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uneven thigh muscle/calf muscle development

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uneven thigh muscle/calf muscle development

Old 01-05-10, 04:07 PM
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barkersoldbean
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uneven thigh muscle/calf muscle development

Sorry if this has been covered elesewhere, but I wondered if anyone has experience of equalising the muscle mass/power of both legs.
I am naturally left handed and sure enough there is quite a disparity in the muscle development of my left and right sides.
Not huge, but I wondered if anyone had any bright ideas on how to solve - apart from a conscious effort to push harder on my right side.
Tony
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Old 01-05-10, 04:19 PM
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Cross train with resistance training. My own routine includes at least three sessions a week in the weight room. Doesn't take much time; maybe 25-30 minutes per session.

Oh, and welcome to the 50+ forum.
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Old 01-05-10, 04:49 PM
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[QUOTE=barkersoldbean;10230033]
I am naturally left handed and sure enough there is quite a disparity in the muscle development of my left and right sides.
Not huge,

Tony[/QUOTE

I think most people will have one side of their body that is stronger. I used to coach track and we used to find the stronger leg for hurdlers, jumpers and the drive leg for sprinters. The strong leg was usually the opposite from their natural hand. A right handed athlete would probably be a left footed jumper. One test we gave the kids was to have them stand up straight with the feet together. We then asked the kids to take one big step forward. The leg they pushed from was their strong leg since they have been using it most of their life to push.
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Old 01-05-10, 05:41 PM
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I think most athletes have a disparity. To increase size, you need to overload the muscles. Strength training will work but you need to isolate the leg you want to build. The other issue is neurology. The weaker leg may not be as responsive. For example, I do one legged pedaling drills. My left leg is weaker and initially when I started doing these it was hard to be smooth and the leg would tire more quickly. Now after weeks of work, my left leg is equal to my right. If you want to challenge yourself on the bike, do one legged drills by uncleating one leg and keep a smooth pedal stroke. For more challenge, do opposite arm opposite leg drills meaning hold the bike with your right hand (release the left hand) and pedal with the left foot. You do not need a lot of power or cadence and a slight uphill grade will help. One arm holding and opposite leg pedaling is difficult.
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Old 01-05-10, 05:45 PM
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At "our age" congratulations on having muscle tone. And welcome to the Forum, this group is witty, helpful and serious about spinning them wheels. You will like it.
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Old 01-05-10, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by barkersoldbean View Post
Not huge, but I wondered if anyone had any bright ideas on how to solve - apart from a conscious effort to push harder on my right side.
A trainer or rollers and clipless. Unclip the stronger side and pedal one-legged.

There are people who do this on the road. They make me very nervous.
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Old 01-06-10, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by barkersoldbean View Post
. . .quite a disparity in the muscle development of my left and right sides. . .how to solve. . .Tony
Given that muscle development and bone deposition are specific reactions to the inputs from their stress environments, is this disparity a 'problem' at all? [You're deploying strength and sturdiness just where you need it.]

Is it even detectable by folks who are not specifically looking for the disparity? [I'm sure most of us fret before the mirror at left-right irregularities.]

Is it a matter of Arnold Schwarzenegger on the right and Woody Allen on the left? [Begging the question of which is better for a cyclist. Recommend the funny-guy side.]

Anyway, give at least a moment's contemplation that this may not be an issue. . .unless you have that Arnold/Woody thing going on!
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Old 01-09-10, 09:30 AM
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Thanks for all the comments. Will be doing some weight work in the gym and try unclipping the stronger side whilst riding.
Great forum.
Tony
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Old 01-09-10, 11:44 PM
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All of the above are good ideas. I was hurt in a climbing accident about 19 years ago, smashing one ankle. Becasue of the strength I lost having it in a cast for 12 weeks, and depending on my "good leg while skiing, hiking and cycling, it took about 10 years to get to the point where I hardly noticed it. By babying the injured side my good leg got a lot stronger which just exacerbated the problem. I did loose some range of motion and have a handful of screws holding it togethr, so even after all tha time I always feel it. Isolating the legs so that your dominant leg can't help out the "weaker" one during exercise seems to be the best approach. As suggested, one legged pedaling on a trainer (alternate sides), doing one legged leg extensions at the gym and one legged toe stands all seem to help. I found that doing it on both the right and left sides was the most effective, but made sure the injured leg carried its weight (figuratively and literally).
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Old 10-06-21, 08:47 PM
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I suggest doing the one-legged work on the trainer or rollers. One can do it on a slight uphill, but there's never enough room and the momentum of the bike makes it less effective. I've been doing this once a week in late winter and spring for over 20 years. I ruptured an Achilles tendon many years ago and this did help with rehab. The following routine was suggested to me by some past cycling great but memory fails me and I can't recall the name. Anyway, it works. He suggested 2 minute intervals. That may or may not be possible depending on current fitness. In any event, the idea is to pedal one-legged until you are crying for your mommy or your leg fails. Failure is defined as having a moment of slack chain during the pedal stroke. So 2 minutes, less or more, whatever it takes. Less than that effort level isn't really effective. You'll have to experiment to find what gears to use. The low cadence gear will be much higher than the high cadence gear. As you make progress, you'll be able to use bigger gears for both. Don't let your ego prevent you from using appropriate gears. Really try for that 2 minutes.

Warm up as usual. Unclip one foot. I prop the lazy foot in my frame triangle. Pedal 50-55 cadence for the interval time, then do the same for the other leg. Then 2 minutes legs together, zone 2 effort, ~90 cadence. Then unclip the same foot as before and pedal 80-85 cadence for the interval time, then the other leg, then the same recovery period with legs together. Keep repeating that sequence until your legs don't work anymore. If I keep doing this exercise regularly once a week, eventually I'll get to 45 total minutes. I don't think there's benefit to be found beyond 45 minutes. This is also one of the best climbing training routines I've ever practiced. It's a fundamental.

Since the OP is currently unbalanced, I suggest using the same gears and time for both the strong and weak leg and thus only making the weak leg work really hard. That'll restore balance.
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Old 10-07-21, 08:34 AM
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This won't necessarily help the OP, but since a lot of people on the thread have mentioned injuries leading to imbalanced leg strength, I'll chime in with a bit of advice.

I broke my left hip in a bike vs car in 1995. I did get my leg strength more or less balanced for cycling, but there were other ways in which the injured side didn't come back into balance, especially hip adduction/adbuction (which cycling doesn't exercise). In 2011, I joined a boot-camp class and stuck with that for a few years until the group dissolved. It made a huge difference in strengthening those muscles that hadn't really recovered.
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