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How to increase strength in the flats(8 posts)

How to increase strength in the flatsHopi4
Apr 9, 2003 6:48 PM
Weird though that may sound. Last year on more than a few semi-serious group rides and a duathlon, I found I was able to to gain on or gap folks up modest hills (no more than .5 mile) and rollers, but then get passed or have a hard time staying on their wheels on the flats.

What explains this? How can I increase strength on the flats? Thanks in advance for your help.
re: How to increase strength in the flatsJon Billheimer
Apr 9, 2003 7:42 PM
Do big gear tempos into the wind.
re: How to increase strength in the flatsSwat Dawg
Apr 9, 2003 10:37 PM
Doing big gear work into the wind is a good idea, I also find that doing a big gear workout going uphill on a false flat is great for legs strength. Just find a road with a gradual incline and starting 1/2 mile away find a big gear that let's you push some speed, when you get to the hill you will feel like you need to shift or slow down, DO NEITHER! Force your legs to work extra hard seated to maintain the same speed. I don't know about duration, but try this 2 min on, 2 min off. I haven't paid attention to time cause the flat I use is a certain length and I just use that as a measurement. Something I also do is after getting to the top is I'll turn around and with the same gear and force myself to get on top of the gear as quickly as possible to fly back down the hill spinning my legs up around 120. Do that in succession a few times. Another option is motor pacing. This I haven't done myself, but it teaches you to turn that big gear over even when you're mind is telling you to relax. I'm pretty new at all this, but in reading so much, and listening, I have gained a lot of insight. Listen to others opinions before putting a lot of stock in mine. This has seemed to work for me though.

Swat Dawg '04

Another word on flat land speed, is from what I can tell, it is really all about having the muscle strength to spin a bigger gear on the flats. Doing some hill repeats of the 2-3 min length with low gears while remaining seated will increase leg strength markedly. It is like doing heavy squats on your bike. Make sure you have a good base first, and don't do these too much as they could damage your knees without proper preparation.
are you a skinny?DougSloan
Apr 10, 2003 6:45 AM
Size might explain it somewhat.

Strength and aerobic capacity, plus maybe some better drafting skills might help. If it were me, I'd work on some 2 minute-type intervals.

Fairly simple...Dwayne Barry
Apr 10, 2003 9:02 AM
on the flats your speed is determined by power to drag ratio, once going uphill, power to drag becomes less significant as you slowdown until eventually your speed is almost entirely affected by your power to weight ratio.

Your physiology and therefore power shouldn't change appreciably between going on the flats and the hills.
Consequently either a) you have a bad position on the bike that generates alot of drag b)the people who are hurting you on the flats are big with good power but once going uphill their weight becomes a hindrance.

So specifically working on riding on the flats is probably a relatively poor way to fix the problem, although potentially the only way if b is true.
re: How to increase strength in the flatskenyonCycleist
Apr 10, 2003 5:19 PM
i'm a skinny dude meself and can hold me own on the flats..i agree w/ the other dudes on the strength part...although i find long endurance rides (3hrs+) in the big ring to be beneficial too...u could also switch to a 52t ring and just spin while they hammer.
re: How to increase strength in the flatsHopi4
Apr 11, 2003 8:19 AM
Thank you all for your well thought out advice. Funny thing - I'm not a skinny guy, more medium build with thick legs. In fact at a duathlon last year a passed this skinny guy on a C'dale quite fast while going up a hill, and I thought "role reversal?"

I think there's a mental/motivational element too, since hills inherently force your muscles work hard, whereas one can cheat a bit on the flats. Since flats don't seem like work (or I don't want them to seem like it) I haven't yet adopted the necessary approach and strength for them.
re: How to increase strength in the flatsDeadGame
Apr 11, 2003 4:25 PM
My guess is that you can produce good power for short intervals but have difficuly sustaining this power more than 2 or 3 minutes. You have a decent sprint as well.

You think you have more power on hills but the fact is that you are producing this power for short bursts. I bet if you were in a pace line and took short pulls you would have no problem keeping up on the flats. You have plenty of short duration power but sustaining power is a problem.

Ditto for me. I thought I was the man until I hit a 3/4 mile climb in a road race and watched everyone go by after my legs were on fire. What helped me was basically hammering on the flats in the big gear about 70rpm my comfort zone is 95-100. Monitor your heart. I found that if I pushed the big gear my heart would not quite make it to my LT it woud stay about 5 beats below my LT.

Basically the better you get at dealing with the pain and suffering while training or racing juet below your LT the beter you will become.