Home > Training > Training with Heart Rate Zones in January

Training with Heart Rate Zones in January

Since I probably won’t have as much time this year to train as before, I need to be a bit cuter about it. So the plan for the first few months of the year is to focus on weight loss. The whole point of taking up cycling was to lose weight. While that was slightly successful, due to crap eating habits a lot of weight was put back on (as well as leading to not as much weight being lost as would have been possible).

But I’m going to try and do something a bit different this year. I’ve done a bit of research(not much granted), but basically in order to lose weight and get fitter  I need to cycle slower! Because I’m pretty heavy my resting heart rate is pretty high. So I tend to spend a lot of time cycling in zone 3-4 (between about 142 and 169 bpm, or 75% to 90% of my max heart rate. Last year my average heart rate was 157).  But in order to burn fat I need to spend more time at much lower levels, such as in zone 1  (114-123 bpm) and build mileage in zone 2. (I calculated the heart rates using this calculator.)

Now this all sounds very technical, but basically I have to try and force myself to go slower for a couple of months. This should help build back up a better cardio base, and drop weight at the same time. Then at least when I go to up the intensity at least I will have less weight to haul up hills. Well, that’s the theory anyway, practice could be different.  I did try to do a couple of spins at a low HR before, but really struggled to stop trying to keep the speed down. This time I will program the zones on my garmin. That way if I go outside the zone an alarm should go off. Fingers crossed I can stick with this!

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  1. January 19, 2012 at 8:59 am

    From my experience you are right about the weight loss. I lost most of mine last year because of long, slow rides in the beginning of the season. And I think the first adjective is the key here. You should be riding a lot in zone one and two, but you really have to get out for a healthy amount of time.

    The reason, other than the obvious fact of burning more calories the longer you are on the bike, is that (according to my coach at least) people who are less fit take longer to start burning fat (as opposed to glycogen, the other fuel the body uses). Those who are unfit can take 30 to 40 minutes in the saddle before even burning any fat, whereas athletes start after only 5 or 10 minutes. I can attest to this from last year because my weight loss was very slow in January and February, but sped up in March and April big time. It’s a long, consistent process.

    It also seems important to eat something if you do rides longer than an hour or two because the body will have used up it’s glycogen store by then and you need it to act as ‘kindling’ for the fat burn.

    Good luck with it all.

    • January 20, 2012 at 3:06 pm

      thanks for the feedback Gerry. Looking forward to getting out on the bike again tomorrow, think I get a bit too excited in all the ancillary bits and forgot about actually cycling!

  2. Mark
    February 28, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Late in replying to this, but my observations and reading differ from the post and comment. I understand that the _percentage_ of fat you burn may be higher at lower bpm, however the total number of calories AND the calories you burn from fat will be higher at higher bpms.

    My choice when losing weight through biking was to be in the saddle as long as possible and cycle as hard as possible. i.e. burn as many calories as possible. Typically it would go: warm up, cycle hard till I’m beat, cycle slower to keep going, repeat.

    Best of luck!

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