Author Topic: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)  (Read 2165 times)

SharpGuy

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 14
I bike to work most days (roughly 30-45 miles per week), and have been doing so consistently for 6 months or so.   However, it feels like I have reached a plateau as far as my endurance goes.  By the end of the week my legs are routinely toast.    I really want to be able to ride on the weekends around town, but feel like my legs are begging for a break.      Any advice on how to get past this plateau and move my endurance up to the next level?   

Thanks

catccc

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1684
  • Location: SE PA
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2018, 09:00:56 PM »
Maybe some weight training?  Increase muscle mass = stronger engine?  You'd probably have to take some breaks to allow muscle to recover, but I think that would help.   Maybe vary your distance?  If you are biking 7-9 miles a day, maybe skip a couple commutes and go for a longer ride some other time?  I remember a 5 mile ride used to be hard for me; I'd come home looking like I was about to pass out, and it took me 30 minutes!  But I worked up kinda quickly (just the right amount of peer pressure from a local riding group) and in no time I could bike 70 miles! It was actually quite a jump- I started road riding in May last year, and before that the most I'd gone was 5 miles.  I had been doing spin classes all winter, so I had a good cardio endurance base.  Those rides in May were 14-15 miles or so.  In June I was doing 18-20 miles, and at the urging of a friend who was even newer to riding than I was, I did 70 miles!  She continued to increase and was doing centuries on weekend days.   Oh, spin classes!  If you can find a place to take them for cheap, they are very different from road riding- a lot of variety in rpm and resistance in a single class.  Ooh, now I'm thinking you've plateaued because your riding lacks variety- just doing the same commute day in and day out.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2018, 09:09:28 PM by catccc »

kenaces

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 228
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2018, 09:31:38 PM »
That isn't too many miles that you should be smoked at the end of the week unless you are hammering all the time.  How hard do you push it on rides to work?

Scrapr

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 23
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2018, 10:24:32 PM »
Try some intervals. Hard, then recover. I have a spin class video I do that is 1 min on 1 min off....for 40 minutes. That is my favorite spin video. After that longer rides will help. Skip (rest) on a weekday. Then do a longer ride on the weekend. Maybe Sat & Sun. Then rest Mo & Thur

SharpGuy

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 14
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2018, 10:33:05 PM »
I ride at moderate pace on my commutes and don’t normally push myself really hard, and yet am pretty exhausted at end of week.

Yes I could try varying the distance and going for longer rides sometimes.  Will try that.   Will also try intervals on my commutes sometime to mix things up.


honeybbq

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1218
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2018, 10:03:03 AM »
Definitely longer rides, and also incorporating hills, hill repeats, or standing on your bike to increase effort.

SharpGuy

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 14
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2018, 01:11:22 PM »
Thanks! 

JimmyFry

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 28
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Alpharetta, GA
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2018, 02:56:11 PM »
Congrats on all the riding SharpGuy!

If you've been riding every day week in and week out, you may benefit from simply taking a week off.  Cumulative Fatigue builds up over time and you can hit a point where you simply aren't recovering well enough to realize the benefits.

Others have provided some good advice on here, but make sure that (1) you incorporate advice in a way that makes sense for you, and (2) make sure that you're not just "adding" to the regimen that already tires you out.  In other words, focus on training smart instead of training more.

As an example: go ahead and add interval efforts to your commute, but do it only on Monday and Wednesday.  These days will be much harder than you're used to, so balance it out with slower rides on Tuesday and Thursday.  Plan extra time for your commute those days.  The combination of harder efforts and more effective rest should help bust your plateau.

Similarly, weight training is probably not a good idea for your situation since you can't incorporate into what you're already doing.  In this case, more is not more.  And interestingly enough, science is suggesting that weight training doesn't really translate to cycling anyway.  I'm still working out the counter-intuitive result, but for now go ahead and use that as your reason to skip it!

Happy riding.
Jimmy

Slow2FIRE

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 245
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2018, 04:56:36 PM »
Everything well maintained on your bike?  Brakes aren't rubbing, wheels (bearings) spin freely, crank spins easily?
Do you get sufficient sleep every night?
Do you get a well rounded diet with a good variety of veggies, fruits, meats, and grains?
Do you drink every night?
Do you engage in rigorous physical activity outside of bicycling?  (working in a warehouse, running for an hour during lunch, lifting weights, practicing martial arts for an hour or two every night)?

If you've been doing this for 6 months, you shouldn't have problems with 30-45 miles over the course of an entire week.  I don't see that as coming anywhere close to "overtraining" and is such low mileage as to allow you to have sufficient recovery time (especially if you primarily only ride during the week giving a full two days of rest).

We are talking about an approximately 4.5 mile one way commute 3 to 5 days a week and possibly 8hrs of rest between each ride, right?

Slow2FIRE

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 245
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2018, 05:08:38 PM »
...Similarly, weight training is probably not a good idea for your situation since you can't incorporate into what you're already doing.  In this case, more is not more.  And interestingly enough, science is suggesting that weight training doesn't really translate to cycling anyway.  I'm still working out the counter-intuitive result, but for now go ahead and use that as your reason to skip it!
...

Your comment made me curious enough to do some digging around.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00007256-199825030-00005
Study conducted in 2012:
Quote
As a result of these distinct muscular adaptations, endurance training facilitates aerobic processes, whereas resistance training increases muscular strength and anaerobic power. Exercise performance data do not fit this paradigm, however, as they indicate that resistance training or the addition of resistance training to an ongoing endurance exercise regimen, including running or cycling, increases both short and long term endurance capacity in sedentary and trained individuals. Resistance training also appears to improve lactate threshold in untrained individuals during cycling

https://search.proquest.com/openview/28db03a2edce0ace16d94456604dc1d8/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=30912

The above link is concerned with using interval training to get resistance training (vs non specific weight training).  Where everyone's advice for interval training (to achieve resistance training that is sport specific) is supported.

http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/10378917
This older study from 1999 suggests that there was no benefit for female endurance trained cyclists.

So, as with many "studies" there seems to be a bit of back and forth.  I would however, key in on the 2012 study for someone who is not a trained endurance athlete (or is newish to endurance sports) as it suggests there is a potential for a positive outcome.

Eucalyptus

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 334
  • Location: South Australia
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2018, 06:40:06 PM »
Agree with the above


You aren't doing enough miles in a week to really feel tired at the end, or, be at risk of burn out, or, be at risk of not seeing positive benefit by doing weight training.


The weight training doesn't have to be onerous or kill you every session to be of excellent benefit! A simple regime of deadlifts or squats will do it. Get a trainer for some sessions if you are new to those moves. Kettlebell swings are a good simple movement to learn as well with excellent benefits. Doing some core work (eg planks) will aid in your power delivery on the bike.


Don't stress about being too sport specific though. Your whole life will benefit from being stronger overall. Nothing wrong with building lean upper body strength.


I'd echoe the sentiments about checking the mechanical condition of your bike. If things have suddenly gotten really hard from commuting, there's probably two main reasons; you are somehow sick or badly fatigued from everything (probably not the commuting but other things in your life); see a doctor. Or, your bike suddenly sucks. Definitely not unheard of!!!

SharpGuy

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 14
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2018, 08:45:16 PM »
Great suggestions.   Thanks for the advice, especially the comments about taking a rest to perhaps address cumulative fatigue, varying routine, and not just adding to my existing routine.   Will also check out the links and work on introducing some weights or resistance training.   Bike is in good working condition.   Yes commute is about 9 miles max per weekday, and that is all the exercise I do (job not strenuous).   Sleep is good.   Diet is fairly well balanced.   

I am excited about the potential improvement that I might see!  Looking forward to this!


SharpGuy

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 14
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2018, 05:51:46 PM »
Thanks will check it out.

fixie

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 63
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2018, 02:30:16 PM »
Just on the off-chance it is your technique...Make sure your cadence is in the 80-100 rpm range or so.  Concentrate on making circles with your effort, instead of push(rt) push(lft).  In other words, use both your quads AND your hamstrings to propel you forward.  As others have said, change things up a bit, allow for rest days.  One thing I like to do to build up my legs is to leave the saddle.  Stand up, change gears as needed to maintain cadence.  When I REALLY start to get winded/burny, I go for one more minute, then sit and chill a bit and let the burn fade.  Rinse, repeat.  This really gets me into shape fast(44y.o.) after riding less through the winter.

-fixie

spokey doke

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 513
  • Escaped from the ivory tower basement
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2018, 09:14:14 AM »
Try some intervals. Hard, then recover. I have a spin class video I do that is 1 min on 1 min off....for 40 minutes. That is my favorite spin video. After that longer rides will help. Skip (rest) on a weekday. Then do a longer ride on the weekend. Maybe Sat & Sun. Then rest Mo & Thur

This^^^is good advice

use2betrix

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1774
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #15 on: April 19, 2018, 12:16:53 PM »
How is your diet? Do you take any supplements? I don’t know much about endurance training but endless amounts in supplements and diet. Take a look at your diet, specifically carbohydrates and their sources (primarily complex carbs)

I would also recommend some glutamine and BCAA’s. They would both have a positive impact.

kaizen soze

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 130
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #16 on: April 19, 2018, 12:48:29 PM »
I find that a regular stretching routine helps me recover. I know there's not a lot of scientific evidence that stretching helps prevent injury, reduce pain, or make muscles recover faster.  But it helps me, and it might help someone else.

There's also this possibility: you should just do something active on the weekends besides cycling. When I was bike commuting daily, I never felt like riding my bike on the weekends. If I wanted to do something active, I did something else. A little cross training might help you eventually work up to having the stamina to cycle on the weekends when you feel like it.

SharpGuy

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 14
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2018, 06:43:33 PM »
Thanks guys, all great suggestions.    Appreciate it. 

JimmyFry

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 28
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Alpharetta, GA
Re: Increasing bicycling endurance (seem to have reached plateau)
« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2018, 12:15:22 PM »
SharpGuy, how did you get along after incorporating some of the tips here?  Riding better?  Let us know!