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Long low level rides

Si CSi C Posts: 130
Just to confuse myself a little more...does anyone believe that there is any value in 3-4 hour rides at level 1?

My average week consists of around 8 hours training. 3 hours of which is a road ride at low level. I'm really begining to question if this is doing anything at all, apart from giving me an easy 3 hours with no real agenda.
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  • I went and got lab tested in August. Part of the test showed I changed from burning fat to carbs when I was riding even at fairly low intensities. This is measured by wearing a gas mask when you do a ramp test. This means I would struggle for energy on long hard sportives as the carbs in your body are limited.

    On the first pic below you can see the RQ value which is the measurement against power during the test. When the value moves to 1 I am burning carbs instead of fat.

    r1.jpg

    I had to do 3-4 hr level 1 rides as part of my training schedule to try to improve my fat burning efficiency.

    I had another test done 2 weeks ago and now have a completely different set of results. You can now see the curve where I change to a 1 value is at a far higher power value (it is also at a far higher HR but that data isn't on this graph)

    r2.jpg
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    Interesting! However as I see it the body doesn't suddenly stop using fat, it just starts using carbs as well. In fact you are always using carbs, it's just at different intensities you use different proportions of each as an energy source.

    lvl 1-2 rides are good for me as they burn plenty calories without affecting my ability to do harder sessions. Therefore they are much better for me than a day off (although I still have a couple of days off a week)
  • @NapD. Yes you are right in you burn fat + carbs.

    What would be more accurate is if I said when changing to a R value of 1 in these graphs your body has switched to carb + fat burning i.e. it is having to use the extra carb fuel resources you can provide.
    Once these limited carb resources have gone and are no longer available as a fuel then you will only be able to rely on fat. As this is very slow burning if your body is not good at processing it then you will start getting an energy defecit. The L1 rides I did were to improve this fat burning efficiency. Get your body to work without the carbs.

    Through eating, etc on a long ride your body can only take in approx 300 calories/hour (even if you've eaten way more). On a hard sportive I burn about 1000 calories/hr. If as I was doing previously and not using my fat resources effeciently I would end up in a huge energy defecit.

    On a shorter ride it is isn't noticeable. On a 9 hour Etape I end up in the medical tent :oops: I'm hoping this year to see a difference.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    edited December 2010
    Jesus! 1000cal/hr! I just about manage that in a 1hr race!
  • SBezzaSBezza Posts: 2,173
    If the 3 hour ride is easy, make it harder :wink: . Not sure what the percentage of MaxHR you are using for your level 1 rides, but for 3 hours, I would be on the upper end of my level 1 and slightly into tempo level.

    For me easy rides are recovery rides, and maybe a hour max Depends if you are doing the long rides building a decent base, or just as a weight lose thing. If you can manage 3 hours at a harder pace you will use more calories, and hence lose weight faster, than doing a slower ride, and perhaps using a slightly higher percentage of fat.

    As NapD says, you use a combination of fat and glycogen for aerobic intensities, it is just the various percentages of each that change.
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 8,640
    lochindaal wrote:
    On a hard sportive I burn about 1000 calories/hr.


    I don't want to get into a whole debate about cals per hour, but that seems a little high. Where are you getting this figure from? And do you have any idea of what sort of power you are putting out?

    I've never achieved 1000 cals an hour - and I race! So curious as to what it takes to get to that level.
  • SBezzaSBezza Posts: 2,173
    edited December 2010
    NapoleonD wrote:
    Jesus! 1000cal/hr! I just about manage that in a 1hr race!

    Jeff did say that was about 280W, so if you can manage this for a few hours it does seem possible. My Garmin must seriously under read though, even a 2 hour tempo ride it calculates I have only used about 1100 calories. I am pretty sure I do these at over 200W, though I will soon see LOL.

    I highly doubt you would do 9 hours at this sort of pace though, as when in a bunch, your power will likely be well low, and hence you are not using anywhere near 1k an hour.

    Your body can only process about 60gms of carbs per hour, but even this is enough to keep you topped up. The more you do longer rides the more the body gets used to glycogen sparing from my experience.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    SBezza wrote:
    NapoleonD wrote:
    Jesus! 1000cal/hr! I just about manage that in a 1hr race!

    Jeff did say that was about 280W, so if you can manage this for a few hours it does seem possible. My Garmin must seriously under read though, even a 2 hour tempo ride it calculates I have only used about 1100 calories. I am pretty sure I do these at over 200W, though I will soon see LOL.

    Not saying it's impossible, just impressive!
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 8,640
    200w an hour usually nets me around 1250 kJ


    I missed the part where he said he was doing Sportives at 280w an hour. That is racing wattage - not Sportive wattage!!
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    Just looked at some race data from 6th March - 1hr 12 mins, 1073kcals, 249 ave watts.
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 8,640
    NapoleonD wrote:
    Just looked at some race data from 6th March - 1hr 12 mins, 1073kcals, 249 ave watts.


    Actual or Normalized?
  • SBezzaSBezza Posts: 2,173
    Pokerface wrote:
    200w an hour usually nets me around 1250 kJ


    I missed the part where he said he was doing Sportives at 280w an hour. That is racing wattage - not Sportive wattage!!

    He didn't say :lol: , I was just saying it is 280W according to Jeff, and if he is a rider that can do sportives at 280W an hour, he can burn that sort of calories. :lol:

    Now whether he can sustain 280W an hour for the duration of a sportive is another thing. Like you say that is alot of peoples racing wattage.

    I do find it funny how people get to 1k an hour based on HRM and the like, I have never got 1k an hour even when racing on my HRM. Like you say only a PM will give you anywhere near accurate information of energy used.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    Pokerface wrote:
    NapoleonD wrote:
    Just looked at some race data from 6th March - 1hr 12 mins, 1073kcals, 249 ave watts.


    Actual or Normalized?

    Actual. Picked this as you did the same race.
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 8,640
    NapoleonD wrote:
    Pokerface wrote:
    NapoleonD wrote:
    Just looked at some race data from 6th March - 1hr 12 mins, 1073kcals, 249 ave watts.


    Actual or Normalized?

    Actual. Picked this as you did the same race.

    I thought so. However - I was a little bit further back than you!! Then again, you spent more time in the bunch while my censored was hanging out in the wind. :)


    I can't imagine riding that pace (or harder) for more than a few hours!
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    Just looked again, if I ditch the cool down it was 260 average over 1hr 8 mins.
  • incog24incog24 Posts: 549
    SBezza wrote:
    Your body can only process about 60gms of carbs per hour, but even this is enough to keep you topped up. The more you do longer rides the more the body gets used to glycogen sparing from my experience.

    90grms if you use a 2:1 glucose/sucrose mix. Quite handy on long events!
    Racing for Fluid Fin Race Team in 2012 - www.fluidfin.co.uk
  • Karl2010Karl2010 Posts: 511
    lochindaal

    Where did you get lab tested? And was it a V02 Max test?
  • SBezzaSBezza Posts: 2,173
    incog24 wrote:
    SBezza wrote:
    Your body can only process about 60gms of carbs per hour, but even this is enough to keep you topped up. The more you do longer rides the more the body gets used to glycogen sparing from my experience.

    90grms if you use a 2:1 glucose/sucrose mix. Quite handy on long events!

    I thought it was fructose and glucose, but yes you can cram a little more in based on how each is metabolised but you still only top up the levels and alot of the energy at a lower level will be fat.

    I was quite amazed how little food I ate on the 12 hour TT I did this year. I mainly drank because it was too much hard work to eat, I probably only got about 50-60 gms of carbs in each hour, but was still riding fairly strong at the end of the event. In fact the last 4 hours or so was just drinks and gels.
  • Karl2010Karl2010 Posts: 511
    I thought the harder you pushed it the more protine (muscle) you would use up.

    Fat is realy slow to matabolise (apparently) to use as fuel, so the body prefers carbs and protine (muscle)..
  • lochindaal wrote:
    @NapD. Yes you are right in you burn fat + carbs.

    What would be more accurate is if I said when changing to a R value of 1 in these graphs your body has switched to carb + fat burning i.e. it is having to use the extra carb fuel resources you can provide.
    You are using carbs doing nothing. Indeed at very light levels of exercise (provided we are not glycogen depleted) we are using nearly 50% carbs as fuel. We could not survive without burning some carbs (e.g. our brain can only use glycogen for fuel).
    lochindaal wrote:
    Once these limited carb resources have gone and are no longer available as a fuel then you will only be able to rely on fat.
    That's true.
    lochindaal wrote:
    As this is very slow burning if your body is not good at processing it then you will start getting an energy defecit.
    Your body is very good at processing fats for fuel, it does so all the time.
    lochindaal wrote:
    The L1 rides I did were to improve this fat burning efficiency. Get your body to work without the carbs.
    The efficiency of the conversion of FFA is not affected by training. It's a chemical equation that doesn't magically change.

    What we do want to do is train to lift our power at threshold, as that increases both the absolute and relative power at which we begin to significantly rely on glycogen (carbs) as fuel. Fats can only be metabolised aerobically, whereas glycogen can be used both aerobically and anaerobically. The anaerobic process is very inefficient (relative to aerobic), which is why surges of effort above threshold hurt our long range performance so much, as they "burn" through a lot of glycogen in a short time.

    Hence why when we deplete glycogen stores we are forced to slow down. To improve out ability to use fats at higher power outputs, we need to improve our key aerobic metabolic support structures.

    L1 (recovery) level riding is in fact the most inefficient use of training time if you want to do this. It's one of the great training myths.
  • sods_lawsods_law Posts: 161
    To add my limited knowledge (in as few words as possible):

    The point of low intensity training is to build your aerobic base. If you look at a Ramp Test graph, you will have a horizontal (ish) line at low intensities, which then dives as your work rate increases. The ramp test can also plot your HR zones against this etc (these can be changed through training). Where the line dives (in zones 3-4), this is your anerobic threshold.

    The principle is that by training at lower intensities, the horizontal line on the graph will extend into higher heart rates, and your anerobic threshold will come at a higher heart rate, as your body can work aereobically at higher intensities. Your HR zones then also shift towards higher heart rates (eg, Zone 1 might not even start until 70% of max).

    The benefit of this is that your body will utilise fat stores as the primary energy source for longer (which the body has enough stores of to last months), as opposed to glycogen stores in the muscles (which the body will use in 60-90 mins).

    As extreme examples, I have seen a graph where someone was able to do 10 mile TTs aerobically, but the real benefit in road racing is that it means for 80% of a race, you an operate in your fat burning zone, and then save the 60mins of glycogen (super fuel), for when it is needed...

    A quick google also came up with this: http://www.trifuel.com/training/triathl ... get-faster

    Edit: Obv this is base training, not power training, which is also required, but takes much less time to achieve
  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    sods_law wrote:
    The principle is that by training at lower intensities, the horizontal line on the graph will extend into higher heart rates, and your anerobic threshold will come at a higher heart rate, as your body can work aereobically at higher intensities. Your HR zones then also shift towards higher heart rates (eg, Zone 1 might not even start until 70% of max).

    So the question is what physiological change results in that? And how is that driven by riding at low intensities. I have never been able to find or had anyone say what the physiological changes are that driven by such training. All changes that might happen will also happen at harder aerobic intensities, and they'll happen on a lighter load.
    sods_law wrote:
    As extreme examples, I have seen a graph where someone was able to do 10 mile TTs aerobically

    Um, so can I, so can anyone, but it's utterly pointless as it means they could go faster if they worked at a higher intensity.
    sods_law wrote:
    A quick google also came up with this: http://www.trifuel.com/training/triathl ... get-faster

    At least he mentions the physiological changes:
    "Other adaptations of aerobic training include increased stroke volume of the heart, capillary density, and mitochondrial density."

    but you seem to have misunderstood it because as Alex said all those changes are also driven at higher intensities. But that article is not suggesting riding around in anyones zone 1 !
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • @Karl210 I got tested at the Endurance Coach at St. Helens http://www.theendurancecoach.com/ and yes it includes a V02 max. I paid for the annual program which includes 3 tests over the course of the year to monitor your results.
    http://www.theendurancecoach.com/product.php/147/36/cycling_annual_sports_science_support___vo2_max_testing

    From the same test I also got my KCal/hr so on the ramp test I go from 830/hr at 150W to 1300/hr at 400W. I should also say I am 40 and only started cycling 3 years ago. Previously I never did endurance sports so it could relate to me being inneficient on a bike!

    In relation to all the L1 discusions all I can say is it worked for me and I have the data to show it.

    Maybe defining the L1 zone should also included. My training zones are
    zone.jpg
  • Karl2010Karl2010 Posts: 511
    lochindaal
    Thanks for that. Its not far from me. Its somthing ill look into when i get back to regular training.

    By the way. Last year i spent alot of time on an excercise bike in the gym i tried to keep my Heart Rate @ 125bpm (low level) everytime. I started off on level 14 on the exercise bike and after about 5 months i ended up on level 17, but my Heart Rate stayed at 125bpm. This meens i was producing more watts for the same effort.

    I took this as an improvement in fitness. I also lost lots of body fat.

    So like you i would also agree that Low Level training is good. Like someone said, "go slower, to go faster"
  • SBezzaSBezza Posts: 2,173
    Karl2010 wrote:
    By the way. Last year i spent alot of time on an excercise bike in the gym i tried to keep my Heart Rate @ 125bpm (low level) everytime. I started off on level 14 on the exercise bike and after about 5 months i ended up on level 17, but my Heart Rate stayed at 125bpm. This meens i was producing more watts for the same effort.

    I took this as an improvement in fitness. I also lost lots of body fat.

    So like you i would also agree that Low Level training is good. Like someone said, "go slower, to go faster"

    You might have got to level 17 or higher in a shorter time by riding harder. Low level rides have their place, but you need to mix the training up, not just focus on one style of training. You need intensity in your training to get the ultimate best from yourself, as well as building a good base.
  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    SBezza wrote:
    You might have got to level 17 or higher in a shorter time by riding harder.

    This is the main thing - most people on here will see massive improvement from anything that involves sitting on a bike and pedalling. Indeed the difference between the best and the average training for them when they're untrained to start with will be miniscule (the limits will be on how fast the body can build the adaptations not how much you can drive them by generating the overload)

    Everything works!
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • DaveyLDaveyL Posts: 5,167
    I think these steady rides are good - if you have the time. As JJ pointed out above, if you are relatively new, then any sort of riding will help, and I would suggest that if you only (ha ha) have 7-8 hours a week to train, you could probably spend most of those hours going as hard as you can for the duration of the session.

    Having started using a powermeter a couple of years ago, one thing I realised is that there is some truth to the maxim "People don't do the hard stuff hard enough and the easy stuff easy enough" - I'd half agree with that. I think in many cases people don't do the easy stuff hard enough. From watching my powermeter, I found that on these long steady rides (~3-4 hr) and especially in a group situation, I would spend a lot of time just p!ssing about in the active recovery zone. Doing a proper endurance zone ride for 3-4 hour ought to leave you feeling pretty tired, and certainly, for me, takes a lot of concentration to keep the effort up. Then they can be useful - if you have ~10 h or more a week to train. My opinion.
    Le Blaireau (1)
  • Don`t really understand any of this, if I want to loose fat am I better off doing long zone 1 rides or shorter more intense rides.
    Cervelo S5 Team 2012
    Scott Addict R2 2010
    Specialized Rockhopper Comp SL 2010
    Kona Tanuki Supreme
  • SBezzaSBezza Posts: 2,173
    golfergmc wrote:
    Don`t really understand any of this, if I want to loose fat am I better off doing long zone 1 rides or shorter more intense rides.

    If you have the time, do long harder rides :wink: It isn't just about fat burning, you just need to make sure calories in is less than calories out, and you will lose bodyfat. Eat a good balanced diet, and I doubt even with restricting foods you will lose much muscle.

    I would do a mixture of training intensities, you get the maximum out of the time available then.
  • sods_law wrote:
    The point of low intensity training is to build your aerobic base. If you look at a Ramp Test graph, you will have a horizontal (ish) line at low intensities, which then dives as your work rate increases. The ramp test can also plot your HR zones against this etc (these can be changed through training). Where the line dives (in zones 3-4), this is your anerobic threshold.
    OK, well your level 1 is lower Level aerobic conditioning. Yes, right to define the levels for these discussions, since, e.g., Level 1 in some training systems is recovery level riding.

    Level 1 for my training is similar to yours, although I suspect your lower end is a bit too low.

    By the way, the "Anaerobic Threshold" is neither. It's a complete misnomer in many ways. But we won't go there!
    sods_law wrote:
    The benefit of this is that your body will utilise fat stores as the primary energy source for longer (which the body has enough stores of to last months), as opposed to glycogen stores in the muscles (which the body will use in 60-90 mins).
    Your body, provided you don't start out glycogen depleted, has sufficient glycogen for ~ 90-min of very hard riding. If you ride easy (such as your Level 1) then you will use glycogen at a much lower rate.

    But guess what? That 60-90 min of very hard riding will have a far more significant impact on your aerobic conditioning than 2-3 hrs of tootling along at the low end of level 1.

    As jibberjim points out, the physiological changes that are induced to improve our aerobic condition are induced by training at all levels above recovery. The rate of that change is faster the more time we spend at higher intensities.
    sods_law wrote:
    As extreme examples, I have seen a graph where someone was able to do 10 mile TTs aerobically, but the real benefit in road racing is that it means for 80% of a race, you an operate in your fat burning zone, and then save the 60mins of glycogen (super fuel), for when it is needed...
    Every 10-mile TT ever ridden was ridden in the "aerobic "zone". It's an aerobic sport.

    Glycogen is converted to ATP both through aerobic and anaerobic glycolysis.

    Yes, we would deplete our anaerobic work capacity as well during such a hard ride, but AWC is tiny in comparison to the energy derived via aerobic metabolism for such an event.

    You are correct that the point of training to improve your power at threshold, which means you can save glycogen for the high end efforts when the selections are made. but just doing low end L1 riding ain't gunna cut it.
    sods_law wrote:
    A quick google also came up with this: http://www.trifuel.com/training/triathl ... get-faster
    woah!
    By increasing capillary density we can effectively transport more blood to the working muscles. The process of building capillaries occurs gradually.
    That bit's OK.
    Because high stress training breaks down capillaries, base training is best for allowing the slow growth of capillaries.
    wow, what a load of exploding capillaries bunkum. That's another great training myth.

    Does he cite any evidence to support such a ridiculous claim?
    also incorporate specific strength training at an aerobic level. This entails different types of low cadence cycling
    Oh dear. The old low cadence improves strength myth.
    The area between the top of the aerobic threshold and anaerobic threshold is somewhat of a no mans land of fitness. It is a mix of aerobic and anaerobic states. For the amount of effort the athlete puts forth, not a whole lot of fitness is produced. It does not train the aerobic or anaerobic energy system to a high degree.
    Oh my, does this silly "no man's land" rubbish still get airtime?

    Time spent near threshold is some of the most productive time one can spend on a bike. Hard tempo through to threshold efforts will do much more for aerobic condition in a shorter time.


    As Jibberjim said, getting out and riding will more than likely help improve fitness. usually topography forces you to do efforts above level 1 anyway. Pretty hard to ride hills at Level 1.

    If you are new, just starting out, or returning from a long lay off, then sure 2-3 weeks of easy to moderate level riding is sensible to start with. But after that, you'll want to start including some time at hard tempo/threshold Levels into it. It might only be 20-30 min in the early stages, but the proportion of such work will need to climb, over time.

    That assumes of course that you want to significantly improve fitness, and are not just out for smell the roses bike rides.
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