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  1. #1
    Senior Member Mikabike's Avatar
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    Distance or effort?

    What would give better results for rebuilding leg muscles. Short hard rides, or long easy rides? When training are you all looking at your avg mph or how long you rode?

    I'm trying to build my leg strength back up and don't know if I should be trying to ride farther, or faster.
    Mike
    The pain may make me shake, but I know my heart won't break.
    2005 Kona Hoss nicknamed "Prison Sex"

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    strength from what? a period of no riding, but still walking, etc..., or an accident that put you in a cast and everything. If you're just getting back into riding from normal life, just take it easy and increase your mileage about 10% a week until you don't want to ride any further. After 3 weeks or a month, you can start doing a little more intensity work and doing some stuff in the big ring. Keep your cadence high and spin up the hills at first. Get a good warmup and cool down, and get a good stretching routine. If you're coming back from an injury, i would do easy stuff on the bike and focus on not hurting the same thing or something else. To really build muscle, i would hit the weights once or twice a week, low weight, high reps (15-25). Also, you may want to eat a little more protein than usual. I'm sure someone who is more training and nutrition-wise will chime in soon

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pearcem
    [...]To really build muscle, i would hit the weights once or twice a week, low weight, high reps (15-25). Also, you may want to eat a little more protein than usual. I'm sure someone who is more training and nutrition-wise will chime in soon
    To really build muscle, would high weights and low reps not be the way to go? I think you misspoke--low weight and high reps would be used to increase endurance (stamina) not strength.

  4. #4
    Focus on the future alison_in_oh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikabike
    What would give better results for rebuilding leg muscles. Short hard rides, or long easy rides? When training are you all looking at your avg mph or how long you rode?

    I'm trying to build my leg strength back up and don't know if I should be trying to ride farther, or faster.
    My husband has drilled into me that your body doesn't know speed or distance, it only knows duration and intensity.

    Right now I think you want to be building endurance, and the way to do that is to increase your duration at lower intensity. This will also minimize the chances of hurting yourself before your connective tissues, etc. adapt to the new stresses. It doesn't hurt that at lower heart rates, you're more likely to be burning fat to fuel the exercise.

    Later, you might want to build muscle strength and explosive power with short bursts of very high intensity. Also, so-called "high-intensity interval training" has been shown to rev your metabolism so that (even though your body is using stored carbohydrate to fuel the actual exercise) you continue in a fat-burning mode for a while after working out. But I really think that has to come after a certain amount of "base training" -- the more intense your workouts, the higher the likelihood of injury, and that's something you definitely DON'T want right now!

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    roody, i meant muscle that would be more useful for cycling specific gains and strength. If you just wanted size, then yeah, higher weight, lower reps. sorry for the confusion.

  6. #6
    Theodore Roosevelt's idol TheKillerPenguin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    To really build muscle, would high weights and low reps not be the way to go? I think you misspoke--low weight and high reps would be used to increase endurance (stamina) not strength.

    If you were going simply for muscle mass, you'd do high weight and low reps (4-6). For a pretty decent mix of strength and stamina, aim for 12 reps with moderately heavy weights. Start with less weight, and after each set, add some more. When I do leg presses, I do 270 for my first 12 reps, 300 for my second 12, and 330 for my third. Take a rest inbetween sets to give yourself time to recover. Do multiple leg exercises so as to not make one muscle group much more powerful than another. And don't lift more weight than you really can do! If you lift less than the guy that just went ahead of you, so what. Concentrate on your form, and you'll be lifting a lot in no time .

    Best of luck to you Mika
    Masochism is a training adaptation.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Mikabike's Avatar
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    Well my leg muscles are very strong compared to say a 180lb rider. I'm 560lb though so what's strong to one man is weak to a larger one.

    I haven't been physically active, even not walking much, the last few years. I'm getting around a lot better now but suffice to say that the leg muscles I built up in my 20's from riding 100miles a month have gone. And I want them back.

    I used to be able to go up fairly steep inclines even weight 450lbs back then, but now even moderate climbs have me loosing all leg strength and fighting not to stop.

    I want to build my leg strength so I can ride more effectively. Right now my legs give out before I even start breathing hard. My cardio is in much better shape than my muscle strength. That's because I have an exercise bike that uses air resistance so it gives my heart a workout, but not my legs. That's why I bought areal bike.


    I want to build leg strength so I have the power to ride longer..Does that make sense? Right now my legs are giving up much too quickly and my average mph is like 8.
    Mike
    The pain may make me shake, but I know my heart won't break.
    2005 Kona Hoss nicknamed "Prison Sex"

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    Senior Member Pedal Wench's Avatar
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    Mike,

    I would think that since you're still kinda new to riding that you should stick to distance, until you build up to a few miles. Once you can stay on the bike for a significant amount of time, then you can alternate - one day go for distance, the next for speed. Whatever you do, just keep riding! I think of you often, and hope you're still having fun with it. It only gets better!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Mikabike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3cannondales
    I think of you often, and hope you're still having fun with it. It only gets better!
    Well despite the horrible smell around my apartment area today I had a little fun. I've lived in this complex for years and only just today explored the other side of it. Never had a reason to go over there before. I'm having fun riding, I just have to keep that in mind and not fixate on the unpleasantness of getting exercise.

    I think, once my legs get a little stronger, I might have a wheelie or two left in me. How's that for fun? The gears go so low on mountain bikes, it makes the front wheel come off the ground a little if you really crank on em hard from a dead stop. Even when your heavy.
    Mike
    The pain may make me shake, but I know my heart won't break.
    2005 Kona Hoss nicknamed "Prison Sex"

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  10. #10
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alison_in_oh
    Right now I think you want to be building endurance, and the way to do that is to increase your duration at lower intensity. This will also minimize the chances of hurting yourself before your connective tissues, etc. adapt to the new stresses. It doesn't hurt that at lower heart rates, you're more likely to be burning fat to fuel the exercise.

    Later, you might want to build muscle strength and explosive power with short bursts of very high intensity. Also, so-called "high-intensity interval training" has been shown to rev your metabolism so that (even though your body is using stored carbohydrate to fuel the actual exercise) you continue in a fat-burning mode for a while after working out. But I really think that has to come after a certain amount of "base training" -- the more intense your workouts, the higher the likelihood of injury, and that's something you definitely DON'T want right now!
    I think Alison is dead on. For now, you want to build endurance. Once you have that, you can work strength. I think there's plenty of hidden strength in your legs, they have been carrying you around. Do miles without worrying about speed until you get to say 10 miles at a time. Then you'll have enough base to throw a sprint in there somewhere.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  11. #11
    Senior Member Mikabike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twahl
    I think Alison is dead on. For now, you want to build endurance. Once you have that, you can work strength. I think there's plenty of hidden strength in your legs, they have been carrying you around. Do miles without worrying about speed until you get to say 10 miles at a time. Then you'll have enough base to throw a sprint in there somewhere.
    10 miles? Ah man? That's going to take forever. I just did my first 1.3 last Saturday and it felt like dying. Only 3 weeks ago I couldn't do more than .4

    I do all my riding without stopping, no rests. I'm kind of afraid that if I stop for a breather someone might think I'm in trouble or something. You know, fat man breathing hard at the side of the road not moving...Hehe People might think "heart attack"
    Mike
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    2005 Kona Hoss nicknamed "Prison Sex"

    http://mikabike.blogspot.com

  12. #12
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    Mike -- have you gotten out of the apartment complex yet? Maybe if you got out on the road your incentive to go farther would go up.

  13. #13
    Focus on the future alison_in_oh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikabike
    10 miles? Ah man? That's going to take forever. I just did my first 1.3 last Saturday and it felt like dying. Only 3 weeks ago I couldn't do more than .4
    You've already tripled your distance once; just two more triplings and you'll be at 10.

    And I know that you're working on speed at least a little, getting your legs pumping. It feels more productive that way I know, but try a ride where you focus on saving your legs to last as long as possible. Maybe even take your computer off so you don't think about speed or distance -- after all, you know approximately how long each lap is by now, so if you really want to keep track you can.

    In fact, to give yourself a little variety, maybe you do want to alternate endurance and speed work. Just don't get carried away with the speed rides: don't push your body past aching into pain, and don't use up all your moxy so that you A) end up with a super-short ride or B) hurt too much the next day to go back out.

    Another thought for leg strength stuff: if your knees are up to it, you might try some bodyweight squats, particularly on the days when the pollen and thunderstorms are too much to let you go outside. http://stumptuous.com/learnsquat.html

  14. #14
    I get hit by cars Crash Dummy's Avatar
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    The bulk of your body's muscle tissue comes in two varieties: Glycolytic and Oxidative.

    Glycolytic muscle splits glucose to make two ATP (just think two units of energy) per sugar molecule. This process is fast, generating lots of ATP in a short time. However, it is very inefficient given that Oxidative tissue generates about 36 ATP per sugar molecule. Thus, glycolytic muscle fatigues very quickly, while oxidative muscle can keep going for long periods of time. Thus, glycolytic muscle is most used during short, intense bursts of activity, such as powerlifting or sprinting. Oxidative muscle is used during endurance activities, such as cycling or running. Oxidative tissue can switch to glycolytic metabolism if it needs to, however glycolytic tissue cannot go to oxidative mode. The cool thing about muscle is that you can train glycolytic tissue to become oxidative, given time and training.

    Given that your goal is weight loss, you'd be best off going for endurance. Keep your body in fat-burning mode longer and you'll improve your endurance by training your muscles to be more efficient. That way, you'll be able to go longer than before and burn more fat while you're at it. As the pounds come off, you likely won't lose leg strength very fast, given that as you train your muscles to use oxidative metabolism, they can still go back to glycolytic for short bursts of speed. Because you're losing weight, you can realize the benefits of both endurance and strength training from just endurance work.

    Congratulations, by the way, on sticking with the bike. Keep it up. And keep us informed on your progress
    The Pessimist is always either correct or pleasantly surprised.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Mikabike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Moto
    Mike -- have you gotten out of the apartment complex yet? Maybe if you got out on the road your incentive to go farther would go up.
    I'm not sure if I'm ready to ride on the road yet. I didn't start driving till I was 22. One of the reasons why was fear of cars after being in so many accidents riding my bike to work and back. It's too early I think to have to 'watch my back' during a ride because of stupid ass drivers who don't stop after hitting you.
    Mike
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    2005 Kona Hoss nicknamed "Prison Sex"

    http://mikabike.blogspot.com

  16. #16
    Senior Member edp773's Avatar
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    Hi Mike. I am trying to build my legs back up too. The cause was different, but the results from inactivity was the same. I am finding that using lower gears and higher(cadence) pedaling faster is helping me the most. Remember to set small goals to reach your overall goal.
    I would suggest staying off the roads as long as possible. Good luck.

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    Mike,
    I read something in another post on this forum that made a lot of sense:

    - If your legs give out before your lungs, increase your cadence (lower gear, faster spin)
    - If your lungs give out before your legs, decrease your cadence (higher gear, slower spin)

    So in your case, why not try a lower gear and spinning faster. That will put less strain on your leg muscles and give your lungs a larger share of the work. I guess the ideal would be to run out of breath and legs at the same time.

    And to answer your original question, I think you are looking for more muscular endurance in your legs, right? Not really more strength? I mean, you can turn the pedals, but you want to be able to keep turning them for a longer period of time. I think the best way to do that is to keep riding longer and longer distances.

    So try going to a lower gear and pacing yourself a bit more. Maybe slow down a bit so that you can increase your distances.

  18. #18
    Car-Free Flatlander Stacy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikabike
    10 miles? Ah man? That's going to take forever. I just did my first 1.3 last Saturday and it felt like dying. Only 3 weeks ago I couldn't do more than .4

    I do all my riding without stopping, no rests. I'm kind of afraid that if I stop for a breather someone might think I'm in trouble or something. You know, fat man breathing hard at the side of the road not moving...Hehe People might think "heart attack"

    It happens faster than you expect. When I first returned to cycling last summer I was only able to do about three miles. Then a week later I was up to ten.... but not all in one stretch. Don't be afraid to stop for a rest whenever you feel like you need it. And to hell with what other people think If I only counted the mileage I can do without rest stops I never would've gotten anywhere.

    Stacy

  19. #19
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikabike
    10 miles? Ah man? That's going to take forever. I just did my first 1.3 last Saturday and it felt like dying. Only 3 weeks ago I couldn't do more than .4

    I do all my riding without stopping, no rests. I'm kind of afraid that if I stop for a breather someone might think I'm in trouble or something. You know, fat man breathing hard at the side of the road not moving...Hehe People might think "heart attack"
    Trust me. Last July my wife and I started with like 4 miles. In a couple of weeks it was 7 miles. Then 12. In September we did a metric century together. Slow...we averaged something like 9 MPH. We're doing a metric in a couple of weeks with our kids, and want to do a full century around the end of the summer. We regularly ride 30+ miles, feeling like anything under 10 is a waste. It took some time to get there, but once you get there you'l be loving it, and you will get there.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  20. #20
    Positio, ergo sum! Bécane's Avatar
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    Hi Mikeabike,

    I've been reading it all about your progress. Keep it up.

    Aim for longer distances, so your body and your muscles get use to riding. Be patient, your speed will increase over time. For now, stick to gradually increasing the distance.

    Don't stop.

  21. #21
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Crash Dummy--good post and your recommendations made a lot of sense. I don't understand this part of your post (it seems contradictory to me):

    Quote Originally Posted by Crash Dummy
    [. . . ] Oxidative tissue can switch to glycolytic metabolism if it needs to, however glycolytic tissue cannot go to oxidative mode. The cool thing about muscle is that you can train glycolytic tissue to become oxidative, given time and training.[. . .]
    Could you explain this in easier terms? I guess I am the real dummy here!

  22. #22
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    Well Mike I take a slightly different view then the others here. I think you should build the muscle first. This will increase your basal metabolic rate (Number of calories needed per day, not counting any activities) thus increasing the calories you burn all day and night. Understanding where you are at where you want to be, you want to burn calories! Its all well and good to build up your endurance, this will come in time. What you need now is to increase the number of calories your body NEEDS every day. This will be accomplished by increasing muscle mass NOW.

    I'm not a professional and few folks I would think are qualified to tell a 500# person what is best for them since thats just not something we deal with daily. Your endurance will happen as a by-product of riding, even if you focus on harder efforts.

    Who burn more calories laying in bed all day....a 100 meter sprinter or a marathon runner...?
    Its all downhill from somewhere.

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