Author Topic: Improving my leg strength  (Read 1496 times)

Martin 14

  • People too weak to follow their own dreams, will a
Improving my leg strength
« on: May 06, 2019, 11:10:38 am »
Ok after six weeks of Zwift training, yesterday I took on the pilgrims hospice cycle challenge just the small route, 45 miles, with 3000 ft of climbing, which turned out closer to 50. This was my first real ride on a road bike which took a little getting use to. I got round with a little bit of walking, but quickly found road shoes are not ideal for this, the lack of skin on my heels bear testament to this. By 20 miles I began to wonder if I could finish, but a cheese roll and a banana got me to the next feed stop at 37.5 miles abet rather slowly. The remainder of the ride was a ride where I could push up anything with more than a moderate incline. I had to stop on a number of occasions due to lack of feeling in my left hand, which left me unable to use the brake lever. This morning I feel pretty good generally apart from a couple of sore heels, the pedals are now being swapped for the SPD variety. My problem is the complete lack of power in my legs, OK I'm no youngster at 65 but when someone flies past you up an incline on a basic sit up and beg bicycle you have to call into question your fitness and strength, or in my case lack of it! So how do I improve my leg strength?...Debate   
People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2019, 03:21:59 pm »
First order approximation:  Ride your bike.  Then ride it some more.  Rinse, repeat.

Address ergonomic issues (saddle, hand position, etc) as they come up, aim to get to the top of climbs in one go[1] without completely exhausting yourself (however slow that might be), and by the time you're decently comfortable the legs should have taken care of themselves.  At which point "it doesn't get any easier, you just go faster" applies.  You'll likely manage with fewer carbs as you go on, though rides of over about 100km deteriorate into managing your digestion (and eventually, sleep).

Or I suppose you could do it properly.  Exercises, training, gyms and whatnot.  I wouldn't know about that sort of thing.  No doubt there'll be a PE teacher along with some advice shortly...


Never having tried them, I'm not sure how well these computer game things map to the real world.  Personally I find indoor cycling[2] soul-destroyingly dull, and would rather be out in the pissing rain (at least for the hour or two my sense of humour holds up for) unless I was recovering from an injury or something.  But I know some forumites use them, so hopefully they'll have some input.



[1] My advice to complete newbie cyclists is to climb hills in a gear or two lower than the one that seems comfortable.
[2] Other than whizzing around on a velodrome, which is many things, but never dull.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Morat

  • I tried to HTFU but something went ping :(
Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2019, 03:34:15 pm »
Get on your bike and ride! (Sorry Freddy)

I spin once a week through the winter and this year the local community sports centre has upgraded to bikes which tell you your average power output through the session. It was a bit depressing to note the downward trend through the season.

I'm sure a personal trainer would be happy to relieve you of some cash to tell you how to train "like a pro" but it's probably not worth it until you've built up some base fitness and learnt to listen to your body. Take it easy and enjoy yourself! If you're doing this for fun and fitness then get the free version of Strava and marvel as you set Personal Bests during the Summer.

Competing with experienced riders when you're a novice is just going to be depressing. Ride your own ride! My only caution would be to look out for your knees and don't grind big gears. If in doubt, change down and use higher revs. You'll get more puffed but you'll recover faster.
Tandem Stoker, CX bike abuser (slicks and tarmac) and owner of a sadly neglected MTB.

mcshroom

  • Mushroom
Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2019, 04:16:20 pm »
Remember that Zwift by default only uses resistance equivalent to half the gradient it says you are riding up (you can up that in the settings). Also most trainers have a maximum gradient they can simulate, which may only be about 5%

Best advice for improving hill climbing is riding your bike, especially riding your bike uphill :)
Climbs like a sprinter, sprints like a climber!

Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2019, 04:21:20 pm »
My experience of the turbo is that it is superb for lifting cardio pulmonary fitness but does bugger all for your leg strength.  In theory you can set them so you end up working low cadence or explosive leg drills for strength but to be honest I'd rather do that outdoors. So as others have suggested to improve your hill climbing get out and climb some hills as often as you desire. Either as repeats or as a nice loop which I what I usually do.  It also allows you to get out the saddle and practice climbing like that which you'll never simulate on the turbo.  Don't worry if you can't make it up in one go to start with, that will come. Short sharp gradients often succumb to a different technique to long shallow gradients. I have a local 17% I go to when I want some quality hill time.  About 3 mins to climb and no traffic so perfect for repeats

Mrs Pingu

  • Who ate all the pies? Me
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Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2019, 04:53:11 pm »
Question: did you go straight from Zwift to 45 miles on the road with no shorter rides outdoors in between?
Do not clench. It only makes it worse.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2019, 06:18:19 pm »
It also allows you to get out the saddle and practice climbing like that which you'll never simulate on the turbo.

I should point out that while this approach can work well for very short steep climbs (humpback bridges and the like), and does provide a welcome opportunity to get pressure off the saddle area for a bit, it's not actually necessary for climbing hills.  Weaker riders in particular may prefer to gear down and spin.  Find what works best for you.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2019, 06:18:40 pm »
Question: did you go straight from Zwift to 45 miles on the road with no shorter rides outdoors in between?

I did wonder.  Chapeau if it's the case!
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Pedal Castro

  • so talented I can run with scissors - ouch!
    • Two beers or not two beers...
Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2019, 06:46:12 pm »
First order approximation:  Ride your bike.  Then ride it some more.  Rinse, repeat.

Absolutely this (speaking as an ex(sort of) PE teacher and qualified cycling coach)!

After some months if you hit a plateau then shorten the distance per ride but increase the speed/effort.

Martin 14

  • People too weak to follow their own dreams, will a
Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2019, 07:20:12 pm »
Question: did you go straight from Zwift to 45 miles on the road with no shorter rides outdoors in between?

Er yes  :-[ :-[
People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours

Mrs Pingu

  • Who ate all the pies? Me
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Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2019, 07:44:45 pm »
Question: did you go straight from Zwift to 45 miles on the road with no shorter rides outdoors in between?

Er yes  :-[ :-[

Crikey! No wonder you were feeling a bit puggled! As Kim said, chapeau!
Do not clench. It only makes it worse.

Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2019, 07:47:53 pm »
Lunges. As you get better at them, put lead bricks in the rucksack you are wearing. On the bike, use Tabata intervals. Get used to throwing . Have fun. In between times just go out and enjoy riding your bike.

Martin 14

  • People too weak to follow their own dreams, will a
Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2019, 07:55:17 pm »
Remember that Zwift by default only uses resistance equivalent to half the gradient it says you are riding up (you can up that in the settings). Also most trainers have a maximum gradient they can simulate, which may only be about 5%

Best advice for improving hill climbing is riding your bike, especially riding your bike uphill :)


Didn't know that and just checked yes it's on 50%  :facepalm:
People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours

Martin 14

  • People too weak to follow their own dreams, will a
Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2019, 07:57:58 pm »
Thanks guy's appreciated, it's nice you can come to one forum and get encouragement and sensible answers  :)
People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours

mcshroom

  • Mushroom
Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2019, 08:33:00 pm »
Remember that Zwift by default only uses resistance equivalent to half the gradient it says you are riding up (you can up that in the settings). Also most trainers have a maximum gradient they can simulate, which may only be about 5%

Best advice for improving hill climbing is riding your bike, especially riding your bike uphill :)


Didn't know that and just checked yes it's on 50%  :facepalm:

It's not really a bad idea, as it smoothes out the resistance changes :)

If you keep doing high resistance drills then you will improve hill climbing. For extra resistance you could stick the bike in a higher gear than you think it should be in. I would suggest that if you are Zwifting, then use it for different training than just concentrating on hills. What a turbo really helps with is removing the distractions of traffic and terrain, so you can concentrate on trying to expel the contents of your stomach pushing as hard as you possibly can.

Have a look in the training section. I'm not really an expert, but I'd guess something with a sustained power output a bit higher than you would choose yourself, interspersed with some interval sets would probably be helpful. From my limited experience - don't overestimate your FTP though; or it hurts and you might not finish the workout.
Climbs like a sprinter, sprints like a climber!

Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2019, 12:48:53 pm »
What is it that means you struggle to get up the hills?
Is it just that you get to a point where you can't change down any more, and while you haven't run out of puff, you just can't turn the pedals around at a low speed? If so, then maybe lower gears are the answer - depending on the bike you have this could be relatively simple (change the cassette). Developing strength, so you can clunk big gears up hills at a low cadence is probably not the answer - suitable gearing combined with cardio fitness so that you can spin up them is much better for your body.

The board to check out is "Further and Faster", you'll find lots of us on there are using indoor trainers (though not exclusively - congrats on completing such a ride based only on indoor training!).

Martin 14

  • People too weak to follow their own dreams, will a
Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2019, 05:14:51 pm »
What is it that means you struggle to get up the hills?
Is it just that you get to a point where you can't change down any more, and while you haven't run out of puff, you just can't turn the pedals around at a low speed? If so, then maybe lower gears are the answer - depending on the bike you have this could be relatively simple (change the cassette). Developing strength, so you can clunk big gears up hills at a low cadence is probably not the answer - suitable gearing combined with cardio fitness so that you can spin up them is much better for your body.

The board to check out is "Further and Faster", you'll find lots of us on there are using indoor trainers (though not exclusively - congrats on completing such a ride based only on indoor training!).
  Thanks Duncan, I shall take a look at that board. Cassette is campag 13-29 so another couple probably wouldn't go a miss, but it's probably down to my lack fitness more than anything. We shall see what the coming weeks bring before the next one in July….but I shall endeavour to include at least one out door ride a week :)
People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours

Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2019, 02:07:33 pm »
What chainrings do you have? Old school bikes tend to be 42/52, modern "compact" gearing usually has 34/50. Sadly Campag limits you more than Shimano when it comes to wide ranging cassettes, so if you already have a compact then getting lower gears may prove awkward. Getting outside for a ride is always a good plan (especially if the weather is decent). :)

Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2019, 02:13:51 pm »
when someone flies past you up an incline on a basic sit up and beg bicycle you have to call into question your fitness and strength

Cyclists massively overestimate the affect bicycle choice has on speed, rather than the engine. And some people who ride sit up and beg bikes and BSOs are very, very fit.

Keep plugging away!

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2019, 02:16:52 pm »
when someone flies past you up an incline on a basic sit up and beg bicycle you have to call into question your fitness and strength

Cyclists massively overestimate the affect bicycle choice has on speed, rather than the engine. And some people who ride sit up and beg bikes and BSOs are very, very fit.

As Mike Burrows put it: Riders climb, bicycles descend.


Similarly, never get into a silly commuter race with somebody on a Brompton.  However it ends, it's bad.  :)
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Martin 14

  • People too weak to follow their own dreams, will a
Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #20 on: May 08, 2019, 03:40:42 pm »
What is it that means you struggle to get up the hills?
Is it just that you get to a point where you can't change down any more, and while you haven't run out of puff, you just can't turn the pedals around at a low speed? If so, then maybe lower gears are the answer - depending on the bike you have this could be relatively simple (change the cassette). Developing strength, so you can clunk big gears up hills at a low cadence is probably not the answer - suitable gearing combined with cardio fitness so that you can spin up them is much better for your body.

The board to check out is "Further and Faster", you'll find lots of us on there are using indoor trainers (though not exclusively - congrats on completing such a ride based only on indoor training!).
  Thanks Duncan, I shall take a look at that board. Cassette is campag 13-29 so another couple probably wouldn't go a miss, but it's probably down to my lack fitness more than anything. We shall see what the coming weeks bring before the next one in July….but I shall endeavour to include at least one out door ride a week :)


 Sadly already on a compact, so it's me that needs to get better :)
People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours

Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2019, 12:33:46 pm »
A 29 is really not very large. Those are gears for racing, I'd suggest.

Leg strength alone is not the answer. You can't just push down, you have to be able to lever through your body. That takes core strength. Pilates, Yoga, planks; these are all helpful. Deadlifts, single-leg squats (when done carefully and correctly) will help.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Martin 14

  • People too weak to follow their own dreams, will a
Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #22 on: May 10, 2019, 08:41:10 am »
A 29 is really not very large. Those are gears for racing, I'd suggest.

Leg strength alone is not the answer. You can't just push down, you have to be able to lever through your body. That takes core strength. Pilates, Yoga, planks; these are all helpful. Deadlifts, single-leg squats (when done carefully and correctly) will help.

Yep as already pointed out I don't have many options on the gearing, expect perhaps a new bike :)

Core strength I have started working on this very week, although where the hell you fit a leg routine into it without flooring the legs will be interesting ;)
People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours

Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #23 on: May 10, 2019, 09:07:24 am »
Lunges. As you get better at them, put lead bricks in the rucksack you are wearing.

And kettle ball squats.
We are making a New World (Paul Nash, 1918)

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: Improving my leg strength
« Reply #24 on: May 10, 2019, 09:44:31 am »
Try a rowing machine. Great for leg strength, and core and arms etc. And more fun than indoor cycling.