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More weight more power?

Old 09-22-16, 07:41 PM
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briandelmo
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More weight more power?

I'm not a light guy not a heavy guy. Tried to slim down for some of the hillier races here in Colorado, but mainly did crits. A lot of the bigger guys seem to put out the wattage during the races. If I add some muscle weight would my overall speed and power benefit?
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Old 09-22-16, 08:37 PM
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More weight may mean more power but it's required to move the added weight at the same speed as a lighter guy with less power. A 250 hp car that weighs 2500 lbs will outrun a 350 hp car that weighs 4500 lbs.

More power isn't the answer, it's the power to weight ratio. I'm 6ft and 206 and like to lift weights. I can put a decent amount of power to pedals for a while but I'm still moving 220+ lbs when I'm on my bike as opposed to a guy maybe not quite as strong moving 145 lbs. He's gonna smoke me and badly.
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Old 09-22-16, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by briandelmo View Post
I'm not a light guy not a heavy guy. Tried to slim down for some of the hillier races here in Colorado, but mainly did crits. A lot of the bigger guys seem to put out the wattage during the races. If I add some muscle weight would my overall speed and power benefit?
Depends on the course. Generally - no. If the mass is lean, and coarse is flat - yes. On longer races 1-5 hrs it is hard to fuel that. I don't know the science behind it but for males seems those 4% composition (very hard to measure) do not have the W/kg of those higher single digits. But lighter for general RR is better. For crits, I see all kinds.
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Old 09-22-16, 10:59 PM
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One of the general rules that you might consider is that strength is proportional to the square of the linear dimensions, while mass is proportional to the cube. So as things get bigger the strength to weight ratio gets less favorable.

That's where that "ants are 10,000 times stronger, pound for pound, than humans" factoids comes from.

I tell you this so you'll see the futility of trying to become a better hill climber by bulking up.

Or to put it another way. Draught horses are far more powerful, but they can't keep up to race horses.

Bicycles have gears that allow both big, strong and light, fast riders optimize the machine, but as a general rule, fast beats strong every time
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Old 09-22-16, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
One of the general rules that you might consider is that strength is proportional to the square of the linear dimensions, while mass is proportional to the cube. So as things get bigger the strength to weight ratio gets less favorable.

That's where that "ants are 10,000 times stronger, pound for pound, than humans" factoids comes from.

I tell you this so you'll see the futility of trying to become a better hill climber by bulking up.

Or to put it another way. Draught horses are far more powerful, but they can't keep up to race horses.

Bicycles have gears that allow both big, strong and light, fast riders optimize the machine, but as a general rule, fast beats strong every time
I am not a good hill climber to begin with so I'm not trying to add more weight to climb. It's more of a not lose weight to climb better and race at a more natural weight. My thinking is I've lost power due losing too much weight
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Old 09-22-16, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by briandelmo View Post
I am not a good hill climber to begin with so I'm not trying to add more weight to climb. It's more of a not lose weight to climb better and race at a more natural weight. My thinking is I've lost power due losing too much weight
Unless you've lost muscle because of a serious calorie deficit, I doubt that's your problem. part of the problem may be that you're trying to satisfy two objectives at the same time. Training while trying to manage or lose weight through dieting.

Pick one or the other, ie diet for a while to drop your weight, while on a holding pattern on conditioning. Or train hard and feed yourself enough for the body to build and repair muscle, then worry about dropping some pounds in the off season. If you continue to try for both at the same time you'll get neither.

In any case is that the only way to become a decent hill climber is to climb hills, short/steep ones, and long graded climbs, and later on the killer long steep ones. I'm sure you can find a coach out there to help you develop a hill climbing training routine.
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Old 09-23-16, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by briandelmo View Post
I'm not a light guy not a heavy guy. Tried to slim down for some of the hillier races here in Colorado, but mainly did crits. A lot of the bigger guys seem to put out the wattage during the races. If I add some muscle weight would my overall speed and power benefit?

You can get stronger without gaining weight. It's not a zero sum equation. The best guys, whether it's in crits or hilly races, are the ones who are both strong and light.
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Old 09-23-16, 07:36 AM
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Getting stronger muscles doesn't require adding mass. Developing more strength through specific training may or may not benefit you (opinions on this are mixed; personally I think it probably depends on the rider). Adding more weight in the course of doing strength training might not hurt you if it turns out to have been a limiter, but it's very unlikely to benefit you. Despite the reputation of crit racers as being bigger and stronger, the very best crit racers in the country aren't, for the most part, 190 lbs or anything. They're still pretty slim. There are exceptions, but, well, they're the exceptions.

To the extent that bigger riders have an advantage on certain types of courses it comes down to two things. First, bigger people tend to have bigger lungs and bigger muscles, which means greater lung capacity, greater uptake of oxygen, greater absolute VO2max and therefore greater absolute power, all other things being equal (life isn't fair, so all other things generally aren't equal, but basically yeah, bigger people often make more watts). Second, bigger people have a lower surface area to volume ratio, which can more easily translate to a good watts:cda ratio relative to a smaller rider. But again, life isn't fair and it's more a correlation than a rule.

With respect to the first point, you can add more weight in the form of muscle, yes, but you're not very likely to change your lung capacity to match. So it's not like the heavier you get, the stronger you get. That's why adding weight is usually detrimental. With respect to the second point, same answer. Your overall size isn't going to change much, so adding weight isn't really going to help your aerodynamics and if anything will hurt them. If you get heavier AND faster, usually it means either you were underweight to begin with (extremely rare), or you've started training much more effectively at the same time (very plausible) and your gains from that training have outpaced the penalty of having more weight. Not that being heavier is helpful.
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Old 09-23-16, 08:19 AM
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One thing that may be worth thinking about is also what type of rider you are. Are you a Sprinter type? Or a breakaway / TTer type? Do you need more raw torque? Or do you need more endurance? Endurance probably wouldn't benefit from weight, raw torque might. But in general I think what everyone has said here is pretty much true "Less weight = better" at least most of the time.
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Old 09-23-16, 08:44 AM
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I lurk the 33 but don't post often because I don't race. But I have to ask, aren't you all being a little over-concerned about the several square-cube considerations? We're only realistically talking about 5 added pounds for strength-training his lower body, and that's if he really works at it. 10 would be herculean - strength training not body-building. The aerodynamic difference will be minuscule, and the extra mass of lean muscle is almost always more than compensated by the biochemical adaptations. Or am I off-base there?

Upper body and body-sculpting I can see the point, but I've always heard simply "it can't hurt" and might help to do at least some lower body strength training. Maybe beyond that is over-thinking it a bit?
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Old 09-23-16, 08:45 AM
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I'm 215 pounds and climb okay but not as fast or easily as the young and skinny guys but far better than average. The longer the climb, the more effort I need to give up. The short "punchy" ones, I can torque/mash my way up faster than the skinnier guys.

On the flats, the skinnier guys have a hard time matching my pace and after the ride, we have a sprint section and the skinnier guys usually do not have enough reserve in their tank to compete for the win.

I have found that climbing is as much about technique than weight, so a guy with extra weight and good technique would be right there with the lighter guys. All this means nothing if your conditioning isn't up to par. I am pretty fit with high endurance but those long climbs still zap me. I recover as I coast on the down side.
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Old 09-23-16, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by dz_nuzz View Post
One thing that may be worth thinking about is also what type of rider you are. Are you a Sprinter type? Or a breakaway / TTer type? Do you need more raw torque? Or do you need more endurance? Endurance probably wouldn't benefit from weight, raw torque might. But in general I think what everyone has said here is pretty much true "Less weight = better" at least most of the time.
I'm suited for more break away/tt type riding. I used to be fairly explosive but too many years in triathlon has killed that, so I'm working on my sprinting and short efforts.
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Old 09-23-16, 08:56 AM
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I raised the square cube issue because he was specifically talking about climbing. There's also the concern that much of the gain may not be muscle.

But your right that a few pounds won't hurt, and being stronger vs lighter may be his only option, since some people aren't ever going to be the lean wiry type.

We're all different, and though lighter faster (leg speed, not bike speed) riders tend to be better mtn climbers, the OP has to live with the body type he has. But he also has to remember that it's difficult, if not impossible to build muscle mass while fretting over weight.

One other thing not said. Strong riders are often good hill climbers in the rolling terrain of the east where hills are short and steep. Out west, hills are long with moderate to difficult grades, and climbing is less about power and more about sustainable power and endurance. So if the OP focuses on strength, he may be faster for a while, but there's a decent that he'll run out of gas after the first 1,000ft.
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Old 09-23-16, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I lurk the 33 but don't post often because I don't race. But I have to ask, aren't you all being a little over-concerned about the several square-cube considerations? We're only realistically talking about 5 added pounds for strength-training his lower body
5 lbs is a big deal!
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Old 09-23-16, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by globecanvas View Post
5 lbs is a big deal!
But compared to 20% more mitochondria for power, and more micro-fibers that improve endurance? Serious question.
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Old 09-23-16, 09:17 AM
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I am pretty sure GC was joking, but to answer your question, 5lbs of cycling specific muscle takes so much training to get that I think a lot of the added weight is countered by loss of upper body mass.

edit: 5lbs of cycling muscle is a looooooot of extra power. Even if your upper body stayed the same there is no way that wouldn't make you faster.

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Old 09-23-16, 09:27 AM
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I live this struggle. I am currently ~195, in good shape, getting better, and have ok base fitness. I have been a snowboarder my whole life and my legs are built like trees. I could probably get down to 180 or 175 if I really put my mind to getting lean, and I'm sure that would help, but I'm NEVER gonna be tiny like riders on the Tour. I make a lot of peak power, and I can out-sprint everyone I know, including some Cat 3 racers, but in ANY effort over 1-2 minutes or ANY TIME the road goes up, I'm dropped almost immediately.

Stated in cycling terms, my FTP sucks. My 5 and 30 second power are great, but my power drops like a rock after a minute and by 5 minutes I'm barely above my cruising speed. I have acquired some rollers and plan to do long hours at threshold this winter to build this skill.

You would excel at flat road races where the pace isn't likely to be outrageous and you can hang on and shelter for basically the whole ride and then bury everyone with 300 meters to go. Crits could be hard for you, as they are for me, unless your FTP improves, because in crits (or the couple I've tried) the pace is VERY high the entire time and the surges are even faster. You might be able to match the pace for a while, but if you can't recover while at your threshold, you'll get spit off the back. Even if you're "faster" than everyone out there, you won't be at the front at the end. This has more to do with overall base fitness and ability to hide in the draft. As one rider once told me about crit racing "it's not the fastest guy that wins, it's the rider who slows down the least."
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Old 09-23-16, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
But compared to 20% more mitochondria for power, and more micro-fibers that improve endurance? Serious question.
Yes. If I gained 5 lbs I would need to also gain 10 watts to maintain the same w/kg, which would be difficult or impossible. I *might* improve sprint power but the FTP sacrifice would still likely be a net loss, even for flat crits.

The OP asked if he should gain muscle weight to improve his racing. The answer is no. He should try to get stronger without gaining weight. He might even be better served by trying to lose weight, and then getting stronger.

Few racers really maximize their power to weight, mostly because beyond a certain point, focusing on the weight side starts to have a significant effect on your quality of life. Most guys just decide to live with being heavier, or convince themselves they are light enough. I could probably be 15 lbs lighter, but it would suck to get there, and my wife would stage an intervention.
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Old 09-23-16, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by briandelmo View Post
I'm suited for more break away/tt type riding. I used to be fairly explosive but too many years in triathlon has killed that, so I'm working on my sprinting and short efforts.
As a sprinter type my experience is that when I tilted toward the "hell, I'm heavy, why don't I get really strong" side of the equation, my sprint really didn't get better. I was stronger in some ways (weight lifting metrics) but on the bike not much changed. To be fair I don't do leg work because fragile knees and my preference for injury prevention.

I was probably 190-195 lbs at some of those points. I was pretty strong, bench 200 lbs, 160 lbs easy, leg press all the weights I had in the house, etc. I could do pretty good sprints but no better than normal.

Then I had a chance to lose weight, mainly because I was in a wheelchair. I dieted, got to a weak 150 lbs (I was sometimes seeing weights in the 145 range), gained some weight as I trained more, hit racing season at 155 lbs. It was like I had a motorized bike, I was flying up the power hills. I was dragging my brakes on the regular laps on the Bethel hill because I didn't want others to think I was doping and I didn't want to pass the field every time we went up the hill.

For me losing weight is always the first thing to do. Then fitness.

Light + not-fit = I can race fine in Cat 3s. 160 lbs or less is light for me. Not-fit means 0-3 hours a week.

Heavy + fit = very hard for me to race well in the 3s. 170 lbs or more is heavy for me. 190 lbs is sickening. 215 lbs was my max riding weight.

Light + fit = Cat 2. 160 lbs or less, and "fit" means riding maybe 3-5 hours a week plus having maybe 60-80 hours in the three months Dec-Feb.

If you do the w/kg calculations, figure out how much stronger you have to be to go up a bit. Then do the same power but lower weight.

I'm 200w, 77kg, give or take. 2.6 w/kg

If I'm 220w (about my best), 77 kg, 2.85 w/kg

200w but I lose about 10 lbs, 72 kg. 2.78 w/kg

220w, 72 kg, 3.05 w/kg.

When I upgraded to 2 I'd raced the season at 220w, 70kg, so 3.14 w/kg.

To get to 3.14 w/kg at 77kg I'd have to be at 241w.
To get to 3.14 w/kg at 72kg I'd have to be at 226w. That's much more likely.

My jump doesn't change much. My fitness determines how long I can sprint.
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Old 09-23-16, 10:07 AM
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@mattm and I are fat af and do fine. You all need to race more.
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Old 09-23-16, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by briandelmo View Post
I'm not a light guy not a heavy guy. Tried to slim down for some of the hillier races here in Colorado, but mainly did crits. A lot of the bigger guys seem to put out the wattage during the races. If I add some muscle weight would my overall speed and power benefit?
Many here have pointed out good points. I think being "lean" is the key and not thin
I'm 5 8' and weigh 165lbs, my goal is race at 157 ish but i need to quit lifting too much upper body and put that in the legs during winter.
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Old 09-23-16, 10:28 AM
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Also consider that we're not all created equal, no matter what they say. Some of will never be light, others may be fat at low weights. It pays to consider your body's "design weight".

Consider your rib cage size (measured below pecs and above belly) and shoulder width. These are largely unaffected by weight, and generally big guys will be heavier at the same level of fitness, and there's not much they can do about it.
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Old 09-23-16, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by globecanvas View Post
Few racers really maximize their power to weight, mostly because beyond a certain point, focusing on the weight side starts to have a significant effect on your quality of life. Most guys just decide to live with being heavier, or convince themselves they are light enough. I could probably be 15 lbs lighter, but it would suck to get there, and my wife would stage an intervention.
I'm getting very close to this point. I've got my body fat down to about 11%. That means there is still plenty of fat to eliminate, but to do that would require a substantial change in my diet. I'd have to really cut a lot of stuff out, and eating would become a huge chore.

Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
@mattm and I are fat af and do fine. You all need to race more.
I've not met Fudgy in person, but I have met MattM. I think my first comment to him was, "Huh, you're a lot bigger in person than I realized."
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Old 09-23-16, 11:09 AM
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The stuff u mentioned in the first post are functions of other things, not just muscle mass. Putting out 300w on a beach cruiser in an upright position =\= 300w on a TT bike with position, when it comes to speed.

More often than not bigger dudes can really smash crits because the penalty for bigger CdA isn't as big of a penalty carrying that extra weight up hills. So they typically have bigger power to motor on the flats. With all that being said, 'big' muscles may not necessarily equate to watts in such a direct way. As others have said, there are very 'slim' or small riders who can also do very well in crits. A rider can potentially have the same muscle cross section (and weight) and still gain power through training.
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Old 09-23-16, 11:20 AM
  #25  
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I'm up to 170lbs right now at 5"11 but I'm not super lean and I wasn't lean during the season either just slightly thinner. I was only at about 2.5w/kg at my peak fitness( severely slacked off in the off season). Literally got crushed every race
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