Cycling for fitness - Some tips?

DevUK Posts: 299
edited June 2008 in Road beginners
I've been back on my bike for the last 2 years. I bought a mountain bike and spent 3x its value on upgrading it (discs/wheels etc). I've enjoyed off-roading but don't get to do it too often.

Anyway, I bought a Trek 7.5fx hybrid on the cycle to work scheme. I usually cycled to work on the MTB but it's a bit of a heavy beast (like me). The trek is so much easier to ride!

Anyway, I want to start cycling for fitness. I'm really overweight and always have been. My daily commute is a measly 3 miles in either direction so I want to do more.

I guess my question really is, does anyone have any good tips for cycling for fitness, bearing in mind my endurance is not to great and I'm hulking a fair bit of extra weight around...

Shold I set distance targets? Should I just do as much as I can each ride? How can I increase my endurance?

My furthest ride on the MTB is about 30 miles in maybe 5 hours (with a few leisurely stops). I'm sure I could top this onthe hybrid easily.

Thanks in advance :)
FCN Daily commute = 11
FCN Fixie commute = 5


  • sicrow
    sicrow Posts: 791
    just do a little more each time you go out first instead of the 3 mile commute do a five mile loop and get further and further soon the 30 miles in 5 hours will be 30 in under 2 hours - so the phrase goes the more you do the easier it gets
  • bill57
    bill57 Posts: 454
    I think you will find that contributors to the forum are going to be understandably cautious about replying to your questions. You say that you are not just overweight, but very overweight, and your fitness is obviously very low. Please don't be offended, but I think that someone in your situation should be taking advice from a medical practitioner, and perhaps nutritionist, before embarking on any kind of serious exercise program. To which I wish you the best of luck.
  • meanwhile
    meanwhile Posts: 392
    Subject to your GP's approval, some of the most effective training is high quality and limited duration work on hills. Find a good hill, climb, come back down, repeat for an hour. (Eventually) Do not rest except during the descents. Vary your ascending style - fast cadence seated, out of the saddle, etc. Build cardiovascular and leg muscle, burns huge calories. Hurts! Schedule at least a day of rest/easy riding between sessions.
  • Johnpwr
    Johnpwr Posts: 47
    Personally, I'd advise you to take it nice and easily to start with. You're not looking for performance here, so having made the committment towards losing weight, you may as well enjoy it as much as possible :)
    To that end I'd suggest that you don't have any need to go too hard or too far, just concentrate on getting a ride in and ensuring that you will be able to recover well before your next opportunity to get out on the bike; from a low fitness base and being overweight, the more you can do the better, but make it comfortable. When you are nearer your target weight and want to go longer or faster then ask more questions, but for now aim to ride 4-6 times a week in the comfort zone if possible.

    Time spent in the saddle will improve your endurance, but you have to set the agenda at least during the inital phase of building a base that you can then build on.

    Best of luck.
  • hodsgod
    hodsgod Posts: 226
    The "heavy beast" may actually be better to ride if you want to burn calories!! I have said this before, the best bike to burn calories on is a cheap one. If you can stand to ride it of course.
  • Jez mon
    Jez mon Posts: 3,809
    Depends, you might as well ride what you enjoy, as you'll ride it further and won't get frustrated!

    I would just go for a few relaxing rides, unless you need motivation, just go out for some rides and go as far as you want just enjoying your time on the bike. Setting yourself goals is very difficult, either they are too ambitious, in which case it is easy to get depressed, or not ambitious enough in which case you can take it too easy!

    So, just go out and enjoy riding the bike, only go out for a few (10 maybe) miles at first, just to get used to it. Once you've got used to riding 10 you could ride 15 and so on.

    The key thing is to enjoy riding the bike.
    You live and learn. At any rate, you live
  • DevUK
    DevUK Posts: 299
    Just to say, I may be over weight, but I can cope with 10 miles quite easily. My 3 mile commute involves a nasty hill on the way home. I can do the 3 miles in 10 minutes on a good day and depending on traffic...

    Anyway, appreciate the advice so far. I think I'll start to take the "long" way to work. I think I can drag it out to 5 miles quite easily. My problem is time keeping. I'm usually running late ;)
    FCN Daily commute = 11
    FCN Fixie commute = 5
  • Jez mon
    Jez mon Posts: 3,809
    Sorry I didn't mean it like that :oops:, but I hope you got the general gist, sorry if i offended you.

    Three miles in 10 minutes is 18mph, which is a good speed, better than my brother, who is very overweight, but cycles quite a bit could manage.

    I think the key thing is to keep it sensible, there is only one person that knows your body and thats you. Just keep it easy and don't go as hard as you possibly can (unless you're late :wink: )

    I think the key thing about mileage is to be sensible. If you really tried, I'm sure you could manage over 50 miles, but afterwards you probably wouldn't want to touch your bike for a while.
    You live and learn. At any rate, you live
  • DevUK
    DevUK Posts: 299
    Jez mon wrote:
    I think the key thing about mileage is to be sensible. If you really tried, I'm sure you could manage over 50 miles, but afterwards you probably wouldn't want to touch your bike for a while.

    I think that sums it up really. I don't want to be repelled from using my bike. I'm going to build up the mileage slowly and see how it goes :) Maybe then, after a while, I'll get a nice route with a little distance in it and start timing my ride and see if I can improve it over time :)
    FCN Daily commute = 11
    FCN Fixie commute = 5
  • Steve_F
    Steve_F Posts: 682
    It's the complete opposite from the post about intense hill work I know, but I tend to find that after a long steady ride (3 hours + in the saddle) the weight comes down the quickest. This may be as I'm not building as much muscle as with intense hill climbing but I find that if I do a ride like that during the weekend it gives a very good base for the week.

    Shame I couldn't get myself motivated to do any cycling this weekend :oops:
    Current steed is a '07 Carrera Banshee X
    + cheap road/commuting bike
  • madturkey
    madturkey Posts: 58
    If you want to increase overall fitness, and burn fat, training until it hurts is not going to be much help at first. Low intensity, decent length rides will burn off much more fat and build up a good base level to push harder later.

    If it really hurts / you're totally shattered after a ride then go a shorter distance next time. Pushing yourself into the ground is all very well if you're trying to be a racer but for general fitness gradual increases are much better.

    Best tip - try to have fun :D
  • vs4b
    vs4b Posts: 257
    I'm in a similar position to you. i'm not an expert but i have found over the course of the last couple of months that:

    1. getting out regularly is much more important than being quick or doing loads of miles.
    2. the more you do the easier it gets (this happens quickly too) 3months ago i used to struggle to do 8miles without a rest, now i do 15-20 three or four times a week.
    3. the more you go out the faster you get (i've gone from 11mph over 8miles to 15mph over 20)
    4. the more you go out the more you enjoy it and look forward to going again. like a virtuous circle
    5. If you are overweight hills will hurt but down hill will be lots of fun and v quick
    6. it is possible to be fat and fast in the right conditions (i did a 27min 10TT last night with a very strong tailwind!)
    7. I've lost nearly 2stone
    8. padded lycra shorts are essential (as it some non-padded shorts to wear over the top of them!)
  • DevUK
    DevUK Posts: 299
    Thanks for the tips :)

    I think what I will start to do is take the long way home from work. I have an old route I used to do a few years back when I first got my MTB which is about 7 miles. it passes by where I work so I think I'll just follow that. Some nice semi-country roads, though a bit busy at rush hour.
    FCN Daily commute = 11
    FCN Fixie commute = 5