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Old 05-25-07, 09:56 PM   #1
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strength training and cycling

I have been strength training (not bodybuilding) for a while and have recently got into cycling (road and mtb). Does cyling give enough lower body workout to keep up with upper body if you don't do leg exercises? I ride about an hour or so 4-5 times a week and work upper body 2-3 times a week on bowflex and free weights. Also, at what point does muscle mass have a negative effect on cycling performance?
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Old 05-25-07, 10:38 PM   #2
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This is just my $.02, I lift weights 4 times a week, and I go heavy to gain strength. I work legs hard once a week, and I cycle probably twice a week of 15-40 miles each time (I don't commute). The strength and muscularity that you will gain in your lower body from cycling will be different than what you would gain if you lifted for lower body. It's sort of apples and oranges. For example, I could cycle all the day long (a tourist, not racer) before I began lifting a few years ago, and my legs felt adequately strong. Then I began lifting. When I began doing squats for example, 135 pounds did me in. Now I can easily work sets of 12+ with 225 pounds. My legs have gotten tremendously stronger, a bit bigger, and I feel like I have more stamina and strength on hill climbs and sprints. I don't feel as though one is better than the other, they are both good modes of exercise, but I would recommend lifting in conjunction with your cycling, to reap extra benefits to your cycling.
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Old 05-26-07, 01:09 PM   #3
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The key word is strength training. If you're doing it correctly you're not going to gain 50lbs of solid muscle mass. Instead you'll gain lean muscle which should only improve your cycling abilities. I also have a bowflex I use twice a week. I've noticed gains in my cycling abilities from minimal leg workouts on it. I do leg press, leg ext, leg curls, 4x20 each. More sets/reps of lighter weight is what i've always knows as strength training vs less sets/reps of heavier weight for mass building.
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Old 05-26-07, 01:33 PM   #4
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Lifting has helped my legs with cycling a lot this year. I used to do mostly upper body stuff thinking that doing legs would be overkill given the cycling, but the weights have definitely given me more strength and stamina.

As well as upper body stuff, I've been doing abs, obliques, back extensions, plus lunges/calf raises and sometimes straight-leg deadlifts or squat jumps for the legs. Nothing hardcore, just enough to feel good and not fold up like a paper doll if I crash.
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Old 05-26-07, 03:10 PM   #5
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Been watching my boys grow up mountain biking, and yes, strength training helps. While biking will really tune up your legs, it doesn't do much for your upper body. But, even with your legs, you want to throw some running/jogging in there to build up bone strength.
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Old 05-26-07, 06:58 PM   #6
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Check out the 8-week weight-training program outlined in Armstrong/Carmichael's book. In general, there are actually three types of workout:

1-4 reps = strength-building
3-10 reps = hypertrophy (bulk/size-building)
10-20 reps = toning, doesn't increase strength or size

Look at the amount of monthly weight-gain professional body-builders can gain. It takes years to get to their size and bulk. And they're probably on the juice as well. A cyclist with a specific cycling-oriented programme will certainly never gain that much bulk, but you can certainly increase your strength tremendously, especially if you're a beginner.

Also check out the external links and publications I've presented in this thread: Winter Training: Indoor Riding & Weight-Lifting
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Old 05-28-07, 02:45 PM   #7
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Cycling did very little for my leg strength (or size), when I finally began squatting I found out just how little.
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