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  1. #1
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    Can a less than ideal leg to torso proportion be overcome by training?

    Hey everyone,

    To what extent does body proportions matter at the amature level? More specifically is someone with a long torso and shorter legs at a marked disadvantage or can the less than ideal genetic proportions be over come by training?

    My numbers sit at 30.5 inches (77cm) book in crotch inseam with a 68 inch (172 cm) height.

    What's your take? What has your experience either personal or witnessed been with body proportions? Do you have an tips or suggestions?

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    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    There's an old-school belief that an ideal cyclist's proportions would include long femurs relative to their torso and the lower part of their legs. I don't know if there have every been any studies that have confirmed this. My intuition would be no, and that it's not true. But it could be. Even if it is, though, limb proportions are probably less important in cycling than practically any other sport you could name, thanks to the fact that a bicycle is a geared contraption and that cranks are available in variable lengths. As long as you fit within the normal bellcurve of human size, you don't need to worry about your body proportions holding you back.

    Just to make my point, limb proportions aren't just unimportant at the amateur level, they're unimportant at the pro level as well. Pros have lower body mass than the average population, but otherwise seem to fit a pretty normal distribution with respect to height and proportions. It pretty much comes down to the aerobic engine. You do have pretty short legs relative to your height, but that doesn't matter; you'll just want a longer frame relative to your height than someone with longer legs.

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    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    The only issue I can see is going down a frame size with a longer stem to accommodate the longer torso. Which is really not that big a deal.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

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    These Guys Eat Oreos Creatre's Avatar
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    I have no idea what my proportions are and don't care. Just ride and see how you end up.

    BTW, I think Fudgy's proportions are wacky like that. He has like long monkey arms. But he seems to ride fine.
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    powered by Racer Ex gsteinb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lostnumber View Post
    Hey everyone,

    To what extent does body proportions matter at the amature level? More specifically is someone with a long torso and shorter legs at a marked disadvantage or can the less than ideal genetic proportions be over come by training?

    My numbers sit at 30.5 inches (77cm) book in crotch inseam with a 68 inch (172 cm) height.

    What's your take? What has your experience either personal or witnessed been with body proportions? Do you have an tips or suggestions?
    Yep. Find a hobby. You have too much free time on your hands.

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    Senior Member hack's Avatar
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    I have no idea if my ratio is long torso, long legs, or normal. I've been in many different bike shops and sat on many different bikes and have been told that I am each one of those by many different people. I'm 75" tall and have an inseam around 35-36" (saddle height is about 80.5cm). I never really thought about the ratio of leg to torso and then even tibia/fibia to femur ration as advantageous or disadvantageous.

    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    The only issue I can see is going down a frame size with a longer stem to accommodate the longer torso. Which is really not that big a deal.
    But then your bike is lighter and stiffer, so kind of a plus?

    Quote Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
    Yep. Find a hobby. You have too much free time on your hands.
    better yet, ride more think less
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    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hack View Post
    I have no idea if my ratio is long torso, long legs, or normal. I've been in many different bike shops and sat on many different bikes and have been told that I am each one of those by many different people. I'm 75" tall and have an inseam around 35-36" (saddle height is about 80.5cm). I never really thought about the ratio of leg to torso and then even tibia/fibia to femur ration as advantageous or disadvantageous.
    Only way to know is to measure. Legs as 45% of height is around average, if I recall correctly. I'm a little longer of leg than that, but it's tough to notice cause I'm short; for years I thought I had short legs for my height, cause someone said so once. But then I measured 'em up when CDR happened to comment on a photo that I seemed to have longer legs (it was for a fit question), and I actually went and checked on that. I didn't get any faster when I learned the truth, so there you go. Doesn't matter.

    FWIW, anecdotally, belief that long legs (as in absolute length, as in being a tall person) is beneficial for cycling is remarkably common, in my observations anyway. I suppose it's because it really is true in distance running, and people just overgeneralize it to cycling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lostnumber View Post
    Hey everyone,

    To what extent does body proportions matter at the amature level? More specifically is someone with a long torso and shorter legs at a marked disadvantage or can the less than ideal genetic proportions be over come by training?

    My numbers sit at 30.5 inches (77cm) book in crotch inseam with a 68 inch (172 cm) height.

    What's your take? What has your experience either personal or witnessed been with body proportions? Do you have an tips or suggestions?
    I'm an inch shorter than you and my legs are two inches shorter than yours. Aerobically I am terrible, has nothing to do with legs. I suppose I'm pushing more torso around than the typical rider. If that matters then I guess my head is big also However my anaerobic power output is fine and I can hold my own in a sprint.

    I did end up getting custom frames after racing for 25+ years on regular production frames. Realistically the stock frames were about 5 cm too short in length, and that's with a 53.5 cm top tube length, so something like 10% too short. My seat tube, on a sloping top tube frame, is 40 cm to the top of the top tube.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

  9. #9
    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Ygduf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Creatre View Post
    I have no idea what my proportions are and don't care. Just ride and see how you end up.

    BTW, I think Fudgy's proportions are wacky like that. He has like long monkey arms. But he seems to ride fine.
    I'm 6'3 with long legs, short-in-proportion torso, and 6'8" wingspan.



    my personal hypothesis is that the long muscles in my legs contribute to my FTP, but the same long muscle contractions limit my jump/max power.

    OP is opposite. It's definitely not a limiter, but might predispose him to be being stronger/weaker at different aspects. I tend to feel like the squat short-limbed guys make good sprinters, but again most everyone can sprint away from me so it could be coincidence.

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    **** that mattm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    my personal hypothesis is that the long muscles in my legs contribute to my FTP, but the same long muscle contractions limit my jump/max power.

    OP is opposite. It's definitely not a limiter, but might predispose him to be being stronger/weaker at different aspects. I tend to feel like the squat short-limbed guys make good sprinters, but again most everyone can sprint away from me so it could be coincidence.
    Grundman throws that theory out though!

    He doesn't have a big jump, but he's got a good sprint.
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    Senior Member furiousferret's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lostnumber View Post
    Hey everyone,

    To what extent does body proportions matter at the amature level? More specifically is someone with a long torso and shorter legs at a marked disadvantage or can the less than ideal genetic proportions be over come by training?

    My numbers sit at 30.5 inches (77cm) book in crotch inseam with a 68 inch (172 cm) height.

    What's your take? What has your experience either personal or witnessed been with body proportions? Do you have an tips or suggestions?
    We have the exact same dimensions. Unfortunately for you I have close to the exact dimensions (not sure of his inseam) as Mark Cavendish as well. Granted, he has about 10 lbs of muscle mass on me, but his height is the same and bike measurements are within 5mm of mine.

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    Thanks to all for the input! Gestinb you are absolutely correct. I have always been the type to think to a fault. I'll choose to keep it simple and just ride more!

  13. #13
    Senior Member hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattm View Post
    Grundman throws that theory out though!

    He doesn't have a big jump, but he's got a good sprint.
    If ever it was okay to have a local, amatuer level, cycling idol he'd be high on my list. Bigger guy (he's got to be 190lbs+) that very well (with 1 teammate at most??) in all types of crits and even road races (flat ones at least). He is younger than me, so that'd be odd.
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  14. #14
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    I'm 6'3 with long legs, short-in-proportion torso, and 6'8" wingspan.



    my personal hypothesis is that the long muscles in my legs contribute to my FTP, but the same long muscle contractions limit my jump/max power.

    OP is opposite. It's definitely not a limiter, but might predispose him to be being stronger/weaker at different aspects. I tend to feel like the squat short-limbed guys make good sprinters, but again most everyone can sprint away from me so it could be coincidence.
    I am 72 inches tall and 74 1/2 wingspan with a shorter torso and my power curve favors jump and sprint power over FTP. Go figure.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattm View Post
    Grundman throws that theory out though!

    He doesn't have a big jump, but he's got a good sprint.
    I know a Grundman and in 2010, he was in the same coaching program as me and during that time upgraded to a Cat 2. He was tall, skinny and a great climber who also started to do TTs. His TT times were excellent. He did extremely well at tough road races with lots of climbing. If this is the same guy, he now has a good sprint. I wonder if he is still skinny.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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