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  1. #1
    Senior Member Brahman Bull's Avatar
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    Lifting Weights?

    Just wondering if anyone lifts, ie squats, calf raises, leg press, etc as a supplemental workout to cycling? I have talked to numerous cyclists and some say that working the legs can effect you cycling performance while others feel it adds to cycling. What are your opinions? THX!
    I'm 148 lbs of legs and lungs.

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  2. #2
    Crank Crushing Redneck SamDaBikinMan's Avatar
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    I lift in the winter but you must do programs that enhance athletic performance. Stregnth training abd bodybuilding training are two totally different worlds. Bodybuilders are basically beauty contestants and powerlifters are str. athletes. Most of the gyms I have gone to hand out programs based on bodybuilding and not str. training.

    You need power to weight ratio not muscle mass. Do some reading about it before you get started and learn for yourself what to do.
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    That is just such an open ended question.

    It all depends on goals. The more explosive your riding needs to be, the more explosive your training needs to be. It's a continuum, endurance/distance riding being at one end and track sprinting being at the other. Strength work will hurt the performance of edurance athletes and should be avoided (except for recovery, rehab or rectifying muscle imbalances). Where as sprinters would spend as much time in the gym as they do in the saddle.

    You just have to find where you are on the continuum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SamDaBikinMan
    I lift in the winter but you must do programs that enhance athletic performance. Stregnth training abd bodybuilding training are two totally different worlds. Bodybuilders are basically beauty contestants and powerlifters are str. athletes. Most of the gyms I have gone to hand out programs based on bodybuilding and not str. training.

    You need power to weight ratio not muscle mass. Do some reading about it before you get started and learn for yourself what to do.
    Great point.

    First thing you must realise is that muscle size is not the only determining factor of muscle strength. The other major contributor is central nervous system (CNS) efficiency.

    Hypertrophy specific training (what bodybuilders do) works on size primarily, strength training develops the CNS preferentially.

    It's such a massive topic it's hard to know where to start.

  5. #5
    RossB
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    Generally speaking, the principle of specificity in muscle development suggests that lifting weights - especially lower body - will have little effect on cycling performance, and may be detrimental. Certainly, many elite runners take this view and this has also been my experience as a (far below elite) runner. I suspect the same may be true of pro cyclists (although I'm sure there will also be many who do use strength training).

    In order to exercise for a specific discipline, it is necessary not only to exercise the muscles that will be used, but exercise them in exactly the same way that they will be used in that discipline. For example, both running and cycling exercise the leg muscles, but running provides little benefit to cyclists (as I've recently discovered) and vice versa (apart from cardio-vascular benefits) because the muscles are used differently. Similarly, leg strengthening training will not have any significant benefits for cycling because it does not strengthen the muscles in the exact way in which they will be used in cycling. On the contrary, adding muscle mass will add weight and could possibly reduce performance rather than increase it.

    Having said that, I do think that some types of strength training are of benefit to cyclists, and to all athletes, especially those that focus on core strength such as abdominal and lower back muscles. For cyclists, I also think some upper back (lats, shoulders and delts), chest (pecs) and arm (biceps and triceps) strength training is also useful because cyclists rest a lot of weight on the handlebars through the arms and shoulders.

    Personally, I do some weight training 2 or 3 times a week, upper body only (I figure cycling and running is quite enough strength training for the legs, and adding weights as well would put too much stress on them for too little benefit), mainly lighter weights and higher reps (to build strength and endurance, not mass), with a focus on abdominal and lower back strength.

    Ross
    Last edited by RossB; 10-17-03 at 03:00 PM.

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    I do lift weights, but I'm not an elite athlete. I'm concerned with maintaining bone density. I like to lift and do abdominal work. And I absolutely love to squat. My favorite exercise ever.
    Last edited by sm266; 10-17-03 at 03:02 PM.

  7. #7
    Knight Rider SirSpinsalot's Avatar
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    I agree you must concentrate effort on power training but disagree that weight training is counter productive.

    Combine the weight training with spinning or a light winter riding schedule. During this time you can feel what benifits the cycling power and what does not. Trial and error if you will.

    Also, try and emulate cycling as stated above but with weights you have top do it another way. For example: If doing squats or leg presses you would try to position your feet and the spacing between your feet to attempt to match that of being in your pedals. Your legs will go through the same range of motion in the same position. But to do wide stance squats or point the toes out will definitely work different muscles in a different way.

    I'd do some variety to keep balance in the legs but your focus will be on cycling style foot postions. I do however question the usefulness of isolation movements like leg extensions. Leg curls will help the pull through at the bottom of the pedal stroke but again keep the foot straight.

    For good glute work try smith machine squats where you can place your feet out to the front slightly to place extra emphasis on glutes. The Glutes are after all the most powerful muscle used in cycling.

    ALWAYS do movements in controlled and proper form.

    There are studies on the benefits of using the eccentric portion of movements for the best str gain vs just doing concentric movements but this is impossible without a spotter.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RossB
    Generally speaking, the principle of specificity in muscle development suggests that lifting weights - especially lower body - will have little effect on cycling performance, and may be detrimental. Certainly, many elite runners take this view and this has also been my experience as a (far below elite) runner. I suspect the same may be true of pro cyclists (although I'm sure there will also be many who do use strength training).

    In order to exercise for a specific discipline, it is necessary not only to exercise the muscles that will be used, but exercise them in exactly the same way that they will be used in that discipline. For example, both running and cycling exercise the leg muscles, but running provides little benefit to cyclists (as I've recently discovered) and vice versa (apart from cardio-vascular benefits) because the muscles are used differently. Similarly, leg strengthening training will not have any significant benefits for cycling because it does not strengthen the muscles in the exact way in which they will be used in cycling. On the contrary, adding muscle mass will add weight and could possibly reduce performance rather than increase it.

    Having said that, I do think that some types of strength training are of benefit to cyclists, and to all athletes, especially those that focus on core strength such as abdominal and lower back muscles. For cyclists, I also think some upper back (lats, shoulders and delts), chest (pecs) and arm (biceps and triceps) strength training is also useful because cyclists rest a lot of weight on the handlebars through the arms and shoulders.

    Personally, I do some weight training 2 or 3 times a week, upper body only (I figure cycling and running is quite enough strength training for the legs, and adding weights as well would put too much stress on them for too little benefit), mainly lighter weights and higher reps (to build strength and endurance, not mass), with a focus on abdominal and lower back strength.

    Ross
    Specificity is an interesting topic. It is widely debated in training circles. To extend the arguement, if it were true, lifting weights would only help weight lifters, which is a fallacy.

    It has been shown the muscle needs to be trained at the same angle to gain a cross-over edge. Therefore when training for cycling, squats are of little use but front squats are extremely beneficial. The small change in angle of the exercise allows the cyclist to bring the strength changes in to the real world. (Note: Try not to use the smith machine for anything, except light rehab of injuries. The single plane movement restricts joints and will cause more injuries than it prevents.)

    As to the training, you are referring to strength endurance training. Isometric holds will be extremely favourable in this instance. Try core training at the angle you actually sit on the bike. Some grip endurance strength work would be good as well, just hang on a chin bar for as long as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SirSpinsalot
    ALWAYS do movements in controlled and proper form.
    When strength training, every concentric phase should be as balistic as possible to produce the most power possible. Just as in cycling, power is what you are seeking. Fast concentric, controlled eccentric, pause at the bottom of the movement as not to take any rebound momentum.

    Slow concentrics were developed by bodybuilders to increase time under tension. The only time I would advocate it to a cyclist would be in a lactate threshold session.

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    Originally posted by Croak
    Note: Try not to use the smith machine for anything, except light rehab of injuries.
    I had my first workout with a new trainer today, and she had me squat on the Smith machine. I'd never squatted the Smith, and I didn't like it. It felt incredibly awkard, and I felt like I had limited range of motion. I can definitely see where injuries could come from squatting on the Machine. Give me a squat rack, anyday.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sm266
    Originally posted by Croak

    I had my first workout with a new trainer today, and she had me squat on the Smith machine. I'd never squatted the Smith, and I didn't like it. It felt incredibly awkard, and I felt like I had limited range of motion. I can definitely see where injuries could come from squatting on the Machine. Give me a squat rack, anyday.
    Trainers are often taught to start people off with a smith machine so they don't injure themselves. There is a whole plethora of problems related with this notion.

    Fit and healthy people should be squatting in a rack with correct form with a light load to start.

    You should definately tell your trainer your worries, and ask her oppinion on the subject. Some gyms even have policy that people start squatting in the smith machine so they receive less injury claims.

  12. #12
    Email for new group DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Smith machines do not develop all the supporting muscles, ligaments, etc., and balance.
    Gone from the 50+ forum. - Email me at dnvrfox@aol.com for fun new group of 50+ folks

  13. #13
    Guest
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahman Bull
    Just wondering if anyone lifts, ie squats, calf raises, leg press, etc as a supplemental workout to cycling? I have talked to numerous cyclists and some say that working the legs can effect you cycling performance while others feel it adds to cycling. What are your opinions? THX!

    What you want to do is periodize your weightlifting. In other words, you increase your weight lifting in the off season, and do it carefully- you don't want to bulk up, but you do want to increase size for your upcoming power training sessions (on the bike when you increase your training and move from the interval training and incorporate the power training). Just like with periodization on the bike, you will start with lighter weights and gradually increase the amount of weights, moving into power training and plyometrics weight training. Then as you begin tapering off the weights, you can increase your cycling training, until you get to your racing season. By racing season, you should be back on the low weights and light lifting just to maintain your muscle gains (because you STILL need the power for your short bursts during your races, right?), and at the same time, you will have increased your cardiovascular training. It's kind of like your weight training is it's own periodization program and cycling has it's own periodization program and the two complement each other. Done wrong, either you will bulk up and slow down overall in your cycling, or you will not build enough muscle for your power training, which will be of no help to you when you do try to do those breakaways and sprints.

    The other thing about weightlifting is that with cycling, it is mainly a non-weight bearing, low impact (on the bones) activity, and as you get older, you need to prevent osteoperosis by doing high impact, weight bearing activities. If you're spending all your time cycling and that's all you're doing, then you will see the effect on your bones as you get older. I mentioned this before, but when I went to my last convention, the doctors lecturing did some great lectures on periodization and strength training. One doctor said in the latest studies he did, he saw that older people who had hip injuries were most likely to die within a couple of years of getting their injury, and to prevent that, he recommended strength training programs. At the very least, use strength training to keep your bones strong.

    Koffee

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    Email for new group DnvrFox's Avatar
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    At the very least, use strength training to keep your bones strong.
    It bothers me a bit when folks post that they only do upper body workouts, stating that bicycling is enough workout for their legs.

    Nope, not true, at least for we folks who are getting a bit older (hey, aren't we all?). You need the weight bearing activity of lower body resistive exercises and things such as power walking.
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  15. #15
    Stand For Something mntbikedude's Avatar
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    Yeah actually I am into lifting weights more than biking.

  16. #16
    Senior Member JustsayMo's Avatar
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    There are few subjects that will get more strong opinions than strength training.

    Even Lance lifts as part of his training, during the season too. He and Tyler Hamilton (VeloNews article) went back into the gym after the TdF a few years ago to get ready for the World championship to gain back what they lost during the tour...

    My advice is to give it a try and see if it works for you.

    In my own experience, I say it works. Most of my racing was on the track (velodrome) and my performance was best the years I lifted during the season. The same was true for my mountain biking. I was leaner and stronger than the years I just rode. Every PR I have, from the 200 meter to the Pursuit was done in the years I lifted even though I didn't start until I was in my thirties.

    Don't worry about getting BIG. If that was so easy you'd see all kinds of guys that look like Arnold. Few have the genetics to get really big. My own brother has been body building for more than 25 years and still has bird legs after trying nearly every method under the sun.

    Muscle is way easier to LOSE than FAT. You quit using it and it's gone. I'd MUCH rather have 5 pounds of mucle to lose than 5 pounds of fat.

    I only wish I began sooner but I believed the myths/hype about it being bad for endurance athletes. I also discovered I had much less back and knee pain when I lifted...

    Your mileage may vary. Best of luck!

  17. #17
    Crank Crushing Redneck SamDaBikinMan's Avatar
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    While I would never use a smith machine as my staple workout it is useful for isolation. Not a primary movement by any means but just as useful as extensions or curls as supplimental work.

    For those dead against smith work you are either using it wrong or taking advuce from someone who is not familiar with its proper use.

    No machine can replace natural range of motion but they can benefit in specific ways.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by SamDaBikinMan
    While I would never use a smith machine as my staple workout it is useful for isolation. Not a primary movement by any means but just as useful as extensions or curls as supplimental work.

    For those dead against smith work you are either using it wrong or taking advuce from someone who is not familiar with its proper use.

    No machine can replace natural range of motion but they can benefit in specific ways.
    If you are training for functional strength (which you are if you are a cyclist), why would you be wanting to be isolating any muscle groups? Training the chain will result in larger increases in strenght that will carry over to real world efforts.

    There is only one exercise I ever have clients use the smith machine for, and it has no use in cycling.

  19. #19
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    I just like the squat rack better. I feel like I have more control over the weight. It doesn't feel as awkward.

  20. #20
    Senior Member keithnordstrom's Avatar
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    hmm every racer i know who has tried weights as part of their training schedule swears by them. koffee's comments seem very close to what i have heard from the trainers and athletes i know who are most up-to-date.

    i got bored with the gym a number of years ago, before i got into racing a few years back, but plan to lift for this season. then again, i planned to lift for last year's lol.

  21. #21
    truthisntalwayswanttohear jacob's Avatar
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    2.5lb weights swung around on the wrists have helped me strengthen my arms, etc...

    right now I do quite a bit of yard work which involves carrying leaves in trash cans; maybe that is weightlifting, too.

    Jacob

  22. #22
    truthisntalwayswanttohear jacob's Avatar
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    ok, what about one-handed, one-legged pushups?

    I just did one (right-handed) and it greatly exercised the left upper leg(quad, the muscle above the quad(adductor??(not sure of name)) and abdominals.

    Jacob

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