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Improving power

dstev55dstev55 Posts: 742
Hi all,

I've been cycling for about a year now but only really got in to it about 6 months ago. I started going out with a bunch of guys regularly and the difference in my ability between when I first went out with them and now is night and day. I am a good climber and built like one (6ft but only 67kg) however I find I struggle in the power department sometimes. By this I mean on the flats. I don't get dropped often but do struggle to maintain the level of power they put out for any sustained period. It's definitely in my legs as I'm not particularly out of breath.

I am wondering whether to have a session or two in the gym on a weekly basis to get a bit more strength in my legs. Or is it a case of because I am relatively new to the sport I should just carry on what I am doing and the power will gradually come?

Any thoughts?

Posts

  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 8,234
    You could try a bit of gym work but what about intervals on the bike. I have some half decent long straights around me and I will split them into sections and go balls out on one then cool down then 75% effort then balls out then cool down, you can do it on time as well. You say your a good climber, try spinning faster going uphill to get the legs used to faster cadence under pressure, that should help build endurance on the flatter stuff. Just one warning don't overdo it and listen to your body. Spin classes can help but be prepared for them to hurt at first.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • mrwibblemrwibble Posts: 980
    do squats, hamstring curls, leg extension, glute exercises, lunges, jumping lunges etc. You have only been cycling 6 months, I think power only comes with years of cycling. You are light and because of this you are good at climbing, try lots of tempo on flats about 75 to 85 rpm cadence, you could also do lots of heavy geared with low cadence 50-60 rpm stuff.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,003
    edited January 2016
    You lack fitness - not leg strength. You don't need more leg strength - you need more fitness. Continuing to ride your bike will get you there...
  • dstev55dstev55 Posts: 742
    OK thanks, I'm a high cadence rider anyway, I average between 85-90 on rides. Would grinding out a harder gear than I am comfortable with at times help?
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,003
    No - just ride sometimes harder and/or more often in the gears you are comfortable in.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 4,993
    ... ditto the above, but also try to mix up your riding, sometimes shorter harder efforts, sometimes longer rides with hills thrown in (if you lived in Devon like me you'd not have any choice in the latter), sometimes just longer gentler rides. Getting fitter (not stronger) is the key, and takes time - there aren't really any shortcuts - and a good mix of rides is the best way to do that, especially in the earlier stages of gaining bike fitness.
  • NapoleonDNapoleonD Posts: 18,632
    Two things to look at.
    One is ensuring you keep riding on the flat and not get disheartened. Keeping up the group rides is great for this. Learn to keep close to the wheel in front to ensure you get maximum deafiting benefit.
    The other is to look at your position on the bike. You may be putting out loads of power but you may be as aero as a barn. Just a suggestion really on that one.
    Twitter - @NapD
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  • Of course, goofing off behind others out of the wind is no way to improve your own strength.

    Might be worthwhile doing a proper fitness test, finding out what your heart and power zones are and then making sure you do training in the proper zones to achieve your objectives.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 4,993
    Might be worthwhile doing a proper fitness test, finding out what your heart and power zones are and then making sure you do training in the proper zones to achieve your objectives.
    If stats and gizmos are your thing, then fine, but at the early stages of improving fitness, a mixed regular diet of riding is fine. I do believe people managed to become good cyclists before the age of the computer...
  • Might be worthwhile doing a proper fitness test, finding out what your heart and power zones are and then making sure you do training in the proper zones to achieve your objectives.
    If stats and gizmos are your thing, then fine, but at the early stages of improving fitness, a mixed regular diet of riding is fine. I do believe people managed to become good cyclists before the age of the computer...
    Yes they did, but mostly by guesswork.
  • dstev55dstev55 Posts: 742
    I think I may be giving a somewhat false impression of myself. I am generally fit. Our group rides are fairly brisk, anything from 18-20mph average with some hard and fast sections. We do mix it up, Tues night is a hilly 50km, Thursday flat 50km and Sunday 100km sometimes Peak District sometimes flat. I go out on my own every now and then, probably more when the days get longer. All the guys that I go out with are older than me and the two strongest are lates 30s and 44. I guess they have been riding much longer than me and have developed more power. I think I need to continue what I am doing with a bit more intensity thrown in and be patient. I'm sure riding with stronger people will also benefit me.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 4,993
    I think I may be giving a somewhat false impression of myself. I am generally fit.
    It's bike-specific fitness that's the key, and I think you're getting the idea of where that will develop best. So you mightn't see the rapid gains that someone who is overweight and generally unfit will see, but with plenty of mixed riding you should see the gains that muscle adaptation specific to riding a bike will bring.
  • dstev55dstev55 Posts: 742
    I think I may be giving a somewhat false impression of myself. I am generally fit.
    It's bike-specific fitness that's the key, and I think you're getting the idea of where that will develop best. So you mightn't see the rapid gains that someone who is overweight and generally unfit will see, but with plenty of mixed riding you should see the gains that muscle adaptation specific to riding a bike will bring.

    I think the problem is I made so much progress in the first few months and my progression has now levelled out to just a gradual increase in performance.

    Note to oneself - keep doing what I'm doing and be patient!
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,550
    I think I may be giving a somewhat false impression of myself. I am generally fit.
    It's bike-specific fitness that's the key, and I think you're getting the idea of where that will develop best. So you mightn't see the rapid gains that someone who is overweight and generally unfit will see, but with plenty of mixed riding you should see the gains that muscle adaptation specific to riding a bike will bring.

    I think the problem is I made so much progress in the first few months and my progression has now levelled out to just a gradual increase in performance.

    Note to oneself - keep doing what I'm doing and be patient!

    I don't know if you rest at all - but sometimes taking a week off the bike makes you faster. Might be irrelevant but it's worth a thought.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 4,993
    I think the problem is I made so much progress in the first few months and my progression has now levelled out to just a gradual increase in performance.

    Note to oneself - keep doing what I'm doing and be patient!
    Incidentally, if you're used to riding in a disciplined group, club chaingangs, if well run, are a good training blast, and motivator. Do them a couple of times a week, and if they run different speeds, get into the group where you can just hang on, if you push yourself till it hurts... or till you drop off the back. Repeat and repeat till you don't drop off, or it doesn't hurt much. Then go on to the faster group. And repeat. Etc. If it's at the right level, you won't be able to talk... too much effort and concentration. It's worth the modest club membership for what they offer, if you're keen to improve, and gauge your improvement.

    And yes, solo rides, when you can try out different paces (you'll get it wrong sometimes) but have to do all the work yourself are a good part of the mix.
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