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Question : Anaerobic Cycling(17 posts)

Question : Anaerobic CyclingPiPod
Nov 8, 2002 5:17 AM

Why is it that I can very easily and quickly go anaerobic and stay anaerobic (and higher) for long periods of time (well over an hour) and feel comfortable? I mean - is it possible that I have some kind of thyroid issue? I can go from 100 bpm to 180 bpm in about 45 seconds. Anyone have similar issues or have any light they can shed on this?

Stats given below...may help you in helping me answer my question...

Max HR: 208 bpm
LT: 180 bpm
Resting HR: 50 bpm
Sex: Female, 63 in, 110 lbs


Some Help?Wayne
Nov 8, 2002 5:47 AM
Anaerobic is a term from yeast physiology and really doesn't apply to humans and probably shouldn't be used, I think people are going toward using supra-threshold instead of anaerobic.
What you're are talking about seems to be sustaining a HR right around your lactate threshold or slightly higher for an hour or more. That's perfectly normal. Your LT of 180 is just about what one would expect for a fit person with a max of 208. My max is around 183 or so, and I can sustain a HR of 170-172 in an hour or so long time trial or cyclo-cross race.
Why do you think that is high? What are you expecting?
Are you saying your HR is that high without even going hard?
Some Help?PiPod
Nov 8, 2002 7:07 AM
Yes - My HR is going that high (sometimes) when I am not working that hard. That's my concern :-)

Not working that hard or not working hard at all?Wayne
Nov 8, 2002 8:39 AM
Easily being able to get your HR near the max can be signs of a couple of things. Paradoxically, one is being unfit. Two it just may be that you have your training right, in that you're fit, but not training so much that getting your HR is difficult. The inability or alot of difficulty in getting your HR above threshold can be indicative of over-training.
If you're just spinning along and your HR shoots up to near your max that's generally when people worry. That's when it's time to see a cardiologist.
Not working that hard or not working hard at all?PiPod
Nov 8, 2002 9:22 AM
Luckily, my HR doesn't shoot up to 180 when I'm spinning along easily. One example of is when I do high cadence drills at low gear it can shoot up to 180 + in a very short period of time. Don't know. I guess I will work on my base. This is going to be my 2nd season. Who knows?
what are the complaints about?rrjc5488
Nov 10, 2002 8:35 PM
I'm a 14 year old boy who has a resting HR of 51, mhr of 206 (220-14), and i just ran a 10K race in 41:39 with my HR at 195 the entire time? I can keep my heart rate on my bike at 195 without any problems for at least an hour. you say you can keep a high HR for long periods of time, thats a good thing, what are you complaing about? and just wondering, do you know your lung capacity?

--keep on riding.
what are the complaints about?PiPod
Nov 13, 2002 10:29 AM
Sorry about the *miscommuncation*. I was not complaining. My concern was if this was possibly due to something medically related. Guess it is not. I was/am concerned b/c I have only been cycling & racing for 1 year and yes, I do know my lung capacity.
Weightlifting is anaerobicJames Curry
Nov 8, 2002 6:01 AM
Is it my miscalculation or is that word, "anaerobic" misused often?

I consider anaerobic exercise something like lifting weights: pure muscle strain. When you jump from a standstill in a track race from 100-180 BPM speed increasing accordingly, THAT is an anaerobic effort. For the first 20 or 30 seconds, you're probably not breathing heavy at all. IT "Catches up to you" soon thereafter, but anytime your breathing increases to match the effort I would imagine you're going into an aerobic realm and maintaining the extreme high end of that realm.

For someone with a such a high Max HR as yourself, 180 is not inconceivable to hold for an hour. If 180 is your LT, [mine is about the same and my max is 206] that is where you would TT most effectively or just under that. With a happy season behind me, I found that 180-181 is a great HR. It is the upper end of my comfort zone. Anything over 183 and it is a definite line I have crossed evident by a drop in speed and an increase in pain. I can easily sprint from 181 though. Regardless of duration of the exercise and bike speed if the HR is 181, I can sprint.

A sprint is anaerobic. Just like the track start. Could you sprint for more than 10-12 seconds? No, and if you CAN you're not going hard enough. THAT is truly riding anaerobic. Not to play any type of advocate using your posting as an example, PiPod, but I often hear people using that term and I think it is not used correctly on most occasions.

Please, anyone comment on this. Agree/Disagree?
Nov 8, 2002 7:04 AM
even lifting weights or sprinting there is oxygen going to the muscle and some ATP is being generated oxidatively, so is it truely anaerobic? I think this is why exercise physio. people are going away from using this term. However, the ATP demands of some of the muscle fibers may be exceeding their ability to produce ATP via oxidation of fats or of the products of glycolysis (i.e. lactate converted to pyruvate). Consequently more ATP is generated glycolytically and the excess lactate, which is exceeding the ability of the cell to convert it to pyruvate and oxidize it, is dumped into the blood. Where it can be taken up by either, other muscle fibers with a greater oxidative capacity and/or the liver to be converted back into glycogen.
In the case of weight lifting you also have the Creatine-Phospate (CPr) system as well as the glycolytic system to generate ATP rapidly and in short order, probably largely prior to the oxidative mechanisms of the muscle cells getting a chance to kick in anywhere near to the extent that they do when exercising for endurance.
Ever watch the simpsons where they take the dog to theJames Curry
Nov 8, 2002 7:39 AM
trainers school?

When Homer starts reprimanding the dog for something he did wrong they switch to the dog's point of view and all you hear is Blah Blah Blah. Yeah about half-way through your response that's what happened. I take it your a med student.
Nov 8, 2002 8:29 AM
I'm a physical therapist working on PhD, basically studying muscle fatigue. So i know just enough about exercise physiology to get myself in trouble but I read about it since I'm interested in it because I cycle and it's related to what I do.
So in laymen's terms, yes, Anaerobic is a misused term, since your muscles are generating energy whether weightlifting or sprinting at the end of a race using oxygen. However, there are alternative not mutually exclusive ways to create energy for the muscle cells that do not use oxygen. These ways create energy faster but are less efficient, in the sense that you get less energy per molecule of raw material. Furthermore, there is some sort of negative consequence associated with using these mechanisms to a large degree, since you usually have to "recover" afterwards before your effort can be repeated.
Problems of DefinitionJon Billheimer
Nov 9, 2002 9:06 AM
This brings to mind Veronique Billat's pretty scathing critique of the whole concept of anaerobic or lactate threshold. Since energy production is a dynamic process involving several energetic systems--which in themselves are imperfectly understood--she suggested and has devised workouts to improve velocity at VO2 max, arguing that the measurement itself is more objective and productive from a training perspective. The central issue here is the imprecision of any of the three or four definitions of anaerobic threshold. Additionally, heart rate variability at a given work rate on any given day is huge, according to some studies up to 18 bpm. So determining threshold heartrate is a fuzzy, though functionally useful, exercise at best.
Ever watch the simpsons where they take the dog to the53T
Nov 12, 2002 8:47 AM
Sometimes I think that I'll never get ahead, there is too much to know, and everyone else is so smart and hard-working. Then I read a post like yours, and I feel much better. Thanks.
Sounds like you're in great shapeJimena
Nov 8, 2002 7:11 AM
Are you going fast while you're comfortably up over 180bpm? If so, you should join our team. Do you race? What category? Where?

In any case, it sounds like you have trained your high end quite a bit, and you must have mad speed. 180bpm is 86 percent of your max, so that's about zone 4 according to Friel. That's a zone you would typically be able to ride in for an hour. I think it's normal.

On a very hard day, if you're doing intervals, you would probably try to reach 90-95% of max. Yesterday, for example, I did 7X 1 minute intervals (2 mins of rest between) where I pushed up past 90% of max, but I can't hold it there very long. I agree with the others that "anaerobic" is a pretty meaningless term. If you want to read up on the science/theory of training, check out Friel and Carmichael. Has anyone read the new training book by Lance?
Sounds like you're in great shapePiPod
Nov 8, 2002 7:29 AM
I believe that I am going fast when I am comfy over 180 bpm. Si, I do race. Category - Women 3. Where? In the US.

I think you brought up a good point - the fact that I have trained my high end quite a bit. And I guess that brings me to a another question : Do I need to focus on my low end more? I've only been cycling/racing for one year (2002 was my first season)
Sounds like you're in great shapeJimena
Nov 8, 2002 7:53 AM
Seriously, our team, Snow Vally is in search of new women members. If you are anywhere near the Mid-Atlantic, we have a great team, sponsors, etc. Check us out at

The question about "low end more" is hard to answer without knowing how you train. The amount of "base miles," or long slow rides, is really a hard question. Should one be doing 6-8 hour rides like Lance? I like this article:

Depending on where in the country you live, you might have an imposed off-season (if you're in West Va for example) or you might get to do warm rides all year if you are in Fla (I'm jealous). Maybe you can sit 3 hours on a trainer at zone 1-2. I personally will die if I try this.

Point being, every good bike racer I know does "base miles," in some period in the winter, working under the theory that long rides at slow tempos mobilize the body's use of stored fats, increasing endurance. There are lots of posts about this below. I think "As you train, so shall you gain," is my favorite mantra.
You can't be "anaerobic for an hour"Kerry
Nov 9, 2002 7:46 AM
By definition, something you can do for an hour is sustainable, not anaerobic (without oxygen). But at any point above recovery pace, there is always some mix of anaerobic and aerobic metabolism. What where really talking about here is your threshold - a standard test for AT or LT is to ride a time trial pace for 30 minutes after a good warmup. This is your AT/LT, and I suspect that is what 180 is for you. When you say your HR jumps very quickly, you need to be specific. In a time trial, my HR typically jumps from 80-90 (at the start line) to my AT in about 30 seconds or so. Actually that is one goal of TT technique - get up to your AT as quickly as possible and hold it there. It sounds to me like you are fit and well trained.