Does anyone have any thoughts on whether older riders should push higher gearing?
I have read all of the documentation on riding a lower gear/higher cadence is better for endurance and racing, but I also know that anyone over 50 need to do more resitance training to avoid muscle loss.
So coming from a health/exercise perspective for over 50s ....
So should riders over 50 take off the <38 tooth chainrings
and go back to pushing higher gears to get up hills???
some background info..
Sarcopenia literally means "lack of flesh." It's a condition of age-associated muscle degeneration that becomes more common in people over the age of 50.
After middle age, adults lose 3% of their muscle strength every year, on average. This limits their ability to perform many routine activities
Exercise is the most effective way to reverse sarcopenia. Resistance training is best to increase muscle mass and strength.
Grinding over spinning as one is older?
Perhaps the extra strain on joints from grinding would not be a good thing? I'm 55 this year and hate not having a gear to spin in - that said I will often say to myself nothing easier than "gear x" and stand up and push hard to get up stuff. I tend to notice that I end up panting and have a hard time getting O2 rather than sore legs...
Cycling is not an effective form of strength training because the amount of weight born is low and it does not activate enough muscle groups.
Cycling with heavy gears could only replace a couple of exercises from a good all round resistance training program, and this relatively small benefit would come at the risk of causing or aggravating knee injuries. Intentionally designed resistance training programs for older adults use apparatus that will support the knee and provide a more controlled range of movement, which you don't get on a bike.
Cycling is an excellent form of activity for older adults, but should complement weight bearing exercise rather than replacing it.
One of the leading experts in the field is Dr Tim Henwood, who works with Southern Cross Care SA/NT in Adelaide. I asked him about how cycling fits into things at a conference last year after he gave a presentation on the topic.
i for whats it worth and i know I'm going to be shot down in flames ,I'm a big gear advocate ,being 57 i started using bigger and bigger gears in the hills for strength training, my take is you need to have enough resistance to drive your cardiovascular system,so somewhere in that statement the naysayers will find holes ,put it simply ,if you have very little muscle strength and can't even stand up or support yourself ,how are you even going to move ? i started cycling late in life but since starting the big gear stuff I'm going faster now and burning more calories ....so you don't need to be as crazy as me but find the comprimise and experiment ,the world won't end and Lance won't come knocking on your door ,and if your set up correctly your knees won't explode ....fyi i ride a 92 x16 exclusively for srength training and always in the hills
regards Bill Louca
Thanks for the comments, although I dont think my legs agree with climbing not being weight training, (maybe if I lost a few kilos they would).
I dont think I'll move up to a 92x16 but I'll keep pushing a big gear for leg and back strength.
I'll add, reading the Wikipedia article on Sarcopenia (and the journal article it first links to), that 3% number seems extreme. (The journal article says 0.8% /year. It also seems to say that the amount of "load" in exercise doesn't matter much, though the article's authors are focusing on nutrition so might be a little biased).
Personally, I'm over 50 and just happy to be exercising.