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Legs or Heart?

slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
I've had a couple of seasons "Off" - lower mileage and not really pushing myself. Just priorities at home - rather than health reasons.
Anyway - I want to get back up to speed this season - although my average speed on commute is about the same.

I've been out on a couple of group rides to make me ride further than the 10 mile commute - it's also had the affect of encouraging me to keep the power on rather than just ride within myself.
What I did notice was at the end of a through-and-off section the others were saying their legs were screaming at them - I don't recall mine screaming - it was my heart that wouldn't let me keep the pace going.

So - going on the premise that my legs are capable of producing the power - it's the fuel supply to them that needs the "upgrade" what do we consider a good way to train the heart to beat faster for longer?
Do I need to do short intervals or longer sustained efforts? Perhaps just carry on with a mix?

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  • bigmitch41bigmitch41 Posts: 684
    Sounds like you need to do more top end work to push your heart rate, have you tried Zwift?
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  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    I'm using BKool - so same thing
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,085
    The issue is not so much 'heart rate' as tolerance at threshold, or near-threshold levels. Longer aerobic intervals such as 2x20s would probably be a good start, while keeping on with the group rides...
  • slowbike wrote:
    So - going on the premise that my legs are capable of producing the power - it's the fuel supply to them that needs the "upgrade" what do we consider a good way to train the heart to beat faster for longer?
    Do I need to do short intervals or longer sustained efforts? Perhaps just carry on with a mix?
    Your premise isn't correct.

    Just ride more and do it consistently, gradually build up your weekly mileage.

    If you want to train to improve then what specifically is the right way for you will depend on lots of information specific about you.
  • Team4LukeTeam4Luke Posts: 597
    slowbike wrote:
    I've had a couple of seasons "Off" - lower mileage and not really pushing myself. Just priorities at home - rather than health reasons.
    Anyway - I want to get back up to speed this season - although my average speed on commute is about the same.

    I've been out on a couple of group rides to make me ride further than the 10 mile commute - it's also had the affect of encouraging me to keep the power on rather than just ride within myself.
    What I did notice was at the end of a through-and-off section the others were saying their legs were screaming at them - I don't recall mine screaming - it was my heart that wouldn't let me keep the pace going.

    So - going on the premise that my legs are capable of producing the power - it's the fuel supply to them that needs the "upgrade" what do we consider a good way to train the heart to beat faster for longer?
    Do I need to do short intervals or longer sustained efforts? Perhaps just carry on with a mix?

    Yes your partly correct and unusal way of putting things but I know what you mean. Yes your legs only have X amount of power what you have is what you have and will never change not from cycling training anyway. So this leaves your fitness which you have lost. "beat faster for longer" - what you mean here is the ability to suffer higher BPM and higher breathing rates. Training results in two things, (1) ability to ride much harder at higher BPM and (2) ability to hold/suffer that level the overall effect actually is a slight lowering of your BPM and then you just ride even harder/faster back upto that same BPM number and hey presto you go faster and can hold it.
    More riding of the same over time and training around your threshold will improve you further, steady state work tempo at higher and higher BPM over time will give you the ability to hold the higher efforts, presently your likely bouncing your HR all over place and in regular oxygen debt, you need to become steady with your output.

    Hope that helps.
    Team4Luke supports Cardiac Risk in the Young
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,085
    Team4Luke wrote:

    Yes your partly correct and unusal way of putting things but I know what you mean. Yes your legs only have X amount of power what you have is what you have and will never change not from cycling training anyway. So this leaves your fitness which you have lost. "beat faster for longer" - what you mean here is the ability to suffer higher BPM and higher breathing rates. Training results in two things, (1) ability to ride much harder at higher BPM and (2) ability to hold/suffer that level the overall effect actually is a slight lowering of your BPM and then you just ride even harder/faster back upto that same BPM number and hey presto you go faster and can hold it.
    More riding of the same over time and training around your threshold will improve you further, steady state work tempo at higher and higher BPM over time will give you the ability to hold the higher efforts, presently your likely bouncing your HR all over place and in regular oxygen debt, you need to become steady with your output.

    Hope that helps.

    There's so much wrong with this, I don't know where to start. All I can suggest for now is that the OP does not take it seriously..
  • joe2008joe2008 Posts: 1,531
    Imposter wrote:
    Team4Luke wrote:

    Yes your partly correct and unusal way of putting things but I know what you mean. Yes your legs only have X amount of power what you have is what you have and will never change not from cycling training anyway. So this leaves your fitness which you have lost. "beat faster for longer" - what you mean here is the ability to suffer higher BPM and higher breathing rates. Training results in two things, (1) ability to ride much harder at higher BPM and (2) ability to hold/suffer that level the overall effect actually is a slight lowering of your BPM and then you just ride even harder/faster back upto that same BPM number and hey presto you go faster and can hold it.
    More riding of the same over time and training around your threshold will improve you further, steady state work tempo at higher and higher BPM over time will give you the ability to hold the higher efforts, presently your likely bouncing your HR all over place and in regular oxygen debt, you need to become steady with your output.

    Hope that helps.

    There's so much wrong with this, I don't know where to start. All I can suggest for now is that the OP does not take it seriously..

    Could start with you're not your
  • haydenmhaydenm Posts: 2,903
    Team4Luke wrote:
    Yes your legs only have X amount of power what you have is what you have and will never change not from cycling training anyway.

    Yay the cycling/leg power debate!

    I have just returned from doing 12,000m climbing on holiday, mostly out of the saddle and my legs are the size of Chris Hoy's. I have more power from cycling.

    Admittedly that isn't my usual training...
  • MishMash95MishMash95 Posts: 104
    For me, I never feel I get out of breath that much whilst cycling, unless doing a high Z5/56/Z7 heavily anaerobic effort. I've been told in the past that the panting is actually a result of the large build up of Carbon Dioxide in your lungs as a result of working anaerobically.

    Though at the same time, for those short efforts, my legs tend to feel pooped towards the end aswell haha! For longer efforts, pretty much no matter what the zone is, my legs will just eventually start getting tired, I imagine this will be the build up of lactate. When riding at Threshold, I never feel like breathing is an issue, just willing myself on to keep my legs churning over is the main thing. Similar thing happens at Z3 except over a longer time period and with a slower, which makes sense really.

    The exception to my first statement was that if i'm not all that fresh, my legs tend to give out before I feel I could maximise my respiration. That is, the muscles just start to get tight and pushing down just becomes more and more painful.

    The one zone I find particularly painful is riding just slightly above threshold, say 105%-110%. I find intervals in this zone really hard and if my legs aren't feeling really on point, I just can't complete the sessions. Consequently, fatigue seems to affect me far less when riding at a tempo pace, or even going very hard for 1-2 minutes.

    I've recently reduced my volume, started the year off hard, however I just found that I seem to take longer to recover if I want to target VO2max zones specifically. Unfortunately, that zone seems to also be one that yields me the greatest training benefit. I guess that makes sense if its a weakness in my overall cycling, bringing that up, pulls up my entire practical performance.
  • haydenmhaydenm Posts: 2,903
    MishMash95 wrote:
    I've been told in the past that the panting is actually a result of the large build up of Carbon Dioxide in your lungs as a result of working anaerobically.

    You mean, when you are out of breath you need to breath more? That doesn't sound exceptionally counter intuitive to me... :wink:
  • MishMash95MishMash95 Posts: 104
    edited March 2018
    haydenm wrote:
    MishMash95 wrote:
    I've been told in the past that the panting is actually a result of the large build up of Carbon Dioxide in your lungs as a result of working anaerobically.

    You mean, when you are out of breath you need to breath more? That doesn't sound exceptionally counter intuitive to me... :wink:
    No, I would say that the counter intuitive part is that it is quite easy to assume that the feeling of being out of breath is that you feel like you can't get enough air in, when it's more often the case that you can't push air (CO2) out fast enough.
  • CO2 level in the blood has the biggest influence on respiration and regulation of ventilation.
  • haydenmhaydenm Posts: 2,903
    MishMash95 wrote:
    haydenm wrote:
    MishMash95 wrote:
    I've been told in the past that the panting is actually a result of the large build up of Carbon Dioxide in your lungs as a result of working anaerobically.

    You mean, when you are out of breath you need to breath more? That doesn't sound exceptionally counter intuitive to me... :wink:
    No, I would say that the counter intuitive part is that it is quite easy to assume that the feeling of being out of breath is that you feel like you can't get enough air in, when it's more often the case that you can't push air (CO2) out fast enough.

    Fair enough, I was being facetious. Still doesn't seem especially surprising but that's just me, you can't replace the more deoxygenated air in your lungs fast enough, which is the same as having too much carbon dioxide in your lungs
  • I tend to agree with the idea that panting is associated with anaerobic work. When I am cycling hard such as a long climb it is my heart that is maxing out but I am still in control of my breathing, The only time I end up panting is after a sprint.
  • haydenmhaydenm Posts: 2,903
    I tend to agree with the idea that panting is associated with anaerobic work. When I am cycling hard such as a long climb it is my heart that is maxing out but I am still in control of my breathing, The only time I end up panting is after a sprint.

    I don't mean to be pedantic but if your heart is maxing out then it is trying to pump more oxygen to your muscles, causing you to breathe harder to replace the spent oxygen. If you ride up a hill in max HR zone then you will be panting regardless, surely if you heart is maxing out then you are working anaerobically? I might well be wrong but if your HR zone is threshold or max then it's anaerobic, and if it's aerobic or easy obviously it's aerobic (going from the zones on my garmin that is)

    In a high effort sprint you might have adrenalin too which will surely increase your breathing rate
  • I always understood that the anaerobic system can only supply fuel for a very short period, < 30 seconds from the top of my head. You can never totally isolate the anaerobic system when performing an exercise, but the closest you can get is if doing what they call a 1 rep max in weightlifting, i.e. lifting the maximum weight you can just once. If you could do a 10 second sprint using purely the anaerobic system there isn't really any reason to breathe at all, but you will be panting once you finish as your body tries to catch up and replace the spent fuel. That is why nearly all cycling is all about the aerobic system, even the pure sprinters are relying far more on the aerobic system that the anaerobic.

    However a little internet research tells me that if you perform aerobic type exercises at a high enough intensity then it becomes anaerobic. What I can't understand is how this can happen. If I am climbing at full intensity I can just about maintain my heart rate above 95%. Clearly if my heart is working that hard I must be using the aerobic system.
  • haydenmhaydenm Posts: 2,903
    I think it's just when you are in oxygen deficit between what you are using and what you can breathe/process, essentially the same system but you are getting into oxygen debt. That 10% effort that is over your normal aerobic threshold puts you into the debt. It's been a long long time since I studied anything like this though so it wouldn't surprise me if I'd forgotten everything
  • chrisaonabikechrisaonabike Posts: 1,912
    Comic gold, this thread.

    @AlexSimmons - My mental image is of you bashing your head on the table :D
    Is the gorilla tired yet?
  • haydenmhaydenm Posts: 2,903
    Comic gold, this thread.

    @AlexSimmons - My mental image is of you bashing your head on the table :D

    I think I might have spoilt it a bit for being a kn0b the entire way through it, for that I am very sorry
  • MishMash95MishMash95 Posts: 104
    However a little internet research tells me that if you perform aerobic type exercises at a high enough intensity then it becomes anaerobic. What I can't understand is how this can happen. If I am climbing at full intensity I can just about maintain my heart rate above 95%. Clearly if my heart is working that hard I must be using the aerobic system.

    Given that both systems are working at the same time, your heart rate will continually increase until you hit your VO2max, at which point your body physically cannot further increase the rate it gets oxygen to your muscles and thus in order to go any further, you'll need to respire anaerobically. Granted, you will already be respiring anaerobically to an extent before then, but at a lesser proportion, and at a rate your body can deal with without burning out.
    The point about VO2max is that it'll be your maximal aerobic capacity, however your anaerobic systems will be getting used a long side that far more. Your heart rate will likely hit its max (or get very near) at that point, but you can still technically go harder.
    Once you go above that point, the proportion of anaerobic work will rapidly increase in relation to the aerobic component because it is only the anaerobic system that can keep on going up. Though given that your "base" power is still coming from the aerobic system, the HR keeps up.

    So the answer there is that you are using both systems, just in different proportions.
  • At all times we are using multiple metabolic pathways to supply our energy demand.

    During exercise of a quasi steady state nature (e.g. riding along at a steady endurance pace), the energy demand will primarily be met by aerobic metabolism of FFAs (fats) and glycogen, with the fuel substrate ratio depending on how hard you are going, how long you've been going, your initial glycogen storage levels, diet and relative fitness (e.g. what proportion of VO2max you can sustain at threshold).

    As power demand increases, more reliance is placed on aerobic metabolism of glycogen (aerobic glycolosis) than fats (lipolysis) and the ratio of CO2 produced to O2 utilised rises.

    As the power demand reaches and exceeds threshold levels (which is a bit of a fuzzy line) then steady state metabolic processes are no longer steady state. The energy demand exceeds that which can be supplied via aerobic metabolism.

    The slow component of VO2max comes into play and energy demand at supra threshold levels is supplemented by anaerobic metabolic pathways; anaerobic glycolosis and at very high power demand the PCr system (phosphocreatine), and even the Cr-PCr system.

    The proportion of aerobic and anaerobic contributions to the energy demand varies as does the type of anaerobic metabolic pathway used and this depends on the power demand, duration sustained and available anaerobic energy reserves in the working muscle.

    Aerobic work capacity provided by fat metabolism can for all intents and purposes be considered to be in infinite supply.

    Aerobic glycolysis is more limited. Generally for someone well trained that starts with full reserves a maximum of around 90-minutes of very hard riding will deplete glycogen stores but that varies somewhat depending on various things.

    Of course when we ride at sub threshold levels, we use both glycogen and FFA, and so we can ride for longer. Aerobic glycolisis capacity can be extended via eating during exercise but typically it's not possible to provide all that much extra to available muscle glycogen stores, and certainly no faster than it can be metabolised while riding at reasonable level of effort.

    Anaerobic Work Capacity (or really our energy capacity above threshold power since the metabolic pathways are complex and it's not just anaerobic) is typically in the 5-35kJ range as measured by external work performed.*

    There are various ways of estimating this capacity, the gold standard being laboratory measurement of maximal accumulated oxygen deficit, but we can do some cool things with modern power-duration models.

    AWC can be wholly expended in a relatively short time, around a minute or so if you go hard enough, or can be used as supplemental energy supply over a longer period, e.g. for a 20-minute effort. It can be replenished as you recover however recovery of anaerobic energy reserves is itself a wholly aerobic process, so that means in order to regenerate anaerobic work capacity you must stop or slow down, at least to sub-threshold levels. The rate of replenishment is also variable and depends on things like the current energy demand - e.g. you'll replenish AWC faster by stopping than by riding along at tempo.

    So if you are climbing a hill that takes 10-15 minutes and giving it some stick and well paced, you'll be tapping both aerobic and anaerobic energy metabolic pathways, you'll likely be reaching VO2max in the final minute or so but aerobic energy metabolism will still be the dominant source for the energy demand (>90%).

    For maximal efforts in the 3-5 minutes range, then aerobic metabolism still accounts for about 2/3rds to 3/4trs of the energy demand.

    It about 50:50 for a full blown effort of a about a minute duration.


    * e.g. a rider with an AWC of 15kJ means they can go:
    i. 50W above threshold and expect to sustain that for no more than 15000/50 = 300 seconds or ~5 minutes
    ii. 100W above threshold and expect to maintain that for no more than ~2.5 minutes
    iii. 250W above threshold and expect to maintain that for no more than ~1 minute

    Although this simplified model breaks down at shorter durations of around 1-minute or less as other factors come into play.
  • VamPVamP Posts: 674
    Great Post Alex.

    Quick Q please - Golden Cheetah gives me an AWC value (based on about 3 years of historical data). Do you have any insight as to how accurate this might be?
  • VamP wrote:
    Great Post Alex.

    Quick Q please - Golden Cheetah gives me an AWC value (based on about 3 years of historical data). Do you have any insight as to how accurate this might be?
    That very much depends on the method* used to calculate it, and the quality of the input data.

    Because of the way the maths works, CP being the slope of the energy-duration relationship and AWC (aka W') the intercept, and the nature of the durations over which the model has validity, the intercept (i.e. W') does tend to show greater sensitivity to the inputs than does the slope (CP).

    You can assess whether it's "working" by testing to see if your W'bal ever goes negative. If it does, it ain't right. You should be able to get down close to zero (within say 1kJ or so) with a suitably maximal effort of a few minutes.

    * There are various methods you can choose in GC. Also it is particularly sensitive to the duration of efforts used as inputs to the model.
  • VamPVamP Posts: 674
    That's very helpful Alex, thank you.
  • At all times we are using multiple metabolic pathways to supply our energy demand.......etc.
    Thanks Alex. Perhaps I have not been looking in the right places, but I have not seen such a clear and easily understood summary of aerobic/anaerobic metabolism and their relationship to each other. All I have seen in the past treats them as separate systems and have given the impression that when working at maximum you use each energy system in turn, when intuitively I was sure that this was wrong, This includes when I was receiving coach training (not in cycling) when the trainer was unable to explain the relationship when quizzed about it.
  • At all times we are using multiple metabolic pathways to supply our energy demand.......etc.
    Thanks Alex. Perhaps I have not been looking in the right places, but I have not seen such a clear and easily understood summary of aerobic/anaerobic metabolism and their relationship to each other. All I have seen in the past treats them as separate systems and have given the impression that when working at maximum you use each energy system in turn, when intuitively I was sure that this was wrong, This includes when I was receiving coach training (not in cycling) when the trainer was unable to explain the relationship when quizzed about it.

    Biological systems are phenomenally complex, so take what I wrote as an over simplification of what actually goes on but it's enough to recognise there is a constant interplay of all the various metabolic pathways in the supply of ATP - the biological unit of energy - to meet the body's energy demand.
  • Stuart46Stuart46 Posts: 26
    Well increasing your aerobic capacity will come with training and quite quickly too.
    I would recommend both. HIIT sprints with a short rest in between, combined with days of long fast rides.
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