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Old 01-09-11, 01:33 PM   #1
jshort2010
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Lighter but not faster

I'm not an experienced cyclist but I have trained hard on the a stationary trainer a few times.

In September I was able to cycle about 12 km in 30 minutes. Throughout the fall I went on a calorie restricted diet and lost nearly 20 lbs.

I went back to the gym and worked on the trainer again (and I inputed my new weight into the machine data as well) but realized I couldn't bike any faster??

I don't think I've lost that much muscle. How come I'm not more efficient on the bike?
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Old 01-09-11, 02:29 PM   #2
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Well. If you used any of the common popular diets, you almost certainly lost muscle as well as body fat.

But that isn't why you aren't any faster. The key in you statement is that you only trained a few times. If you want to get faster/stronger/more fit, than you must exercise regularly. Your fitness level is independent of your weight. In order to increase fitness, then YOU MUST EXERCISE regularly... That means 3-5 times a week for 40-60 minutes each at a minimum. Anything less and you will have some health benefits from diet and minimal exercise, but your general fitness level will not improve.
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Old 01-09-11, 04:55 PM   #3
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You are on a trainer, indoors and not on a bicycle going someplace with your efforts?
that's not a bike.. more like a treadmill with pedals..

So, your body weight has gone down .. are you putting time into the free-weight room too ?
or is this a spinning class data comparison that you are doing?


fast is overrated, enjoy the journey.
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Old 01-09-11, 06:01 PM   #4
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I don't think weight makes that much difference when you aren't already a strong cyclist. Weak before the weight loss, weak after the weight loss. Maybe even weaker. Don't worry about it. Work harder on the bike and it'll come that much faster because you're lighter.
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Old 01-09-11, 06:33 PM   #5
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You are on a trainer, indoors and not on a bicycle going someplace with your efforts?
that's not a bike.. more like a treadmill with pedals..

So, your body weight has gone down .. are you putting time into the free-weight room too ?
or is this a spinning class data comparison that you are doing?


fast is overrated, enjoy the journey.
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Old 01-09-11, 09:46 PM   #6
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I'm a little confused by some of the replies. People spend thousands of dollars just so they can buy light bikes that have super-light carbon frames etc...If weight is so crucial to performance than why not improve your performance by losing a few off your body instead of your bike?

Maybe I should have spent more time in the weight room to keep more muscle, I dunno.

Lance Armstrong was 13 lbs lighter after cancer and only then did he have what it took to win the Tour De France!
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Old 01-09-11, 10:16 PM   #7
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I'm a little confused by some of the replies. People spend thousands of dollars just so they can buy light bikes that have super-light carbon frames etc...If weight is so crucial to performance than why not improve your performance by losing a few off your body instead of your bike?

Maybe I should have spent more time in the weight room to keep more muscle, I dunno.

Lance Armstrong was 13 lbs lighter after cancer and only then did he have what it took to win the Tour De France!
Yes, but you're not Lance. He was a triathlon champion, world champion cyclist, and competitive in the Tour before the cancer.

In comparing two cyclists of equivalent build and bicycle position, the rider with better fitness will go faster. It's still about the motor. Once bikes reach a certain level any changes yield tiny, incremental improvements. So many people would benefit by simply training more or more systematically.

However, it's a lot easier to say "I spent four thousand dollars on my bike- of course it's better than your two thousand dollar bike". That fails to qualify what they mean by "better". In some cases it can mean a bike truly fitted to the rider- in more cases it's just useless, fragile bling.
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Old 01-09-11, 10:39 PM   #8
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Yes, but you're not Lance. He was a triathlon champion, world champion cyclist, and competitive in the Tour before the cancer.

In comparing two cyclists of equivalent build and bicycle position, the rider with better fitness will go faster. It's still about the motor. Once bikes reach a certain level any changes yield tiny, incremental improvements. So many people would benefit by simply training more or more systematically.

However, it's a lot easier to say "I spent four thousand dollars on my bike- of course it's better than your two thousand dollar bike". That fails to qualify what they mean by "better". In some cases it can mean a bike truly fitted to the rider- in more cases it's just useless, fragile bling.
This doesn't answer my question. I'm asking WHY?

btw, two cyclists of equal fitness would not have the same abilities if one was 150 lbs and the other 250 lbs. The latter has to carry an extra 100 lbs.
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Old 01-09-11, 10:43 PM   #9
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I think you MIGHT have been able to observe a measurable difference IF you'd ridden a real bike up a real hill before and after weight loss.

Weight on a stationary makes less difference.

Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 01-09-11 at 11:09 PM. Reason: grammar 101
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Old 01-09-11, 10:46 PM   #10
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Except this stationary bike asks you to input your weight. Obviously its using this to calculate things like distance,speed, calories burned.
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Old 01-09-11, 10:48 PM   #11
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I'd take any data that a stationary trainer spews out that's dependent on entering your body weight with a grain of salt.
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Old 01-09-11, 11:04 PM   #12
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It is asking for your weight so it can calculate calories burned. Since you aren't literally moving your weight it makes no difference unless your trainer adjusts resistance based on your weight. But even then it wouldn't be as effective as riding a real bike to gauge weight as a performance factor.
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Old 01-09-11, 11:12 PM   #13
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Except this stationary bike asks you to input your weight. Obviously its using this to calculate things like distance,speed, calories burned.
How much you weigh has no effect on distance and speed calculations on a stationary bike. That is measured only by how many times the wheel turns in a given amount of time. On a real bike you actually have to move your own mass while you don't have to do that on a stationary bike.
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Old 01-09-11, 11:24 PM   #14
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Except this stationary bike asks you to input your weight. Obviously its using this to calculate things like distance,speed, calories burned.
The only thing "obvious" is that it asks you to input your weight. Whether it uses that input to vary its resistance or any results of your workout is not a given. I've worked with enough software people to know that "input" does not necessarily mean "output"... and it's less certain that the output has any sort of relationship to reality.

IMO: get a real bike. Find a local club time trial and ride the same course every week, week after week. See how your speed changes over time. If you're getting more fit, you should go faster.
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Old 01-10-11, 12:01 AM   #15
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The next time I go to the gym I'll input a different weight and see if that effects the numbers for distance/calories on the screen.

The stationary bike I use is a TRUE CS8.0. I have a speed bike but cannot use it now because theres too much snow outside and too cold as well.
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Old 01-10-11, 08:11 AM   #16
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If you aren't an elite athlete, competing against other elite athletes where differences are measure as less than 1%, minor changes in weight (5-10 pounds) aren't really going to show a noticeable difference, whether that weight change comes from the bike or the body.

Indeed, other than climbing, weight is largely irrelevant (either body or bike). That is a major reason why the best sprinters and the best climbers are not usually the same group of people. Different types of engines to use the common parlance.

When setting up your stationary cycle to test the effect of weight on its distance calculations, make sure that the effort is the same. In other words you would want to compare the same resistance levels. You really shouldn't see any difference in calculated distance for different weights, providing all other factors are kept the same. Calories will change; however, those numbers are essentially meaningless, since they are based on approximations derived from statistical data. In other words, just because the machine tells you that you burned 300 calories, doesn't mean you actually burned 300 calories. Even machines which measure power output only provide estimates of power consumption (calories) since different people have different efficiencies. Although with an accurate power meter, you can be sure that if it says you expended 300 calories than you burned at least 300 calories. Of course power meters don't require weight as an input since power is an actual measured quantity.
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Old 01-10-11, 08:22 AM   #17
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The next time I go to the gym I'll input a different weight and see if that effects the numbers for distance/calories on the screen.

The stationary bike I use is a TRUE CS8.0. I have a speed bike but cannot use it now because theres too much snow outside and too cold as well.
Isn't that what you've already done? Note that a normal bicycle computer like a Cateye etc. does not need to know your weight to determine speed and distance. If it estimates calories it does need to know your weight.
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Old 01-10-11, 11:49 AM   #18
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The thing is that being lighter helps a cyclist in two ways: acceleration and climbing. Climbing is all about power/weight ratio. That is why the bigger guys on the tour tend to be good time trialist (flat ground/high speed) and the whippet like cyclists climb better (not as strong but a whole lot lighter).

Again as pointed out above, the 10 minute lead in the tour is a big deal. But when you think about the length of the race, it is like winning a 100 meter dash by a hair's breadth.
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Old 01-10-11, 01:31 PM   #19
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I'm a little confused by some of the replies. People spend thousands of dollars just so they can buy light bikes that have super-light carbon frames etc...If weight is so crucial to performance than why not improve your performance by losing a few off your body instead of your bike?

Maybe I should have spent more time in the weight room to keep more muscle, I dunno.

Lance Armstrong was 13 lbs lighter after cancer and only then did he have what it took to win the Tour De France!
Lance had the power to win--That takes not only physical but mental strength.

When you start cycling- it takes a few weeks/months to get used to the exercise and some improvement will come about in this time. But it takes around two years to become Bike fit. Do 100 miles a week for the next two years and see if you say the same.

And those superlight bikes and the lbs off the body will not make you faster- What will happen is that hills do not take as long to do.

What will improve speed is training. Ask the professionals- their answer will be about 10 years of training. And then you can decide if you are a sprinter- a hill climber or an also ran.
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Old 01-10-11, 10:05 PM   #20
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Performance on a stationary bike is not equal to performance on a bike.

Train right, eat right, worry less.
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Old 01-11-11, 06:28 AM   #21
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The thing is that being lighter helps a cyclist in two ways: acceleration and climbing. Climbing is all about power/weight ratio. That is why the bigger guys on the tour tend to be good time trialist (flat ground/high speed) and the whippet like cyclists climb better (not as strong but a whole lot lighter).

Again as pointed out above, the 10 minute lead in the tour is a big deal. But when you think about the length of the race, it is like winning a 100 meter dash by a hair's breadth.

And a heavier riders go down hill faster and in some cases are more powerful...

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Old 01-12-11, 08:10 AM   #22
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This doesn't answer my question. I'm asking WHY?

btw, two cyclists of equal fitness would not have the same abilities if one was 150 lbs and the other 250 lbs. The latter has to carry an extra 100 lbs.
Your question has already been answered -- you likely lost muscle weight as well as fat. You WILL NOT just see a magical performance increase because of one factor. You're expecting "the magic bullet", and it just doesn't exist.

And you're wrong in your assumption about weight differences, too -- a 100-lb difference in two athletes would affect abilities in the last stages of ENDURANCE, yes, but what you're referring to would be two athletes of equal STRENGTH, not fitness. The heavier athlete, still fit, would be accustomed to carrying that extra weight, and would be able to perform, because he has extra POWER.

Hire a coach; he/she will tell you these things also, and more properly direct you where you fell you need to go.
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Old 01-12-11, 10:50 AM   #23
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Not to knock on the majority of the much appreciated replies, but this time I inputed a false weight into the bike computer (I inputed 110 lbs, whereas last time I inputed my real weight of 180 lbs).

Outcome: Difference in weight makes a HUGE difference. I biked much faster according the screen display.
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Old 01-12-11, 11:06 AM   #24
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Not to knock on the majority of the much appreciated replies, but this time I inputed a false weight into the bike computer (I inputed 110 lbs, whereas last time I inputed my real weight of 180 lbs).

Outcome: Difference in weight makes a HUGE difference. I biked much faster according the screen display.
What were the differences between your "speeds" that indicate to you "faster"?
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Old 01-12-11, 11:30 AM   #25
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Not to knock on the majority of the much appreciated replies, but this time I inputed a false weight into the bike computer (I inputed 110 lbs, whereas last time I inputed my real weight of 180 lbs).

Outcome: Difference in weight makes a HUGE difference. I biked much faster according the screen display.
That sounds like you lost your fitness while losing weight. Losing muscle, storage, endurance...
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