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pushing big gears--did i discover a known training trick?(13 posts)

pushing big gears--did i discover a known training trick?Js Haiku Shop
Oct 19, 2001 5:24 AM
having some frustrations in the daily non-bike grind. last night's group ride i pushed big ring/small cog(s) the whole way, including the hills. RPMs pretty low, legs screaming, gasping for air. thought the guys on my wheel would kick my butt, but it turns out i kept dropping them. seems i'm a bit faster on the other side of the hill (flats or downhills) after i've come up, struggling, in the big ring. actually seems i'm a bit faster going both ways. my typical spin, not 100% sure of cadence, is probably 90-110 RPM.

t'was only a 20-mile ride. i know about interval training: this ride was like one extended interval session with hills. i felt like a million bucks (and still do, even this morning, including no muscle soreness). funny thing, too--i usually can't stay with my big arse out of the saddle for long, but i found it nearly indefinite in the big ring.

what's up with that?
re: pushing big gears--did i discover a known training trick?morey
Oct 19, 2001 5:43 AM
I have heard, and have tried the big ring going up hills. I find it is easier for me to remain off the saddle, but I also go up the hill faster. Why?
Because you are using strength not techniqueJohn-d
Oct 19, 2001 6:03 AM
Strength is OK, while it lasts. Fast pedalling uses less energy and allows you to accelerate. Watch the video of Lance Armstrong and Ullrich competing up the mountains.

Fast pedalling requires development of the fast twitch muscles. Work on it, it will allow you to take a comfortable seat while the others stand and stare, until you disappear round the curve.
I do that for training, once a week or sotarwheel
Oct 19, 2001 6:12 AM
I've found the same thing -- my best avg speeds on my usual training route (20-24 miles) are when I stay in the big ring the whole time. I am normally more of a spinner than a masher, but I do the "big ring rides" as a training technique, like intervals. My usual route is very hilly, so it's a real workout staying in the big ring the whole way. My usual solo speeds for the whole ride are between 16-17 mph, but in the big ring I have topped 18 mph a few times. I think on a longer ride, 40 miles or longer, it would really start to wear me out. However, if I'm riding with a paceline in a group, I am able to ride in the big ring much more due to the higher avg speeds.
re: pushing big gears--did i discover a known training trick?DINOSAUR
Oct 19, 2001 6:52 AM
I push "big gears" a couple of times a week. My big gear will be using a 39/21 as opposed to a 39/23. My rides are all out and back with a lot of climbing. I time myself on part of my ride and if I keep in the 21 gear on the climbs I can cut off around 2 minutes on a ten mile time trial. However I don't do this often, if you push big gears you can blow out your knees. And always, as you know, warm up first. I found it's good to mix up your training, but keep a check on knee pain, that's why the pro's spin....
re: pushing big gears--did i discover a known training trick?morey
Oct 19, 2001 7:11 AM
In my unknowing years, I was a big gear masher, partly because I was strong, partly because it was macho. Now I know that spinning really helps keep your knees from blowing out. I am still not real good at spinning. A cadence between 75-85. However, I am working on it.
re: pushing big gears--did i discover a known training trick?DINOSAUR
Oct 19, 2001 8:57 AM
Yeah I know, I'm a big strong guy who lifted weights for several years. I thought that pushing big gears would be the way to go for me but it's the opposite. If I push large gears day-in and day-out my knees ache...
muscle tension workoutmr_spin
Oct 19, 2001 6:55 AM
This is what Chris Carmichael calls a "muscle tension workout," which is "for sustainable strength and recruits fast twitch muscle fibers while athlete works aerobically."
You is strong.9WorCP
Oct 19, 2001 7:25 AM
The spinning is a long term solution that taxes you heart and lungs in a greater proportion to your legs and butt. It's hard to sustain a high RPM style for very long unless you are extremely aerobically fit, but if you can spin you can save your leg strength over the long run. Most riders cannot spin high RPMs (at competitive speed)for long periods, especially up hill. However, in the short term, strong riders generate higher speed in the big gears and this almost always works better for them rather than forcing themselves to spin. Not everyone can generate high watts while spinning. side note: pushing huge gears ~50-60RPM is excellent strength training for spinning since you tend to feel the resistance all the way aroung the stroke. Your muscles learn to push and pull (mostly)over the entire circle of the pedal stroke.

I suspect you are naturally stronger in the legs than you are aerobically conditioned.
You is strong.Jon
Oct 19, 2001 8:55 AM
The above post is accurate. The physiological answer is that people with a higher proportion of Type
II-b, fast twitch fibres will tend to be stronger and natural gear mashers. However, because these
muscle fibres rely exclusively on muscle glycogen and blood glucose as fuel sources, when
glycogen runs low they will lose power. Fast-twitch fibres also produce as a byproduct of energy
production Hydrogen ions and lactic acid which ultimately impedes energy production.

Endurance types with a higher proportion of Type 1, slow twitch fibres, won't be quite as strong but
will possess more natural endurance. If you can train your aerobic capacity and raise lactate threshold
you will be able to produce more power, aerobically longer, thus sparing glycogen stores. As far
as learning to spin faster, this is a neuromotor skill which comes with practice over a long period
of time.
You is strong.morey
Oct 19, 2001 9:00 AM
Ask any sprinter that runs 100 meters if its tough. They really rely on anerobic work. It relies primarily on stored glycogen, and your stores are not great. It hurts to train to rely on glycolysis.
In my case, I am stronger than I am aerobically fit, a condition I hope improves with time and exercise.
You is strong.Jon
Oct 19, 2001 9:24 AM

You realize, of course, that what we're talking about here are relative contributions of various muscle
fibre types and relative degrees of glycolysis vs. complete glucose oxidation. It's just that some
of us have certain natural tendencies. The object in cycling is probably to maximize aerobic
capacity. On the other hand, I wish I had a little more natural strength to push a big gear. And I
suppose all of us would like to be gifted like Lance!
also efficiencycyclopathic
Oct 19, 2001 9:52 AM
Spinning at high RPM requires good muscle coordination and balance btw different muscle groups, not just raw force.

Most of beginners benefit from mashing due to that simple fact that they're very inefficient spinning.

Other thing while spinning contribution of secondary muscles is higher (you apply less torque) then when you mash (mashing mostly taxes prime movers). This may also result it higher lactic acid levels comparing to power output then when mashing, just because your secondary muscles way overloaded and explode with lactic acid.

On other side of spectrum you have guys like me who can't hit LTHR while riding 16-22% grade, thanks to high gearing.

Needless to say versatile cyclist should be capable of applying high torque at high cadence.