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The very best way to go is to mix it up. Do long rides, do short rides. Ride hard, ride easy. Take a rest day once in a while if you feel you need one. Some say one rest day a week is a good idea. Listen to your body-"no pain, no gain" is catchy but since cycling is relatively low impact, sometimes that pain is a soft tissue or repetitive motion injury in the making. Buy a foam roller and use it. Consider a professional bike fit check. If you're not making the progress you feel you should, a structured training plan might help. Don't forget to have fun.
 

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Without knowing you or your medical history, I will only speak in general terms; though, I do suggest checking with a Dr. about breathing issues. That said, I encourage you to take the long view with this. After never really exercising for the entirety of your life, you can't really expect to "get in shape" in just one year, especially as a man pushing 40. It is really about just getting out there and having fun right now. You can always ramp up to include more advanced training once your baseline solidifies.

I really recommend varied riding. I ride both Gravel and MTB every week. I try to vary intensity (usually measured via elevation gain since I don't currently use a HR monitor) and distance. I also avoid a strict schedule. I ride whichever bike calls the loudest on a particular day. Whatever you do, keep track either with an app or old skool pen and paper. It helps one see improvements and trends.

Above all, have fun!!! For this new thing to stick, it is imperative that you see bikes as a lifestyle not as a means to an end.
 

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Every day is sub-optimal because you get stronger during your days off. 2 days off the bike per week is good for most people,
 

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It is sort of hard to believe but the best way to build you cardio is long rides at an intensity where you can carry on a conversation. These rides will not only build your ability to ride really hard, but they will allow you to rider faster without having to go hard. If you just ride hard all the time you get better at riding hard, but you don't really get better at riding fast without have to go hard. A small difference but an important one.

The best training though is a combination of the two. Try something like this.

Monday: OFF
Tuesday: Long and easy
Wednesday: Short and Hard.
Thursday: Long and easy.
Friday: OFF
Saturday: Long and easy.
Sunday: Long and Hard.

Repeat two times and then spend a week doing only medium length rides at low intensity.
I've been following a similar plan and it it has been working. I do either easy long rides or very hard short rides. No junk miles in the middle unless it happens to be a group ride with people of different abilities. I have been shocked at the speed gains even without significant total training volume added.
 

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It is sort of hard to believe but the best way to build you cardio is long rides at an intensity where you can carry on a conversation. These rides will not only build your ability to ride really hard, but they will allow you to rider faster without having to go hard. If you just ride hard all the time you get better at riding hard, but you don't really get better at riding fast without have to go hard. A small difference but an important one.
Maybe I don't know who LMN is, but nothing in this paragraph makes much sense.
For example: riding hard all the time doesn't make you better at riding hard (LOL). It just makes you exhausted, then weaker, then unable to ride hard at all. This is exercise physiology 101.
 

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No specific goal other than to be generally in better shape. I don't race, I don't bikepack, I don't group ride. I want to be able to go uphill for more than 10 seconds without being out of breath. When I play Ultimate frisbee I want to go for more than 1 point without needing a sub.

-37
-I don't know.
-I don't know.
-upstate NY
-no HR monitor.
-I use my elliptical when I can't bike. Very mild weightlifting on occasion.
-I sit all day but only because Covid-19 took my job. Trying to stay active.

I've owned a bike of some kind all of my life, but only rode occasionally and casually until last summer when I discovered mtb and the rail trails. At 37, I've never made any concerted effort to exercise and I've always been overweight. Getting to the age where it's going to turn into health problems if I don't start doing something.
Where in NY if you don't mind me asking? Sounds like you're looking for something more out of biking and exercising at your point in life.

Take a good look at your diet if you hope to lose weight. That will be the key vs. relying on cycling alone.

Longer rides will help w/your endurance in simplified terms. I'd suggest taking a look at some good training guides to build your knowledge base and help you determine a rough plan for starters. I'm a fan of Joe Friel's work (Google him) but there are numerous others out there.
 

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The best training though is a combination of the two.
I've always experienced the best results when I'm able to mix up short, higher intensity rides with longer, lower intensity rides but am also able to maintain a respectable frequency. My best riding fitness was probably when I was bike commuting about 2.5mi each way most days of the week and I was able to get after it hard on those rides (especially coming home where I had a small hill to help get my HR up) and then could get out and do a longer mtb ride on one of my days off. Or maybe even during a summertime evening after work since I wasn't spending too much time on the commute.

I get mental burnout if I'm doing the same thing ever single day, though, so working in a few "rest" days where I'm just doing something else helps with my desire to go ride.
 

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My best riding fitness was probably when I was bike commuting about 2.5mi each way most days of the week and I was able to get after it hard on those rides (especially coming home where I had a small hill to help get my HR up) and then could get out and do a longer mtb ride on one of my days off.
Same, except I had a 4.5 mile commute with a mile-long hill at the end. First week or two was rough, though...

Just hitting the bike hard twice a day was enough to "raise the ceiling" and let me ride long rides at a good speed, too.
 

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Maybe I don't know who LMN is, but nothing in this paragraph makes much sense.
For example: riding hard all the time doesn't make you better at riding hard (LOL). It just makes you exhausted, then weaker, then unable to ride hard at all. This is exercise physiology 101.
Maybe you need to reread what he said. He does not equate riding hard with being fast. I know lots of people who ride hard and as slow as f*ck.
 

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View attachment 1925072

Curious what the x's represent? One x versus 2 or 3 or the over under?

Guessing that all zones of exercise have benefits, but some zones have more benefits more than others (more x's)?
 

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Curious what the x's represent? One x versus 2 or 3 or the over under?

Guessing that all zones of exercise have benefits, but some zones have more benefits more than others (more x's)?

That chart is kind of incomplete, basically sweet spot is right below threshold and right above Z-3 and (in theory) will cause the most physical adaptations with the least amount of physiological strain. You have to limit it though, as mentioned numerous times here a varied training diet is best.

I disagree somewhat with the article in reference to perceived effort and the sweet spot zone. I'm sure it's different for everyone but depending on the day for me sweet spot is usually pretty freaking hard and without a power meter to keep me honest I would probably drift down into Z-3 and think that I was riding sweet spot. Actually I think that's true with all the zones except maybe threshold. Riding just on perceived effort I think I'd usually be 1 zone below where I thought I was.
 

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Guessing that all zones of exercise have benefits, but some zones have more benefits more than others (more x's)?
That's how I understand it; I think it's not exactly scientific. The purpose is to show that different levels of intensity trigger different adaptations.
 

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Both. Your goal sounds like better general fitness, no specific race goal or such, so no need for a hugely technical regimen. I'm more or less the same.
Mix up shorter high intensity interval type, long medium intensity, long fairly high intensity, long easy, short easy and/or rest days. Long medium rides don't seem to build up my "strength" much, just I can ride longer and longer, but not faster. Need to hit the intensity and intervals to bring up the capacity and lung recovery.
And yeah, road riding is easier to get consistent workout, esp during week when can't get to trails.
My general schedule is trail rides on weekend, monday is rest, tuesday and/or wednsday hard, thursday tapering, friday rest. But its flexible.
Just don't go gung ho and go all hard all the time!
 

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I like long rides because my body will be burning up more calories.

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What LMN said is the generally accepted formula for improvement at just about any level.

Also, a thing that wasn't covered: reduce weight. Losing weight will reduce your denominator in the w/kg equation. And, in addition that, it will also make your body more efficient: less to fuel, less to cool, less to hydrate.
 

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ride lots
 
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