Intensity

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  • Do Miles (or Kilometers) Matter? Yes and No

    By Coach John Hughes  Summer is just a couple of weeks away, and roadies in the Northern Hemisphere are understandably excited about riding more! But will racking up more miles this year help you ride better? Yes, and no. Just riding a lot more probably won’t help you to improve as much as you want to improve. While distance is important in some very meaningful ways – it is not the be all and end all for improvement. If you've already got all the benefits in your body that distance has to offer, then you need to add intensity to your riding as well to continue to improve.

  • Do Miles Matter? Yes and No

    Summer is just a couple of weeks away, and roadies in the Northern Hemisphere are understandably excited about riding more! But will racking up more miles this year help you ride better? Yes, and no. Just riding a lot more probably won’t help you to improve as much as you want to improve. While distance is important in some very meaningful ways – it is not the be all and end all for improvement. If you've already got all the benefits in your body that distance has to offer, then you need to add intensity to your riding as well to continue to improve.

  • Eat Whatever You Like Best for Recovery

    You recover faster from intense exercise by eating immediately afterward, and a new study shows it doesn't really matter what you eat. Fast foods such as French fries, hash browns and hamburgers helped athletes recover just as quickly from hard workouts as sports nutrition products such as Gatorade, Powerbars or Clif Bars (International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, March 26, 2015).

  • Fit for Life IX: The Four Pillars - No. 4 is Enjoyment

    Let’s review. Your goal is to stay as fit and healthy as possible for the rest of your life, what the gerontologists call "squaring the geriatric curve." You can control the rates of decline of your different physiological systems. How? By following the Four Pillars, which I've been detailing in a series of columns over that past month. (Each of the numbers below is a link to that specific article in the series.) So far I've covered the first three pillars, Consistency, Intensity and Recovery. Today, I'll finish the series with a focus on the fourth Pillar, Enjoyment.

  • Fit for Life IX: The Four Pillars - No. 4 is Enjoyment

    By Coach John Hughes  Let’s review. Your goal is to stay as fit and healthy as possible for the rest of your life, what the gerontologists call "squaring the geriatric curve." You can control the rates of decline of your different physiological systems. How? By following the Four Pillars, which I've been detailing in a series of columns over that past month. (Each of the numbers below is a link to that specific article in the series.) So far I've covered the first three pillars, Consistency, Intensity and Recovery. Today, I'll finish the series with a focus on the fourth Pillar, Enjoyment.

  • Fit for Life VII: The Four Pillars - No. 2 is Intensity

    In the first column covering The Four Pillars, I discussed consistency. Today, I'm discussing why intensity matters. As you get older, how much you work out and how hard you work out both determine how fit you remain. In fact, longitudinal studies looking at how fitness changes over time show that how hard you work out is more important than how much you work out. Working out hard helps lessen the decline in your VO2 max. The higher your VO2 max is compared to others your chronological age, the lower your physiological age, which means greater expected longevity!

  • Fit for Life VII: The Four Pillars - No. 2 is Intensity

    By Coach John Hughes  In the first column covering The Four Pillars, I discussed consistency. Today, I'm discussing why intensity matters. As you get older, how much you work out and how hard you work out both determine how fit you remain. In fact, longitudinal studies looking at how fitness changes over time show that how hard you work out is more important than how much you work out. Working out hard helps lessen the decline in your VO2 max. The higher your VO2 max is compared to others your chronological age, the lower your physiological age, which means greater expected longevity!

  • Fit for Life VIII: The Four Pillars - No. 3 is Recovery

    Cycling legend Ned Overend on training: “I do exactly what I’ve always done; it just takes me longer.” Overend, now 62, last year took second overall in the Iron Horse Classic Omnium in Durango. He was third in the Durango to Silverton road race, which goes over two passes, each over 10,000 feet. “… it just takes me longer.” Overend means he needs more recovery between his hard training rides than he did when he was younger. Recovery is the third pillar of four pillars we need to follow to slow the rate of our inevitable physiological decline:

  • Fit for Life VIII: The Four Pillars - No. 3 is Recovery

    By Coach John Hughes  Cycling legend Ned Overend on training: “I do exactly what I’ve always done; it just takes me longer.” Overend, now 62, last year took second overall in the Iron Horse Classic Omnium in Durango. He was third in the Durango to Silverton road race, which goes over two passes, each over 10,000 feet. “… it just takes me longer.” Overend means he needs more recovery between his hard training rides than he did when he was younger. Recovery is the third pillar of four pillars we need to follow to slow the rate of our inevitable physiological decline:

  • Follow-up on Intensity and Spring Training

    Several readers wrote in with questions about spring training. Before answering the questions, a bit of context. The Spring Training eArtice includes four programs based on how active a rider has been over the winter, and the rider’s goals. Each program is divided into two 5-week blocks so that a rider can pick the best program for you and either do 5 or 10 weeks of training. Now, on to the reader questions.

  • How Much Can I Realistically Improve at My Age?

    By Coach John Hughes  This is a general question, but first a statement. Often, the physiology journals report of 12-week training periods with reports of X% improvement compared to the control group. Two years ago, I rode the same century as 5 years previously in 1.5 hours less time. I prepared for this century with much more early season leisurely riding. I would really like to do a 300 K or double century without being "wiped out" for the rest of the summer. How much improvement is realistic for me, a 60-year-old male; a person who only began cycling less than 10 years ago?

  • How Much Intensity Is Enough?

    I'm 43, in decent shape, and would like to improve. I ride about 100 miles a week, an hour at a time, and my heart rate averages about 145 beats per minute. I tend to really push hills, up to 175 bpm. Should I decrease intensity, or increase it?

  • How Should Older Riders Train?

    I've been racing for four decades, averaging about 700 hours of training each year. But now I'm 59 and sometimes feel the motivation is just not there. I heard that a 67-year-old finished El Tour de Tucson (111 miles) in 4:51. He had significantly reduced his on-bike training to 4 days per week and lifts weights the other 3 days. Do you think I can cut back my training that way and still ride well?

  • How to Maintain Fitness, Gain Freshness and Enjoy the Holidays

    Brent Bookwalter, who races for BMC, advises that if you have a choice between an extra 20 minutes of riding or spending that time recovering, choose recovery. Think of the holidays as time for quality recovery, a time to gain freshness. Freshness means that you are fully recovered from all of your fall activities and ready – physically and mentally – for the next round of training. The holidays are a precious time to spend with family and friends. I give all of my clients at least a week off from training around Christmas and New Year’s. Enjoy your time off, too!

  • How to Maintain Fitness, Gain Freshness and Enjoy the Holidays

    Brent Bookwalter, who races for BMC, advises that if you have a choice between an extra 20 minutes of riding or spending that time recovering, choose recovery. Think of the holidays as time for quality recovery, a time to gain freshness. Freshness means that you are fully recovered from all of your fall activities and ready – physically and mentally – for the next round of training. The holidays are a precious time to spend with family and friends. I give all of my clients at least a week off from training around Christmas and New Year’s. Enjoy your time off, too!

  • How to Make the Most of Your Trainer Time

    Here's a cycling truism for the season: Riding on the road is fun. Riding on the trainer is not fun (unless you’re a masochist!). If you're a typical roadie, though, you’re always looking for ways to improve: better equipment, smarter training, losing weight, etc. So, figuring out a way to add your trainer time to this list of ways to improve makes perfect sense. Your trainer is a useful tool you can use to tune up your cycling – without driving yourself batty in the process.

  • How to Stay Fit, Fresh & Enjoy the Holidays

    By Coach John Hughes  Think of the holidays as time for quality recovery, a time to gain freshness. Freshness means that you are fully recovered from all of your fall activities and ready – physically and mentally – for the next round of training. To gain freshness you need to cut back your total training volume significantly, by as much as 50 to 75% for a week or two before the holidays. To maintain fitness you should cut back your endurance riding more than your intensity volume, but you should still cut back your intensity volume by 25 to 50%. Here's what you could you do with your limited time.

  • Intense Exercise Far More Valuable Than Casual Exercise

    RBR reader Dominic Ferro wrote in response to my article last week, Sitting Will Not Harm Vigorous Exercisers: "In his article about sitting not harming vigorous exercisers, Dr. Mirkin scoffed at 7 hours per week of moderate exercise. What is his threshold for serious exercise?" 

  • Intense Exercise Far More Valuable Than Casual Exercise

    RBR reader Dominic Ferro wrote in response to my article last week, Sitting Will Not Harm Vigorous Exercisers: "In his article about sitting not harming vigorous exercisers, Dr. Mirkin scoffed at 7 hours per week of moderate exercise. What is his threshold for serious exercise?"

  • New Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Discovered

    Two important studies published this week show how interval training makes you stronger, improves endurance, and also can help to reduce the loss of muscle size and strength that inevitably occurs with aging. It may also reduce your risk for heart attacks and cancers.

  • New Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Discovered

    Two important studies published this week show how interval training makes you stronger, improves endurance, and also can help to reduce the loss of muscle size and strength that inevitably occurs with aging. It may also reduce your risk for heart attacks and cancers.

  • New eArticle: Intensity Training 2016

    By John Marsh  If you want to maintain the fitness you've worked so hard to achieve, or to ride faster and have more power, you need a bigger engine, says Coach John Hughes. How can you get a bigger human engine, a V-6 or even a V-8, instead of your fuel-efficient but relatively weak V-4? “Proper intensities are the key!” he says. The right intensity workout(s) depend on both your individual goals and the time of the year. Coach Hughes provides information so that health and fitness riders, club and endurance riders and performance riders can easily tailor the workouts to your training goals and season.

  • Sitting Will Not Harm Vigorous Exercisers

    The recent highly-publicized studies that showed sitting is harmful even for exercisers were flawed because they failed to separate casual exercisers from vigorous exercisers. No one has shown that standing up instead of sitting confers any special health benefits, and sedentary standing can cause additional problems such as varicose veins or swollen feet. Standing all day will slow your recovery from your exercise program.

  • Sitting Will Not Harm Vigorous Exercisers

    The recent highly-publicized studies that showed sitting is harmful even for exercisers were flawed because they failed to separate casual exercisers from vigorous exercisers. No one has shown that standing up instead of sitting confers any special health benefits, and sedentary standing can cause additional problems such as varicose veins or swollen feet. Standing all day will slow your recovery from your exercise program.

  • Slowing Loss of Muscle and Bone Strength with Aging

    Researchers at the Mayo Clinic compared high-intensity aerobic interval training, resistance training and combined training in a group of 72 men and women aged 65-80 (Cell Metabolism, Mar 10, 2017). All three training types reduced body fat, increased sensitivity to insulin to help control blood sugar levels and increased the amount of protein in muscles. However, they showed that only high-intensity aerobic training led to improvement in two of the most important markers of the aging processes: the maximum ability to take in and use oxygen (VO2 max), and mitochondrial function in muscles. 

  • Slowing Loss of Muscle and Bone Strength with Aging

    By Gabe Mirkin, M.D.  Researchers at the Mayo Clinic compared high-intensity aerobic interval training, resistance training and combined training in a group of 72 men and women aged 65-80 (Cell Metabolism, Mar 10, 2017). All three training types reduced body fat, increased sensitivity to insulin to help control blood sugar levels and increased the amount of protein in muscles. However, they showed that only high-intensity aerobic training led to improvement in two of the most important markers of the aging processes: the maximum ability to take in and use oxygen (VO2 max), and mitochondrial function in muscles. 

  • The Comeback, Part 2: Step-by-Step

    John Marsh fractured his left collarbone on April 16, had surgery on April 27 and got back on the trainer May 6. He’ll be stuck on the trainer until June 4, at least, and after a trip with his family, he’ll have just four weeks to finish training for the Tour of Wyoming July 17 – 22, 355 miles with 32,620 feet of climbing. John had very little exercise for 18 days between the crash and surgery, except for walking. Further, his body had the trauma of an accident and surgery with general anesthesia. After any significant amount of time off the bike due to an injury or anything else, your comeback should be step by step.

  • Why 'No Pain, No Gain' is Wrong

    If you ride just a little harder than tempo riding, you start to recruit fast-twitch muscles in addition to your slow-twitch muscles. You aren’t breathless; you can still talk in short phrases. This is called riding in the Sweet Spot and is the opposite of the “more pain, more gain” approach to training. The harder you ride (the more pain), the more recovery you need between hard efforts and between hard days, so you can handle less hard volume. Riding in the Sweet Spot balances the level of intensity with the volume of intensity to achieve the maximum overload on your muscles.

  • Why 'No Pain, No Gain' is Wrong

    By Coach John Hughes  If you ride just a little harder than tempo riding, you start to recruit fast-twitch muscles in addition to your slow-twitch muscles. You aren’t breathless; you can still talk in short phrases. This is called riding in the Sweet Spot and is the opposite of the “more pain, more gain” approach to training. The harder you ride (the more pain), the more recovery you need between hard efforts and between hard days, so you can handle less hard volume. Riding in the Sweet Spot balances the level of intensity with the volume of intensity to achieve the maximum overload on your muscles.

  • Why I Coach By Intensity

    All of my clients are middle age or older, have families, jobs and other interests besides cycling. Some just want to stay fit, while others race or train for specific organized events and tours. In other words, they’re typical roadies. They hire me because they want to be better roadies and want to be smart about how to become better. They don’t have time to spare and they don’t want to make mistakes that will set them back, or even worse, ruin a season. Every one of my clients trains by intensity! Some use perceived exertion, some use heart rate and some use power. Each approach works!

  • Why I Coach By Intensity

    By Coach John Hughes  All of my clients are middle age or older, have families, jobs and other interests besides cycling. Some just want to stay fit, while others race or train for specific organized events and tours. In other words, they’re typical roadies. They hire me because they want to be better roadies and want to be smart about how to become better. They don’t have time to spare and they don’t want to make mistakes that will set them back, or even worse, ruin a season. Every one of my clients trains by intensity! Some use perceived exertion, some use heart rate and some use power. Each approach works!

  • Why I Coach By Intensity

    By Coach John Hughes  All of my clients are middle age or older, have families, jobs and other interests besides cycling. Some just want to stay fit, while others race or train for specific organized events and tours. In other words, they’re typical roadies. They hire me because they want to be better roadies and want to be smart about how to become better. They don’t have time to spare and they don’t want to make mistakes that will set them back, or even worse, ruin a season. Every one of my clients trains by intensity! Some use perceived exertion, some use heart rate and some use power. Each approach works!

  • Why Increasing Intensity Is Good for All Roadies

    Last week I wrote about the benefits of riding miles at a conversational pace. I also explained that once you’ve built your endurance base in the spring, just riding more miles won’t make you a much better rider. Further, if you’ve been riding for years then just piling on more miles brings little improvement. Every roadie – from health and fitness riders to high performance racers – can benefit from intensity exercise. Intensity exercise doesn’t mean “no pain, no gain." It simply means riding harder than you usually ride.

  • Why Increasing Intensity is Good for All Roadies

    By Coach John Hughes  Last week I wrote about the benefits of riding miles at a conversational pace. I also explained that once you’ve built your endurance base in the spring, just riding more miles won’t make you a much better rider. Further, if you’ve been riding for years then just piling on more miles brings little improvement. Every roadie – from health and fitness riders to high performance racers – can benefit from intensity exercise. Intensity exercise doesn’t mean “no pain, no gain." It simply means riding harder than you usually ride.

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