Feedback request re: cycling workout

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by circusmouse, Jul 21, 2008.

  1. circusmouse

    circusmouse Rookie

    Jun 14, 2006
    So I've recently started doing a workout I've been meaning to do for a few years. I live close to a park on a large hill. It has a paved road that leads all the way to the top. I think it's around a 350 ft. elevation climb (haven't been able to find exact figures) with no dips. I'd guess it averages about a 13-15% grade. So I just start at the bottom in a high gear and climb as fast as I can to the top. I try to maintain a rate of roughly 100 rpm. I need to get a stopwatch, but I suspect it takes about 5-6 minutes. I generally do three to five climbs, depending on how I feel that day and what other exercise I intend to do. At the top I take a quick drink from the fountain, briefly stretch my quads, then coast back down and start over. On the coast down, I generally pedal backwards to keep the blood flowing. I have a hybrid bike, not a racing bike, and armadillo tires, so the bike is not doing me a lot of favors in reducing difficulty. I'm in good shape but this pushes my cardio system and quads close to the limit. I believe the workout is close to being a fartlek workout, as I've seen it defined. In the near future, I intend to incorporate some changes, like doing short sprints instead of the entire hill.

    So my questions are:
    1) do you think this is a smart workout?
    2) what do you think this workout achieves for the body?
    3) What would you change? Should I take a longer rest? Any suggestions?

    Thank you in advance. Also, I'd like to say that many of the guys on this fitness forum, like Chess9, Ano, and Rickson (though I think his obsession with dips may go too far :twisted: ), are a genuinely helpful resource. Thanks to all.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2008
  2. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

    Dec 11, 2005

    Without knowing more about you, including your age, fitness level, experience racing/training, base mileage, etc. it's hard to say for sure whether your approach is doing you a lot of good. Also, I'd want to know what sort of heart rates you are hitting, and/or what your RPE (rating of perceived exertion) is. When you hit the top of the hill are your legs and lungs screaming for mercy like Sharapova missing a put away? I will say you are going up that slope very slowly. I have a racing bike, and would do that climb in about 2 minutes max, assuming a flat start at 20 mph, plus I'd hit about 110-120 rpm in a 39/21 or 23 gear ratio. I'd be guessing, but are you overweight? Or is this the first time you've tried this sort of climb? If you've never climbed hard before or done intervals on the bike, then I'd suggest you take a few weeks and do some base mileage first. Those would be 4-12 weeks of easy miles, during which you develop the neuromuscular conditioning necessary to pull off serious intervals or fartleks.

    Just a few thoughts, and mostly I'm guessing without more info.

  3. circusmouse

    circusmouse Rookie

    Jun 14, 2006

    I'm a little amused by the suggestion that I could be overweight. I'm actually in quite good shape. I'm 28 years old. I'm 5'11" and 165-170 pounds. Not sure about my body fat, but I'm pretty vascular and have good muscle definition. A friend who is a personal trainer is trying to convince me to become a personal trainer, and we agreed that my physique would be helpful in the job. However, my muscles are in better shape than my cardio system. I haven't done a lot of intense cardio in the last few years. I've mostly relied on tennis, bike commuting and occasional exercise riding in the pleasant months, and some cardio in the gym. None of those really pushes me. The base mileage you've mentioned, 4-12 miles, is no problem to me on flat ground. The last few summers I lived near a traffic-free 8-9 mile trail and I could do that at high speed without trouble. I sometimes did that trail twice. On flat ground, my wrists and upper back start to hurt before I wear out because my bike has a straight handle bar and no front shocks.

    I actually keep a pretty good pace going up the hill. The only people who ever pass me going up are on race bikes and look very fit. That's despite the fact that I live in a pretty serious biking town, Portland, OR. In fact, if anyone is familiar with biking in Portand, I'm referring to Mt. Tabor. Wikipedia says it rises 400 feet above the surrounding area, but I don't know where they're starting their calculations. I start at the entrance to the park on Salmon St. So maybe the climb is really closer to 400 ft.

    I could be off about my time, because time spent huffing and puffing can seem a lot longer than it is. I'll post again in a few days after I get a stopwatch and try again. There are other factors, too. It's about a two-mile uphill climb just to get to the hill, and I usually do some resistance training before or after. This is the first time I've biked hills except for commuting, so I think my inexperience is a big factor. Hills just push the lungs and legs a lot harder. I'll keep doing this ride because I think it's a great workout. I was just trying to get input on how to alter and improve the workout. I may also have to bike back to the flat trail and work on interval sprints.

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