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  1. #1
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    I'm Fat and Weak (daily riding vs every other)

    I am getting back into cycling after a 5 year layoff. I am 28 years old, 5' 8" and weigh 188lbs. This is down in the last 6 weeks from a high of 203 lbs. In order to lose weight I have cut my caloric intake (duh). I am eating 5 small meals a day for a total of around 1100 calories. I am steadily losing 2 lbs per week and am happy with my progress. My goal is to get down to 170 lbs and then reevaluate my fitness.

    Right now I am cycling twice during the week (never 2 days in a row) for 1 hour at as great of an intensity as I can maintain. I am trying to increase my average speed, which is at this point a very pathetic 13.5 mph. Then, I ride once on the weekend to increase my distance riding capabilities. I have finally made it up to 20 miles per weekend ride, and am planning to add 5 miles each weekend.

    Here are my questions:
    When I ride I am not excessively winded (which as a former smoker surprises me), instead I simply have no power in my legs (they burn like crazy with minimal effort). That is the reason why I haven't been riding more frequently. I assume that my leg muscles need time to rebuild after each workout. Am I correct, or should I start riding every day (the weather is great and it sucks to sit inside)? Given that I am at around a 1000 calorie daily deficit, is my body going to have the energy to build leg muscle? Can I really expect to get stronger while losing 2 lbs a week? One last note is that I drink a protein shake with 24 grams of protein immediately after each workout, hoping to help build leg muscle.



    I appreciate any advice.


    Thanks,
    Brad

  2. #2
    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    Endurance cycling does not really build muscle. I mean yeah, cyclists have big leg muscles but that's from years and years of being in the sport and weight training. If you want to build muscle you need to start hitting the weight room and doing your protein/carb shake after your workout.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFife View Post
    I am getting back into cycling after a 5 year layoff. I am 28 years old, 5' 8" and weigh 188lbs. This is down in the last 6 weeks from a high of 203 lbs. In order to lose weight I have cut my caloric intake (duh). I am eating 5 small meals a day for a total of around 1100 calories. I am steadily losing 2 lbs per week and am happy with my progress. My goal is to get down to 170 lbs and then reevaluate my fitness.

    Right now I am cycling twice during the week (never 2 days in a row) for 1 hour at as great of an intensity as I can maintain. I am trying to increase my average speed, which is at this point a very pathetic 13.5 mph. Then, I ride once on the weekend to increase my distance riding capabilities. I have finally made it up to 20 miles per weekend ride, and am planning to add 5 miles each weekend.

    Here are my questions:
    When I ride I am not excessively winded (which as a former smoker surprises me), instead I simply have no power in my legs (they burn like crazy with minimal effort). That is the reason why I haven't been riding more frequently. I assume that my leg muscles need time to rebuild after each workout. Am I correct, or should I start riding every day (the weather is great and it sucks to sit inside)? Given that I am at around a 1000 calorie daily deficit, is my body going to have the energy to build leg muscle? Can I really expect to get stronger while losing 2 lbs a week? One last note is that I drink a protein shake with 24 grams of protein immediately after each workout, hoping to help build leg muscle.

    Thanks,
    Brad
    Congratulations on your success so far.

    For your goals, working out as hard as you can is probably not the right approach. At high intensities you burn a lot more carbs than fat, and that's not really what you want. Longer sessions at a lower intensity will train your body to be better at burning fat.

    If your legs are hurting and you aren't winded, it's very likely your cadence (the speed the pedals go down) is far too low. It's best to air for something in the range of 90 RPM
    Eric

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  4. #4
    Senior Member MrCrassic's Avatar
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    Building leg muscle takes time and a fair amount of resistance training. Moreover, it is a bit difficult to gain muscle and lose weight at the rate that you're going right now. It seems that you are placing a primary focus on dropping weight, so concentrate on reaching your goal first and then worry about building muscle later. ericgu's comment is spot on about endurance riding, so I would follow that advice.

    However, you will naturally increase your speed and endurance as you spend more time on the saddle. Be patient and stay on it.

    My only concern is that your caloric intake seems really low. I don't think I'm educated enough to make a solid argument for this, but have you experienced any other issues apart from cycling during your day-to-day activities?
    Ride more.

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    $ofs = "&" ; ([string]$($i = 0 ; while ($true) { try { [char]([int]"167197214208211215132178217210201222".substring($i,3) - 100) ; $i =
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFife View Post
    Here are my questions:
    When I ride I am not excessively winded (which as a former smoker surprises me), instead I simply have no power in my legs (they burn like crazy with minimal effort). That is the reason why I haven't been riding more frequently. I assume that my leg muscles need time to rebuild after each workout. Am I correct, or should I start riding every day (the weather is great and it sucks to sit inside)? Given that I am at around a 1000 calorie daily deficit, is my body going to have the energy to build leg muscle? Can I really expect to get stronger while losing 2 lbs a week? One last note is that I drink a protein shake with 24 grams of protein immediately after each workout, hoping to help build leg muscle.
    Forget about building muscle for now. It's not going to happen with the type of workouts you're doing. I would up your riding to 6 days a week and start eating more. Try for a 750 calorie deficit but you'll need to eat a lot more than 1100 cals/day. Don't worry about speed for now just steadily increase your weekly mileage. Every 4 weeks take it easier and cut your mileage. Vary the workouts during the week. After a hard day where you push yourself take a day off or ride easy for an hour. Get a HRM if you don't have one and monitor your heart rate. Eventually you'll want to determine your lactate threshold HR (LTHR) and base your training on that but for now just ride more.

  6. #6
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    I wouldn't eat less than 1500 calories a day, especially if you're trying to do a reasonable amount of exercise. 1100 might be OK for bedrest, but not for an athlete.

    Longer, more sustainable aerobic efforts, rather than maxed-out leg burners are 1) better for building your aerobic base, 2) better for fat-loss, and 3) easier on your knees.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the advice everyone. Here are some answer to your questions, and my plans based on them.

    Cadence: I keep my cadence between 80 and 90 naturally (I used to do a lot of distance cycling, so a high cadence comes naturally). I think my legs feel weak, because I am coming off an incredibly sedentary lifestyle. I was an overweight smoker that sat at home on the couch every night, drove to work, parked in an attached parking garage, took the elevator, and then worked a desk job.

    Caloric Intake: For my daily intake, I eat a steady deficit of around 1000 calories. On days that I workout, I increase my intake enough to mostly replace the amount I burned during the workout. Still, that means my weekly deficit is around 7000 calories. I had always heard that 2 lbs per week was a safe amount to lose, so that is how I determined the 1000 calorie per day number. However, I might try putting my deficit closer to 750 and see how I progress. I hadn't been concerned with the 1000 calorie per day deficit because I actually feel very good. I feel much better than when I was overeating every day.

    Workout Intensity: Since I haven't really been able to increase my average speed in the course of the last month, I was starting to assume that I wouldn't be able to lose 2lbs per week and get stronger as a cyclist. Given as overweight as I am (my frame would suggest 150lbs and I weigh 188lbs), I think I should concentrate on losing weight, before increasing my power. So it looks like the advice is to ride at a lower intensity, for longer periods and more frequently. I will start doing this and see if I note any changes.


    Thanks again,
    Brad

  8. #8
    Senior Member MrCrassic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFife View Post
    Thanks for the advice everyone. Here are some answer to your questions, and my plans based on them.

    Cadence: I keep my cadence between 80 and 90 naturally (I used to do a lot of distance cycling, so a high cadence comes naturally). I think my legs feel weak, because I am coming off an incredibly sedentary lifestyle. I was an overweight smoker that sat at home on the couch every night, drove to work, parked in an attached parking garage, took the elevator, and then worked a desk job.
    My guess is that a potential reason why you really feel that way is because you're shorting your caloric intake significantly. It could be attributed to the lifestyle that you had before, but I would be less doubtful that it's your diet that's limiting you. Also, you haven't answered my question: do you feel weak in any other activity apart from cycling during your day-to-day activities?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheFife View Post
    Caloric Intake: For my daily intake, I eat a steady deficit of around 1000 calories. On days that I workout, I increase my intake enough to mostly replace the amount I burned during the workout. Still, that means my weekly deficit is around 7000 calories. I had always heard that 2 lbs per week was a safe amount to lose, so that is how I determined the 1000 calorie per day number. However, I might try putting my deficit closer to 750 and see how I progress. I hadn't been concerned with the 1000 calorie per day deficit because I actually feel very good. I feel much better than when I was overeating every day.
    I noticed something; you have a deficit of 1000 calories, but never specified how many calories you actually take in. I've read that 500 calories is a much safer calorie deficit to sustain while exercising hard, but I could be wrong or one-sided.

    I would reduce the deficit to 750 as well and see what happens. I predict that you'll either lose the weight at the same rate or faster.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheFife View Post
    Workout Intensity: Since I haven't really been able to increase my average speed in the course of the last month, I was starting to assume that I wouldn't be able to lose 2lbs per week and get stronger as a cyclist. Given as overweight as I am (my frame would suggest 150lbs and I weigh 188lbs), I think I should concentrate on losing weight, before increasing my power. So it looks like the advice is to ride at a lower intensity, for longer periods and more frequently. I will start doing this and see if I note any changes.
    There are a few calculators out there that will measure your body fat percentage. This is one example of such. Run a measurement, and see what you get. You want to concentrate on getting your total weight closer to your lean weight, without actually hitting it. Having between 6% and 13% of body fat is ideal.

    With this said, your statement is correct: you need to focus on losing weight first, and then worry about developing muscle later. You should make sure to keep your rides at long (ish) endurance pace, which has been shown to more actively burn off body fat than riding at a more aggressive tempo.

    Hope this helps!
    Ride more.

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  9. #9
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    I think you need to worry a bit less about specific numbers and more about what your body is telling you. I understand what you're going for- 3500 calories=lb of weight loss, yada yada. however by eating more, and riding more, you'll gain some muscle which in turn will make weight loss easier, and cycling easier, more productive, and fun.

    I lost 100 lbs about 5 years ago, and I've managed to keep it off by completely ditching the diet that got me there. I was so focused on what I took in for food that while I lost the weight, i was miserable.

    Remember, with this sort of diet you're making a lifestyle change, not racing to win a prize. Once that weight's off, it's going to be hard to resume normal life and exercise/eat healthy in an enjoyable way if you're focused on numbers. I'm telling you right now, cycling 3 times a week is not going to allow you to add 1000 more calories into your diet per day and maintain your new low weight.

    I would recommend, like a few other people, to ride more and eat more. Eat a big bowl of cereal with some bananas before riding, and see how good you feel cranking through that hour at a comfortable pace 2-3 days in a row. worry less about your speed, more about getting your body used to excercising every day. For healthy, maintainable weightloss you should be getting your heart rate up for at least 45 min 5 times a week. Then, worry a bit less about the speed at which you're loosing weight. 1 lb per week is just fine if you're gaining fitness and muscle.

    good luck!

  10. #10
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    This thread has been a great help to me, as well. I just started cycling to help get myself into shape (currently 6'1" and 230lbs). I've been having the same issues as the OP. I don't nessessarily get winded/out of breath, but my legs are on fire. It gets to the point that my speed slows to almost a crawl (so it seems).

  11. #11
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    The reason your legs "burn like crazy with minimal effort" is that you are not getting the protein required to repair the microtears which happen when you ride. Pain in the legs during a ride is pretty much always a sign of not enough protein during the preceding week. Pain in the legs after a ride is normal, as is pain in the legs 2 days later (DOMS). If your legs hurt when you start riding, it should go away after about 20 minutes. If it doesn't or gets worse, you need to do more protein and probably more fat, too.

    Try cutting your after-ride protein to 15g, have another 15g right before bed, and another 15g before breakfast.

  12. #12
    Pat
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    I have a slightly different take on most of this.

    Exercise really does not put much greater demands for protein on the body. It might be a factor if you are not getting an adequate amount in your diet. There were periods when I rode a pile and for months and months on end and lack of protein was never a problem. Carbohydrate tends to be the preferred fuel for aerobic activities so you need to get some of that. But even when I am carbo depleted, it does not cause my legs to burn.

    I have never had burning legs with minimal effort. People are different. But maybe you have overly high expectations. Getting into shape takes time. Be patient.

    Do you ride with a heart rate monitor? That would tell you how hard you are pushing your body. For myself, I do not use one unless I am spinning. On the bike, I know pretty well how hard I am pushing.

    Also, you can ride with a very high calorie deficit, if you know what you are doing. If you put in the miles and burn fat, you can put up impressive numbers in the calorie deficit area.

    As for eating before riding, most people seem to need to do some. I can ride over 50 miles on no breakfast. But I get the impression that I am not normal in this regard.

    The major thing is to just be patient. Go out and ride. Vary your pace. Put in some slow miles one day. On another day push some at least part of the time. It takes awhile to build yourself up. Also, you are probably never ever going to make a cent off of riding. So keep things in perspective. Try to keep it fun. If you have a good time riding, you will probably stick with it longer than if you make it a grim pursuit for some goal.

  13. #13
    Senior Member MrCrassic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat View Post
    I have a slightly different take on most of this.

    Exercise really does not put much greater demands for protein on the body. It might be a factor if you are not getting an adequate amount in your diet. There were periods when I rode a pile and for months and months on end and lack of protein was never a problem. Carbohydrate tends to be the preferred fuel for aerobic activities so you need to get some of that. But even when I am carbo depleted, it does not cause my legs to burn.

    I have never had burning legs with minimal effort. People are different. But maybe you have overly high expectations. Getting into shape takes time. Be patient.

    Do you ride with a heart rate monitor? That would tell you how hard you are pushing your body. For myself, I do not use one unless I am spinning. On the bike, I know pretty well how hard I am pushing.

    Also, you can ride with a very high calorie deficit, if you know what you are doing. If you put in the miles and burn fat, you can put up impressive numbers in the calorie deficit area.

    As for eating before riding, most people seem to need to do some. I can ride over 50 miles on no breakfast. But I get the impression that I am not normal in this regard.

    The major thing is to just be patient. Go out and ride. Vary your pace. Put in some slow miles one day. On another day push some at least part of the time. It takes awhile to build yourself up. Also, you are probably never ever going to make a cent off of riding. So keep things in perspective. Try to keep it fun. If you have a good time riding, you will probably stick with it longer than if you make it a grim pursuit for some goal.
    But what about evidence that suggests that muscle tears during intense workouts, and consuming more protein than the suggested average helps at repairing those tissues?
    Ride more.

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  14. #14
    CAT5 joe_5700's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFife View Post
    Given as overweight as I am (my frame would suggest 150lbs and I weigh 188lbs), I think I should concentrate on losing weight, before increasing my power.
    I would not obsess with weight so much. When I was in the best shape of my life in my early 20's, I weighed 190 lbs and I am 5' 10" and my body fat at the time was around 10%. I am no longer in construction, so I will probably never be that "heavy" again.

  15. #15
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat View Post
    I have a slightly different take on most of this.

    Exercise really does not put much greater demands for protein on the body. It might be a factor if you are not getting an adequate amount in your diet. <snip>
    Actually it does. Endurance athletes burn protein at a percentage of calories burned, 5%-10%. Thus cyclists will need more protein/day than bodybuilders, if they ride enough.

    The OP said he's getting about 1100 calories/day. There's probably not an adequate amount of anything in a diet that sparse. He weighs 188. At 1g/kg/day for protein, which is about the training minimum, protein calories would be 342. My guess is he's not getting that. Many athletes use 1g/lb. Another frequently seen standard is 1g/kg lean body weight. For a little balance, one might read:
    http://weightoftheevidence.blogspot....d-satiety.html

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    I would definitely rally behind others on this thread and say that doing the calorie cutting thing is probably going a little extreme. The exercise alone is increasing your metabolism and bringing up the number of calories that you burn on a daily basis. One of the things that I found with regards to weight loss was that I had a tendency to eat a ton after a ride because I was absolutely famished! Resist that urge and down a real recovery drink like Hammer Nutrition's Recoverite (which contains protein) rather than just straight protein itself and it will severely reduce your cravings to eat a ton. Make sure you are drinking water or a light mixture of sports drink or gel during the ride too so your body keeps it's sugar level consistent and you don't bonk (gotta hate that)!

    Also, try to make sure you are getting adequate rest before and after your rides. If you can do 8 hours or more of sleep, you will feel like a million bucks!
    Try some Hammer Gel, HEED, and Recoverite via the 15% Hammer Nutrition Discount! - You won't be disappointed!

  17. #17
    Faster than yesterday
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    1100 calories is not enough to build muscle on.

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