Short zone 2 rides - is there any point?

Drybags
Drybags Posts: 6
Hey there!

I recently bought a bike and started commuting to and from work in order to improve my health, save time, and to avoid avoiding eye contact on public transport for 1h40m a day :roll: . I also work out at a gym doing Crossfit style workouts and Muay Thai. I've been reading up a little bit about different HR zones and their positives and negatives, and I've figured out that biking in zone 2 almost exclusively is my best chance of not overworking my body.

What I'm wondering is the following: Does 50 minutes of riding in zone 2 ten times a week make any sense for building a base, or do I have to do a consecutive 4+ hour ride in order to get the benefits of zone 2?

My ride to work is 22 km and the aim is to work out at the gym 3-5 times a week. The idea is to get most of my anaerobic training at the gym and the base on my commute. In order to develop explosive strength, I want to try to avoid converting my type IIa muscle fibers into slow twitch fibers which is why I'm leaning towards no sweetspot training at all.

To pile on a bit I've got one final inquiry: Do you think doing polarized rides once or twice a week would be too much taking my other exercise into account, or could it be a nice addition?

Feel free to correct any misconceptions I might have regarding training zones and muscle fiber types etc! :D

Comments

  • It depends.

    Without detailed knowledge about you, your goals, background, experience, physiology etc, it's not really possible to provide any more than some general responses.

    If it's really just about general health, then just do whatever exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Beyond that is not about health so much as about training for a specific purpose. It's not clear since you talk about health but then go on to talk about explosive strength and muscle fibres, intensity levels, polarised rides and so on. These are not concerns for someone whose goal is about general health and well being.
  • Richj
    Richj Posts: 240
    As Alex says it depends...

    Do you commute now or is it just an idea?

    50 mins twice a day five days a week takes time to build up and I found when I did it zone 2 was all I could really manage for about a year before I really got used to it. I used to do a 22 mile commute and it took me around 1hr 10mins normally. By Friday I was usually exhausted and my legs just hurt. Yes its only zone 2 but I found the lack of rest meant I was always fatigued. Then throw in the days of blockhead wind and it became tough.

    But....... I got very fit doing it, I raced at the time and could hold my own with 2nd Cats and was time trailing too.

    If its the only time you have to fit in base miles I think it can be a great way to train. Yes its only 50mins at zone 2 but workload over a week and month and the consistency it brings makes for excellent training.
  • singleton
    singleton Posts: 2,493
    I work on the basis that all exercise is good.
    One 50 minute ride in zone 2 may not do much to build an aerobic base or to strengthen your muscles, but what you are doing over the course of several days adds significant volume to you training and the lower intensity work really helps things like tendons/ligaments/joints to get and stay strong.
  • Thank you all for your replies!

    Alex: I'm a 29 year old male of good health and shape, have been doing hiit cirquits and muay thai on and off over the last few years and used to work in the Amazon hiking with a heavy backpack 7-10 hours a day through the jungle, so I think I have built a decent base and strength to start off with. I'm guessing though that you need FTP and VO2Max and such, which I can't provide at the moment unfortunately...
    My aim is to build strength and explosivity (ie add a little bulk) but still improve my endurance. I'm 178 cm and weigh 71 kg and I want to add 4 lean kilos to that.

    Rich: I began three weeks ago, at a slightly too high intensity. This week however, I managed to stay in zone 2 most of the time - about 80%, and the rest in zone 3. I did 3 workouts at the gym/box and am feeling fine (except for som DOMS from yesterday's bodyweight exercises). Were you exhausted by the end of the first week or after a few? I'm loving being this active but wouldn't want to burn out.

    Seems like it really worked out well for you, which gives me hope it'll do the same for me!

    Singleton: Thanks for the info, I hadn't even thought about it before but the benefits to the tendons/ligaments/joints might save me from possible injuries in my other exercise!

    Do you know whether many short rides will increase mitochondrial density in the same way fewer long ones do?
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    Drybags wrote:
    My aim is to build strength and explosivity (ie add a little bulk) but still improve my endurance.

    That's not really an objective in itself though. I think what people are getting it is 'what kind of events are you training for' and 'what kind of gains are you hoping to see' ? Improving mitochondrial density is not a goal in itself either. Also, what is 'explosivity' in cycling terms?
  • jgsi
    jgsi Posts: 5,062
    First to the cafe stop, usually.
  • Imposter wrote:
    That's not really an objective in itself though. I think what people are getting it is 'what kind of events are you training for' and 'what kind of gains are you hoping to see' ? Also, what is 'explosivity' in cycling terms?

    Oh, I see. Honestly I'm training mainly for fitness itself. For the time being I don't see myself doing competitive cycling. I want to use cycling for building endurance, increasing mitochondrial density so I can push myself harder at the gym, burn fat and promote general well-being.

    At the gym is where I'll develop more strength and explosivity, which results in being able to punch/kick/knee/elbow fast and hard, do muscle-ups, box-jumps etc.

    Communication isn't my strong suit, thank you all for your patience ☺️
  • JGSI wrote:
    First to the cafe stop, usually.

    And that :lol:
  • To give you a fairly simplistic answer riding for 50mins 10 times a week at zone 2 will obviously help improve fitness and is probably better than doing a couple of four hour rides a week for general cycling fitness as you will be riding consistently week to week. I wouldn't get too hung up on terms like "base" as it is more applicable to pro cyclists and others who are spending considerable amounts of time on the bike i.e. 15-20+ hours a week.
  • Drybags wrote:
    Thank you all for your replies!

    Alex: I'm a 29 year old male of good health and shape, have been doing hiit cirquits and muay thai on and off over the last few years and used to work in the Amazon hiking with a heavy backpack 7-10 hours a day through the jungle, so I think I have built a decent base and strength to start off with. I'm guessing though that you need FTP and VO2Max and such, which I can't provide at the moment unfortunately...
    My aim is to build strength and explosivity (ie add a little bulk) but still improve my endurance. I'm 178 cm and weigh 71 kg and I want to add 4 lean kilos to that.

    Rich: I began three weeks ago, at a slightly too high intensity. This week however, I managed to stay in zone 2 most of the time - about 80%, and the rest in zone 3. I did 3 workouts at the gym/box and am feeling fine (except for som DOMS from yesterday's bodyweight exercises). Were you exhausted by the end of the first week or after a few? I'm loving being this active but wouldn't want to burn out.

    Seems like it really worked out well for you, which gives me hope it'll do the same for me!

    Singleton: Thanks for the info, I hadn't even thought about it before but the benefits to the tendons/ligaments/joints might save me from possible injuries in my other exercise!

    Do you know whether many short rides will increase mitochondrial density in the same way fewer long ones do?

    In pure athletic terms you have somewhat conflicting goals but since you are exercising for general health and well being, and not training for specific athletic pursuit, then I suggest forgetting being concerned about the fancy physiological stuff and instead focus on doing what you enjoy, what motivates you and you will keep on doing. Whether or not riding a bike regularly is part of that is neither here nor there.

    Mitochondrial density will augment to meet demands for increased aerobic capacity. That comes through increasing aerobic workloads via a mix of duration and intensity. It's not simply a matter of one type of workout vs another, but rather the big picture regarding your training overall. There are workouts that, on a per time unit basis, will stimulate such adaptations more than others but they necessarily form part of an overall approach to improving aerobic capabilities.

    Strength, i.e. maximal force generation capacity of a muscle or group of muscles, comes initially via changes in neural coordination and ultimately through increasing muscle cross sectional area.

    Explosiveness is a function of being able to apply high forces at speed and is only partly (like say 25%) related to strength. One can be very strong but not very explosive or fast.

    Fat burning is a function of many things - diet, exercise intensity and duration, status of muscle, liver and blood glycogen stores, relative aerobic fitness (proportion of VO2max you can sustain at a given sub-max level) and so on.
  • Richj
    Richj Posts: 240
    Drybags wrote:
    Thank you all for your replies!

    Rich: I began three weeks ago, at a slightly too high intensity. This week however, I managed to stay in zone 2 most of the time - about 80%, and the rest in zone 3. I did 3 workouts at the gym/box and am feeling fine (except for som DOMS from yesterday's bodyweight exercises). Were you exhausted by the end of the first week or after a few? I'm loving being this active but wouldn't want to burn out.

    For me it was just a build up over the months, as much mental than physical, mine was a rural commute so the days of block headwind where you would have had to go zone 3 just to move forward would leave me exhausted. It probably took me a year of commuting before I was doing everyday, every week with only not riding in ice, plus starting to train on top of that (I just used to do an interval session then a long ride at the weekend) or mixing up the commute to be interval sessions.

    After doing it for 3 years I was in reasonable shape as a rider. Sadly those days are long gone now.
  • fine for going to the pub.