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Does adding more weight to bike make you stronger?

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Does adding more weight to bike make you stronger?

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Old 02-23-09, 10:19 PM
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duke_of_hazard
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Does adding more weight to bike make you stronger?

Does adding more weight challenge my muscles to grow stronger to maintain the same speed? I figure the lighter my bike, the weaker my muscles need to be to maintain a decent speed. So the heavier the bike, the stronger my muscles need to be to maintain the same speed?


Or is there a line you cross where your muscles can never get strong enough to move your heavy bike at a good speed?
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Old 02-23-09, 10:36 PM
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Well, I can't speak with any empirical evidence, but I can tell you that I *feel* like I've worked harder when I've carried a load. Depending on the weather, what I have to take to work, and day of the week, my load can vary by 10 or 15 pounds, I'd guess. Mondays are usually the heaviest days because I'm taking in all my snacks for the week, plus whatever books I've been reading over the weekend, plus my regular change of clothes, toiletries, etc. My times on Mondays are usually somewhat longer than those on Tuesday.
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Old 02-23-09, 10:43 PM
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I know that after I've been on an extended bike tour carrying tons of stuff on a heavy touring bike and then rode my racing bike with light wheels and no stuff I was moving real fast on my light bike- faster than I was before the tour.
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Old 02-23-09, 10:57 PM
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Experiment with a drag chute.
Just remember not to use it when expecting high winds or gusts - instant Parabike!

Sorry, I couldn't resist.
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Old 02-24-09, 12:18 AM
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Originally Posted by duke_of_hazard View Post
Does adding more weight challenge my muscles to grow stronger to maintain the same speed? I figure the lighter my bike, the weaker my muscles need to be to maintain a decent speed. So the heavier the bike, the stronger my muscles need to be to maintain the same speed?


Or is there a line you cross where your muscles can never get strong enough to move your heavy bike at a good speed?
It will be definitely more work to maintain the same speed going up a hill or accelerating. The differences are smaller if you're talking about maintaining a certain speed on a flat surface.

For me there is a line psychologically where a heavier bike won't make me stronger, I'll just go slower.

A good example is my summer bike vs my winter bike. There are more differences than just weight but weight is one factor. There's a stretch of my commute that's on a narrow road which has a MUP running along side of it. The speed limit on this road is 25 mph.

In the summer I ride on the road and play a little game with myself trying to maintain a speed of 25 mph (or as close to it as I can manage) for the mile or so before an intersection. In the winter I ride on the MUP because I can't do 25 for any length of time (if at all) on the winter bike. I don't even have a cyclometer on the winter bike because the truth would be too discouraging.

Which bike do you think is making me stronger? For me speed is the reward for working harder. To a certain extent if a bike doesn't reward my hard work with speed, I won't work as hard.

On the subject of speed vs weight I will say that the faster you go the more important aerodynamics get. You can really feel it. I get to a point where I just can't go any faster and it's not because of weight.

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Old 02-24-09, 12:46 AM
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if you want more of a workout without the weight go faster. this may be more benefit then hauling more weight. but you can get the same workout substituting speed verses weight.
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Old 02-24-09, 12:55 AM
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Every week reprogram your speedo so it reads 0.1 kph slower.
In a year you will be 5.2 kph faster.
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Old 02-24-09, 01:04 AM
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What speed to you want to maintain and for how long? There's no easy answers or methods to get what you want. Every body is different and may have different rates of improvement to a particular regimen/training exercise. Just have to work at it constantly and make those increment improvements. Have to listen to your body too and know when you are at the limit or you will injure yourself. In the end, you may have to hire a professional trainer to get you where you want to go.
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Old 02-24-09, 06:02 AM
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I don't aim for any speed or anything, but I can tell you that I don't work that much harder whether I'm carrying 20 lbs or 5 lbs...if it gets too hard to pedal, I shift.
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Old 02-24-09, 07:07 AM
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It depends. Anyhow ... intervals are my preferred method to get stronger.
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Old 02-24-09, 07:11 AM
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There's this guy I see jogging around my neighborhood sometimes who wears this giant weighted vest, and huge wrist and ankle weights. That guy is pretty awesome.
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Old 02-24-09, 07:52 AM
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I think so. I particularly think it helps you in high-torque situations like mashing up a hill, less so for spinning.

I have a ~20lb road bike, as well as a 35lb hybrid which I also sometimes load down with up to 20lbs of stuff. Last year I put the road bike away for about 2-3 months in winter, and rode the hybrid exclusively. When I got the road bike out again, I was about 1-2 mph faster on hills than I had been on the same bike the previous fall. I felt like I was riding air.

Give it a try, it won't cost much - bikes don't come cheaper than heavy-ass hi-ten frames. $50 or less and you'll have a big girl to call your own.
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Old 02-24-09, 07:54 AM
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No.
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Old 02-24-09, 08:27 AM
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Riding with more weight makes you stronger but not necessarily faster. You have to train your muscles to ride faster, and you don't necessarily do that carrying more weight -- particularly if you are a masher or just ride a lot slower when carrying loads.
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Old 02-24-09, 08:40 AM
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I must say that for me it really does. normally I carry somewhere around 40-50lbs sometimes possibly more on my rack and last night was the first time in ages that I rode with the rack totally unloaded and I flew. Literally what takes me normally around 20-25 min I was able to do in 7. Me only being 120lbs though all that weight makes a huge difference and for me I know I am stonger now since I could never come close to 7 min before. That is averaging about 20mph on my mountain bike with small 100psi road tires. I couldn't believe it at first. I was riding close to traffic speed.
 
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Old 02-24-09, 04:42 PM
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Riding a bike fast doesn't require much neuromuscular strength, if you have reasonable gearing.
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Old 02-24-09, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Phantoj View Post
Riding a bike fast doesn't require much neuromuscular strength, if you have reasonable gearing.
But don't you need to be stronger to crank those harder gears?
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Old 02-24-09, 05:15 PM
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Incredulous Question: "Did you really pedal 16 miles to work?"
Digme Answer: " No, I put my bike on my shoulder and ran in!"
I agree with some posters about hauling a loaded hybrid to work
5 days a week.
Spinning on my road bike felt like a breeze.

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Old 02-24-09, 05:17 PM
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Absolutely. Tour for even just a few weeks. Carry all of your own stuff. Come back and ride the tracks or the normal ride with no weight and you will notice a HUGE difference.

I would just ride with the extra water weight, or luggage weight for training around my usual ride as well. Why not, it can not make you weaker.
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Old 02-24-09, 05:20 PM
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Watts are watts. 500 watts on a lighter bike is 500 watts on a heavy bike, you will just be going slower, but doing the same amount of work. It is a training myth.
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Old 02-24-09, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Phantoj View Post
Riding a bike fast doesn't require much neuromuscular strength, if you have reasonable gearing.
double your current average and say that again (G)
you have to go fast enough to get the workout you want. but it's far more fun going fast then going heavy.
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Old 02-24-09, 05:22 PM
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Nothing wrong with getting extra exercise by riding an inexpensive, heavy bike. And yes, going faster will serve the same purpose - because of the way air resistance works, it takes much more total energy to cover the same distance if you do it as fast as you can, instead of taking it at an easy pace.

Be aware that a heavier bike is not significantly more work to pedal on flat ground and it will actually be faster on the downhills.

Another way to make your ride more difficult is to add miles to your route, (you could stop by the grocery store!) or to make your bike less aerodynamic (sit "wide and tall" on the bike instead of low narrow racing posture)!
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Old 02-24-09, 05:31 PM
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Any type of increased resistance makes you stronger and/or faster. I like to mix up the type of added resistance on my rides.

In the winter I ride my old suspensionless mountain bike with tire liners and slicks. I tend to build up muscle for sustained mashing at 60-80 rpm, and standing and sprinting muscles at traffic intersections on that thing.

When the ice is off the roads up high, I replace my daily riding of my old mountain bike, with riding into the local foothills on my road bike 2-3 times per week. I do most of my weekday riding before work, so I usually pack an extra 5-10 pounds of gear on my seat rack (work clothes and out-of-town repair gear). I can REALLY tell the difference without the pack on sustained hills. The hills and the added weight both make me stronger.

I usually pair the one of the above with fast-cadence intervals (120+ rpm). That not only trains my fast-twitch muscles to fire better, but also smooths out my pedal stroke and makes me more efficient. I do this on a trainer during the winter, and on the flat during the warmer months. This makes a big difference on my average speeds over 3+ hour rides.

Sometimes instead of doing hills or riding my mountain bike, I just push stiffer gears on the flats. That works just as well for many people as hills. I have a problem being consistent with that, for some reason.

I mentally find it hard to go below a certain speed on a heavy bike, and going too slow up hills seems more tortuous than just riding hard to get up the hill faster. But I find it pretty easy to back off a harder gear when I'm already moving at a decent pace on the flats.

Have fun out there.
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Old 02-24-09, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Pinyon View Post
Any type of increased resistance makes you stronger and/or faster. I like to mix up the type of added resistance on my rides.

In the winter I ride my old suspensionless mountain bike with tire liners and slicks. I tend to build up muscle for sustained mashing at 60-80 rpm, and standing and sprinting muscles at traffic intersections on that thing.

When the ice is off the roads up high, I replace my daily riding of my old mountain bike, with riding into the local foothills on my road bike 2-3 times per week. I do most of my weekday riding before work, so I usually pack an extra 5-10 pounds of gear on my seat rack (work clothes and out-of-town repair gear). I can REALLY tell the difference without the pack on sustained hills. The hills and the added weight both make me stronger.

I usually pair the one of the above with fast-cadence intervals (120+ rpm). That not only trains my fast-twitch muscles to fire better, but also smooths out my pedal stroke and makes me more efficient. I do this on a trainer during the winter, and on the flat during the warmer months. This makes a big difference on my average speeds over 3+ hour rides.

Sometimes instead of doing hills or riding my mountain bike, I just push stiffer gears on the flats. That works just as well for many people as hills. I have a problem being consistent with that, for some reason.

I mentally find it hard to go below a certain speed on a heavy bike, and going too slow up hills seems more tortuous than just riding hard to get up the hill faster. But I find it pretty easy to back off a harder gear when I'm already moving at a decent pace on the flats.

Have fun out there.
WRONG!!!!!. Watts out are watts out. If you pedal your light weight road bike up hill at 400 watts or you pedal a much heavier mountain bike uphill at 400 watts. Are you getting a better workout on the mountain bike because it is heavier? No you are not, you are just going slower. You are getting the same workout.

Here is some more info to help dispel this common training myth.
http://www.bike-zone.com/fitness/?id=2008/letters05-27

Training on a heavier bike
I just thought I would respond to Scott Saifer's response to the gentleman who inquired about training on a heavier bike. The gentleman had asked if training on a heavier bike was a viable training technique, to which Scott responded that it would be "silly" to do so. My question to Scott is why is it not a viable training method? Maybe a better question to ask would be, why do the pro's switch to a lighter weight bike when racing, especially during the mountain stages?

Personally I don't want to train on a heavier bike since part of the joy of cycling is riding a nice light bike, but I have to disagree with Scott if he is implying that there would be no positive training result(not just psychological) from riding a heavier bike and then switching to a lighter bike for races. I would even argue that the SAID principle would justify the added resistance training on a heavier bike would provide.

Jason Charlebois

Scott Saifer replies:

The training effect will be determined by the cadence and pressure on the pedals. Ride the light bike a bit faster or the heavy bike a bit slower and you get the same effect.

In fact, the SAID principle dictates that training on the lighter bike will be more effective if one will race on the lighter bike, no? A heavy bike that resists pedaling force more or a lighter bike that leaps away with each pedal stroke require different combinations of muscular efforts and feedback. Many riders already have trouble maintaining force on the pedals at high cadences. Why lose out on the possibility of correcting that by riding a bike that makes it artificially easy.

Again, I've not said that training on a heavy bike is detrimental. Only that it adds no benefit. There is one exception. If for some reason a rider insists on training with much weaker riders as a group, the stronger rider might benefit by adding resistance artificially, but he or she would also be better off finding a more compatible group, or simply pushing a slower rider on the hills.

Dave Fleckenstein replies:

We've had a number of responses to Scott's reply along these same lines. The truth is that bike weight has very little to do with the work that we do on the bike (expressed in watts) and more to do with the speed. If I am riding at 350W, I can train at that level on a light bike and go faster, or train on a heavy bike and go slower, either way it is the same wattage. Bike weight does not necessarily increase resistance, the gearing and force that we apply to the pedal does.
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Old 02-24-09, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by steveknight View Post
if you want more of a workout without the weight go faster. this may be more benefit then hauling more weight. but you can get the same workout substituting speed verses weight.
I agree to a point. But what if your commute has lots of start and stop and doesn't allow enough long pulls? With high pressure tires and no load, I can barely get any work in for about half my commute. Lower pressure tires and stuff in the panniers (junk in the trunk?) definitely makes me work harder between stop signs than I'm able to otherwise.

(And yes, I am only pretending I stop at stop signs for the sake of the hypothetical.)
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