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  1. #1
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Benefits of well-developed upper body muscles??

    So ... just for fun ... can anyone tell me the benefits of having well-developed upper body muscles for CYCLING?


    Turns out my job (which involves a lot of heavy lifting and moving stuff) has given me the shoulders of a body-builder. I've been able to visibly see the difference lately, and then today I wore a suit jacket I haven't worn in about a year ... and could barely move my arms in it!! It used to fit very comfortably.

    Now that I've got all this extra shoulder muscle, I'm running through ideas of what I can do with it when I get cycling outside again ... Let's see ...

    1) Easily carry my panniers to the top floor of the hostel when I'm touring

    2) Carry my bicycle over icy patches in the road

    3) Hmmm ... maybe I can finally learn to bunny hop!!



    OK ... anyone else with some benefits of having upper body muscle for cycling?

  2. #2
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Hmmmm, bunny-hopping is actually in the legs.

    Buff upper-body's great for sprinting! I can shove guys off on both sides with my elbows. Can really yank on the bars to hammer the pedals.

  3. #3
    loves rail-trails bikingbets's Avatar
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    Upper body development is important for cyclists. We need it to balance the tree trunks we all have for thighs.
    Don't argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference.
    2009 Kona Sutra, 2010 Kona Dew Plus, 2008 Raleigh Companion Tandem

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    you sort of bounce when you have a crash
    you can carry your bike up 5 flights of stairs when the elevator is broken

  5. #5
    Don't Believe the Hype RiPHRaPH's Avatar
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    it is tough to say. You always want to remain relaxed in the upper body when riding, but i find that when it is late in a ride, my form is the first to go then everything else becomes more arduous. Good upper body and core development helps to keep you in rhythm when you need to climb gently while out of the saddle>> and you have to lean on your handlbars a bit more than you'd like.
    I have enough words to get me into trouble, but not enough to get me out of trouble.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Jarery's Avatar
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    Now you can carry all the extra bags of groceries our bodies demand up the stairs in one load instead of 2.
    Jarery

    -If you cant see it from space, its not a real hill
    -If two bikes are going in the same direction, ITS A RACE!

  7. #7
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    A strong upper body has made it so I can ride my bike without pain. I used to have such bad neck and shoulder pains that I had to stop biking. Now that I do lots of upper body exercises I do not have that problem anymore.

    Doing exerceises to strengthen my back and stomach muscles has gotten rid of my back pains that I had on the bike. For me a strong upper body has been more of a factor than strong legs.

    My legs get a workout everytime I ride, jog, or swim so I don't pay attention to them. My upper body suffers as soon as I stop working it out and it affects my endurance on the bike.
    Catastrophe: Knowing you are about to die and there are still three beers left in the fridge!
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  8. #8
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akarius
    A strong upper body has made it so I can ride my bike without pain. I used to have such bad neck and shoulder pains that I had to stop biking. Now that I do lots of upper body exercises I do not have that problem anymore.

    Doing exerceises to strengthen my back and stomach muscles has gotten rid of my back pains that I had on the bike. For me a strong upper body has been more of a factor than strong legs.

    My legs get a workout everytime I ride, jog, or swim so I don't pay attention to them. My upper body suffers as soon as I stop working it out and it affects my endurance on the bike.
    I agree with your view up to the point where the upper body is firm and strong. The kind of strength and firmness that comes from lower weight - higher repition workouts. I think it begins to turn into a negative a bit when one starts adding real bulk.
    Last edited by webist; 03-14-06 at 09:38 AM. Reason: Typos
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  9. #9
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    First, let's get real. Very few of us are riding competitively at a level where a couple extra pounds of upper body muscle is going to slow us down. And I doubt if very many of us are lifting weights at a level where we're going to develop more than a couple extra pounds of muscle! Upper body strength is an importan component of overall fitness, which is what most of us want.

    To get at Machka's original question, I could add to what's been said only one advantage to upper body strength specifically for cycling. If you fall or crash, stronger muscles protect your bones and joints somewhat from the extreme force of suddenly stopping. In other words, upper body strength might not help you go faster, but it might help you to stop safer in a crash.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  10. #10
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Also women do not bulk up very easily. They get stronger, more cut and defined much easier. I don't think Machka's gotta worry about adding much bulk to her frame, much less enough to hinder her cycling. As it is, her muscles have probably gotten to their maximum size already, just enough to handle the kinds of extra loads she's applying at work. Unless the lifting at her work increases, she's not likely to develop much further.

  11. #11
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    hmmm, bunny hopping is a ton of upper body, your legs don't lift the bike...

  12. #12
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    i've found that the stronger i get in my upper body, the easier it is to climb very steep hills.

  13. #13
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srrs
    i've found that the stronger i get in my upper body, the easier it is to climb very steep hills.

    THIS is EXACTLY what I wanted to hear!!! WooHoo!! Bring on the hills!!

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
    Also women do not bulk up very easily. They get stronger, more cut and defined much easier. I don't think Machka's gotta worry about adding much bulk to her frame, much less enough to hinder her cycling. As it is, her muscles have probably gotten to their maximum size already, just enough to handle the kinds of extra loads she's applying at work. Unless the lifting at her work increases, she's not likely to develop much further.

    I started weightlifting in my college gym a few weeks ago, in addition to the "weightlifting" I've been doing at work ... so I may still develop a little bit more bulk. And when I was into bodybuilding many years ago, my coach told me I've got the mesomorph body type. But I also know that unless I were to take steroids, I won't bulk up that much.

  15. #15
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cod3man
    hmmm, bunny hopping is a ton of upper body, your legs don't lift the bike...
    Not sure what your definition of bunny-hop is, but I pull more than just my front wheel off the ground. Stand next to the bike and lift it up 2ft, think that force from your arms is gonna lift the bike 2ft with you in the saddle?

    To pull both wheels off the ground evenly, you have to pull up on the COG somewhere right in between the wheels. I start compressing the tyres first by stomping down hard on the pedals. Then right at the bottom of the compression, I stomp as hard as I can and jump off the pedals straight up. As my upper-body and legs straighten up, I pull up a little on the bars, sometimes one-handed. Once my upper-body & hips reach maximum-height, I pull up on my legs to lift the bike. Anything above 6" to 12" off the ground is done purely by the legs. From 1.5ft to 2ft, I have to kick the legs sideways and flatten out the bike because my legs aren't strong enough to get a 2ft vertical jump.

  16. #16
    Videre non videri
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    I started weightlifting in my college gym a few weeks ago, in addition to the "weightlifting" I've been doing at work ... so I may still develop a little bit more bulk. And when I was into bodybuilding many years ago, my coach told me I've got the mesomorph body type. But I also know that unless I were to take steroids, I won't bulk up that much.
    It's interesting to hear that you were into bodybuilding, as you probably have an unusually high proportion of slow-twitch muscle fibres, based on what you said in another thread a while back. Only the fast-twitch fibres grow significantly from weight lifting, so the fewer of them there are, the less you'll be able to bulk up.

    Were you ever big back in those days?

  17. #17
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CdCf
    It's interesting to hear that you were into bodybuilding, as you probably have an unusually high proportion of slow-twitch muscle fibres, based on what you said in another thread a while back. Only the fast-twitch fibres grow significantly from weight lifting, so the fewer of them there are, the less you'll be able to bulk up.

    Were you ever big back in those days?

    Yeah ... I was reasonably big back then, or at least fairly well defined . . . for a woman who was not on steroids. I actually surprises my coach at how quickly I put on muscle, and he suggested several times that I should consider competing. But then, I was in body building back in my early 20s.

    Also, not too long a time before I got into bodybuilding, I raced in Track and Field for my high school, and did reasonably well. I was a sprinter!

    So ... I don't know if my muscle composition has changed over the years (high school, and even my early 20s was a LONG time ago) or if I just haven't tapped into the fast twitch muscles lately and they've gone to sleep.

  18. #18
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
    Not sure what your definition of bunny-hop is
    My definition of "bunny-hop" is what I used to watch a guy in a local park do. He'd pull the front wheel up off the ground ... and then hop around on his rear wheel .... up and down the road, up onto curbs, up onto park benches or picnic tables, up onto fences and walls. I don't think he ever actually rode the bicycle ........ he just hopped!!

    A secondary definition would be to jump over a piece of debris on the road. Suppose you're cycling along the road, and suddenly there's a piece of wood lying there. I have seen people lift up their front wheel a few inches, up and over the piece of wood, and then lift their back wheel over the piece of wood ... in a little two-part hop. And they do it as casually as if they were just riding along the road.

    My problem is that for either one of those "bunny hops" I can't get my front wheel off the ground.

  19. #19
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    Go to the mountain bike forum and ask if you need a good upper body to bunny hop. And then go ask a bunch of BMX riders how to bunny hop. It is laughable to think that you bunny hop one handed. It sounds like you use clips to achieve your inches of air. Try it without clips and jump off your pedal like you described. Sorry, but wrong.

  20. #20
    Videre non videri
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Yeah ... I was reasonably big back then, or at least fairly well defined . . . for a woman who was not on steroids. I actually surprises my coach at how quickly I put on muscle, and he suggested several times that I should consider competing. But then, I was in body building back in my early 20s.

    Also, not too long a time before I got into bodybuilding, I raced in Track and Field for my high school, and did reasonably well. I was a sprinter!

    So ... I don't know if my muscle composition has changed over the years (high school, and even my early 20s was a LONG time ago) or if I just haven't tapped into the fast twitch muscles lately and they've gone to sleep.
    Hmm, strange that. Perhaps you're not such an extreme "slow-twitcher" after all.

  21. #21
    Senior Member TwoTyred's Avatar
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    Well, lets see.... open Powerbars without using teeth.....
    same for energy drinks with the safety seal...
    He who speaks bombastically shall bear witness to his own homonym!

  22. #22
    Lint Picker toshi's Avatar
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    Granted this is from Tour/California so Hincapie hasn't shed all his extra weight for TDF. He's still strong up there though.


  23. #23
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CdCf
    Hmm, strange that. Perhaps you're not such an extreme "slow-twitcher" after all.
    Well, when I raced bicycles (for 3 years in my early 30s), my best race, for performance, was the Crit (even though I hated racing Crits), and my favorite race, and one I did fairly well at too, was the Time Trial. I'd love to race TTs now, if I could!!

    I'd like to believe I do have some fast twitch in there somewhere, and I'm hoping my current training plan is tapping into those muscles and waking them up.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Jashue's Avatar
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    What's with those sleeves on Hincappie's arms? Was it so cold in Cali a couple weeks ago when that race took place? Look at the spectators in the background--- they aren't dressed for the cold.

    On topic...

    I think the added weight associated with upper body bulk is more of a detriment than the advantages in strength gained from it. The average cyclist is more likely to suffer on climbs from it than reap the benefits from it in a last 1/4 mile sprint. How many average cyclists race anyway? And for those that do--- is climbing that unimportant?

    I know I wish I didn't have the mass that I do. My upper body completely estranged me from my original sport-- distance running-- and although I prefer the bike anyhow, I absolutely hate not having the option of going back.

  25. #25
    cptn. x-chains sidekick gmoneyhobbit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jashue
    What's with those sleeves on Hincappie's arms? Was it so cold in Cali a couple weeks ago when that race took place? Look at the spectators in the background--- they aren't dressed for the cold.

    On topic...

    I think the added weight associated with upper body bulk is more of a detriment than the advantages in strength gained from it. The average cyclist is more likely to suffer on climbs from it than reap the benefits from it in a last 1/4 mile sprint. How many average cyclists race anyway? And for those that do--- is climbing that unimportant?

    I know I wish I didn't have the mass that I do. My upper body completely estranged me from my original sport-- distance running-- and although I prefer the bike anyhow, I absolutely hate not having the option of going back.
    the weather here in san jose was uber strange... 50-60f...

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