Muscle imbalances, pedal stroke, weight training, etc
A couple guys on the cycling team here at state have been showing me some weight-room excercises to get ready for the upcoming season, and to combine with a base-building program of long steady miles. I'm doing squats, leg press, calf raises, leg extensions, leg curls, and my ab program that I've been doing for a while now, situps, crunches, back extensions and leg lifts.
My main observation, though, is that my legs are getting bigger. its only been about a week and a half, and I've only been doing light weights, but there is definitly an increase in size. Do muscles retain water to allow them to heal after weight training? Just a guess, I suppose
I was told that I should do the exercises single-leg whenever possible to avoid muscles imbalances. I've noticed, though, that I already have a bit of an inbalance, my left calf is weaker then my right, and my right quads/leg press muscles are weaker then my left. since I haven't really done any leg-work before, that leads me to believe that my pedal stroke is off, and I'm using the calf more on the right side, and the quad more on the left. how can I compensate?
I have the same problem with my pedal stroke. After 1 hr I can feel my right calf cramping or feeling tight and my left quad feeling tired. I think I have a pretty even stroke, but obviously not that even.
Sorry, I don't really have any good advice except, are you right and handed/footed. I played alot of soccer and my right leg is significantly strong than my left.
I'm not sure if the differences in length of your upper and lower leg relative between your right and left leg may have anything to do with it. Everyone's legs are slightly different in lenght but it may be a significant problem for somepeople. Perhaps lenght differences are compensated by a "shift" in your muscle usage. Could shims to equalize leg length help? Just some thoughts.
Muscles do retain some water because they contain glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrate. Carbohydrate stores water with it, while fat does not. If you're consuming enough carbs in your diet and are well-hydrated, then you probably are storing quite a bit of water with the carbohydrate in your muscles; maybe even storing more if you're consuming more in your diet. As for seeing a size difference, that's probably not likely after only 1.5 weeks and it could be do to other factors. Are you taking any supplements?
Originally Posted by Phatman
Single-leg exercises are good to correct muscle imbalances because you can do the appropriate weight with your weaker leg to bring it up to par with the stronger leg. However, if you keep increasing weight with the stronger leg at the same time, then you'll always be in an imbalance. So you should take some time to train the weaker leg, maintain with the stronger leg, and proceed with both once you're caught up. Since you're in a base-building phase now, this is a good time to focus on the weak points.
I haven't seen any info on whether or not muscle imbalances affects pedal stroke. It may depend on whether you're talking about submaximal or maximal strength of the muscles as well as how significant the imbalances are. It's an interesting question. Overall:
#1 - correct your muscular imbalances (see #2 at the same time)
#2 - focus on good technique & efficiency regardless of your imbalances (they'll work themselves out later) (see #1)
#3 - if you're right-handed, then you probably do have a stronger right side. (see #1)
Hope this helps!
I will simply not use the right leg for a couple weeks; and really work the left hard. It doesn't make them even, but it helps. I do the
same thing with quad/hamstring imbalances. This year, oddly enough, my hamstrings are stronger than my quads at the moment.
Just a little, but I've never seen that before.
Just don't work the other leg TOO hard in those couple of weeks because you don't want to risk injury. Just let it happen as it will though.
In my younger days I was into bodybuilding (including competition), so I have some experience with muscle building. I still train very hard with weights twice a week.
Imbalances in muscles are very common. We all have stronger sides and muscles are often shaped differently on the left and right sides. Isolating muscles does help in reducing imbalances. However, I would never consider the advice to stop working a specific muscle to let the other side catch up. Remember that having a weaker quad means that the stronger quad can work easier.
During long rides (3-4 hours) I often experience weakness in one leg over the other. Use your stronger side to deal with it. Protect the weaker side for a few minutes until it recovers. With time, this weakness should fade.