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  1. #1
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Fittest athletes-cyclists or otherwise?

    Anybody have any objective feelings about who is the fittest professional athletes. Would a professional cyclists have more endurance than say a professional football player or whichever sport of your choice?

  2. #2
    where's the summer!? cabledonut's Avatar
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    well as i understand it, cross country skiers are considered the fittest athletes in terms of cardiovascular fitness. cyclists are up there as are swimmers and runners.

    elite cross country skiers have a higher VO2 max than elite cyclists, in general (skiers use all their body). elite cross country skiers and cyclists will have a VO2 max in the high 60's and 70's. footballers/soccer players might generally be around late 50's/low 60's. generally speaking anything 50 and above is considered a good VO2 max.

    fitness is hard to define really, i am ok on a bike so you might think i could play football no problem, but it kills me! so i am fit to ride a bike but unfit when it comes to playing football! and football was what i used to be good at, what happened!!?

    cabledonut.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Greg's Avatar
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    How many athletes, of any sport other than cycling, could compete in the Tour De France or any of the other large tours and live to tell about it?

    Swimmers may be fit, but endurance wise, I'd bet on a tourer rider.

  4. #4
    Slow Moving Vehicle Jean Beetham Smith's Avatar
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    How about crew? Rowers use a larger percentage of their muscle mass in each stroke than anyone. Although the shell is designed to minimize resistence, the oar is designed to maximize the propulsion. Although the cadence isn't as high as racing cyclists, it sure beats mine.

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    Mad For Marinoni !!! Captain Crunch's Avatar
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    Some of those Ultra Marathoners you hear about are pretty up there when it comes to endurance. I don't know too many tour riders who are going to go all out for 48-72 hours without sleep.

    That goes for endurance swimmers as well. Some of these people are going for hours on end and they don't get to coast downhill either.

    I think it is really hard to compare different sports. I just sit back and admire what these elite athletes can do in any sport.

    Here's to great genetics. I hope I get some new legs, lungs and a heart under the tree this Christmas. Look out Lance I'm coming to get you!


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  6. #6
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    I read that some German scientists long ago X-rayed certain olympic athletes chests.

    Pole vaulters had hearts about the same size as normal non-athletes.

    Runners had hearts about 30% larger than normal.

    Cyclists had hearts about 30% to 40% larger than normal.

    But that doesn't mean my heart is as strong as the runner down the street.

    All of the endurance exercises have powerful cardiovascular benefits. The main thing is, do what you enjoy, because then you'll do it the rest of your life!
    No worries

  7. #7
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    Hi All,

    I was a bit dismayed when I felt slighty out of breath when using the stairs to get to the 3rd floor at my office. I have been riding for 3 years at a fairly fast avg and alot of miles.
    What gives ? I guess cycling is not enough....do I need a stair master to ?

    Ride safe and take the elevator ??.....Dudley *S*

  8. #8
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    Stairs take a whole different set of muscles. If you want to climb stairs quickly and easily, then you need to start climbing stairs. It will come. I used to climb 10 flights. Then I got RIFed (Reduction In Force), spent two weeks without stairs, and had trouble climbing one flight at my new job. The conditioning came back very quickly though

    Kevin S.

  9. #9
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Yet. if for some reason you can't bike, I have been told climb stairs to stay ready for the bike. What gives.? Stair climbing more streneous than cycling.?

  10. #10
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    I love climbing stairs. I actually find that it helps with climbing while cycling. Maybe you should just incorporate a few hills into your rides.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  11. #11
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Bikinguy
    I was a bit dismayed when I felt slighty out of breath when using the stairs to get to the 3rd floor at my office.
    Dudley,

    This is why I like BikeForums. Information stimulates the brain.

    I tried to climb the stairs at work (10 flights) when I was off the bike, just for fitness. I was shocked: I climbed the 10 flights 4 times (and down again.) But I must say, I was breathing "well!"

    Three ideas:

    1) Maybe you're not as "out of breath" as you think;
    2) Maybe Texas needs more hills;
    3) Both, neither, or any.

    (And I noticed I climbed the hills better after that experience...)

    :thumbup:

    John Stamstad (sp?), a mountain-biking madman, incorporates unbelievable stair-climbing into his workouts.
    Last edited by LittleBigMan; 12-04-01 at 05:14 PM.
    No worries

  12. #12
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    My area does have plenty of hills. I do a fair amount of hills, even mountains once in awhile. I do ok. get a little winded on bike climbing hills. A local hill is a 900 foot climb, probably do that twice a week, as a training ride.( about 2 miles and maybe 8 % grade.
    At work, we have a site where I must climb 4 stairwells, at least 3 times a day. It does not knock me out, but feels different. Would think my cycling would make it really easy. Feel slightly winded.

  13. #13
    Mad For Marinoni !!! Captain Crunch's Avatar
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    I have seen this phenomenon myself at times and wonder why I feel so winded. Sometimes it happens because I have been sitting at my desk or idle at work and then all of a sudden I jump up and go do 4 flights of stairs. There is no warmup and you have not had the blood flowing properly and this is why you end up winded. I don't think it is usually because we have fallen out of shape since our bike ride yesterday.

    Mike
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  14. #14
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    Hi All,

    Thanks for the input. Just turned 55 and thought "hell its just old age catching up" ! *S*
    The worst part about this new job is there is NO way to ride to work. Its close around 8 miles away but freeway construction and a suicide feeder lane curbed and blind in places with people going around 70 mph on the feeder! No side routes or residental streets to even get there....bummer.

    Ride safe and climb more stairs.....Dudley

  15. #15
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Ya, but after all, climbing stairs is, well...

    IT STINKS.

    :thumbsdown:
    No worries

  16. #16
    put me back on my bike stewartp's Avatar
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    Originally posted by cyclezealot
    Anybody have any objective feelings about who is the fittest professional athletes. Would a professional cyclists have more endurance than say a professional football player or whichever sport of your choice?
    This is the very question that prompted the first ever "Ironman" triathlon in Hawaii. A bunch of guys, swimmers, runners & cyclists were agueing the toss, so they decided to test it by doing this enormous swim, bike, run.

    Hawaii Ironman is the original and best, and one of the few ironman events that you have to qualify for.

    I think the net result is that triathletes are the fittest athletes.

    Bear in mind that "fittest" does not equate to "fastest" or "healthiest"

    Stew
    The older I get the better I used to be.

  17. #17
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    "How many athletes, of any sport other than cycling, could compete in the Tour De France or any of the other large tours and live to tell about it?

    Swimmers may be fit, but endurance wise, I'd bet on a tourer rider."

    While, Greg, I do agree with your statement about cyclists being superior endurance athletes. I must add this....... How many cyclists, of any kind, can swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then run a full marathon (26.2 miles) and still remember their first name by mile 4 of the marathon? Let alone live to tell about it. They don't call it the Ironman for nothing............

  18. #18
    NOT a weight weenie Hunter's Avatar
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    This is interesting. I agree that cyclists as a whole are the fittest. However there are athletes both normal and pro that are in better shape than cyclists. Take for example hockey players. Look at Ray Borque, Chris Chelios, and Igor Larionov. All 40 or real close to 40 and can outplay most guys younger than themselves. There are alot of Martial Artists that are in amazing condition. Then there are pro NATURAL body builder's. It goes on and on.

  19. #19
    BikeForums Founder Joe Gardner's Avatar
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    Originally posted by jwstaton22
    How many cyclists, of any kind, can swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then run a full marathon (26.2 miles) and still remember their first name by mile 4 of the marathon? Let alone live to tell about it. They don't call it the Ironman for nothing............
    Did you participate in the Utah Ironman? I was one of the Draft Marshals, great event, other then the weather. The athletes where amazing.

  20. #20
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Athletics are all different. IF you are judging fitness purely on endurance than I would give xc skiers the top notch. But for overall fitness levels etc. Every sports exceeds in certain areas. Football is brutal in its own way(then you can break it down into positions), same with soccer, hockey, cycling, mtbiking, freeriding, swimming. All are very different fitness requirements and levels.

    I would never compare myself to another sport. Not worth the time. The best way to measure fitness is to keep it within your area(s)

  21. #21
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    To get back to the original question: Sports fitness cannot be compared because each sport requires a different kind of "fitness." It's like trying to compare Acorns to Kumquats. Both quite useful, but not interchangeable.
    ljbike

  22. #22
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    During the 1970s in the UK we used to have a TV series where top professional sportsmen would compete in a variety of endurance and strength competitons. The best performer was a heavyweight Judo champion and the worst was a snooker player who could manage about 2 pull-ups and 10 pushups.

  23. #23
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    I personally feel that the way to determine fitness would be cardiovascular fitness. When you are fit, you live longer. It is more of the heart and lungs that really matters, even if u have a whole lot of muscle mass, I don't think it would mean much.

  24. #24
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    hard question b/c there's usally a subjective test of "most fit" based on how fast someone can do a particular sport for a particular distance...

    i personally think XC skiing in probably #1 with cycling and running a little behind.

    the thing with running is to be an endurance runner you need to not only be fit, but also have durable joints and digestive system. i used to be a runner (mostly triathlete and multisport adventure racing) but then i developed knee and back problems from running too much. it had nothing to do with my fitness.

    i think a good argument could be made for triathletes, but again there is then the question of what distance? sprint distance, olympic or Ironman? i personally would say that the long distance Ironman athletes might be more cardiovascular fit, but the top Sprint distance athletes are probably better all-round athletes because they have more fast-twitch muscles and raw strength that is needed in many other sports in additon to their cardio fitness --- now on the ohter hand, someone less fit can COMPLETE a Sprint triathlon while maybe not being able to complete an Ironman, so you must have a higher minimum level of fitness to be a long-distance triathlete.

    as to the more generic question of "athletes", a good comparision would be: which sport is the best indicator of overall sport ability? or great athletes of which sport are also generally the very good in most other sports (i.e. better than others in their non-specific sport)?

    for example: how do pro football players, road cyclists, downhill skiiers, tennis players, triathletes, soccer players, swimmers, baseball players, and 100m sprinters, high jumpers, volleball players, etc. all do in all other sports? this is sort of the idea behind the decathlon except it was created before cycling existed so only consists of running, jumping, throwing and vaulting... include a few cycling events (track sprint, citerium, hill-climb, time trail, and long endurance race), swimming and a few skiing sports and you might have the defining sport.

    the thing is some sports require strength (football, volleyball), some big size (football, basketball), some small size (distance running, rock climbing), some quick speed (sprinting, soccer), some endurance (distance running, cycling) and all require some special skills (ball contact in baseball or volleyball or soccer, trick moves in basketball or football, technical skills like in mountain biking or downhill skiing --- and each requires a different ballance between fast-twitch short-burst strength muscles and slow-twitch endurance muscles -- for example Lance Armstrong's vertical jump was listed in Bicycle magazine as 17" while mine is 36" and we are roughly the same size and weight (i played college volleyball and am a sprint cyclist) - to say that my legs are stronger than Lance's sounds funny, but it depends on the definition at Lance is highly specialized for cycling (in jumping or run-sprinting i am pretty sure i would beat Lance)

    with an of course heavily biased view, my vote would go to either Sprint distance Triathletes or XC skiiers or decathletes as some of the most athletic - meaning evidence of most talent and versatility in a variety of sports b/c all require a good mix of both fast-twitch and slow twitch muscles, major cardiovascular enduarance, plus strength and speed.
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  25. #25
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    Joe Gardner,

    To answer your question, I didn't compete in the Ironman Utah this year. My goal is to compete in a couple of years. Hopefully the weather will cooperate in the upcoming years.

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