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Using a watt bike to progress

redrabbitredrabbit Posts: 88
edited February 2015 in Road beginners
My gym has a Matrix MyRide trainer. It's basically very similar to a watt bike. It measures power output and has a big LCD screen to show a virtual road.

I'm more into powerlifting however training for an 85 mile road event in June.

I've realised my power is terrible (ironically) and Im just very slow. I don't care about speed however i do want to cope better on hills, be stronger and better. I notice that basically everyone overtakes me.

I will obviously train on road bike. I sometimes go mountain biking too. But in the mornings around 6 I want to go to
The gym for around 30 mins.

I thought of maybe 1-2 times a week doing a 30 min cycle and trying to increase average power each time.

Do you think this is a good idea?

Posts

  • giropaulgiropaul Posts: 414
    I would look at the Wattbike web site and download their programme for the aims you have. I'd say that you need to work on cadence as well as power, and endurance as well for your 85 miles.
  • w00dsterw00dster Posts: 879
    I was in a similar predicament to yourself a few years ago, I'm an ex Rugby League player and was very much into my powerlifting. Powerlifting and road cycling are complete opposites, especially for getting up hills on the bike. I've gone down from 95kgs (at 5ft 8) to 73kgs. I hated hills when I was still lifting, now I'm lighter I still hate hills but I can get up them quicker.
    Anyway back to the question. A Watt bike is a pretty useful tool to aid and monitor progress, however I would say for you being out in the saddle would be more beneficial. If you could extend the 30mins you were going to do on the Watt bike by another 30 mins and ride for an hour? Then on a weekend try and get a good long ride in, building up to 3/4 hours in the saddle. It is a time commitment but to get stronger on the bike you need to put the time in.
    Doing a total of 1 hour a week on the Watt Bike may help you a small amount, you may increase your cardio fitness a small amount, but in terms of your situation and wanting to be stronger for an 84 mile ride, I would say its not the best tool for that purpose.
    Good luck with the training though and hope you enjoy the ride.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    I take it you are probably a big lad if you are doing power lifting.If so then lightness for climbing is not on your side. (Not suggesting fat - muscle weighs more anyway)

    It would probably be a good start to work on pedal action and cadence for climbing. You tend to find that getting up long climbs is more about keeping a steady rhythm and pedaling in a gear you feel you can maintain for long periods. If you go to hard at the bottom you will be blowing up well before you reach the top. Power is not as important as general CV fitness when it comes to climbing.
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    Any idea what your %fat / %lean mass ratio is? If you've got fat to spare, dropping it is the best way to go quicker. If you haven't then you are stuck with the physics of big heavy powerful muscles going round and round.

    So.. If you can drop weight drop it. if not use the wattbikes to improve pedal stroke (efficiency), then look at some sprint/interval work to get your cadence up. If you are doing big weights you should have reasonable cardio, so its really about the weight of your muscles working against you. I do weights too and just accept it slow me down as a cyclist.

    You could try climbing in a bigger gear where you can get more strength down. But ultimately the skinny buggers are always going to get away from you on a climb even if they are physically less fit.

    I'm an MTBer too, and while Road riding is good for MTB it doesn't work the other way around IMO. Unless you can set your MTB up to be pretty small, stiff and sprint everywhere.
  • giropaul wrote:
    I would look at the Wattbike web site and download their programme for the aims you have. I'd say that you need to work on cadence as well as power, and endurance as well for your 85 miles.

    That's a good idea, I will go to the site today. In September I did a 50 mile ride, although that was quite flat compared to the Velothon on Wales which is hilly and longer, so quite a lot of training to get done.
    w00dster wrote:
    I was in a similar predicament to yourself a few years ago, I'm an ex Rugby League player and was very much into my powerlifting. Powerlifting and road cycling are complete opposites, especially for getting up hills on the bike. I've gone down from 95kgs (at 5ft 8) to 73kgs. I hated hills when I was still lifting, now I'm lighter I still hate hills but I can get up them quicker.
    Anyway back to the question. A Watt bike is a pretty useful tool to aid and monitor progress, however I would say for you being out in the saddle would be more beneficial. If you could extend the 30mins you were going to do on the Watt bike by another 30 mins and ride for an hour? Then on a weekend try and get a good long ride in, building up to 3/4 hours in the saddle. It is a time commitment but to get stronger on the bike you need to put the time in.
    Doing a total of 1 hour a week on the Watt Bike may help you a small amount, you may increase your cardio fitness a small amount, but in terms of your situation and wanting to be stronger for an 84 mile ride, I would say its not the best tool for that purpose.
    Good luck with the training though and hope you enjoy the ride.

    Interesting to know that others have been in a similar position, as I know that lifting and cycling are basically opposites! Impressive also being 95kgs at 5ft 8in. I'm the same height but only about 82kg. Hills are definitely my weakness, and I lose all power when I really get far into a ride. As I head home my legs are basically like lead and unable to really put any power into the pedals.

    Good idea extending the cycling duration. I'm trying to lose a bit of weight and lean up firstly. I'd like to get my 6pack exposed (not being vain... but it CAN just be a good indication of bf% and fitness I think).
    I take it you are probably a big lad if you are doing power lifting.If so then lightness for climbing is not on your side. (Not suggesting fat - muscle weighs more anyway)

    It would probably be a good start to work on pedal action and cadence for climbing. You tend to find that getting up long climbs is more about keeping a steady rhythm and pedaling in a gear you feel you can maintain for long periods. If you go to hard at the bottom you will be blowing up well before you reach the top. Power is not as important as general CV fitness when it comes to climbing.

    I'm bulky up top, very shoulder heavy and quite thick arms and legs. However I'm not huge... I'd describe myself as stocky. However, I am trying to lose fat as I am carrying a tiny bit around the stomach, especially love handles!

    Thanks for the comments, I've read up on technique and I think you're right. A good rhythm and also posture I've read can help you climb hills, so will remember that when training!
    diy wrote:
    Any idea what your %fat / %lean mass ratio is? If you've got fat to spare, dropping it is the best way to go quicker. If you haven't then you are stuck with the physics of big heavy powerful muscles going round and round.

    So.. If you can drop weight drop it. if not use the wattbikes to improve pedal stroke (efficiency), then look at some sprint/interval work to get your cadence up. If you are doing big weights you should have reasonable cardio, so its really about the weight of your muscles working against you. I do weights too and just accept it slow me down as a cyclist.

    You could try climbing in a bigger gear where you can get more strength down. But ultimately the skinny buggers are always going to get away from you on a climb even if they are physically less fit.

    I'm an MTBer too, and while Road riding is good for MTB it doesn't work the other way around IMO. Unless you can set your MTB up to be pretty small, stiff and sprint everywhere.

    I think I have a high bf%, probably around 20. I'm trying to get that down and by the summer would love to be around 12-14%. As above, exposing my 6 pack is ideal, and losing the love handles is a definite. Alcohol is a weakness of mine, however since boxing day I haven't had a drop, so will try and keep off it, or at least make it a rare treat.

    I know I'll never be built like a cyclist. I don't really want to be like that, happy being a gym monkey, however I do want to perform a bit better. 84 miles is a long way I think, and I'd like to enjoy it, not just drag myself round and collapse at the end. It's also nice having something to work towards, so in the coming months will build up the distances gradually. I have a 42 mile sportive in March which is part of my preparation.

    Mountain biking isn't part of the training, I just do it for fun, only once a month really, not often, especially in this weather. I think it's good for general cardio and aerobic fitness, but I do realise it's no ultimately going to help my road performance.

    Thanks for your help, really useful stuff
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,019
    redrabbit wrote:
    Mountain biking isn't part of the training, I just do it for fun, only once a month really, not often, especially in this weather. I think it's good for general cardio and aerobic fitness, but I do realise it's no ultimately going to help my road performance.

    Any general cardio and aerobic fitness will help your road performance - of course it will. That is fundamentally what gets you up hills - or anywhere else on a bike.

    If I was you I wouldn't stress over your power output - just concentrate on riding your bike (as opposed to going to the gym) as regularly and as often as you can.
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    This pic is quite a good guide on %fat/%lmm
    http://cdn.builtlean.com/wp-content/upl ... ge-men.jpg

    Though personally I think the guy at 20% is probably a bit leaner. if you are in to weight training once you get under 15% very little you can do to be honest. But the difference between 20% and 12% is going to be close to the difference between riding an MTB and a road bike.

    EDIT: removed embedded image to make worksafe ;)

    The other thing I would do - is stretch properly - your range can get quite limited if you do big weights and don't manage the growth properly.
  • Imposter wrote:
    redrabbit wrote:
    Mountain biking isn't part of the training, I just do it for fun, only once a month really, not often, especially in this weather. I think it's good for general cardio and aerobic fitness, but I do realise it's no ultimately going to help my road performance.

    Any general cardio and aerobic fitness will help your road performance - of course it will. That is fundamentally what gets you up hills - or anywhere else on a bike.

    If I was you I wouldn't stress over your power output - just concentrate on riding your bike (as opposed to going to the gym) as regularly and as often as you can.

    Thanks, it's good to know that the cardio will help overall. I don't expect miracles, but want some confidence in completing the course. It's daunting to think of doing 84 miles over hilly terrain.

    This is the route: http://www.velothon-wales.co.uk/en/the- ... ive/route/

    It's actually 74 miles, and a total climb of 1403 metres.

    diy wrote:
    This pic is quite a good guide on %fat/%lmm
    http://cdn.builtlean.com/wp-content/upl ... ge-men.jpg

    Though personally I think the guy at 20% is probably a bit leaner. if you are in to weight training once you get under 15% very little you can do to be honest. But the difference between 20% and 12% is going to be close to the difference between riding an MTB and a road bike.

    EDIT: removed embedded image to make worksafe ;)

    The other thing I would do - is stretch properly - your range can get quite limited if you do big weights and don't manage the growth properly.

    From that pic, I'm probably around 20% BF.

    One thing I am good at is stretching and mobility. I do A LOT of stretching, foam rolling, yoga, that sort of stuff. So i will keep on with that.

    I'd like to be more lean just for my own health really. Would love to be about 12% ideally.
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    redrabbit wrote:

    This is the route: http://www.velothon-wales.co.uk/en/the- ... ive/route/

    It's actually 74 miles, and a total climb of 1403 metres.

    Don't worry - just ride your bike and watch what you eat - you'll be fine 4600ft climb over that distance shouldn't be that hard as long as you put some effort in to building the miles and fuel/hydrate yourself properly on the day.
  • It has to be remembered that hill climbing is all about power to weight ratio (watts per kg), you can improve that by improving your power (hard), or dropping your weight (v. hard!), the only real way it to do both.

    That's often why sprinters aren't good climbers, and vice-versa.
  • norvernrobnorvernrob Posts: 1,410
    The good news is the Velothon Wales isn't actually very hilly - 4600ft over that distance isn't a great deal anyway, but there are two big climbs making up a lot of that.

    So yes, you're going to suffer on those climbs buts it's only a few miles. Weight doesn't matter on the flat and you'll be fine. At 67kg I'm looking forward to the climbs as that's where I'll catch the bigger lads that left me on the flat! :D
  • JayKostaJayKosta Posts: 635
    Training on the Matrix bike can be very useful for improving endurance and strength.
    I use one at my local fitness center. I use the power (watts) display as my pacing guide during a training session, and the Calorie display at the end of the session as a guide to amount of work done during the session. I don't bother with the speed or distance displays.
    I keep track of the Calorie results and use it as a guide as to when I need more rest days. If the session Calorie results start going down or long plateau, then I'll take a little more rest until the next session.

    Find a resistance level setting that allows you to pedal fairly quickly, but that makes you know you are working and doesn't cause you to 'bog down'.
    For endurance find the resistance that you can maintain for an entire 30 to 60 minute session.
    For strength, start at an easy resistance, and each minute or two increase the resistance 1 level, when you get to a level that is quite difficult to maintain drop back to the starting level (for recovery) and repeat the process.

    If your gym also has a Matrix Ascent Trainer (elliptical) you can try that also by setting the 'incline' to about a 70 setting - to feel more like the pedaling motion.

    Jay Kosta
    Endwell NY USA
  • w00dsterw00dster Posts: 879
    Whilst I agree with Jay's post regarding Matrix trainers being useful, we need to bear in mind the OPs current training.
    Continuing to powerlift and try and improve cycling (especailly hills) are contradictory to each other. Using a bike replacement to train on, again seems to be fairly pointless.
    I would say the OP needs to have a think about his goals, if the goal is weightlifting and improving his cardio, then using the Watt Bike / Matrix trainer along with his normal lifting is fine. I'm no expert but I do think that genuine powerlifting might be an issue. The rep ranges in powerlifting are very small, you are effectively training your muscles to be very explosive over a very short period of time (seconds). My body, central nervous system and musculatory system, would be a mess after training, I also know that cardio before a powerlifting session would impact my ability to perform for that session.
    In terms of the goal of getting stronger on the 86 mile ride, 30 mins once or twice a week may help with Cardio to an extent. But there is nothing better for cycling training than being out on the bike. The Watt bike doesn't help you with experience of gearing, winds, hills, fuelling and reading the terrain. I'd forget the Watt Bike for now and get out riding - get out of bed earlier and make your rides an hour. Mix up interval sessions with hill repeats.
    Can you also ride at the weekends, starting with smallish rides and increasing them each weekend? Being comfortable and confident and knowing how to correctly pace yourself (gearing and cadence on an actual bike in actual outdoor conditions) are very important.
  • il_principeil_principe Posts: 9,146
    Ditch the Wattgubbins and get out on your bike. There is no substitute for that and riding a Wattbike cannot mimic the effort it takes to climb. Also when you are 50 miles from home you can't give up and climb off, whereas with the wattbike...
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  • bigmatbigmat Posts: 5,111
    Ditch the Wattgubbins and get out on your bike. There is no substitute for that and riding a Wattbike cannot mimic the effort it takes to climb. Also when you are 50 miles from home you can't give up and climb off, whereas with the wattbike...

    30 minutes at X power is 30 minutes at X power, whether you are on a Watt Bike, Matrix, turbo or out on the open roads. Similarly, 30 minutes at X power is the same whether you are riding uphill, downhill, indoors, outdoors etc. If the gym bike is the easiest way for you to fit in more time in the saddle then go for it. I would say though that 2 x 30mins a week is unlikely to get you very far. Maybe try 2 x 20 sessions 3 times a week with a longer ride once a week if you can manage it.
  • il_principeil_principe Posts: 9,146
    bigmat wrote:
    Ditch the Wattgubbins and get out on your bike. There is no substitute for that and riding a Wattbike cannot mimic the effort it takes to climb. Also when you are 50 miles from home you can't give up and climb off, whereas with the wattbike...

    30 minutes at X power is 30 minutes at X power, whether you are on a Watt Bike, Matrix, turbo or out on the open roads. Similarly, 30 minutes at X power is the same whether you are riding uphill, downhill, indoors, outdoors etc. If the gym bike is the easiest way for you to fit in more time in the saddle then go for it. I would say though that 2 x 30mins a week is unlikely to get you very far. Maybe try 2 x 20 sessions 3 times a week with a longer ride once a week if you can manage it.

    Sorry I've not made my point very clear. Climbing/Cycling isn't just about the numbers, its a mental game as well. If you practice out on the road in the wind/cold/rain etc you will be far better prepared than if you spend much of your training inside in the gym.
    2015 Canyon Aeroad CF SLX
    2020 Canyon Ultimate CF SLX
    2020 Canyon Inflite SL 7
    On the Strand
    Crown Stables
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    bigmat wrote:
    Ditch the Wattgubbins and get out on your bike. There is no substitute for that and riding a Wattbike cannot mimic the effort it takes to climb. Also when you are 50 miles from home you can't give up and climb off, whereas with the wattbike...

    30 minutes at X power is 30 minutes at X power, whether you are on a Watt Bike, Matrix, turbo or out on the open roads. Similarly, 30 minutes at X power is the same whether you are riding uphill, downhill, indoors, outdoors etc. If the gym bike is the easiest way for you to fit in more time in the saddle then go for it. I would say though that 2 x 30mins a week is unlikely to get you very far. Maybe try 2 x 20 sessions 3 times a week with a longer ride once a week if you can manage it.

    Sorry I've not made my point very clear. Climbing/Cycling isn't just about the numbers, its a mental game as well. If you practice out on the road in the wind/cold/rain etc you will be far better prepared than if you spend much of your training inside in the gym.

    Got to agree with this. After all is said and done, nothing compares with getting out and riding a proper bike out on the road. No point building up stats and power targets on a wattbike if when you come to ride outside the weather comes as a complete shock or the flow of the traffic intimidates you.
  • bigmatbigmat Posts: 5,111
    OK, I do agree with that but physiologically, you can get a lot out of indoor training and if that is all the OP has time for at the moment then telling him he just needs to get out on the road isn't helpful or accurate. The ideal would probably be to do effective short intervals indoors and couple with longer proper rides when he has the time, but I know from experience that those rides can be pretty difficult to fit in depending on people's circumstances.
  • Hi redrabbit

    I also do weights and I know how difficult it is to balance the gym with cycling.

    You can do both, but you can't be good at both because they are contradictory activities, not least because it's almost impossible to manage/balance the different fuel requirements, i.e. protein for weights vs carbs for cycling.

    In the end I had to decide what I wanted to be, and that was a cyclist who also does some weights for core strength and... cough... vanity, as opposed to a gym-bunny who enjoys a bit of cycling. If I'm (cycle) training for a specific event or race, then I cut right down on the gym, or cut it out altogether. This gives me more time, less fatigue, and I can tailor the nutrition to my main goal. Perhaps you might consider dropping the gym for a few weeks before your big ride?

    As far as the Watt Bike thingy you use in the gym, given that you're so time-crunched, I would just do something nice and simple, like 4 x 5 minute intervals, to build up some additional power. Try to put out the same amount of power for each interval - the trick is not to go crazy on the first one. By the third interval you should be dying, and at the end of the fourth you should have lost the will to live ;-) If you can do a fifth, you haven't worked hard enough.
    Superstition begins with pinning race number 13 upside down and it ends with the brutal slaughter of Mamils at the cake stop.
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