Hello, I’m new to Zwift and new to disciplined cycling in general. I’ve ridden a bike all of my life but I’m trying to unlearn some bad habits and get in better shape.
I should start by saying I’m fairly overweight (250lbs/6’1") and have some heart issues, but my cardiologist has been impressed at how well my elevated resting heart rate has responded to exercise. I was regularly at 100bpm sitting in a chair, and now I’m down to 80bpm without medication. The goal is to avoid the meds if at all possible, and so far so good.
As soon as I start pedaling I’m back up to 130-140bpm though, so it’s clear i’m not in good shape at all. I can get myself to about 180bpm fairly quickly, and if I stay there for more than 5 minutes I start getting headaches and dizziness, and I turn a lovely shade of purple. After a cardiac stress test the doc says I should stay from 130-150bpm, with occasional peaks at 160, so I’m trying to abide by that. I used to be very proud of my pain tolerance, but he’s observed that I am capable of ignoring serious health symptoms while working out, and I’m kinda enjoying being alive, so I’m doing my best to be good while trying to get in better shape.
My kit is a Giant Revolt 2 bike fitted at the local bike shop, a Kurt Kinetic Rock and Roll smart trainer, a wahoo sc cadence meter, and an apple watch for heart rate. I used a chest strap with the cardiologist for a bit and he compared it to the apple watch, and found it was within 1-2bpm, which surprised him and me, but I prefer not wearing the chest strap if I don’t have to, and I deal with the finicky issues with pairing it. I did my firmware updates and a few spin-down calibrations, and made sure there’s no slippage and I’m .3sec from the sweet spot as far as timing.
I took an FTP test and I got to 143 by breaking the heart rate rules a little, which I realize is counterproductive but at least now I know my limits. Depressing, but I let myself get this way, so that’s where we are. I signed up for the 6 week beginners FTP builder and have been struggling a little bit with technique or equipment issues this first week, and was curious if any of you have advice on these things:
Cadence: Many of the workout goals have 90-100rpm cadence targets, even on rest segments at 60-70w. It’s really hard for me to do 90rpm without feeling like I’m out of control, and when I do get up to that pedal speed I’m at double that power output at the easiest gearing. I’ve tried to let the trainer (Kurt Rock& Roll Smart) spin down a bit then shift to an easier gear and try to get up to 90rpm but I feel like the flywheel is going faster and I’m free-spinning. ECM mode doesn’t seem to help a lot. Honestly 75rpm is where I naturally fall back to that feels right, but I feel compelled to hit the assigned targets and get “credit” or stars for them. Any advice? Am I hitting the floor of that device or just doing something wrong? I’m ok with an answer of “dude you’re just heavy and that’s how it’s gonna be for a bit” but figured I’d ask.
Heart Rate: I’m noticing that all of the workouts tend to be constrained by power or cadence, but I’m looking for one specifically tailored for cardiovascular training. I realize I’m an edge case, and that a lot of Zwifters aren’t in my condition, but I figured I’d ask. Is there anything with heart rate zone targets as the goals? Is there something happening behind the scenes to either push or pull back the intensity goals based on where my heart rate is at?
Form/technique: I’ve watched a few GCN videos on proper form, in an attempt to stop bouncing/rocking in the saddle, get rid of bad posture, and stop hunching up my shoulders such that my hands get numb. (numb tingly hands are one of the warning signs for a heart attack, I’d like to not get false positives on that.) I’m fine at 70-80rpm for cadence but once I get above that I’m bouncing/rocking quite a bit. Is this just a “perfect practice makes perfect, Danielsan” sorta thing? I’m thinking it’s my downstroke on my stronger leg trying to overcompensate, and trying to ease back and level that out a bit, but so far not having much luck at higher rpms. Any advice?
Thanks and seeya in Watopia,