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Old 05-30-07, 10:24 AM   #1
ratebeer
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Losing power with weight loss?

I've tried to lose weight slowly with a target of a half pound per week but I've found my weight loss comes mostly in sudden week-long sheds of four pounds. Over the last half year, I've experienced a sprint power drop and I think I can only relate it to my weight loss. My total weight loss has been 33 pounds.

I don't mind being lighter, I'm much faster and fit, but the power loss is a concern. I've kept my power training about the same for the year. I do sprint or hill repeats twice a week.

The only thing that's changed is that I've increased my mileage with my increased fitness. What's happening to my power? Is losing power with weight common?

Would I benefit from weight training? Should I increase my power training intensities and durations?
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Old 05-30-07, 10:38 AM   #2
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How is your diet? Are you eating at a caloric deficit? No fuel = no power.
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Old 05-30-07, 10:40 AM   #3
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Most people are under the delusion that when they lose a pound, it's all fat. In reality, especially for someone whose main exercise is an endurance activity like cycling, 75% of that weight loss can be muscle. This gets the thighs slimmer, sure, but often primes us for fat gain when the metabolism decreases as well. And like you have witnessed, leads to strength losses.

*everyone* benefits from weight training. It can be the deciding factor in your goal to keep as much muscle as possible. You also need to make sure you have your post-exercise nutrition in order, and start keeping a log of every calorie that goes in your mouth for the next few months to make sure you're getting adequate calories and protein. Those are probably the best things you can do to stem the tide.

Good job on the fat loss, though!
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Old 05-30-07, 10:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratebeer
I've tried to lose weight slowly with a target of a half pound per week but I've found my weight loss comes mostly in sudden week-long sheds of four pounds. Over the last half year, I've experienced a sprint power drop and I think I can only relate it to my weight loss. My total weight loss has been 33 pounds.

I don't mind being lighter, I'm much faster and fit, but the power loss is a concern. I've kept my power training about the same for the year. I do sprint or hill repeats twice a week.

The only thing that's changed is that I've increased my mileage with my increased fitness. What's happening to my power? Is losing power with weight common?

Would I benefit from weight training? Should I increase my power training intensities and durations?
The important ratio is watts/kg. Did you check that?

Anyway, with weight loss, some muscle mass can be expected to be lost as well. If your watts/kg has dropped, then you may need to:

- break from dieting
- build strength
- return to dieting
- repeat as desired
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Old 05-30-07, 01:59 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by ratebeer
I don't mind being lighter, I'm much faster and fit, but the power loss is a concern. I've kept my power training about the same for the year. I do sprint or hill repeats twice a week.

The only thing that's changed is that I've increased my mileage with my increased fitness. What's happening to my power? Is losing power with weight common?

Would I benefit from weight training? Should I increase my power training intensities and durations?
You also need to increase the intensity of your training as well to go along with the larger quantity. So add MORE sprints to your sprint days. And do intervals. Sounds like you're in good shape, so you want to do about 20-30 1-minute intervals during the week. Hill-intervals of that duration are perfect for increasing power. I prefer to do them on 2 days specifically for this, others sprinkle them throughout the week amongst other training.
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Old 05-30-07, 04:24 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
You also need to increase the intensity of your training as well to go along with the larger quantity. So add MORE sprints to your sprint days. And do intervals. Sounds like you're in good shape, so you want to do about 20-30 1-minute intervals during the week. Hill-intervals of that duration are perfect for increasing power. I prefer to do them on 2 days specifically for this, others sprinkle them throughout the week amongst other training.
I'm another 20 pounds from good shape but yeah I definitely hear you.
This is sort of exactly what I didn't want to hear (but know is true) though - increase the pain. Hahaa!
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Old 05-30-07, 04:25 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by aikigreg
Most people are under the delusion that when they lose a pound, it's all fat. In reality, especially for someone whose main exercise is an endurance activity like cycling, 75% of that weight loss can be muscle. This gets the thighs slimmer, sure, but often primes us for fat gain when the metabolism decreases as well. And like you have witnessed, leads to strength losses.

*everyone* benefits from weight training. It can be the deciding factor in your goal to keep as much muscle as possible. You also need to make sure you have your post-exercise nutrition in order, and start keeping a log of every calorie that goes in your mouth for the next few months to make sure you're getting adequate calories and protein. Those are probably the best things you can do to stem the tide.

Good job on the fat loss, though!
Does weight training do any good?
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Old 05-30-07, 05:07 PM   #8
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Does weight training do any good?
*scottish accent* are ye daft man?
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Old 05-30-07, 06:04 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ratebeer
Does weight training do any good?
It does a lot of good. Just not for road cycling.
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Old 05-30-07, 06:12 PM   #10
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It does a lot of good. Just not for road cycling.
This is what I thought. Research is inconclusive however it looks like for some college-age women cyclists it doesn't help or hurt. Is that about right?

Otherwise, I'd love to start pumping iron if I thought it would definitely help.
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Old 05-30-07, 06:54 PM   #11
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30 x 1 minute intervals?

Sweet Christmas...I guess I fill some of those requirements racing 2-3x per week, but that's a lot of suck. More than about 8 1 minute intervals per 1-2 hour ride and I'm ready to curl up into a fetal position.
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Old 05-30-07, 08:09 PM   #12
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of *course* it helps road cycling - tremendously. However, in-season is not the best time to start inducing systematic overload. A pro athlete wouldn't do much leg training during the season, but we're not athletes and it WILL help. You have to start light though!

If you care ot pursue it, PM me sometime and I'll help you work up a plan.
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Old 05-30-07, 08:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratebeer
I've tried to lose weight slowly with a target of a half pound per week but I've found my weight loss comes mostly in sudden week-long sheds of four pounds. Over the last half year, I've experienced a sprint power drop and I think I can only relate it to my weight loss. My total weight loss has been 33 pounds.

I don't mind being lighter, I'm much faster and fit, but the power loss is a concern. I've kept my power training about the same for the year. I do sprint or hill repeats twice a week.

The only thing that's changed is that I've increased my mileage with my increased fitness. What's happening to my power? Is losing power with weight common?

Would I benefit from weight training? Should I increase my power training intensities and durations?
A few thoughts (with the provisio that it's hard to keep power up and lose weight).

1) What is your recovery nutrition like? If you are calorie deprived and your recovery nutrition isn't good, your muscles are going to be tearing themselves down to replace your muscle glycogen.

2) Most periodicalized regimens save the interval work for after the base miles. If you are doing them every week you may not be recovered well enough so that you can benefit from them.
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Old 05-31-07, 08:11 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by aikigreg
of *course* it helps road cycling - tremendously.
Other than your word, is there any evidence that this is true? I know I haven't seen any, and there's plenty of evidence that strength plays no role in road cycling. You can search for any of the multi-hundred post threads on the subject.
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Old 05-31-07, 09:20 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratebeer
I've tried to lose weight slowly with a target of a half pound per week but I've found my weight loss comes mostly in sudden week-long sheds of four pounds. Over the last half year, I've experienced a sprint power drop and I think I can only relate it to my weight loss. My total weight loss has been 33 pounds.

Would I benefit from weight training? Should I increase my power training intensities and durations?
Sudden weight losses might be some muscle mass shedding, not fat loss and might account for it. I would add more protein and weight train lightly. Remember the Bicycling Mag article about osteoporosis in bikers due to muscle atrophy overall, thus some weaker bones.
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Old 05-31-07, 09:48 AM   #16
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Other than your word, is there any evidence that this is true? I know I haven't seen any, and there's plenty of evidence that strength plays no role in road cycling. You can search for any of the multi-hundred post threads on the subject.
*size* of muscle has no bearing, but of course muscle strength, and endurance, plays a role. It plays EVERY role. Cycling is an endurance sport. Endurance sports are catbolic. Catabolism results in loss of muscle size and strength, as well as stress on the CNS. The result is loss of performance as well as decreased metabolism, which leads to further system shutdown and eventually fat gain without a decrease in calories and an increase in energy output.

It's an extremely vicious cycle. There are numerous studies, but more improtant to me is the observable evidence within sports themselves, and the effect it has had on my clients.

I say this time and again, but no one reading this thread, including the OP, are pro racers. We're weekend warriors. A pro cyclist would train differently than I recommended for the OP. We need metabolically active muscle mass for many reasons - function as well as aesthetics.

Take a look at the marathon runners versus an olympic sprinter. The body types are opposite ends of the spectrum. Which would you rather look like?

The sprinter who lifts weight:


or the marathoner who doesn't:


The tiny fellow might be a better runner, or cyclist, but I'd much rather have the strength and power of the sprinter. A pro cyclist would need to look a little differently. We aren't pro cyclists - we're weekend warriors.
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Old 05-31-07, 09:53 AM   #17
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... but of course muscle strength, and endurance, plays a role.
Repeating things over and over doesn't make them any more convincing. Do you have any evidence that strength has any effect on endurance cycling performance or not?
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Old 05-31-07, 10:22 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aikigreg
*size* of muscle has no bearing, but of course muscle strength, and endurance, plays a role. It plays EVERY role. Cycling is an endurance sport. Endurance sports are catbolic. Catabolism results in loss of muscle size and strength, as well as stress on the CNS. The result is loss of performance as well as decreased metabolism, which leads to further system shutdown and eventually fat gain without a decrease in calories and an increase in energy output.

It's an extremely vicious cycle. There are numerous studies, but more improtant to me is the observable evidence within sports themselves, and the effect it has had on my clients.

I say this time and again, but no one reading this thread, including the OP, are pro racers. We're weekend warriors. A pro cyclist would train differently than I recommended for the OP. We need metabolically active muscle mass for many reasons - function as well as aesthetics.

Take a look at the marathon runners versus an olympic sprinter. The body types are opposite ends of the spectrum. Which would you rather look like?

The sprinter who lifts weight:


or the marathoner who doesn't:


The tiny fellow might be a better runner, or cyclist, but I'd much rather have the strength and power of the sprinter. A pro cyclist would need to look a little differently. We aren't pro cyclists - we're weekend warriors.
Well I ride 5 or 6 times a week but I'm not a pro. Does that still make me a "weekend warrior"? I'm not really interested in upper body muscle tone or bulk. I'm actually trying to work *down* my chest and upper arms from several years of twice-daily weight training. I'm interested in going as fast as I can on a bicycle. Will weight training help me do that?

I imagine it would for a distance of 4000 meters or less. But would it help for a distance of 25 miles?
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Old 05-31-07, 10:37 AM   #19
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Well I ride 5 or 6 times a week but I'm not a pro. Does that still make me a "weekend warrior"? I'm not really interested in upper body muscle tone or bulk. I'm actually trying to work *down* my chest and upper arms from several years of twice-daily weight training. I'm interested in going as fast as I can on a bicycle. Will weight training help me do that?

I imagine it would for a distance of 4000 meters or less. But would it help for a distance of 25 miles?
One of the guys I ride with, who is one of the fastest cyclists I have ever seen, has 32" thighs - all muscle. With all the cycling you do, you won't gain any bulk anyway, but you WILL stop losing muscle mass, and gain some strength which you will eventually want. I have plenty of muscle and finish centuries as strong as I start, and I'm seen as a pretty fast rider. You need the muscle and the strength. I ride 700 miles a month during the summer but make the time to maintain strength levels, and gain strength and muscle in the off-season. Makes me a much better cyclist the next season.

Or you can keep doing what you're doing now - just don't expect a different result. People pay me for this advice IRL. Paypal me 50 bucks stat!
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Old 05-31-07, 11:05 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by aikigreg
One of the guys I ride with, who is one of the fastest cyclists I have ever seen, has 32" thighs - all muscle. With all the cycling you do, you won't gain any bulk anyway, but you WILL stop losing muscle mass, and gain some strength which you will eventually want. I have plenty of muscle and finish centuries as strong as I start, and I'm seen as a pretty fast rider. You need the muscle and the strength. I ride 700 miles a month during the summer but make the time to maintain strength levels, and gain strength and muscle in the off-season. Makes me a much better cyclist the next season.

Or you can keep doing what you're doing now - just don't expect a different result. People pay me for this advice IRL. Paypal me 50 bucks stat!
I see the giant thighs on good riders and it's impressive if not a little intimidating.

But then I remember guys like Alexi Grewal who, on pencil thin legs, won Olympic gold in 1984 with a gossamer sprint.



And also, because it's hilly around here, the triathlete crowd with bigger fatter more muscular and bouyant legs (and upper bodies), are often dropped on hill climbs and very long rides by smaller riders.

I have bigger thighs than a lot of elite cyclists and getting bigger is doable and attractive but if I'm going to PayPal anyone money for advice, they would need to give me the honest truth about what they're selling backed up by some kind of scientific fact.
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Old 05-31-07, 11:06 AM   #21
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Big thighs and strength are all good and whatnot, but strength and muscle mass don't exactly translate to being faster on the bike - track sprinters notwithstanding.
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Old 05-31-07, 12:39 PM   #22
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Well, one factor that separates you and I from the pro athlete, among other things, is genetics. You can't just wake up and decide you're going to be a pro rider. Training alone may get you halfway there, but you don't get to the elite level without having the genetic code predispositioned for the sport. In cycling, it's endurance muscle fibers combined with a small frame, less dense bones, and the ability to gain freaky vo2max. Can you say that you have these things? If not, you need to train what you do have to the best of your ability, and that does not mean training like the pros. It often means the opposite - assuming you want the best results.

Take some of my clients for example - they wanted to look like a certain bodybuilder, so they do that bodybuilder's workouts for years and never get any results at all. They train 6 days a week with a one part per day split, and after 3 years they look like they did at the beginning. Then they come to me. I have to break their heart and tell them they likely don't have the genetics to be freaky big, but we find out quickly as I change their diet and adopt a workout regimen catered to their abilities. Usually within 6 months they've made 6 times the improvement over their last year-3 years of working out alone.

It's the same way with cycling. But hey, I don't work too hard at trying to convince others. I've turned plenty of people away for telling me they would do anything to get into shape, so long as they didn't have to stop eating twinkies and sugar soda at every meal.
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Old 05-31-07, 12:44 PM   #23
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Big thighs and strength are all good and whatnot, but strength and muscle mass don't exactly translate to being faster on the bike - track sprinters notwithstanding.
Again, I'm not talking muscle mass, I'm talking strength. As an ex-wrestler and powelifter, I have huge muscled thighs. In cycling season, they shrink almost 3 inches. However, I don't lose any strength because I keep a maintenance level lifting program. In the winter when I pack that mass back on, my lifts go up. Repeat every year. Therefore while my muscle MASS fluctuates, my strength levels either stay the same or go up.

And of course strength levels translate to speed. Being stronger often allows you to turn a bigger gear, or the same gear with less % of max efffort. That translates into less muscle glycogen loss and less fatigue. Ergo, more speed and distance may be achieved. How can you figure otherwise?
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Old 05-31-07, 01:09 PM   #24
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And of course strength levels translate to speed. Being stronger often allows you to turn a bigger gear, or the same gear with less % of max efffort. That translates into less muscle glycogen loss and less fatigue. Ergo, more speed and distance may be achieved. How can you figure otherwise?
It's not a matter of how you figure, it's what the data show. Professional cyclist show the same leg strength as the untrained general population matched for age and weight. There is no correlation between strength and endurance cycling performance. Strength has as much to do with performance as hair color. I'm sure there are plenty of anecdotal cases of great performances by riders of one hair color or another; that doesn't prove causality.
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Old 05-31-07, 03:19 PM   #25
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Best not to think about endurance performance as a matter of "strength." It's a misuse of terminology, and as asgelle pointed out, there is no data to show that strength has any impact on cycling performance. Think of things more in terms of efficiency for a given power level.

As I said earlier, the only caveat to this is very short track events. But, the majority of people compete in crits and road races, and strength is certainly not a limiter.
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