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How do I improve.....

ProssPross Posts: 24,248
Having started back cycling after a 13 year break I'm finding that my rides are limited by struggling on hills. I am unable to push hard enough to really push myself on the cardio vascular front as my legs are just lacking in strength. Specifically my knees feel like they are going to buckle when I try to go hard uphill. It's frustrating as I'm not really pushing myself as hard as I'd like. I know I will obviously find hills a lot harder now as I'm about 3.5 stone heavier than before and don't have as much leg strength but the extent is surprising me.

Anyone got any suggestions on how to improve this area? Is it just a case of getting out and riding more hills, maybe shorter rides where I can really attack them and some power training on the turbo? At risk of stirring up a hornets nest would it help to do some specific weight work such as squats or leg presses?

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  • BikerbaboonBikerbaboon Posts: 1,017
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLBAbqEZIeU

    one leg squats can help with power.

    when you are saying that you are not pushing the CV side of things are you using a HRM? it could be your heart is just not giveing your legs the blood they need to give you the power.

    Good luck with hte training and remember Hills will never stop hurting you just go up them quicker.
    Nothing in life can not be improved with either monkeys, pirates or ninjas
    456
  • ProssPross Posts: 24,248


    one leg squats can help with power.

    when you are saying that you are not pushing the CV side of things are you using a HRM? it could be your heart is just not giveing your legs the blood they need to give you the power.

    Good luck with hte training and remember Hills will never stop hurting you just go up them quicker.

    Not using an HRM but on my last ride I was only slightly out of breath talking on a climb but as soon as I pressed harder on the pedals my knees / quads were buckling.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,286
    I'm in the same boat really, but after a longer lay-off. I got a bike with a triple and a closely spaced cassette so whatever the hill's like I can maintain a decent cadence. I use the hills as a kind of interval training, judging the effort so it's constant but I only just make it to the top, then recover going down the other side.

    I'm doing evening rides at the moment to take in 3 hills on a circular 15 mile route. I'll just use my time as an indication of improvement.

    Any chance you can shed any of the extra 3.5 stone? That's gotta help with climbing. Or are you, like me, looking to the cycling as a weight loss tool?
  • markos1963markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    Try hill repeats on a fairly easy hill at first. Start off at the bottom in a fairly easy gear then go up a gear and put a 30 sec hard effort in. Ease off back into the lower gear and recover a bit then repeat. If you do this at least once a week for about an hour or so you should see some improvement. Its what I did and I found it works for me. Every few weeks I would up the starting gear to push the traing along a bit. Of course I've now blown all of that out of the water now by going single speed and having to power up all the hills now!
  • softladsoftlad Posts: 3,587
    I will be back racing this year after many years out of the sport. It has probably taken me a good 12 months of riding to get to the stage where the preparation I am doing now is actually having a benefit...

    I put on 2.5 stone in the years after I stopped racing - but I found out pretty early on that simply riding a bike again was not enough to shift the weight in itself. For the first time ever, I actually had to diet...but it's working. I won't be back to my old weight come the end of March, but I will have shifted at least 1.5st of it. It takes more than a few rides to get your old form back... ;)
  • ProssPross Posts: 24,248
    keef66 wrote:
    I'm in the same boat really, but after a longer lay-off. I got a bike with a triple and a closely spaced cassette so whatever the hill's like I can maintain a decent cadence. I use the hills as a kind of interval training, judging the effort so it's constant but I only just make it to the top, then recover going down the other side.

    I'm doing evening rides at the moment to take in 3 hills on a circular 15 mile route. I'll just use my time as an indication of improvement.

    Any chance you can shed any of the extra 3.5 stone? That's gotta help with climbing. Or are you, like me, looking to the cycling as a weight loss tool?

    I'm working hard to shed the weight, got rid of 10lb in a few weeks before Christmas put a bit back on over Christmas but I'm still about half a stone down. I'm aiming to lose about another 1.5 stone which would put me at about 12.5 stone. Realistically I'll never get back to sub 11 stone and wouldn't want to. On the gearing side, I'm using a standard double with a smallest gear of 39 x 25. However, this is still way smaller than I've ever had before and I don't really get to the point where I need the lowest gear as I can still get up the hills I just can't keep up with others. I think I'll just get myself a short circuit with a decent hill and do repeats building up the number of circuits as I improve.
  • Pross wrote:
    Having started back cycling after a 13 year break I'm finding that my rides are limited by struggling on hills. I am unable to push hard enough to really push myself on the cardio vascular front as my legs are just lacking in strength. Specifically my knees feel like they are going to buckle when I try to go hard uphill. It's frustrating as I'm not really pushing myself as hard as I'd like. I know I will obviously find hills a lot harder now as I'm about 3.5 stone heavier than before and don't have as much leg strength but the extent is surprising me.

    Anyone got any suggestions on how to improve this area? Is it just a case of getting out and riding more hills, maybe shorter rides where I can really attack them and some power training on the turbo? At risk of stirring up a hornets nest would it help to do some specific weight work such as squats or leg presses?
    The limiters are metabolic and with not force production (the forces in riding a bike, even up hills are still very low) such that strength work in the gym (e.g. leg squats/press) isn't going to add a lot of value. It will have an affect if you are untrained, but far better to ride instead if you are choosing how to best use your limited training time.

    Fundamentally the best way to improve such cycling is to train more on a well fitted bike, with a sensible and progressive overload of both volume (duration) and intensity and to combine that with healthy balanced diet with a small but sustainable calorie deficit for the period where you are seeking to lose weight.

    Nothing wrong with doing other forms of exercise, but by far and away the best thing for improving cycling performance, is cycling and good diet and recovery as needed.
  • nmcgannnmcgann Posts: 1,780
    Pross wrote:
    Having started back cycling after a 13 year break I'm finding that my rides are limited by struggling on hills. I am unable to push hard enough to really push myself on the cardio vascular front as my legs are just lacking in strength. Specifically my knees feel like they are going to buckle when I try to go hard uphill. It's frustrating as I'm not really pushing myself as hard as I'd like. I know I will obviously find hills a lot harder now as I'm about 3.5 stone heavier than before and don't have as much leg strength but the extent is surprising me.

    Anyone got any suggestions on how to improve this area? Is it just a case of getting out and riding more hills, maybe shorter rides where I can really attack them and some power training on the turbo? At risk of stirring up a hornets nest would it help to do some specific weight work such as squats or leg presses?

    I'd just work at the hills as much as you can (at a steady pace) and do some riding where you are pushing a big gear for extended periods. I remember when I started riding "seriously" for the first time - I was using the lowest gear on my triple chainset on Cambridgeshire "hills" as my leg strength was so poor :roll:
    --
    "Because the cycling is pain. The cycling is soul crushing pain."
  • oldwelshmanoldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    Why worry about pushing hard on the hills? Just ride steady over them.
    You will improve as you ride more.
    On my routse whether I do a 40 mile or 90 mile ride I always end up doing 3 climbs at the end, each over a mile long.
    Now and again I will work hard on one or two of them at the end but generally ride over them steadily.
    The more intense work, I do either on the track or on the flatter parts pf the route.
    As you losse weight and gain power you will obviously get better on the climbs but I would not worry about it yet.
    I found the same as you when I stared back after 23 years off. Like you I have fond memories of climibing the welsh hills like Llangynyder and other on 42 19 at lowest :D
    Unfortunately with age, like srpinting your climbing will never be the same as when you were young though it will get better :D
  • ProssPross Posts: 24,248
    Cheers. The pushing on hills is just so that I can keep up on club runs and save people having to wait, getting cold, at the top of each hill. As you'll know there are quite a few here whatever direction you go! Might start doing a few circuits including Belmont Hill out of Caerleon, that should sort me out :shock:
  • ut_och_cyklaut_och_cykla Posts: 1,594
    Pross wrote:
    Cheers. The pushing on hills is just so that I can keep up on club runs and save people having to wait, getting cold, at the top of each hill. As you'll know there are quite a few here whatever direction you go! Might start doing a few circuits including Belmont Hill out of Caerleon, that should sort me out :shock:

    On club rides here in Sweden it is usual for those first to teh top to come back down to teh last struggler (me!) and ride up again (and agian if necessary!) until everyone is up - better training for the very fit and no chilling down and waiting.
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 7,137
    I reckon a lot of it is in the extra weight - even half a stone makes a noticeable difference for me so if you want to lose another one and a half I wouldn't worry too much about specific training until that part of it is sorted.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • I use a HRM on my commute and have found my commute times dropping by about 25%! This might be worth investing in.
    I also have a compact chainset it means that I can spin a bit more going uphill, which is making a lot of difference. Same as spinning at 100rpm on the flat helps, so it does on the hills.
    I definatly think riding is the best way to improve, you can use a turbo trainer of course, but the interval training (hard for 30secs, ease off, hard for 30secs, etc) will be a good thing to try too.
    I'm no profesional, just someone who wants to improve my riding.
    jedster wrote:
    Just off to contemplate my own mortality and inevitable descent into decrepedness.
    FCN 3 or 4 on road depending on clothing
    FCN 8 off road because I'm too old to go racing around.
  • oldwelshmanoldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    Wow a HRM that improves speed I have to get one of those what model is it ? :D:wink:
  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    Pross wrote:
    Having started back cycling after a 13 year break I'm finding that my rides are limited by struggling on hills. I am unable to push hard enough to really push myself on the cardio vascular front as my legs are just lacking in strength. Specifically my knees feel like they are going to buckle when I try to go hard uphill.

    If you can't push harder, but feel you can go faster, then sort your gearing out. A wider cassette, a compact chainset, anything to give you a few more gears to play with to keep your legs turning over without the need to push the knees hard.
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • nolfnolf Posts: 2,016
    Sounds like you're just a bit overgeared...
    Try spinning more maybe?

    Also try going out of the saddle. It may help take some of the weight off your knee (thats a hypothesis with no evidence, but can't hurt to try...).
    "I hold it true, what'er befall;
    I feel it, when I sorrow most;
    'Tis better to have loved and lost;
    Than never to have loved at all."

    Alfred Tennyson
  • oldwelshmanoldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    nolf wrote:
    Sounds like you're just a bit overgeared...
    Try spinning more maybe?

    Also try going out of the saddle. It may help take some of the weight off your knee (thats a hypothesis with no evidence, but can't hurt to try...).
    Spinning faster wont help him, he is old school racer just looking for sympathy :D
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