relatively accurate.

    Premier Icon mjsmke
    Free Member

    Improved fitness will let you recover quicker, push harder, ride more, cramp less. It makes riding more fun. I do some structured stuff but don’t stick to a training plan.
    Try setting goals like a minimum number of hours or milage. Or ride a hill twice instead of once on a route you do often.

    Premier Icon edward2000
    Free Member

    Strengthen your glutes.

    Premier Icon w00dster
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    In terms of the tech, have a look at Whoop.

    https://www.whoop.com/

    I don’t use it, just seen a few of the guys I follow on YouTube are using them to track their fitness and freshness levels.
    From what I’ve seen this will tell you your freshness levels and let you determine what training to do.

    Premier Icon jam-bo
    Full Member

    How can I become fitter without tracking what I do?

    ride more. you’ll get fitter.

    Premier Icon the00
    Free Member

    @BadlyWiredDog – that’s basically my approach up to now.
    @dknwhy – interesting… do you have some examples of the suggested workouts? I think my friend has the same watch, so I will ask them too.

    Premier Icon the00
    Free Member

    jam-bo
    Full Member
    How can I become fitter without tracking what I do?

    ride more. you’ll get fitter.

    I don’t think it’s as simple as that unfortunately. Or I’ve reached the level, be that fitness or age, where it’s no longer the case.

    Premier Icon IHN
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    When you ride, ride harder. You’ll get fitter.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog
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    that’s basically my approach up to now.

    Well, the bottom line is that the most efficient way of getting fitter is by using structured training. But if you’re not wired that way, it probably won’t work for you. You’d probably benefit from something semi-structured, go ride every climb super hard, but take the flats easy for example, depending on your local terrain or go hunting KOMs on Strava every so often. And listen to your body.

    In terms of the tech, have a look at Whoop.

    DC Rainmaker doesn’t seem overly impressed tbh, though a mate of mine really rates it. Seems mad expensive though.

    https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2020/05/whoop-3-platform-review.html

    Premier Icon dknwhy
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    @the00 – I don’t as I don’t use it for that and I think you will need to enable a basic training plan on Garmin for that to work but I have had it where i’ve gone to do something on Wattbike and it’s recommended a rest day when I’ve synced the watch with the trainer.

    I tend to work how you want though – I’ll look at my body battery and use it inform my decision for that day. Generally, it’ll just confirm what I already know though if I’m feeling a bit rubbish or whatever so I don’t think it’s an essential need. Just a “nice to have”.
    What it is good at doing is demonstrating fatigue over a longer period of time where you might lose track of what you’ve done or be a sign that you’ve got a bout of illness incoming..
    For example, right now it’s at 84% so I’ll do a 1 hour training session at random later either on Zwift or Wattbike depending on how I feel. Alternatively, I might go out and do a couple of moderate hours on the road with a couple of hard hill efforts or similar. After that, it’ll drop down to 50-60% or lower if I have a stressful afternoon and my HR fluctuates. Depending on how I sleep tonight, it might recharge again or stay low which could inform what I do tomorrow.
    If it were 100% (generally in the morning after a well rested night with no alcohol), I might put in a really long ride or try to beat some Strava KOMs.
    I don’t get on with long training plans as I find them too prescribed and a bit of a chore but I do set myself targets or challenges and try to do some sort of effort or hard ride a couple of times a week. Last week for example, I didn’t do any proper workouts but I did put in 175 miles over the course of the week with a fair few hills and went hard on some of them to the point where I was out of breath.
    The week before I did fewer miles but I had a go at a PB on the Alpe du Zwift climb which was effectively a hour hill time trial.
    I guess my point is that you don’t need technology to tell you how you’re feeling but it can be useful. To get better, you will have to set yourself something to challenge your body more than usual plus do the other things that go with it – sleep, nutrition, recovery etc.

    Premier Icon the00
    Free Member

    ok thanks. I’ve had a quick look on the Garmin website and it looks like the suggested workouts for cycling are based around power output. This would require a power meter to collect the data, and possibly a head unit to actual give me the info whilst riding… I don’t want to be riding staring at a screen. Maybe the watch can be set to give training zone alerts, but either way it’s a bit more involved than I was hoping.
    Maybe I should take up running – way less kit required, and it would leave biking as my fun thing.

    Premier Icon jam-bo
    Full Member

    running regularly has made the biggest difference to my fitness in the last couple of years. I do 25-30k a week although if the conditions are good I’ll ride far more.

    I tend to ride less in shitty conditions as well now as I prefer running in the rain to riding in the rain.

    Premier Icon nickc
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    ride more. you’ll get fitter.

    But as others have pointed out, lots of folk manage to ride the easy bits too hard and the hard bits too easy. So ride more, in a slightly more planned way, is probably closer to the truth.

    I used to do this when I lived in Heptonstall (which has some ridiculously steep hills)…What I actually wanted to do was get better at techy riding, so I incorporated a “sprint” climb to get back to the start of the techy stuff and do just 1/2 hour of that a couple of times a week, you have to find a hill that you can climb hard for about 5 mins, and it needs to be flat out “feeling like you’re gonna puke” at the top as many times as you can manage, rest for a bit, do the techy stuff, and repeat as many times as you can.  It wasn’t really a bunch of fun. Got a lot better at climbing though.

    Premier Icon impatientbull
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    Related to the natural tendency to ride everything a bit harder than would be ideal and then not having the energy to really push the hard bits: every training plan factors in an easier “rest” week every 3 or 4 weeks. I think that would be a fairly easy thing to implement without too much planning and should leave you feeling fresher and better able to push it at other times.

    Premier Icon thols2
    Free Member

    Maybe I should take up running – way less kit required, and it would leave biking as my fun thing.

    I try to run to work once or twice a week (4 km each way). It makes a massive difference to your fitness.

    Having a GPS watch and Strava will let you compare each ride to your fastest time, so you can see where you are fast or slow. Competing with yourself on climbs will encourage you to put out maximum effort instead of just cruising.

    Premier Icon johnx2
    Free Member

    So ride more, in a slightly more planned way, is probably closer to the truth.

    That’s all I’ve ever done, to be able to ride with mates who race basically, which translates as including a few hilly road rides between easier mtb, hrm to confirm I’m going hard on climbs.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Full Member

    + whatever for just throwing some informal intervals into your normal riding.

    Thrash it up the hills as quick as you can.

    You’ll know you’re getting fitter when you recover from those efforts quicker.

    Premier Icon moonsaballoon
    Full Member

    I can understand the OPs coming from . About 8 years ago I bought a road bike to improve my fitness for mountain biking , it worked for bit but I had definitely plateaud as like others have said I fell into a routine of just riding the road bike at the wrong intensity levels to make any real improvement but couldn’t be bothered with heart rates and structure other than maybe going for a few Strava PB’s .

    A few years ago I started working out with a trainer once a week and doing some weight based stuff at home , kettle bells and bar stuff . It’s easy to track progress from weight training as you just up the weight your lifting and  I’ve definitely felt improvement on the bike from doing it . But most importantly it’s allowed me to not feel like every ride has to have some sort of fitness benefit as I’m getting that somewhere else .

    Premier Icon Haze
    Free Member

    + whatever for just throwing some informal intervals into your normal riding.

    Thrash it up the hills as quick as you can.

    You’ll know you’re getting fitter when you recover from those efforts quicker

    Was going to offer something similar, maybe you’ll inadvertently fall into a rough polarised balance without having to manage it.

    Premier Icon ampthill
    Full Member

    I really get why you don’t want a training plan. I have certainly never followed one but have at times have got fitter.

    But I think setting the goal of being fitter without anything specific in mine is hard.

    For me having a goal really helps. A few years ago a mate his in touch and said he was doing LEJOG, would I join him for a section. This meant me riding further in a day than I’d had ever ridden before. That got me out more

    This summer a mate has got he committed to an informal gravel ride that is even longer still.

    You can get fitter by riding further each week or by riding at higher intensity.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Full Member

    How can I become fitter without tracking what I do? Riding with faster people perhaps?

    Polarising your riding effort levels might help, as mentioned. Should be a benefit compared to average riding patterns. Either ride a longer distance at a lower pace, or a shorter distance at max pace or with lots of high level efforts. Sometimes ride a short distance at a low pace for recovery. The only structure is to be adaptive to time available and how you feel so you can ride low pace either for volume without excess stress or when tired (recovery), or ride hard when feeling up to it (the effort). You need effort as well as recovery to get faster overall.
    No need to track anything, get into a good cycle of effort and recovery and you’re likely to get quicker up to the point where the only way to get faster still is structured training.

    Premier Icon joebristol
    Full Member

    Riding with faster people always helps – both on a fitness and a skill level I find. If you can find a local lap where you can session a hill climb once a week could also help – I have one I rode end of jan – I could do 4 laps in an hour with one really steep climb I feel a few mins and then a less steep climb that drags a bit more. 1 longish downhill to rest before going again. You could use Strava to record that and just make sure you concentrate on putting in effort in a certain way. I.e you could do the first climb fully seated with a medium cadence, next time round you could do some sections standing, then another seated one bit with a consciously faster cadence then another flat out etc. You can get a cadence meter for £18 from Halfords that will talk to most cycle head units.

    That said, I bought a Kickr Core smarty trainer and just downloaded the Trainer Road app so my phone and it’s been a game changer for me. I picked a low volume plan aimed at mtb fitness for a fictitious event in May and the app made me a plan for 3 turbo sessions a week. Whilst the weather was bad I was doing that plus an mtb ride on the weekend – now I’m tended to do 2 turbos a week and 2 mtbs a week. So I’m not entirely sticking to it – but those turbo sessions are always more intense with the power targets etc.

    Premier Icon whitestone
    Free Member

    A couple of points: if you don’t measure it you don’t know if you’ve improved. Doesn’t matter *how* you measure it, might be going from not throwing up at the top of a climb to being able to talk or any one of numerous bits of tech or websites.

    Secondly, I mention this whenever training comes up and it’s been noted earlier in the thread, easy days should be easy and hard days should be hard. That’s easy as in: you are being passed by a little old dear on her shopper and hard as in: “where’s the defibrillator?”

    Fitness is a skill just like manuals, drops, etc. To improve you have to practice it.

    The “unstructured” structure mentioned above is known in running as “fartlek” (Swedish for “speed play”), amble along then sprint between a couple of electric poles or across a field, amble along, hammer up this hill, etc. There’s no structure in the sense of 4x5mins with 2mins rest, it’s just ad hoc depending on what’s around you. Pure structure wins out in terms of time efficiency, plus it’s measurable, repeatable, etc.

    Recovery: you need to recover from any sessions properly. That means sufficient sleep, eat properly, rest days.

    All the above don’t mean being anal about things, you just have to have an eye on the overall picture. Going for a ride with your mates on Saturday and Sunday with a sesh on the Saturday night? Fine, no biking on Friday plus an early night, ride Sat and Sun, early night (no booze) on Sunday night, no exercise on Monday as recovery plus another early night, see how you feel on Tuesday, either another rest day or maybe a gentle pootle around checking out some new trails or if you feel good do some hard intervals. If the weather’s good/bad then adjust as necessary.

    Premier Icon scuttler
    Full Member

    I’ve had a dabble at tech and despite having a job in tech I can’t be really be arsed and regard HRM levels and peaks more as a curiosity. To me fitness itself doesn’t materialise until I’m riding 3 days a week for at least a couple of hours at a time and then I can tell 1) hills no longer bother me irrespective of length or steepness (it’s steep around here – Holme Valley) and 2) when I get to the top and wait for the stragglers I’m recovering to ‘conversation levels’ so much quicker. Then it’s winter again.

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