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Thread: Leg muscle mass

  1. #1
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    Leg muscle mass

    I just started riding, and on most of my solo rides I average 16 or 17 mph over rolling terrain with mild wind (10-15 mph). I'm 5' 10" 140 lbs. The thing is, I am usually never above 21 mph on the flat roads. Even when I'm just starting the ride and my legs are fresh, I just can't get very much speed. But at the speed I DO ride, I never really get winded. Meaning, I'm never huffing and puffing. So the problem is not my heart. My quads hurt though.

    Now I know there is a difference between muscular endurance and muscular strength. For endurance athletes like cyclists, muscle endurance is very important. But if I can never even get to a high speed, is my STRENGTH (vs. muscle endurance) limiting me? If so, will strength increase when you ride every day, or do you really only gain strength in the off-season?

    I'm asking because I want to increase my average power output on my rides. But I'm not sure if my leg endurance or leg strength is limiting me. It is definitely not my heart. Following bodybuilding principles, working a muscle group every day doesn't give it sufficient recovery time to grow. So how can I gain strength while riding every day? And is that most likely what I need to build on to get better (leg strength)?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    1/2 a binding 1/2 a brain telenick's Avatar
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    5' 10" 140lbs.? You're a climber.

    I hate you guys ...

    Work your glutes and hams ...leave the thighs alone. If you do get faster at flat speed, then I'll hate you even more.

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    Yeah...I was about to say the same thing. You have the build of a natural climber and if your cardiovascular system is strong, it's time to start climbing. Do more rides with more hills or the same loop over and over while concentrating on the hills. Won't be long before you start developing strength that you'll notice on flat rides.
    Compromise - Let's agree to respect each other's views, no matter how wrong yours may be.

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    So I'm 6.0" and 140lbs am I a climber too?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jakemoffatt
    So I'm 6.0" and 140lbs am I a climber too?
    If you follow the rules, than yes your are a climber. Of course, you may not know the rules, but you're still a climber whether you agree or not! And no.....there are no exceptions to the rule and the rules cannot be broken!
    Compromise - Let's agree to respect each other's views, no matter how wrong yours may be.

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    Just started??? Today? 1 week? 1 month????
    For a new rider it usually takes time to get your legs.
    10-15mph winds are not mild, especially if they are headwinds.
    You say that at the speed you DO ride, you never get winded. How long are your rides?
    The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard and the shallow end is much too large.
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    I started riding on monday. I rode every day except wednesday and today (saturday). And, my rides have been approximately one hour. I didn't want to start riding too much in the start to avoid overtraining. So my rides aren't very long...16 or 17 miles usually.

    So if I focus on hills that should help me build strength? How often should I do that...every other day or so? Surely not everyday right?

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    This is cool....this formula you are talking about here.
    So where would I fall into this chart?

    I'm 6'-1" and 194.
    Fat?

    God I hope not!
    I don't really like climbing...I hate headwind...on flats I usually ride in the upper teens.
    So far this season I have been trying to hold that 20 mark. I get it for a short time, but so far can't really hold it for miles.

    Just more time on the bike trying?
    Seems like I am stuck averaging in the 16's.
    Hip, "Halffast Celebrity Fashionista"

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    Hipcycler.....at 6'-1" and 194 # you are clearly in the "downhill king" category! Seriously, I have no idea about the formula other than 'younger = faster' and
    'tall/light = climber'.

    I've been cycling off and on (more on) for 20 years now and my average speed has never remained above 18 or so for solo rides above 35 miles. I just gave up caring
    about the number since it seems the more you ride and the longer the distance the
    harder it is to move average speed. I changed my focus and started looking at HR
    average (again pretty constant), distance covered and how I feel at the end of the
    ride. My goal is to put 15,000 miles on each bike so I can justify buying a new one!
    Compromise - Let's agree to respect each other's views, no matter how wrong yours may be.

  10. #10
    if x=byh then x+1=byn blandin's Avatar
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    6"1 / 220 lbs / 54 yrs old: I ride Saturdays and Sundays between 27 and 40 miles depending on the day and if it's windy. I consistently average between 19 and 20 mph over the distance for the most part I pedal using 53/14 and 53/15. I was off the bike for 2 years because of health issues and it took me about 10 months to regain my leg strength and endurance. I've began riding again in March of 2004.

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    Ca-na-da? krazyderek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sparknote_s
    So how can I gain strength while riding every day? And is that most likely what I need to build on to get better (leg strength)?

    Thanks.
    Eat lot's of protein, i used to like those protein beanut bars at the health stores, make sure you get good ones though, some of them have some bad chemicals in them. And do short hill circuts, 20 mins max, 2 or 3 times a day. every other day, do long flat rides, every even day, take it easy on them flat rides if you feel like it.
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    I have only been riding for about 6 months - so i'm no guru but, the seasoned riders i ride with tell me often that i am very explosive (even for a seasoned rider). The reason: I was a college hockey player. Skating has definitely transferred well for me - i'm not saying to go out and skate, but in the off season I would religiously train with PLOYMETRICS.

    Ploys consist of a lot of squat jumping/leaping/bounding/ etc. Also accompanied by squat sets in the gym of 40 to 100 repititions or more X 7-14 sets. A regiment like this of about 1 to 1.5 hours a time/twice a week will dramatically increase quad size and explosiveness. The key is to do it past that burning feeling that moves from your thighs through the rest of your body (painful but highly beneficial).

    I'm working on climbing - but I have a distinct advantage on flats due to my leg strength. Check out ploymetrics/weight training - you may be pleasantly surprised. As well, take a look at some hockey training exercises if you ever get a chance. I know it sounds unorthodox, but it has worked well for many ex-hockey players turned serious cyclists.

    Good luck with the training.

  13. #13
    1.9lb/in pseudobrit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sparknote_s
    I'm asking because I want to increase my average power output on my rides. But I'm not sure if my leg endurance or leg strength is limiting me. It is definitely not my heart. Following bodybuilding principles, working a muscle group every day doesn't give it sufficient recovery time to grow.
    Watts is where it's at. Increase your cadence if you're not already maxed out.

    If you're just worried about the speed, try adjusting your position on the bike for aerodynamics.

    This had nothing to do with bodybuilding or anaerobic exercise.

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    FloJo touched on something that you might consider and that is that cycling isn't the best way to build strength in a short period of time. Yes, climbs will help but you are still basically doing a workout of high reps and low resistance which is an endurance type exercise formula (somewhat true of the plyometrics, but less so). If you are looking for strength increases then I would get with a knowledgable physical therapist and explain what you want and they can help you work a training schedule out that will allow you to ride lots but still spend some time in the gym with squats, cleans, leg press (will be high weight, low reps).

    One thing to understand is that you will probably train for strength gains and then once those are reached work on endurance of that strength over time.

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    "Great One" 53-11_alltheway's Avatar
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    http://www.cptips.com/toc.htm#trntips (there are some good tips on training in there)

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    Quote Originally Posted by pseudobrit
    Watts is where it's at...This had nothing to do with bodybuilding or anaerobic exercise.
    Actually it does have to do with bodybuilding and anaerobic exercise too:
    If power (watts) = force generated *distance/ time and Force = mass * acceleration; then then power = mass*acceleration*distance/time so he can either increase the acceleration(cadence) or he can the mass he is able to move (increas leg strength), either way he gets increased power output. Now if he increases both the mass and acceleration....but the question was about leg strength so I answered it that way

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    "Great One" 53-11_alltheway's Avatar
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    My vote more base training.

    J/K......I don't know the exact answer, but most likely some more intense training in the form of intervals or weights might be the way to go.
    Last edited by 53-11_alltheway; 04-10-05 at 06:30 AM.

  18. #18
    1.9lb/in pseudobrit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by giovanni_133
    Actually it does have to do with bodybuilding and anaerobic exercise too:
    If power (watts) = force generated *distance/ time and Force = mass * acceleration; then then power = mass*acceleration*distance/time so he can either increase the acceleration(cadence) or he can the mass he is able to move (increas leg strength)
    But anaerobic strength doesn't translate over time. Just because you can lift more weight doesn't mean you can put out that amount of energy consistently over several hours.

    It's not a bad idea to improve muscle size in the legs, but it's not the ideal way to train for cycling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by giovanni_133
    One thing to understand is that you will probably train for strength gains and then once those are reached work on endurance of that strength over time.

    Yes I agree there is a large specificity of training and so gains in muscle mass indeed will not translate over time immediately...but if you come to the table with more muscle mass you can train it to have a greater endurance but it will take time

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    "Great One" 53-11_alltheway's Avatar
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    I hate these training questions because most cyclists are dead set in their ways.

    The reality is the only way to are going to gain power is if you train for power. Endurance and power are mutually exclusive. You got to find a balance between the two that applies to your goals.

    20 mile race you can probably train more for power than endurance.

    150 mile race and you'd probably train more for endurance than power.

  21. #21
    coitus non circum. Mars's Avatar
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    I would like to add a couple of points to this discussion. First, if you have only been cycling a few days, you may not be using your gears properly. Maybe you are trying to spin too high a gear and that is why your legs are tiring. Second, if you are riding in 10-15 mph winds, aerodynamic position is very important to speed. Remember, air resistance is the number one force to overcome while cycling. I would not be surprised if your seat/bar positioning could be improved as well as how you are positioning yourself on the bike.

    Lastly, be patient. It takes a while to build cycling specific muscles. That being said, with the right gear and aero positioning, I don't see why afit person couldn't hit 20....

    Wait a minute. what kind of bike are you riding. A mountain bike with knobby tires would be hard to get up to high speed and would be more of a challenge for anyone. Hybrids are easier, while roadies are the fastest.

    Hope this helps.
    "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by jakemoffatt
    So I'm 6.0" and 140lbs am I a climber too?

    I would say your in need of more food Mr Boney down.

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    Sparknote, as far as the recovery part, "easy-day/hard-day" is a good rule of thumb. Do intervals, hill climbing etc to develop your power every other day, and on the days in between do an easier ride to recover from the harder effort.
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    What about 5'10, 125 lbs...?

  25. #25
    Climbing Fool terrymorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 53-11_alltheway
    Endurance and power are mutually exclusive. You got to find a balance between the two that applies to your goals.

    20 mile race you can probably train more for power than endurance.

    150 mile race and you'd probably train more for endurance than power.
    You can train for both endurance and power simultaneously--up to a certain point. A multi-hour ride at tempo (high zone 3/low zone 4) is great for endurance, and it's excellent for increasing aerobic power.

    There's only so much physiological strain a body can take per week, so increasing training volume means having to train easier. The maximum training volume (time) to improve both endurance and power is reported to be about 15 hours per week. More hours than 15 are primarily training for endurance.
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