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  1. #1
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    why are bikers' legs pretty thin?

    just started getting into biking. I was looking at some lance pictures and i noticed his legs are pretty thin. I find it kinda counterintuitive - shouldn't bikers (especially the michael jordan of cycling) have strong thick legs from all the pumping?

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    Lance Armstrong doesn't have the body-type for being "huge". I have the same body-type as him. I layed carpet for a year and did heavy lifting the whole time. My muscles got much stronger, on the order of being able to easily lift 100 pounds more, but I only gained about 5 pounds and I didn't grow anywhere. Btw, I am 6ft and 145pounds.
    Another reason I think you don't see Armstrong with huge legs is that he opts for a higher pedalling cadence (how fast you pedal, in RPMS) rather than hammering the pedals (lower pedalling speed at a harder, stronger gear). This means his work out is more aerobic, relying on his cardiovascular system to move smaller loads (lower gears) faster. So he isn't pressing 75 pounds each pedal push, rather he is pressing more like 30 pounds (just arbitrary numbers) so hes more of an endurance racer than a pedal masher.

    Its like the difference between a power-lifter who lifts 400 pounds three times, and a normal person (for lack of a better word) who lifts 40 pounds 30 times. The power-lifter will be big and bulky but the normal person will be well-defined and able to go for longer periods of time than the power lifter.

    Make any sense?

  3. #3
    eert a ekil yzarc SpiderMike's Avatar
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    Your genes have a lot to do with it. I was "blessed" with tree trunk legs. Riding XC and SS has toned my legs, and really worked my calfs. If you are looking to bulk your quads, try a bmx.

  4. #4
    H23
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    This is the part where someone posts a pic of a bulging ripped track cyclist....
    Followed by a pic of Tyler Hamilton with his shirt off looking like a sick ET....

  5. #5
    Man of Leisure Ivan Hanz's Avatar
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    Same reason sprinters (runners) have big, thick legs and bodies and cross-country runners (marathoners) are more spindly. A person born with a sprinters' body will never be world-class marathoner, and visa-versa.
    Every time that wheel turns 'round, bound to cover just a little more ground.

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    Man of Leisure Ivan Hanz's Avatar
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    http://www.cyclingnews.com/tour.php?...r03/stage15/20

    There's the Tyler shot. Find your own sprinter
    Every time that wheel turns 'round, bound to cover just a little more ground.

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    Senior Member Tree Trunk's Avatar
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    I put in 200+ miles a week from April through November. However, my legs are not small. My I.D. is a pretty accurate description and it's a nickname my riding buddies gave to me years ago.
    There have to be bicycles in heaven!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Metro's Avatar
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    The same is true of runners. Compare them with body builders or football players (to use and extereme example). "Arnold" needs to move a massive amount of weight at one time. It requires larger bundles of muscle fibre. while the long distance runner only needs to repeat the same efficient motion 1 million times. This requires thinner muscles.

    I did the Face of America Tour a few years ago to commemorate the 911 victims. There were lots of police and fire fighters on the ride from New York to Virginia. The "big burly" guys, while generally fit, had a hard time with distance and speed, while the lightweights cyclists spun along at a nice pace. It's a mater of musclel type.

    This is of course a generalization. There are many exceptions to the rule.

  9. #9
    By-Tor...or the Snow Dog? hi565's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpiderMike
    Your genes have a lot to do with it. I was "blessed" with tree trunk legs. Riding XC and SS has toned my legs, and really worked my calfs. If you are looking to bulk your quads, try a bmx.

    Yah I was blessed with the italian body type in the family. I have huge legs huge larger upper body etc. It does have an advantage...SPRINTING!!! But i wish I was teh lighter type, makes losing weight easier
    ----------------------------------------------------------

  10. #10
    Srila Prabhupada Ki Jaya! robotkittenarmy's Avatar
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    Never been able to buy normal jeans or pants even as a roller-skating grommet. Was VERY happy when "baggies" came out in the eighties. Regular trousers never fit around the quads.
    yam yam vapi smaran bhavam
    tyajaty ante kalevaram
    tam tam evaiti kaunteya
    sada tad-bhava-bhavitah

  11. #11
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    I'm definately the "sprinter" type......legs big enough to have issues with rainpants....yet I doubt they will ever get much thinner.

    They were just a bit smaller than this when I weighed 50lbs less back in high school...however they are far stronger than they were back then too.

  12. #12
    Out of breath again. suntreader's Avatar
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    The more I ride, the bigger my legs get.

  13. #13
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    You get all types in biking, thin and the stubbornly fat, and yes the treetrunklike muscular. But bikies never get as huge as powerlifters, and there's usually a fair amount of muscle mass on the legs, more so than the average American has under the layers of fat.

  14. #14
    Name's Ash ...housewares Doctor Morbius's Avatar
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    Genetics. I know which I'd rather be ... and it ain't Tyler Hamilton!
    I did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind. - Ed Rooney


    It's not that I'm lazy. I'm just highly motivated to RELAX!!

  15. #15
    Toyota Racing Dev. PWRDbyTRD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Morbius
    Genetics. I know which I'd rather be ... and it ain't Tyler Hamilton!
    lol...yeah OK...those guys seriously look like FREAKS.
    Linkage...My 2004 Kona Hoss Dee-Lux My Mindless Banter
    Disclaimer: I'm 425lb...I put unnormal loads on my bike. This should help you in answering any of my questions.

  16. #16
    Work hard, Play hard forum*rider's Avatar
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    holy crap.

    Juicers ahoy!

    I mean, I don't think I look llike the average cyclist(I'm pretty bulky), but those guy's forearms are bigger than my calves

  17. #17
    Deported by koffee allgoo19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Morbius
    Genetics. I know which I'd rather be ... and it ain't Tyler Hamilton!
    I'd rather be none of them, better to be happy medium. My ideal physique would be upper body of a gymnast or swimmer, lower body of a road cycling racer.

    Edit: Bike racer's legs are not thin. They are honed, pack a lot of punch.

  18. #18
    H23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Morbius
    Genetics. I know which I'd rather be ... and it ain't Tyler Hamilton!

    I'd rather be Tyler Hamilton given a choice between the two body types.

    Photos of bodies can be very deceptive. That photo is from the 2003 TDF at the end of a brutal stage. He looks much better in other photos even from the same tour.

    The muscle men just have a bunch of useless muscle mass that doesn't actually do anything interesting except "flex" for the camera.

  19. #19
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    Those guys are just show...not enough bodyfat to truly use them without a good chance of herniating a muscle.

    Now strongman is some impressive stuff...
    Check out strongman sometime to see the crap some of these guys pull off

    all I have to say is this chick could prolly throw any of us here like a toothpick! http://www.nastrongman.com/nasschamps/KaraMann.htm

  20. #20
    Snakebite gritface's Avatar
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    Calf muscles are thin, but I've got two sets of 'kneecaps' on each leg.. Is that because the thigh/upper legs get more workout than lower leg on a bike?

  21. #21
    Photog Extraordinaire Crack'n'fail's Avatar
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    If I could have any body type, I would have a combo of:

    A Rock climber's upper body:



    And the legs of a cyclist:



    It aint about size, it's about power and efficiency.

  22. #22
    Work hard, Play hard forum*rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catatonic
    all I have to say is this chick could prolly throw any of us here like a toothpick! http://www.nastrongman.com/nasschamps/KaraMann.htm
    jeez! 200lb each arm is crazy. I can only deadlift 300

    oh, and if I could have any body type, I would stick with what I have. My wrestlers physique is pretty well balanced. I'm not huge, but I can generate some power if needed.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Drayko's Avatar
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    It seems to me that the rock climber and cycler have very similar body typed. Both really involve power to weight. Even more so in rock climbing. Bulk isn't good because it's extra weight you gotta carry up and deal with (manipulating your center of mass is important for technique also). That said, I dearly love both.
    Climbing will also give you a super strong back. You could stay in the drops all day...

    Simon Karlin on Nyamuks latest project (in Malaysia) (Those holds, feet & hand, are smaller than doorjams it looks like )

  24. #24
    Photog Extraordinaire Crack'n'fail's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drayko
    Climbing will also give you a super strong back. You could stay in the drops all day...

    Simon Karlin on Nyamuks latest project (in Malaysia) (Those holds, feet & hand, are smaller than doorjams it looks like )
    I have the same shoes as that guy. That's all we have in common.


  25. #25
    kipuka explorer bkrownd's Avatar
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    One thing that has seriously annoyed me since I switched from commuting on a mountain bike to a road bike is that my quads don't get as much work now because of the new pedaling position, which makes the legs more spindly. I was ALWAYS in top gear on the mountain bike and I used to stand on the pedals and use my whole body to crank up steep hills or accelerate fast, and often enough even when coasting, and the new frame geometry doesn't work too well with standing on the pedals so I never do that at all now. When I'm at the end of the ride these days it's an entirely different set of muscles that are sore than it used to be. Quads and calves got a lot more work on the mountain bike. Same roads, different bike, different result.
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