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Old 06-29-14, 07:21 AM   #1
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Muscle development

Ok, so I should start this off with: I'm new at this, I don't know what I don't know.

I started biking a year ago, after being a fat couch potatoe for 20 years. I just did a 50 mile group ride with 3900 feet of elevation yesterday (not at a quick rate, was a bit too much for my skill level, did about 10.5 mph average). I have an entry level endurance carbon road bike (Specialized Roubaix) if its relevant.

Have some questions about general nutrition, muscle development, and what I should expect, and where to set my goals.

Since starting, I've dropped over 50 lbs of fat, had to donate most of my clothes and buy new ones. I'm one waist size away from where I was in high school. Have been able to drop my reflux medicine, blood pressure medicine, and am closing in on ditching my cholesterol medicine

With my newfound fitness has come a lot more muscle definition than I've ever had. Legs are really defined (by my standards), shoulders have always had good definition, and arms actually getting a bit too. I've started doing push-ups to work on my chest a bit. So far, so good here.

My concern: When I look at the cyclists that are better than me, there are a shocking number of them that have the legs and waist of a prepubescent teenager (the skinny kind, not today's unfortunately growing pre diabetes teenagers).

I actually find I like my new muscles, and am worried that if I get too into cycling, I'll start to lose my muscle as well as my remaining fat (have likely 20 lbs of midsection fat I still need to work off, I'm 5'10 for the relevant BMI viewpoint, I still call myself fat, but most people laugh at me like I just said I look like Brad Pitt). Part of my "makeover" involved huge diet change to "un-potatoe" myself. I've cut out a lot of the empty carbs, focusing on a blend of lean protein, good fats, and lots of low GI carbs (mostly veggies and beans, but minor amounts of fruit). I do still drift into quicker hitting carbs on cycle days, but try to limit myself and reign this in more and more as my fitness gets better. I used to need a huge amount of junk to get in a 20 mile 750 FT elevation ride 9 months ago, but now do that on just water with no perceived exertion.

Are the people with no visible fat and no visible muscle simply ones that are using their aerobic systems for the bulk of their cycling, and don't place significant stress on their muscles? Or individuals who for various reasons may not be eating enough protein to maintain their muscles? Or people who are focused on endurance, and intentionally don't cultivate muscle growth, as it runs counter to their goals?

Right now, I'm doing almost all hill work in my solo training rides, and then doing mixed courses in my group rides. Its primarily social and fitness, enjoyment and stress relief. I'm never going to be a racer, I lack enough natural athletic ability there. I actually do enjoy hill climbing. As I said, I also enjoy my newfound muscle, and find myself shockingly motivated to get more for the first time in my life.

Any thoughts, pointers, advice?
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Old 06-29-14, 07:29 AM   #2
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Tour Winner 2012...6ft-3 165 lbs Wiggens

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Old 06-29-14, 08:10 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Brianj0101001 View Post
Any thoughts, pointers, advice?
Don't over analyze , enjoy your rides. IMO if you eat more you won't lose more, eat less you will. There are plenty of quick riders that are not skinny.
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Old 06-29-14, 10:15 AM   #4
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Just continue to do what you've been doing because it's working well for you... Also do some type of strength training aside from cycling...Weights, push ups, dips, pull ups are all good for losing fat, preventing muscle loss and for developing strength.
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Old 06-29-14, 05:09 PM   #5
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Keep doing what you are doing. The sooner you can get off the cholesterol meds the better -- side effects are played down by big pharma but DO exist. Stopping stains may give you a noticeable boost.

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Old 06-29-14, 06:01 PM   #6
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my advice is to watch some old reruns of olympic 100 meter finals and some marathons and focus on the bodies of the participants. you'll soon see what's what as far as muscle vs. endurance requirements.
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Old 06-29-14, 06:32 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
Tour Winner 2012...6ft-3 165 lbs Wiggens

Looks like a starved POW, not exactly a picture of health.
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Old 06-29-14, 07:55 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
Looks like a starved POW, not exactly a picture of health.
Yes he does, and that's not healthy.

Advice for the OP: If you like your new muscles and that brings you some satisfaction, keep riding your bike and work on speed rather than simply adding up the miles and worrying about other's priorities. I'd also point out that looking like Wiggo is a choice to starve yourself and push a little beyond what is healthy (of course in his case it's for millions of dollars and the adulation of a nation), and that's a choice that you don't have to make. A 50 lb weight loss is no small accomplishment. Just do what you enjoy and what makes you healthy. At the highest levels it is all about the aerobic system, but you can be plenty fast without looking like a POW.
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Old 06-29-14, 10:30 PM   #9
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Unless you are a genetic ectomorph (naturally long and slender build) you would have to train and eat specifically with the intent of becoming that skinny. You can be an excellent cyclist with a healthy bodyfat percentage and muscular physique. Do some cross training with resistance such as free weights, machines or bodyweight exercises if you want to keep more muscle mass.

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Old 06-29-14, 11:23 PM   #10
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Cycling is an aerobic sport so (lack of) muscle mass is not terribly relevant to success in racing. Just look at the pro peloton and you'll see guys with, and without, significant muscle mass. It's largely driven by genetics. The only place added weight from muscle mass is going to hurt you is climbing where it will impose a certain penalty in your watts/Kg. Weight training also won't help your cycling performance (outside of say track sprinters) so it's not something many hard core cyclists bother to do. That's not to say you shouldn't incorporate weight training into your exercise plan if you want to. Cycling is not a weight bearing exercise so cross-training with some walking/running or weight training are necessary to maintain bone density as you age.

Last edited by Dunbar; 06-29-14 at 11:32 PM.
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Old 06-30-14, 01:43 PM   #11
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If you want to keep upper body muscle mass just add in some resistance work on top of your cycling. The push ups will work fine.
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Old 06-30-14, 03:27 PM   #12
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Unless you're planning on racing, don't worry about the skinny guys. They'll always be faster on the climbs simply due to power to weight ratio. On the flats you can probably keep up with them and on the descents you'll pass them with ease as gravity is your friend in this case.

I'm sort of in the same boat as you but not as worried about it. When I was big (6', 245) I never had big arms or shoulders. Now that I'm down to 165 and can climb really well, I look a little anorexic in the upper body. I need to build some muscle in my core to prevent back problems more so than because I want to have upper body muscle definition. I'm sure I'll never have big arms unless I lift or something, which isn't something I care about.
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