Biking not providing enough exercise

So, wondering if someone can help me out.
Under the SIP, my only form of cardio was running. But, unfortunately, I think I ended up with a stress fracture in my ankle. So, alas, no more running.
I am in general not a big fan of cycling, but I decided to give it a try as I need something. Well, I just can't get my heart rate up enough no matter how hard I try to push the pedals! I mean, literally, my FitBit won't even pick up my 45 min bike ride as "active minutes", and I would only have 4-5 minutes of cardio, and all of this while I don't feel like I can actually push the pedals any harder. My husband claims that there is some way of learning how to breath harder (as in pant hard while trying to bike, because the body doesn't automatically want to do it while biking) in order to get the cardio benefits but I can't find any information anywhere supporting this.

Any ideas? Sorry this is really frustrating. I gained too much weight while not being able to work out properly :(
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Replies

  • DancingMoosie
    DancingMoosie Posts: 8,575 Member
    You are still exercising even if your Fitbit does not recognize it. So, you could log the exercise from the database instead.
  • PAV8888
    PAV8888 Posts: 10,835 Member
    besenok wrote: »
    So, wondering if someone can help me out.
    Under the SIP, my only form of cardio was running. But, unfortunately, I think I ended up with a stress fracture in my ankle. So, alas, no more running.
    I am in general not a big fan of cycling, but I decided to give it a try as I need something. Well, I just can't get my heart rate up enough no matter how hard I try to push the pedals! I mean, literally, my FitBit won't even pick up my 45 min bike ride as "active minutes", and I would only have 4-5 minutes of cardio, and all of this while I don't feel like I can actually push the pedals any harder. My husband claims that there is some way of learning how to breath harder (as in pant hard while trying to bike, because the body doesn't automatically want to do it while biking) in order to get the cardio benefits but I can't find any information anywhere supporting this.

    Any ideas? Sorry this is really frustrating. I gained too much weight while not being able to work out properly :(

    If you can't workout properly, and even if you can, you would probably profit more from better balancing your caloric intake than you will profit from expending extra calories. You gained weight due to the balance between your calories in and calories out, i.e. not adjusting your intake when your output reduced.

    You are having trouble getting a cardio benefit from your biking because your muscles can't push hard enough before failure---is this understanding correct based on your post above?

    You may want to explore if reducing your gear level so that your cadence can increase may be what you're looking for https://www.active.com/cycling/articles/cycling-cadence-101

    Whether this is the best way to generate the most power is a question: https://www.cyclingweekly.com/fitness/why-amateurs-shouldnt-try-to-pedal-like-chris-froome-191779

    And whether the extra exertion, your increased heart rate, and the potential extra calories that show up as a result are real, or an artifact of artificially elevated heart rate, remains a bit of an open question.
  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,616 Member
    Your effort should dictate whether or not its exercise, not some device you wear on your wrist. If you are working relatively hard, whatever that means for you, then it's exercise.

    On a different note, because I can't let it slide... if you gained weight, it was likely more due to your diet than it was exercise... so I'd be hesitate to blame weight gain on imporoper exercise, whatever that may be.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 25,203 Member
    Are you talking about a regular bicycle, outside on the road? Or a stationary bicycle? If the latter, are you saying you're setting the resistance really high so you have to push hard? And in either case, what sort of a bike is it?

    The answers to those things would make a difference in how you could get your heart rate up.

    How you breathe has no material impact on calorie burn (at least not in a good way!), and in general forcing breathing has no beneficial impact on fitness, either.

    You can probably make your heart rate go up by breathing inappropriately, but it would have neither fitness nor calorie expenditure benefits, so don't. Heart rate is really kind of a proxy measurement for the sort of work that causes fitness adaptations, through the oxygen demand the work creates. High heart rate, created artificially, doesn't accomplish the same things. If it did, we could watch scary movies (which increase heart rate for many people) to burn calories and improve our cardiovascular system. ;)

    I have to admit, I'm having trouble understanding what you're saying. Unless you're already extremely fit, it should be possible to increase your heart rate by going faster, or by finding hills. Expert cyclists, even professionals, are able to do that. How much, and how far/fast, do you normally run?

    On an indoor bike, I'd expect the best cardiovascular results (higher heart rate for beneficial rather than kind of artificial reasons) to be somewhere in a range of moderate-ish resistance and relatively high cadence (revolutions per minute). However, I'm not a cycling expert. (I do a bit of outdoor cycling, and regular spin classes when we're not under "shelter in place" orders. I'm reasonably fit, and mostly am a rower - water & machine - but I have no difficulty working hard enough on either kind of bike to cause exercise-related heart rate increases to fairly high levels. like 85% or so in a heart rate reserve type scheme.)

    Can you clarify by answering the questions earlier in my post?
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,925 Member
    Ignore your Fitbit, it's obviously wrong.

    The answer is hill repeats, at race pace. If you don't have a good hill, then do some all out sprints, turn the pedals over as quickly as possible with maximum force, rinse and repeat. Work up to longer intervals, 2x20 minutes is popular among cyclists.

    You've seen footage of bike racing, so you know it's possible to work very hard on a bike.

    PS - what kind of bike are you using, and what gearing?
  • Justin_7272
    Justin_7272 Posts: 341 Member
    besenok wrote: »
    My husband claims that there is some way of learning how to breath harder (as in pant hard while trying to bike, because the body doesn't automatically want to do it while biking) in order to get the cardio benefits but I can't find any information anywhere supporting this.

    You can't find supporting information because it doesn't exist. You can elevate your heart rate in various ways without increasing your caloric burn (different breathing techniques, watching a scary movie, etc.). Please don't waste your time perfecting your "panting" technique.

    Does your FitBit have a HRM? If so, does it have exercises you can select. The Blaze, for example, allows you to enter into cyclying recording; hit start when you begin, stop when you're done, and it spits out your numbers.

    Alternatively you can use the database, or track your mileage and time and use an online calculator for a rough estimate.
  • ritzvin
    ritzvin Posts: 2,847 Member
    [1] Step trackers aren't going to recognize cycling. (don't try to log it using a step counter).
    [2] In terms of trying for pant-like-a-dog out-of-breath level of cardio and it being hard to hit the pedals, it sounds like either your physical strength is a limiting factor, or you may be trying to ride with a slower cadence in a harder gear.
    [3] Cycling is awesome cardio. For most, it can be comfortably done for much longer periods more frequently than most people can do with running.. Which adds up to WAY more calories.
    [4] if you want to add more intensity, find some good hills.
  • ritzvin
    ritzvin Posts: 2,847 Member
    edited May 2020
    (on #3: I can quite comfortably do 30 mile bike rides 4-5x per week, whereas no way in h* could I run half marathons 4-5x per week) (eta: both are estimated for me by Garmin at a bit under 1000 calories)
  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,616 Member
    ritzvin wrote: »
    [1] Step trackers aren't going to recognize cycling. (don't try to log it using a step counter).

    That's a good point. If your FitBit uses motion/movement to detect activity, then it will never work well with cycling as your hands/arms are relatively still.
  • Machka9
    Machka9 Posts: 21,212 Member
    besenok wrote: »
    So, wondering if someone can help me out.
    Under the SIP, my only form of cardio was running. But, unfortunately, I think I ended up with a stress fracture in my ankle. So, alas, no more running.
    I am in general not a big fan of cycling, but I decided to give it a try as I need something. Well, I just can't get my heart rate up enough no matter how hard I try to push the pedals! I mean, literally, my FitBit won't even pick up my 45 min bike ride as "active minutes", and I would only have 4-5 minutes of cardio, and all of this while I don't feel like I can actually push the pedals any harder. My husband claims that there is some way of learning how to breath harder (as in pant hard while trying to bike, because the body doesn't automatically want to do it while biking) in order to get the cardio benefits but I can't find any information anywhere supporting this.

    Any ideas? Sorry this is really frustrating. I gained too much weight while not being able to work out properly :(

    1. Use Strava rather than FitBit.
    2. Ride longer.
    3. Cycle up hills.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,729 Member
    Are you riding outdoors?
    Are you on an exercise bike?
    Are you maintaining a cadence of roughly 80-100rpm?
    Are you using gears (outdoors) or resistance (indoors) appropriately?
    Are you sure your HR isn't rising? Have you taken your pulse to determine if it is or not or just your fitbit not recording properly?

    Your husband is wrong, you breathe hard because you work hard - not the other way round. (Aerobic exercise creates a higher oxygen demand so you have to breathe harder and your heartrate rises to pump more oxygenated blood to working muscles.)

    Cyclists are some of the fittest athletes on this planet because cycling is a hard as you make it. Come cycle up a 20% grade hill with me and tell me it's too easy!! :smiley:
  • goatg
    goatg Posts: 1,401 Member
    edited May 2020
    I bet this is a really frustrating feeling. It can be wonderful getting your HR up, and vexing when you can’t for a while (quarantine is getting to us all in different ways).

    Cycling rarely gets the HR as high as running. Especially if you haven’t developed your “biking legs” yet.

    That said...effort levels for cycling are usually based on power, watts, not HR and generally you’re working at a higher percentage of max power output, with a lower HR, than running.
    For example, let’s say your 10k running pace is 8:00 mile at 150bpm and your max HR is 170. You’re working at 88% max HR.
    Max efforts in cycling are based on power produced. Your legs have to work a lot harder (for a constant power output, an increased cadence will generally increase your HR). Max output is referred to as FTP, functional threshold power. You can do an FTP test, during which time you attempt a steady all-out max effort, for 5, 20, or even 60 minutes. Then you build workouts around your FTP, as a percentage of watts produced, and HR is a secondary metric. That same 88% power is a considerable effort on a bike however would likely produce a considerably lower heart rate than 150.

    This might seem like just extraneous details however shifting your perspective could help. By comparing your HR running:biking you’re holding yourself to an impossible standard. The strength it would take to maintain a HR on a bike, comparable to running, would be ...for me...unimaginable. Shift the standard by which you judge your efforts, focus on building your legs, and power up hills when you want a HR spike (assuming your ankle can take it).

    Sorry about your injury and wishing you a speedy recovery!🤞
  • ritzvin
    ritzvin Posts: 2,847 Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    Cyclists are some of the fittest athletes on this planet because cycling is a hard as you make it. Come cycle up a 20% grade hill with me and tell me it's too easy!! :smiley:

    I can strongly recall the very loud sound of my panting/wheezing/gasping for air the first time ~2/3 of the way up at least one of those. (and a few lesser hills where I gave in to my stubborn chase instinct with a faster rider up ahead).

  • besenok
    besenok Posts: 7 Member
    Thank you everyone for the great input!
    So, to clarify -
    1. I am trying to bike outside, on a normal cheep-o mom bike (some Marin model). It does have 21 gears.
    2. I actually never enjoyed biking, but have been using it to commute around town for years.
    3. I tried to bike up a smallish hill repeatedly - and yes, I feel like I am pushing the pedals as hard as I can (I do get mild muscle soreness afterwards) , but moving up at a super low speed (which makes sense), but my heart rate is just not going over 120 at most. I understand that if I did that for say 3 hour instead of 45 minutes, then it would do something perhaps, but I just don't have the 3 hours to spare :(
    4. I know that weight gain is mostly diet. I have already decreased my caloric intake over the past 2 weeks by about 30%. Not easy to do as I am constantly cooking and baking for my family...

    Thank you!
    I think I might just really not be doing it effectively and having no extra time to spare - I would generally go for a 30-45 min run for my cardio, but not enough time for a decent work out on a bike. Argh. Maybe my solution should be to cut down the calories to bare minimum to keep from gaining more weight, and wait until either my ankle heals enough to start running again, or gyms open up again. Whoever comes first! :)
  • ritzvin
    ritzvin Posts: 2,847 Member
    besenok wrote: »
    Thank you everyone for the great input!
    So, to clarify -
    1. I am trying to bike outside, on a normal cheep-o mom bike (some Marin model). It does have 21 gears.
    2. I actually never enjoyed biking, but have been using it to commute around town for years.
    3. I tried to bike up a smallish hill repeatedly - and yes, I feel like I am pushing the pedals as hard as I can (I do get mild muscle soreness afterwards) , but moving up at a super low speed (which makes sense), but my heart rate is just not going over 120 at most. I understand that if I did that for say 3 hour instead of 45 minutes, then it would do something perhaps, but I just don't have the 3 hours to spare :(
    4. I know that weight gain is mostly diet. I have already decreased my caloric intake over the past 2 weeks by about 30%. Not easy to do as I am constantly cooking and baking for my family...

    Thank you!
    I think I might just really not be doing it effectively and having no extra time to spare - I would generally go for a 30-45 min run for my cardio, but not enough time for a decent work out on a bike. Argh. Maybe my solution should be to cut down the calories to bare minimum to keep from gaining more weight, and wait until either my ankle heals enough to start running again, or gyms open up again. Whoever comes first! :)

    Calorie-wise, I find cycling and running to be surprisingly close per time length. (~400-450 ish per hour for me).
  • ritzvin
    ritzvin Posts: 2,847 Member
    Think of it like running.. When you start out, you will be going slow as dirt... Getting less miles in per time period, and burning less. As you get better at it, you'll get more mileage in in less time.
  • ritzvin
    ritzvin Posts: 2,847 Member
    I had the opposite problem of you last summer - fall... Broken collarbone meant I couldn't ride. I had to strap my arm to my chest and trail run (pavement was too jarring) instead in order to keep my sanity.
  • nighthawk584
    nighthawk584 Posts: 1,979 Member
    Come with me on one of my mountain bike runs and I guarantee you will get enough of a workout! After 45 min to 1 hour on the trails, I am exhausted and my legs are like jello. :)
  • goatg
    goatg Posts: 1,401 Member
    besenok wrote: »
    Thank you everyone for the great input!
    So, to clarify -
    3. I tried to bike up a smallish hill repeatedly - and yes, I feel like I am pushing the pedals as hard as I can (I do get mild muscle soreness afterwards) , but moving up at a super low speed (which makes sense), but my heart rate is just not going over 120 at most. I understand that if I did that for say 3 hour instead of 45 minutes, then it would do something perhaps, but I just don't have the 3 hours to spare :(

    Hmm. Did you pump the tires? Do you know what the tire pressure is?
  • Iwantahealthierme30
    Iwantahealthierme30 Posts: 293 Member
    I have a stationary bike that says I burn 20 calories in a half hour. That's obviously wrong so I ignore it. Ignore your fitbit. I bike 4km.