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leg muscle differences??

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leg muscle differences??

Old 08-31-05, 09:36 PM
  #1  
quatrecats
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leg muscle differences??

I had about 30% of my left meniscus removed last December, but am having no lasting negative effects from the surgery as far as I can tell......but, after my ride on Sunday, I was checking out my legs in the mirror, and noticed a distinct difference in the size of my thighs, with the left being smaller. I rode 30 miles today, and tried to feel if there was a big strength difference, but I cannot feel one. Does anyone else have experience with this--I vaguely remember the doc telling me that I should get most of my strength back.....
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Old 08-31-05, 09:41 PM
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Meniscus surgery won;t affect leg strength or hypertrophy if you aren't doing a structured muscle-building weights program.

No-one is 100% symmetrical, it's normal to have one slightly larger calf, bicep, etc etc
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Old 08-31-05, 10:00 PM
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I had the same surgery. No loss of strength over time. In fact that is the event that got me into cycling. The size of my legs appear to be normal. I guess that means yours are not. Ha Ha - just pulling your leg - your big one, sorry.
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Old 08-31-05, 10:16 PM
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most people have one leg that is the dominant leg just like you have a dominant hand. my dominant leg is my right leg. I noticed this going up a hill. I was exhausted and spinning up the hill but I noticed that every time my right leg went down on the pedal stroke my bike tended to lean to the right but it did not do so when my left leg was pedaling. My solution to the problem was concentrating on not letting my left leg slack while the right leg did all the work. You have to teach yourself to pedal with both legs applying equal forces. Try doing some one leg pedaling drills. Try doing one legged leg presses. Anything to increase the strength in your smaller leg.
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Old 08-31-05, 10:30 PM
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Yeah, muscle-size doesn't relate to strength. Whenever I start weight-training in the winter around mid-Nov., I'm typically at my weakest strength of the year after a full-season of racing. After two months of weight-training, I end up doubling my strength without gaining any muscle-mass or size... Then it's on to some base-miles, then sprints and we're ready for the season-opener in February.

Most likely in your case, after the surgery with the smaller left-leg, most of the load you apply to your legs would still be pretty even. Such as walking around, getting up from chairs, climbing stairs, etc. This would tend to stress out the smaller and weaker left leg more than the right; you're working out your left leg at a higher level than the right. Over time the left leg will increase in strength more (percentage-wise) than the right until they're both of comparable strength. In essence, your left leg is more developed and packs more power for its size than the right; it's in a higher state of tune and fitness from being exercised more strenuously.
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Old 08-31-05, 10:38 PM
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Understandable to me. My right leg has an 11 year old cartilage tear, and that leg has a smaller quad. But it is a little shorter than the other leg, and always felt more comfortable jumping off my left, being right handed....
as long as it doesn't hurt, say "YAY"
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Old 08-31-05, 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
Yeah, muscle-size doesn't relate to strength.
I have to disagree with this statement. Muscle-size has nothing to do with muscle stamina it has everything to do with strength. Let me give an example. Large football players have large muscle mass and large amounts of strength. Have you ever seen a lineman's chest and shoulders? They are pure bulk because of the huge strengths required the muscles. By definition, when buiding muscle you are building strength. In order to build muscle, you must surpass the limits of the current muscle fibers. In doing so, you damage the muscle fibers which regenerate stronger and with more fibers. As you increase the forces placed on the muscles, more fibers are employed and thus more fibers are damaged only to repair themselves and to start the whole process over again. So if the original poster would like to increase his muscle size in the smaller leg, he must "bulk up" by doing low rep, high weight sets of muscle exercises. This will do nothing for his muscle stamina. I have humoungous legs (do sets with close to 1000lbs on leg press) but all this strength gives me jack for stamina. You know my type, the guy the you pass going up a hill at 3 mph but then on the flats he flys by you only to be caught up at the next hill.
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Old 09-01-05, 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
I end up doubling my strength without gaining any muscle-mass
???
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Old 09-01-05, 12:38 AM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
Yeah, muscle-size doesn't relate to strength.

Yes it does. It doesn't correlate to muscle endurance or MAP.
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Old 09-01-05, 01:01 AM
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Originally Posted by ed073
Yes it does. It doesn't correlate to muscle endurance or MAP.

exactly what I said in my post...I just said it in more words
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Old 09-01-05, 01:02 AM
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Originally Posted by chrisvu05
exactly what I said in my post...I just said it in more words

he he!! I don't read the long ones. Sorry dude.

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Old 09-01-05, 02:12 AM
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now this is a quality thread--seriously. good information that likely hasn't been posted 6,000 times already, complete with posts from people that have experience with the subject.

this one deserves a BUMP

cheers
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Old 09-01-05, 03:47 AM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
Yeah, muscle-size doesn't relate to strength.
Originally Posted by ed073
Yes it does. It doesn't correlate to muscle endurance or MAP.
If you're talking about single-effort, 1-rep, maximum-force, yeah, that's closely related to size in athletes in top-shape (all other factors being equal). But none of us here are really interested in Olympic clean & jerk types of performances. Maybe my use of "strength" is not the correct word, "work" may be more appropriate. But it is possible for the same size muscle in a person to yield different maximum-effort outputs depending upon the training (or lack of training).

The effect quatrecats is noticing may not be related to maximum-effort, maximum-strength differences between the muscles, which may come to light if he had to lift a car or something. But in what we're doing, cycling with repeated motions, being able to generate a certain number of watts at LT, they're equivalent.


Originally Posted by chimivee
???
Yes, my 16" calves and 25" thighs remain the same between mid-Nov. to mid-Jan. And my maximum-weights for 3-reps goes as follows:

- leg-press 300 -> 650 lbs
- leg-lifts 150 -> 250 lbs
- reverse leg-lifts 90 -> 175 lbs
- calf-lifts 175 -> 325 lbs
- squats 375 -> 550 lbs

Another way to look at it is that muscle-strength decreases as the race season progresses. The fast-twitch muscles loses its strength as the slow-twitch ones are primarily used. I lose strength but the leg-muscles remain the same size. The weight-workouts in the winter then builds their strength back up to their potential. Body-fat percentage obviously plays a role in muscle-size and strength as well. Here's some references to look up (biblio at end):

Strength Training Fundamentals in Gymnastics Conditioning
The Sport Journal - Sports Medicine for Youth Soccer
NaturalStrength - Responses To Training
NaturalStrength - Quality of Muscle the Basis of Strength
Androgen therapy improves muscle mass and strength but not muscle quality
Nonsteroid Performance-Enhancing Agents in Athletic
Competition
<-- increased muscle-size doesn't increase strength

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 09-01-05 at 04:10 AM.
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Old 09-01-05, 06:13 AM
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Bact to the leg imbalance....

I am right handed and right legged. Every time I break something, it is on the right side of the bike:

2 right side Look Pedals
3 right side crankarms - 2 Mavics & 1 Campy

I think I might try to increase my left leg strength over the winter... so at least I have matching pairs of broken stuff...
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Old 09-01-05, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ

Yes, my 16" calves and 25" thighs remain the same between mid-Nov. to mid-Jan. And my maximum-weights for 3-reps goes as follows:

- leg-press 300 -> 650 lbs
- leg-lifts 150 -> 250 lbs
- reverse leg-lifts 90 -> 175 lbs
- calf-lifts 175 -> 325 lbs
- squats 375 -> 550 lbs

Another way to look at it is that muscle-strength decreases as the race season progresses. The fast-twitch muscles loses its strength as the slow-twitch ones are primarily used. I lose strength but the leg-muscles remain the same size. The weight-workouts in the winter then builds their strength back up to their potential. Body-fat percentage obviously plays a role in muscle-size and strength as well. Here's some references to look up (biblio at end):

Strength Training Fundamentals in Gymnastics Conditioning
The Sport Journal - Sports Medicine for Youth Soccer
NaturalStrength - Responses To Training
NaturalStrength - Quality of Muscle the Basis of Strength
Androgen therapy improves muscle mass and strength but not muscle quality
Nonsteroid Performance-Enhancing Agents in Athletic
Competition
<-- increased muscle-size doesn't increase strength
I find it hard to believe that lifting 550 lbs in squats or 250 pounds in leg lifts does nothing to your muscle mass. You might just be a hard gainer. But I also would say that some of this probably has to do with the short amount of time you lift (mid Nov- Mid Jan) and previous muscle memory. If each year you only lift hard for 2 months, then the whole rest of the year your muscle is decreasing back to the size it was before you started lifting. 2 months is not a long time to increase muscle mass. Most bodybuilders can only increase muscle mass by around 15 lbs max in a year. so lets say the average person can maybe increase muscle mass by 7 pounds in a year. that means split into 12 month, if you only lift hard for 2 months, you are gaining 1.17 pounds in muscle mass in those 2 months. 1.17 pounds of muscle mass split over both quads, gluts, calves, as well as your back is not enough to show up in your legs. You might see a change in tone but thats about it. Even if you lift the rest of the year you are probably only maintaining muscle mass with your lifting. As for your post of articles, the one "Performance-Enhancing Agents in Athletic competition" although I didn't feel like reading it, I already assume what it can say. "Nonsteroid-Performance enhancing drugs don't increase strength" right? Everyone knows this!! Cyclists don't take EPO for muscle gain! Knowing kids in high school on the juice, you can clearly see a marked increase in muscle mass with steriods. The performance enhancing drug article is not a good reference for you argument.
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Old 09-01-05, 12:44 PM
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The point was there are various drugs that help increase muscle size but doesn't increase the strength. Some make you retain water and appear bigger, but you're not any stronger. There isn't a set formulae like for every square-CM of cross-sectional size in the muscle, you can exert with exactly 1kg of force.

The main point I was making is in the 1st couple of articles, where it constrasts the difference between muscle size vs. quality. Workouts can increase the size of the individual muscle fibres or it can also increase the numbers of fibres; usually a combination of both. Then strength workouts also develop neural connections to recruit fibre that have previously not been utilitized fully, i.e. quality.

Just take a look at your own personal logbook for all the info you need. Measure your own muscle sizes compared to strength and you'll see there's no direct correlation, size is only one of many factors that contribute to strenght, but it's not the only one. I've gained about 40lbs since I was racing at the top-levels. My calves & thighs are about 1" larger than before. After pulling out my workout notes from 10-years ago where I got those figures above, I'm at only 1/2 of my previous end-of-season strength, or 1/4th of my tip-top form, yet my muscles are bigger... what gives?
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Old 09-01-05, 12:56 PM
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i think this argument is getting pointless...you are convinced that you are right and I am convinced that I am right. so getting back to my original post to the original poster, I was simply stating that If he wanted to get the smaller leg equal in size to the larger leg that he should do bulk building exercises (low rep, high weight).
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Old 09-01-05, 02:15 PM
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My leg muscles are pretty imbalanced due to a nasty injury by the ankle from years ago. Can't bend at the ankle very far, so that leg's quadriceps don't engage as much as the calf. I found that riding one-legged in a big gear has forced my quads to kick in. This leg is still much weaker than the other (will always be because it is not the dominant leg), but now I get a smoother spin and more power. So, keep doing those one-legged pedaling drills!
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Old 09-01-05, 06:18 PM
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I had ankle ligament reconstruction surgery last november and was in a cast for 7 weeks. My right calf is still smaller than my left. And I did months of PT building up the muscle. Not a huge difference at this point - just less definition. I know I still favor the injured leg when I walk and run so that could be part of it.

After a serious injury you don't go back to how you were before. I asked my surgeon "how long until I'm back to 100%." He laughed and said "you'll never be back at 100%." Nice.
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Old 09-01-05, 06:50 PM
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thats not a nice surgeon. but atleast he is honest

our poor fragile week bodies
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Old 09-01-05, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by quatrecats
I had about 30% of my left meniscus removed last December, but am having no lasting negative effects from the surgery as far as I can tell......but, after my ride on Sunday, I was checking out my legs in the mirror, and noticed a distinct difference in the size of my thighs, with the left being smaller. I rode 30 miles today, and tried to feel if there was a big strength difference, but I cannot feel one. Does anyone else have experience with this--I vaguely remember the doc telling me that I should get most of my strength back.....
Had right achilles tendon surgery in 1999, and still my right calf is smaller than the left. The difference has become more noticeable since getting back into cycling full bore in the spring. I haven't noticed a difference in strength while riding, but I would like to get the right calf closer in size to the left. Over the winter, I'm going to do some right calf specific weight training, and some single leg riding on the indoor trainer. I also spend some training rides consciously using my right leg more when pushing harder gears, or while climbing, to get more work in on those muscles.
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