Cycling for Weight Loss

Cycle Your Way To Weight Loss

By Scott Haywood

Of all the possible exercises there are to help you lose weight, cycling is one of the best.

If you want to lose weight and are looking for the perfect exercise, or if you’re looking for a great calorie burning exercise to add to your exercise repertoire, this article is for you.

We’ll tell you why cycling is so great and what it can do for you, what you’ll need to get started and provide helpful hints that will help you to cycle effectively and safely for the rest of your life.

The benefits of cycling

Cycling has many health benefits, particularly for those that want to lose weight. Here are just some of the great aspects of cycling:

o Cycling is one of the easiest aerobics exercises to start with because it offers a very wide range of training intensities, including very low levels of intensity.

o Cycling is a non-weight bearing exercise so it is easy on the joints, muscles and tendons.

o Cycling burns a lot of calories (more than 500 per hour at a moderate pace for someone weighing 80kgs).

o Cycling can be a relatively inexpensive activity to participate in.

o Cycling can be a very social activity and is easily performed in a group or with family and friend.

o Cycling can be done indoors or outdoors.

o Cycling provides aerobic training (for the heart and lungs), resistance training (for leg muscles) and isometric (static) resistance (for the arms and other muscles in the upper body).

o Cycling can be done relatively safely at almost any age.

o Cycling is a perfect cross-training exercise for running, swimming, skiing, etc and can add variety to any exercise program.

o Cycling is becoming safer as state governments and local city councils invest in dedicated bike tracks and designated bike lanes on city and country roads.

Why cycle?

If you want to lose weight, there are many reasons for you to consider cycling as part of your daily exercise regime.

Here are just 10 of the great things cycling can do for you:

1. Help you burn excess calories and lose weight.

2. Improve your cardiovascular fitness and gain more energy.

3. Help you avoid lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

4. Help you to increase your exercise intensity in a slow and controlled manner.

5. Help you combine exercise with spending time with your partner, children or friends.

6. Help you meet people (by joining a cycling club for example).

7. Help you add variety to your current exercise routine.

8. Help you combine exercise in the fresh air with exploring new places and enjoying new scenery.

9. Help you tone, strengthen and shape the muscles in your legs, bottom and arms.

10. Provide you with exercise that is easy to build progression (faster and/or longer rides) and intensity variation (varying your riding speed and distances) into.

What you need to get started

One of the greatest things about cycling, is how easy and relatively inexpensive it is to get started (assuming you can ride a bike of course and even if you can’t that is not an insurmountable problem).

Of course there are those of us who really get into cycling and spend a small fortune on fancy equipment, but for those who just want to get started and lose weight, here’s a list of the absolute essentials you’ll need as well as the optional extras you should consider to make your riding more enjoyable.

The Essentials

Here’s what you’ll need to start outdoor cycling:

o A bike!

o A bike helmet.

o Spare tubes, tyre levers and a bike pump.

o Water bottle and water bottle cage for your bike.

o Sunglasses and sunscreen.

Optional Extras

Although classed as optional extras, if you can afford them we recommend you strongly consider:

o Bike shorts (called knicks) with a good quality chamois sown into the seat.

o Bicycle gloves with padded palms.

o Speedometer (to monitor your distance and speed).

o Heart Rate Monitor (to help you regulate your intensity).

o Mobile phone (to call help if you ever get into trouble).

Helpful hints for effective, safe cycling

Here are some helpful hints to help you get the most out of cycling:

Bike

o An inexpensive bike with few features is OK to get started but we recommend as a minimum you get a bike with quick-release wheel hubs so you can get the wheels off easily without a spanner when you get that inevitable puncture during a ride.

o Getting the right sized bike for you is very important so visit your local bike shop first and ask them what the right sized bike for you is.

o There are many types of bikes available from road racing bikes to pure mountain bikes and all sorts in between. Which style of bike is best for you depends upon where you are going to ride the bike, whether you want comfort or speed and how much you have to spend.

o For those of you wanting to ride just to lose weight and will do most of your riding on sealed roads and bike paths, we recommend a hybrid bike with road tires. Hybrid bikes tend to have slightly wider wheels than pure road bikes and have a much more comfortable upright riding position.

o Setting up your seat height is very important. You know your bike seat is at the correct height when your leg has a slight bend in it at the knee when the corresponding pedal is closest to the ground. If you buy your bike from a bike shop, make sure they adjust your seat height for you.

o When it comes to bike costs, be prepared to pay more for bikes that are lighter in weight and have better quality fittings like gears and levers, etc.

Helmet

o Make sure the helmet you wear fits your head properly.

o Of all the possible places to scrimp and save money, we recommend that this isn’t one of them – your helmet is by far the most important piece of cycling equipment you’ll own.

o Generally speaking, be prepared to pay more money for very light helmets with superior ventilation properties.

o We highly recommend that you avoid buying a second hand helmet and that you buy your helmet from a reputable seller who will make sure that your helmet fits properly.

o Modern bike helmets are specifically designed to absorb a great deal of the impact in an accident and crack or break in the process. If your helmet is subject to a reasonable impact, take it to a reputable dealer for checking and possible replacement.

Spare tubes, tyre levers and bike pump

o Unless you’re just riding around your block a few times a week, you’re going to need some spare tubes, a pair of tyre levers and a bike pump.

o The most important things about spare tubes are that you carry at least two of them and that they are the right size for your bike.

o Tyre levers are essential in helping to remove and replace your tires from the wheel rims. Only being small, these levers can easily be carried in a bum-bag or in a specially designed carry bag that fits at the back of your bike seat.

o Always carry a functional bike pump that has the right connection for the valves in your tubes. Most bike pumps have racks that allow you to attach the pump to the frame of your bike for convenience.

Water bottle and water bottle cage for your bike

o Always carry plenty of water with you when you cycle.

o Most bikes have room for two water bottle cages on the inside of their frame.

o For very long rides, consider buying a hydration pack that is essentially a backpack especially designed to carry water. These packs typically carry between 1 and 3 litres of water.

o While cycling drink small amount of water often and never go longer than 15 minutes or so without taking a drink. Because it makes you sweat, cycling makes your body use and lose a great deal of fluid which must be replaced to avoid dehydration.

Sunglasses and sunscreen

o When cycling outside always wear sunglasses and sunscreen unless it is very early in the morning or late in the evening.

Bike shorts (called knicks)

o Although easy on the body as a whole, cycling can be hard on your backside initially (but it soon gets a lot better the more you ride – if it doesn’t consider buying a softer, wider seat for you bike).

o Modern cycling shorts have a chamois sown into their seat which provides extra padding between you and the bike seat and helps wick moisture away from your skin keeping you dry and helping you avoid chafing.

Bicycle gloves with padded palms

o Believe it or not, one part of the body that can do it tough while cycling is the hands. Padded bike gloves can help reduce the pressure on the hands, particularly on longer rides and for the small amount they cost are well worth it.

Speedometer

o Speedometers are great at monitoring the speed and distance of each ride and some even estimate the number of calories burned during each ride.

o By keeping an exercise diary, you can use this valuable information to gradually increase your cycling distances and speeds as well as track your fitness progress.

o Because speedometers use the diameter of your bike wheels as the basic unit of measure to calculate speed and distance, we recommend you have your speedo fitted by a reputable bike dealer to make sure the information you’re getting is accurate.

Heart Rate Monitor

o These really are optional extras, but if you can afford one, we highly recommend you buy and use a heart rate monitor while cycling.

o While a basic speedometer can help you monitor speed and distance, these can be influenced greatly by things such as strong winds and steep hills. Heart rate monitors help overcome the inconsistencies of these outside influences and are the perfect tool to measure your exercise intensity.

Mobile phone

o Again, these are obviously an optional extra but for safety’s sake we always carry a mobile phone when cycling – if you or a riding partner are ever involved in an accident or just can’t make it home on time as promised, it’s very reassuring to know that you can easily get in contact with someone using your mobile phone.

Riding

Here are some tips to make your riding safe and effective:

o Consult your doctor before starting cycling or any new exercise program.

o Start slowly and keep distances short initially and slowly build up your distances and then speeds.

o If riding on a shared path, warn walkers and other riders when approaching from behind using your bike’s bell.

o Use hand signals to indicate that you intend to change lanes or turn corners on your bike.

o Obey all traffic signals when riding on public roads.

o Make riding fun by including friends and perhaps stopping for a drink and snack along the way or afterwards.

o Change your riding route for variety.

o Mix your riding distances and intensities for maximum long term weight loss and fitness.

o Seventy percent of your riding should be done at an easy to moderate intensity (60 – 80% of your maximum heart rate).

o Ride the right sized bike and make sure your seat is at the right height.

o Drink regularly when riding.

o Use indoor cycling when raining or to compliment your outdoor riding.

o Stick to dedicated bike paths or designated bike lanes wherever possible.

o Listen to your body; if you need to take a break during your ride take it.

o Plan your route and communicate it and your estimated ride time to your partner or someone else so they know where to look if you are delayed for any reason.

Conclusion

Of all the possible exercises there are to help you lose weight, cycling is one of the best.

If you want to lose weight and are looking for the perfect exercise, or if you’re looking for a great calorie burning exercise to add to your exercise repertoire, cycling may be for you.

Now you know why cycling is so great and what it can do for you, what you’ll need to get started and keep cycling effectively and safely for the rest of your life there’s only one thing to do. Give it a go. Cycling is sure to help you become a happier, healthier you.

Good luck.

Scott Haywood is the editor of Australia’s leading weight loss and healthy lifestyle website weightloss.com.au. Weightloss.com.au is a free weight loss resource and weight loss products guide.

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Building Endurance

How To Build Base Endurance:

The Best Methods To Build Base Endurance To Keep You Going Season Long

By Pav Bryan

Whether you are a road racer going long miles in the saddle, a time-trial rider who might only ride up to 25 mile races, or a sportive rider who rides for the fun and thrill rather than the element of competition, you will need to establish a firm base endurance to ensure your body is able to cope with the stresses of riding long distances or even hard short distances but multiple times a week for weeks at end. Typically the period between your rest at the end of one season and the start of a new year is the best period to build this base endurance, but it shouldn’t be neglected throughout the year.

One of the main factors when starting an endurance part of your training is to start slowly and build up from there. If you go too hard or for too long too early you will shock your body and struggle to keep it going at any intensity for any time. Even if you are used to doing hundreds of miles a week during the peak of the season, once you have a period of rest it is ideal to build it back up from scratch. Some riders find it easier to count miles and set targets based on the amount of mileage you do a week, but I think when talking endurance you should be looking at time. If you set out to do 100 miles a week and you get stuck in the worst weather possible, or go out with a slow club ride you may find it takes you hours longer to complete this 100 than if you were doing it during the summer. If you go out saying I’ll do 6 hours endurance this week, you go out and just do 6, there’s no risk of doing too much. You can monitor miles after which will give you an idea of your progression.

An endurance ride should be a minimum of an hour but in reality you should be aiming for three or more. The types of heart rate you should be seeing is between 60% and 75% of your maximum or if you are using power between 35% and 55% of max. These are defined as training zones one and two. Of course there will be periods where you go above or below this, for example up and down hills, but you should aim to remain within these zones to ensure that you are building base endurance. If you are unable to use power or heart rate you should aim to be relaxed when riding, you should be able to have a conversation and you may be breaking a sweat, but If you start breathing and sweating hard, and having a conversation becomes hard you need to ease off. I do all my base endurance rides outside whatever the weather. I just can’t stand the thought of three hours indoors. However, you might be different, maybe you can stick on a movie or play some video games it all depends on your preference to training in all weather.

The benefits of building base endurance, other than preparing your body to cope with a long season of rides is that you’ll be increasing your body’s ability to burn fat as a fuel. Important if you are overweight but also if you are looking to carry less food with you or if you plan to stop less on sportives. Another benefit is you will be increasing your body’s fuel economy, sounds odd but if your body uses fuel better then what you eat will be more effective, again very important in all aspects of riding from races to sportives. As your body becomes more efficient in burning fuel it’ll also be using oxygen more effectively, again if your body is better at supplying your muscles with oxygen you’ll ride better and faster.

Don’t neglect base endurance, the preparation and building blocks of the upcoming season. Even during a long season of time-trialling I aim to do a long endurance ride at least once a month. Of course this has to be of benefit to my racing, I’m not going to do over 100 miles the day before a time-trial! The fact that I build such a great endurance during the last off season and maintained it well during the racing season is the reason I’ve had a strong year. As I approach the point where I start to build endurance in preparation to next year I’m starting to hope the weather remains favourable, or at least we dodge some of the worst! But either way I’ll be out there, come rain or shine.

Pav Bryan – Owner & Coach

Pav Bryan Cycling Coach

Advanced Wattbike Cycling Performance & Fitness Testing, & Coaching

http://www.pavbryan.com

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How To Boost Sustainable Power

How To Boost Sustainable Power: What’s The Best Way To Improve Your Ability To Go Fast For Long?

 

How To Boost Sustainable Power: What’s The Best Way To Improve Your Ability To Go Fast For Long?

By Pav Bryan

The ability to go hard for long is tough. Too hard and you’ll burn out, too slow and you’re off the pace. The types of situation where you need sustainable power would be in a 25 mile time trial or a long road race, getting to the end to finish in a sprint is all very good but if you’re too tired to be competitive in the sprint it’s game over. Alternatively you can look at it from the point of view that with exceptional sustainable power you could win from a break-away or at least tire your competitors out enough to give yourself the best chance at the line.

But it isn’t just about competition, if you can go hard for long you’ll be quicker than your friends, able to reserve energy for those tough climbs or that sprint to the sign post. Sustainable power is as much a part of any ride as it is any race. The best part, in my opinion, about improving or boosting your sustainable power is that it’s easily done outside! You may get slightly better results from training inside, but the fun element, the part that we all enjoy really comes to play in training to boost this element of your cycling.

You may have heard of functional threshold power (FTP). It’s a very popular topic and term used in cycling training. Without going into too much (somewhat confusing!) detail FTP is your maximum sustainable power over the course of an hour, or the point at which lactic acid starts to build in the blood. If you know your maximum minute power (MMP) which can be found through a performance or fitness test just take 75% of that. Alternatively there are tests you can do at home, like the 20 minute test. I prefer performance testing, mainly because with a qualified coach you will get a more accurate result but also that the design of such tests tend to suggest that the shorter the test the more accurate it’ll be. A 20 minute FTP test or a 10 minute ramp test, or even a 3 minute aerobic test. All good but in my opinion the latter are more accurate.

Once you know your FTP you know how hard you have to go in order to boost sustainable power. Anything between 55-75% of MMP is the range you should be training in, if you are using a power meter. If you are using a heart rate monitor you should aiming between 75-89% of your maximum heart rate (MHR). Training with power will yield better more efficient results but not all of us can afford expensive power meters, the next best thing is heart rate, if you don’t train with a heart rate monitor you should be finding it reasonably hard work, heart rate and breathing up, sweating and beginning to pant. If you use training zones you will need to be training in zones 3 and 4.

The results from training in these zones vary, obviously the main goal is to boost sustainable power but you’ll also get an improvement in your body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates, some of your muscles will change from fast twitch to slow twitch, and as mentioned above you’ll start to boost your threshold. This type of training benefits everyone, it is useful during tapering and pre-competition but too much training in this area will cause staleness.

If you chose to train to boost sustainable power outside it is important to be able to see your power output or heart rate while riding or at a minimum you should be able review your ride afterwards, a good tracker is important here. If you are outside rides should last anywhere between 30 minutes and two hours, effort should increase as duration decreases.

If you can’t check out your effort during or afterwards you should really complete these sessions on a turbo trainer. The type of intervals here will range from 2 intervals of 15 minutes to 4 of 8 minutes. The shorter the interval length the closer to the maximum (or possibly over) you should be. Use the advice above in order to train as effectively as possible. If you want to test your progress, a 25 mile time trial is perfect as you should be aiming to be as close, or under, to an hour as possible. Another reason why, if you don’t already, you should make a leap and do some time trialing…

Pav Bryan – Owner & Coach

Pav Bryan Cycling Coach

Advanced Wattbike Cycling Performance & Fitness Testing, & Coaching

http://www.pavbryan.com

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Boost Maximum Power

How to Boost Maximum Power: Power Isn’t Just About Sprinting -What’s the Best Method to Boost Yours?

 

How to Boost Maximum Power: Power Isn’t Just About Sprinting -What’s the Best Method to Boost Yours?

By Pav Bryan

Maximum power isn’t just about the sprint at the end, in fact the sprint at the end doesn’t really come into maximum power and is separately described as sprint power. Sprint power is an absolute maximum you can sustain for seconds. Maximum power is more about minutes. Sprinters of course have high sprinting power but climbers have high maximum power. Look at the leg muscles in the pro peloton. The sprinters have more muscle and are built bigger than the skinny climbers and of course the weight difference between sprinters and climbers will play a massive part in where their strengths lie.

Whether you compete yourself or are a casual weekend rider in the odd sportive boosting your maximum power output will be of massive benefit. The riders’ at your club who always win the sprint to the sign post probably do quite a lot of training to boost their power. The riders’ who go up hills effortlessly probably do quite a lot of training to boost their power. The good news is that the sessions to build power are short, the bad news is they are hard, very hard…

First you need to know what your maximum minute power (MMP) is. You can get this from a performance or fitness test. Getting this done in a controlled environment with a qualified coach will give you the most accurate readings, but tests can be done from home on a turbo trainer. Once you know your MMP boosting power output is done by completing intervals at close to or above this figure. In order to boost sprint power you need to train in what is known as the supra-maximal zone or higher than your MMP, unfortunately if you aren’t using power you are unable to track this zone via heart rate but you should be aiming to be extremely stressed, gasping and sweating heavily.

Boosting maximum power is done by training between 85-100% of MMP. If you don’t have a power meter your heart rate should be above 94% of maximum. If you don’t use a heart rate monitor you should be experiencing similar effects as above, stressed, gasping, and sweating. This is training in zone 6.

Regardless of whether you want to build sprint or maximum power it is my opinion you should do this indoors. The sessions are so sensitive and short that you need to be training in the exact parameters to get the best effects. Outside you have traffic, weather, and hills and so on. You could do hill climb intervals but again when you have to keep an eye on what’s going on around you, you might be missing what’s happening with your power outputs and heart rate.

The benefits of training in zones 6 and supra-maximal are more than just the increase in power. You will be developing your control of pedalling at high cadences and more efficient in the rotation of your legs, you are developing race specific skills such as starting power, sprint speed, and even an increase in your ability to jump away from the bunch, or catch someone who has just started a break.

As mentioned above the types of sessions you need to be doing are short. The interval lengths are very short. The shorter the harder but remember you need to be as close to MMP or maximum heart rate (MHR). With supra-maximal you may only be sprinting for 20 seconds, with zone 6 efforts of only a few minutes. The quality is important here, you should be very tired by the end of the session, and you may not actually finish the final interval. Ensure you warm-up well before, and do a cool-down after. You should experiment with interval sessions and keep a training diary. With effective training in these zones you’ll no longer get dropped in a sprint, and you’ll surely be the first to that village sign!

Pav Bryan – Owner & Coach

Pav Bryan Cycling Coach

http://www.pavbryan.com

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Boost Aerobic Power

Bike repairs saved when riders are fitter

How To Boost Maximal Aerobic Power: A Look At VO2 Max And The Respiratory System During Exercise

By Pav Bryan

VO2 Max or Volume Oxygen Maximum shouldn’t just be left to the pros to worry about. To briefly explain what it means it is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption measured during exercise. To get a very accurate measurement you need to visit a lab or university and use either a treadmill or stationary bike with a face mask fitted to a machine that measures the oxygen and carbon dioxide amounts of inhaled and exhaled air. It is defined by either litres per minute or as a ratio of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute. However all this can be easily estimated during a performance test.

Obviously the higher your VO2 max the better your body’s ability to use oxygen. Sadly, like most things, it will decrease with age, but thankfully exercise will increase it. Training between 75-85% of your Maximum Minute Power (MMP), as determined by a performance test, will achieve the best results at developing the cardiovascular system and VO2 max. If you don’t use a power meter you should be aiming to be training at around 89-94% of Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). If you don’t use a heart rate monitor you should be very stressed, gasping and sweating heavily. This is known as Zone 5 training.

Other than boosting your VO2 max and developing your cardiovascular system, training in zone 5 will build your ability to sustain a maximal aerobic power (the power you output at VO2 max), you’re improving anaerobic energy production (your body’s ability to provide fuel in the absence of oxygen), you’ll be improving the speed at which your body expels waste products from the body (lactic acid etc.), it’ll also improve your time trialling ability and resistance to short-term fatigue.

The type of training you need to be doing is fairly simple, short and hard but sustainable intervals. It is possible to do these outdoors, but like most things it is most efficient indoors on a turbo trainer. When outputting power as high as you will be in this zone it is advisable to warm-up for at least 20 minutes. Intervals can be between 3 and 8 minutes but in my experience the shorter the better so try 3 minutes at 85% of your maximum minute power or 94% of your maximum heart rate followed by 3 minutes rest or active recovery.

Although not specifically linked to VO2 max levels some athletes use special lung or respiratory trainers. These are designed to restrict the air to your lungs forcing you to breathe harder to get the same amount of oxygen. These will develop the diaphragm muscles making them stronger, the idea being that without the respiratory trainer you will breathe better. Sadly there is very little evidence to suggest that these actually work. One thing that you see a lot of pros doing is altitude training. As the oxygen thins at a higher altitude the lungs are forced to use oxygen more efficiently. When at a lower altitude or sea level your lungs should therefore function better. Again sounds like a good idea, but little evidence suggests to support it and ventilation rate shouldn’t be confused with VO2 max.

Although it is always good to compare yourself to the professionals it isn’t always the best to get hung up on it. Unlike power outputs which are determined fairly easily and accurately, VO2 max is a struggle to monitor regularly with absolute accuracy. But don’t discount training to boost it. The benefits maybe slightly more hidden but no less important.

Pav Bryan – Owner & Coach

Pav Bryan Cycling Coach

Advanced Wattbike Cycling Performance & Fitness Testing, & Coaching

http://www.pavbryan.com

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