Training & Nutrition - building leg muscles
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I have been developing pretty decent leg muscles from cycling but am wondering what alternate forms of exercises I can do to build those inner leg muscles that alot of runners have ? I can't run due to a knee injury but any suggestions otherwise would be much appreciated.
Cycling primarily hits outer thighs.To target inner thighs try any weight lifting exercise for legs with a wide stance.Or lunges are particularly beneficial with little or no weight.Weight training is also a good complement to cycling to lose fat.You could do a few days a week of longer cycle rides and then alternate this with 1 hour days of weight training which will up your metabolism and add muscle both of which will burn more fat even while you rest.P.S. As I just see you mention a knee injury you may also try adductor type weight machine exercises as these will put less strain on the knee.
Short post- easy answer...
Squats, lunges, and the inner/outer thigh machine. A lot of men don't like using the machine- they've told me it looks too "girlie", but it produces the results in the best possible way because it isolates those muscles.
Alternatively, you can get some resistance bands in the shape of an 8 and do the same inner/outer thigh exercises from the privacy of your own home. They are pretty cheap. I think the company that makes them is called Spry or Spri or something like that. I'll have to check around my place later on when I get some time and I'll get the name and number of the company in case you'd like to order them.
If you're training for cycling events and you're already increasing your cycling, it may not do you much good to slam on the heavy weight training- that's something you do in the off season. However, you can focus on doing some light weights with high reps and lots of sets now, and when the season ends, start increasing your weights again. If you're just doing recreational cycling, it will probably be ok to do heavier weights. I am not training for races or anything, but I did drastically cut back my leg weights after I noticed that as I increased my cycling, my legs were getting a lot more tired easily. You'll probably have to experiment a bit to find the right combination of the weights with the cycling so you can get the inner thigh results you want while at the same time, not compromising your cycling.
think of the leg as being like the arm. The two main isolation exercises on the arm are the tricep press and the curl. For the leg, it's called the leg extension, and the leg curl has a variety of names. I like the seated devices for the leg curl.
It's far too easy to use the glutes in the prone position, and not even be aware of it. I was doing 90 pounds prone one year, and sat down at a seated curl device, and got a cramp at 35 pounds. Embarassing. Since you have had a knee injury, forget lunges entirely. Btw, when you are doing leg extensions, when done do a set of 10 (or close to it) using only the upper third of the exercise. That works a tear drop shaped muscle next ot the knee that stabilises the knee. You can try other machines and exercises but don't bend the knee more than halfway. It won't take long to find your limitations once you start adding a few pounds. I find calf exercises to be good for the knee.
Hi Late and Koffee !
Thanks very much for your suggestions. We are fortunate here in Vancouver (B.C.) that we can cycle year around although the winters do tend to be quite wet :-) Still, being wet is not a huge deal with the right gear. Anyway, I do use the leg curl and leg extension machines more than any of the others but am going to try the thigh machine again. I really don't like using it that much so I would like to try those resistance bands. Do they give the same results ?
The lunges are kind of painful but if it will help, I give them another try.
They also have a calf machine..love that one. You sure feel it after a few minutes !
I guess I need to spend more time at the gym and mix that in with my bike rides.
Two other questions come to mind :
I usually use the Elliptical trainers when I am at the gym. It is a nice break from cycling and is weight bearing as well. I wonder if it is a good idea to mix this type of exercise with cycling ? I don't find it bothers my knees but I would think that it would have some benefits for cycling in that slightly different muscles are being used ?
Also, do any of you take any breaks during the week from cycling ? ie. a day when you do absolutely no cycling at all ? Is it a good idea to rest these muscles or do they thrive on daily exertion ?
that pain is your knee telling you it's being destroyed. Lunges are bad news for
a lof of people who have had knee injuries. Even for the healthy, I'm not a fan. The lunge puts stress on the knee, while failing to sufficiently stress the muscles.
Ellipticals are great, that's called cross training. Sounds like you could use a program, here's a pretty good one...
Get the logbook too. For me the hardest part of any program is not overtraining.
Leg extentions are actually also a bad exercise to be doing with a knee injury particularly at full lockout where alot of strain is put on the knee.I can't answer your trainer question as I'm not familiar with it(however generally crosstraining is beneficial) but with the overall milage your doing you could probably train everyday but if you start feeling stale/overtrained take a day off.
I understood that it is better to do the leg extensions at only 3/4 so as to avoid full lockout.
The day off idea is good. I have a tendency to push myself at times and think that I am whimping out if I stop whenever I feel pain but have since been learning that you should stop when you feel pain, especially when it is in a knee that has previously been injured.
I like the elliptical trainer as it give me a break from the cycling and muscles are being used in a different way.
I always wondered if cycling everyday could strain the muscles over time or could lead to them becoming so used to a particular motion that your are no longer benefitting in the same way from that particular exercise. Not sure if I am explaining this properly though.
Justin My suggestion that you could ride everyday was based on the total weekly milage which would still not be excessive.If you add in weight training or to give you a break from the routine some days would be appropriate.I do both ai just go by feel ie if I am too tired or don't feel like riding that day I'll rest (or focus on weights).I agree my concern on focusing on one sport cycling included is repetitive overuse of certain muscles and joints and it is a good idea to crosstrain for this reason as well as for the variety you mention.I use weights for my intense training for balanced developement of muscle(and joint/tendon/bone etc.) size and strength.I do the cycling at a lower to moderate intensity primarily for cardiovascular and fatburning benefits(ie at a more sustainable pace) but usually go long distances often staying out all day. Sometimes I will stop at a nature center for a hike or a large mall for a fast walk.But I hate doing aerobics indoors on a stationary machine so just find what works for you.As far as the leg extentions most people do use a full range of motion but stay with relatively light weight and use it as a warmup to pump blood into the area or a finishing/detail movement focusing on the teardrop area late mentioned.If you keep it light it would tend to strengten the area around the knee and with limited stress the knee itself.The key is to not start ego lifting on this one and stop at any sign of pain/strain(keep in mind it is important to distinguish between the good pain of exertion and the pain of overexertion(overtraining)or improper exertion(strain).Of course unless you use a wide leg position it won't hit the inner thigh area.With leg exercises if you take a wide stance (keep toes pointed on same plane as knees)you will shift stress of of the knees and more onto the inner thighs.
03-27-03, 02:42 PM
Has anyone done rowing for cross-training? Would it develope those inner leg muscles? (I'm looking for upper body training myself.) I've read that some runners also row for a total body workout that's gentler on the knees due to the absence of impacts. I've considered rowing but couldn't see myself dedicating gym time to an indoor stationary rower - and the nearest boat rowing club is an inconvenient 1-hour drive away.
Then I read about the "rowbike" made by the guy who developed roller blades. Once you get over the bizarre look of the thing (heck, I have a recumbent among my bikes - how much weirder can it be than that?) it seems to offer the best of both biking and rowing, although I'd probably only "row" for a short workout ride and not as a distance ride. (BTW, this thing costs less than half of one of my bikes and only a fraction of what a rowing shell would cost.)
I'm lucky to enjoy year-round riding on the nearby bike path and many low traffic roads. I could alternate biking with "rowing" almost anytime, enjoying the outdoors doing both.
I did a search in BF on rowing but there isn't much here. Do any of you row? Would this form of workout be suitable to cyclists? Opinions, please.
Originally posted by bentrox!
Has anyone done rowing for cross-training? Would it develope
I did a search in BF on rowing but there isn't much here. Do any of you row? Would this form of workout be suitable to cyclists? Opinions, please.
I have a Concept II rower. It's not the most exciting form of exercise, but I try to use it about 45-60 minutes a week.
For me it's really a mid and upper body workout. Doesn't affect my legs much at all. But if you have some lower body injuries or lack of flexibility it may cause you problems.
I think rowing would be a good thing to counter-balance the lopside development of the lower body from cycling.
I do seated,barbell and t-bar rows at various times as part of a total body weight training program.Rowing will primarily focus on the mid back(and biceps secondarily) as well as provide anaerobic or aerobic benefits as well depending on the amount of resistance used but even combined with cycling I wouldn't call it a total body workout.However for crosstraining and to hit different muscles in the upper body it does have merit.I have never heard of the rowbike just make sure it is decent quality for that amount of money many of the highly marketed exercising devices are cheaply constructed.
back to leg extensions for a second. There is a tear drop shaped muscles called the vastus medialis. It's above and to the inside of the knee. A sports doctor once said in the beginning of a chapter on knee therapy...'For the vast majority of you; if you have a strong vastus medialis, you need read no further.'. Do your sets, after they are done, place your palm on the vastus medialis. It will kick in in the upper end of the leg extension. Just move the device up and down a few inches to keep that muscle working.
You don't want to go all the way up; or down more than a third of the range of motion. Once this muscle gets big enough, you will be pleasantly surprised.
The thing about leg extensions- they are done to strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee so that if you have the knee injuries, you can work to prevent further knee injuries. So... if you are doing the leg extensions, yes, it is working the vastus medialis, but mainly the section of the muscle that attaches to the bone around the knee. It is a secondary muscle that's being worked, so to develop the inner thigh, you would either have to lift heavy or do a lot of reps and sets over a long period of time. Your solution is to find a machine that specifically isolates this muscle- that inner/outer thigh machine (adductor/abductor machine), and you want to use the part that works the adductor muscle (inner thigh). Why use a machine that doesn't directly target the muscle so that you have to do more work when you can use a machine that directly isolates the muscle and works it efficiently enough to see the changes sooner?
As far as the resistance bands, they do work, but they can get cumbersome because you have to find a position where you can sit, stand or lay down to isolate the muscle, then adduct the leg into the body and mostly continue the adduction beyond the midline of the body to feel the work done. It can be done- I do it with my students in aerobics classes, but you'll need someone to direct you on how to correctly perform the move.
As far as the rowing, consider this- I read a study and also attended a lecture on VO2 Max comparing different sports, and rowers had some of the largest VO2 Max and lung capacity numbers I've ever seen! I think rowing is one of the best compliments to cycling you can do- increasing your aerobic fitness and efficiency for oxygen uptake. I believe rowing is primarily an upper body workout, but it does work the legs too, and is a great cross training workout. When I was living in Perth, Western Australia, I met this guy that was on the rowing team for Australia- 6 foot 8 inches and not an inch of fat! When he made a muscle, I would hum the Popeye the Sailor Man theme, because his biceps were so big I almost lost my mind whenever he would flex for me. Actually, his entire body was supurb. He had an incredible aerobic capacity.
The elliptical is a good machine to work in that it is low impact on the knees, but I really don't feel like it's as good as a workout, BUT that's because I mainly see people dicking around on the ellipticals and not working out at maximum effort. I'm not a big fan of the elliptical. It's ok, but I prefer running to the elliptical anyday, and I really hate running! Still, if you have bad knees, the elliptical is the way for you to go. Just don't slack off when you're on it, that's all. It can be a good complement for cycling, in that you can still work on aerobic and anaerobic work.
Re-emphasizing the weight work I recommended- if you do them, it's not full lunges or squats or extensions- they are 3/4ths, just like you mentioned earlier- with light weights and lots of reps. I totally recommend using these weight training activites to strengthen the muscles around the knee so you can stabilize the knee and prevent further knee pain. There was a time when I had such bad knee pain that sitting put me in tears. I lived on ice packs, heat packs, massages, saunas and whirlpools. Then I got with a personal trainer who took me through some safe exercises. Consider getting a personal trainer for just one or two sessions who can take you through the exercises. Find a personal trainer who has a background in physical therapy- they are out there, you just need to call around. Explain firmly you don't need them long term, just one or two sessions to go through the exercises and moniter your form, technique and weights so that you know you are doing them correctly, or you will be caught in the personal trainer vortex for the rest of your life- I'm sure you are clever- you don't need a babysitter like the rest of the bored housewives out there with no one to talk to. My knees are fine now, no problems at all. Whew!
As far as the cycling, consider taking a day off. Muscles need rest, because it's the rest time when they grow and develop, not the work time. If you're continuously stressing the muscle, you will never give them the chance to develop, and as a consequence, you will not see the improvements you'd like to see. My legs are killing me- I run every morning, then ride every afternoon, BUT I take off Fridays, and if I'm still feeling crappy, I take off Saturday too, or just make Saturday an active recovery day- low heart rate, easy riding. For maximum results, you really should consider taking off at least one day, maybe two, but I don't think two is necessary, especially if you are not going hard all the time for the other 5 days.
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