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Newer Rider, only quads getting worked out. Normal?

Road Cycling ďIt is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

Newer Rider, only quads getting worked out. Normal?

Old 06-07-19, 09:43 AM
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Backpackerx
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Newer Rider, only quads getting worked out. Normal?

I've ridden about 350 miles this season on a road bike and am at an average pace of 16mph on rolling hills. After a hard ride it's only my quads that are tired and feel worked out and I don't feel like my calves or glutes are getting worked out. Is that normal at first until I really strengthen my legs and start using my full muscle groups? I think my pedaling technique is ok - 80-90 cadence and spinning not mashing.
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Old 06-07-19, 10:10 AM
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It could be normal, especially if you have relatively stronger glutes and calves. I don't think the calves should be too tired unless your saddle height is too high or your feet are too far back on the pedals.

I suggest looking up information on bike fitting. It's very common for people to make mistakes like having the saddle too low, which would cause the quads to do more work.
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Old 06-07-19, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
It could be normal, especially if you have relatively stronger glutes and calves. I don't think the calves should be too tired unless your saddle height is too high or your feet are too far back on the pedals.

I suggest looking up information on bike fitting. It's very common for people to make mistakes like having the saddle too low, which would cause the quads to do more work.
Saddle height is pretty good. Straight leg when heel on, slight bend when clipped in, barely touch toes to ground when sitting.
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Old 06-07-19, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Backpackerx View Post
Saddle height is pretty good. Straight leg when heel on, slight bend when clipped in, barely touch toes to ground when sitting.
Read up some more on bike fitting, the first bolded part is an overly simplistic rule of thumb that will only get you in the ballpark because it doesn't account for individual differences in foot size or pedal technique, and the second is meaningless given different bb drops and seatpost angles. And speaking from experience, "slight bend" could still be too much.
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Old 06-07-19, 10:35 AM
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Probably normal. Keep riding.
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Old 06-07-19, 10:36 AM
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You also need to consider saddle fore-aft. If the saddle is too far forward or if the saddle is tilted forward too much, youíll end up unable to engage the hams and glutes. Try moving your saddle slightly back and lower.

Also, try dropping your heels more. If you canít, then your saddle is too high or too far forward.

Lastly, try rotating your hips. Itís hard to describe, even in person. But here I go: keep your back *perfectly* locked straight as it can get. Then bow your upper body forwards and lower as though attempting to stretch your hamstrings. This should feel better under power. Feel free to bend your spine slightly after you reach the most rotated position.
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Old 06-07-19, 11:06 AM
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Did you buy a bike to ride a bike or did you buy a bike to build tight glutes?

If you want big and/or defined muscles, join a gym You will have access to weights and machines with which you can most effectively target muscle groups.

If you like riding a bike, ride your bike. 350 miles is what, two or three weeks of riding?

If you are worried that you are doing it wrong I would suggest visiting YouTube and searching for videos on pedaling motion, training techniques, etc. No one here can evaluate what you are doing based on verbal description, and even if you posted video we wouldn't really know how it felt to you. Try searching for specific video instruction, try some stuff, and see if that helps.

As far as I know, most of the muscles used in cycling are used to extend the leg---quadriceps. Your calves take a lot of load because you are reacting all the force of your quads through your feet. Your core gets used to hold you up.

I would also recommend high-paced group rides. Trying hard to follow a much faster rider is a great way to use every part of your body .... you will hurt all over, which some people seem to like.

So ... seek some instruction on proper pedaling technique, look into a few training regimens, and otherwise ... just ride the bike. Check back in a few months or so and I assure you, everything will be different.
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Old 06-08-19, 02:54 AM
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I am in the same boat, quads are on fire after rides.
Recently upgraded to a new bike, and seat so have work to do. Think i will try the heel suggestions
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Old 06-08-19, 04:06 AM
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It’s normal. Your quads take most of the load.
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Old 06-08-19, 12:32 PM
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Probably fine. I went through the same thing after a mult-year hiatus. Keep going. If you ride enough, more things will get sore.
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Old 06-08-19, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Probably fine. I went through the same thing after a mult-year hiatus. Keep going. If you ride enough, more things will get sore.
I'm no Cat 1, but I agree. The muscle recruitment pattern in the legs changes with training, fitness, and experience. Train the brain, learn the synergies, become efficient.
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Old 06-08-19, 04:47 PM
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That GEICO Liberty Mutual Insurance commercial with the cyclist with the exaggerated calves is a joke or the producers knew nothing about cycling.

IMO, if your calf muscles are feeling the pain of the ride, then your cleat is too far forward on your shoe. So since your calf muscles aren't feeling it, your cleat is probably in the ballpark of where it needs to be.

Cycling doesn't work your calf muscles very much. What it does work out is your quads. Just look at any pro cyclist. Few have any calf muscles, but they do have some definition in their quads. The true sprinters in particular have bulging quads but generally pay for that extra muscle weight when they hit the mountain stages hard.

Last edited by Iride01; 06-09-19 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 06-08-19, 04:59 PM
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How low are you getting? If you are in the same position all the time, relatively upright and arenít rotating your hips your not going to engage your glutes as much.
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Old 06-08-19, 08:59 PM
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Could be a sign that youi're pushing too high of a gear. What cadence do you typically run on the flats? Should be at least 90.
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