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Weight lifting and cycling.

Old 06-26-12, 12:15 PM
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Joe360
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Weight lifting and cycling.

I'm currently not in the US and away from my bike. I have taken up running to keep me busy and active. I recently started to go to the gym again and have started a muscle building routine, not a strength focused workout. One of the days out of four is dedicated to leg exercises. However most of the routine is focused on upper body. I have noticed that I've bulked up a bit and am wondering if this will affect my riding when I get back home, either positive or negative. I've gained some weight about 3 lbs and I'm only a month in.the gym that I go to is kind of low tech so there aren't that many leg work out specific equipment. Do any of you do any body building and riding? What are your experiences and suggestions?
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Old 06-26-12, 12:31 PM
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Unless you're a track sprinter, most data indicates the weight lifting for your legs is not going to help your cycling.

Added bulk from lifting is going to hurt your climbing.

Time in the gym, from a cycling perspective would be better spent on the stationary bike.

The weight lifting is good for you in general, but it's not the way to improve your cycling. In your case, since its not taking away from cycling you're not really hurting yourself much. But for others that could be riding, serious weight lifting for your legs in season is limiting the amount of intensity you can handle on the bike, and slowing you down.
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Old 06-26-12, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Unless you're a track sprinter, most data indicates the weight lifting for your legs is not going to help your cycling.

Added bulk from lifting is going to hurt your climbing.

Time in the gym, from a cycling perspective would be better spent on the stationary bike.

The weight lifting is good for you in general, but it's not the way to improve your cycling. In your case, since its not taking away from cycling you're not really hurting yourself much. But for others that could be riding, serious weight lifting for your legs in season is limiting the amount of intensity you can handle on the bike, and slowing you down.
You do know that professional cyclists weight train right?

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Old 06-26-12, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Unless you're a track sprinter, most data indicates the weight lifting for your legs is not going to help your cycling.

Added bulk from lifting is going to hurt your climbing.

Time in the gym, from a cycling perspective would be better spent on the stationary bike.

The weight lifting is good for you in general, but it's not the way to improve your cycling. In your case, since its not taking away from cycling you're not really hurting yourself much. But for others that could be riding, serious weight lifting for your legs in season is limiting the amount of intensity you can handle on the bike, and slowing you down.
Do you have links to that data?
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Old 06-26-12, 01:26 PM
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^ there are a gazillion threads on it. you can use the search engine.

^^ Yeah take a look at the upper bodies of pro cyclists.

And read what I wrote:

serious weight lifting for your legs in season is limiting the amount of intensity you can handle on the bike, and slowing you down.

none of those guys are lifting in season for their legs. Some core year round is not going to be a bad idea. Adding weights for your legs in base phase isn't going to hurt anything, but again there's not a lot of data for it, and in spite of Armstrong's photo spreads in Men's Journal I doubt you'll find it is a key portion of many professional road racer's program.

And I think you will find it vanishly rare that pro road cyclists are doing serious lifting for their legs in season. If you are, you're limiting the amount of intense work you can do on the bike.
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Old 06-26-12, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
^ there are a gazillion threads on it. you can use the search engine.

^^ Yeah take a look at the upper bodies of pro cyclists.

And read what I wrote:

serious weight lifting for your legs in season is limiting the amount of intensity you can handle on the bike, and slowing you down.

none of those guys are lifting in season for their legs. Some core year round is not going to be a bad idea. Adding weights for your legs in base phase isn't going to hurt anything, but again there's not a lot of data for it, and in spite of Armstrong's photo spreads in Men's Journal I doubt you'll find it is a key portion of many professional road racer's program.

And I think you will find it vanishly rare that pro road cyclists are doing serious lifting for their legs in season. If you are, you're limiting the amount of intense work you can do on the bike.
You are correct that in season weight training isn't a good idea. But it IS a good idea to do it in the off season. Strength training that is. Strong muscles don't have to be huge. You don't need a body builder workout. A lot of strength gains can be made with very little increase in bulk. Power to the pedals...and the ability to push large gears comes from muscle strength. The fastest way to increase the strength of muscles is by weight lifting. I do considerable strength training in the off season. I only do free weights.
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Old 06-26-12, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by slowandsteady View Post
You do know that professional cyclists weight train right?
Yes, but not bodybuilding, per the OP's question. Huge difference.

I use weights in my overall training regime - at 47 - to maintain healthy muscle mass.
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Old 06-26-12, 01:50 PM
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I'm guessing a lot of this is being cited from Joe Friel's Training Bible. He does preach that weight lifting should only be done during the early season, and then all workouts should be on the bike. I've always suspected there's some benefit to lifting mid-season, but I have nothing to back that up.
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Old 06-26-12, 02:16 PM
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I have lifted since I was 18 and I am 55 now. Lifting can help or hurt your cycling depending on how you do it. Do you plan on competiting in either bodybuilding or cycling? If not, then it doesn't matter what you do, just enjoy doing it.

Lance lifts but he uses lower weight and higher reps. He also concentrates on compound movements like squats, bench press, military press, etc. These movements work more muscle groups. The one muscle group that will help your cycling is working your core.

I do squats the day before a ride, but it is a slower recovery type ride. I do believe that lifting helps your cycling but not by making you faster. I think you will be less fatigued on the bike if you are lifting and will feel better in general.
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Old 06-26-12, 02:30 PM
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If your gym has dumbells, you can do leg exercises. Dumbell squats, squat/curls/presses, dumbell deadlifts, dumbell lunges, step-ups - all good for the legs and your eventual return to cycling. Use lower weights and more reps - builds muscle endurance over bulk. Shoulder presses and back rows help with staving off muscle fatigue in those areas on those longer rides. Try bicycling.com and do a search for some articles on weights/cycling, you'll find some tips there. If you've started lifting for the first time, you will build some bulk as the muscles are getting adjusted to the extra work. Agree with one of the other posters here - if the gym has a spin bike or other cycle - get on it one of those 4 days.
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Old 06-26-12, 02:58 PM
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I used to weight train all year and ride as well. This season, I stopped doing weights and focused on riding (while still doing body weight workouts (minimal leg work) maybe 1-2 a week) and I've never seen this big of a jump in my cycling performance! My legs feel fresh as I'm no longer riding and doing heavy squats. I lost a bit of size / weight however, but still have an athletic build (not a super skinny climber's build). I'll go back to heavy weights in the off-season however
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Old 06-26-12, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Perp View Post
I used to weight train all year and ride as well. This season, I stopped doing weights and focused on riding (while still doing body weight workouts (minimal leg work) maybe 1-2 a week) and I've never seen this big of a jump in my cycling performance! My legs feel fresh as I'm no longer riding and doing heavy squats. I lost a bit of size / weight however, but still have an athletic build (not a super skinny climber's build). I'll go back to heavy weights in the off-season however

Unless you make a living winning bike races does it really matter? Most cyclist on the road I see could use a few months of weight training and alternative exercises to build cardio and lose their man boobs. I'm just saying.... Unless your an elite biker, the benefits of some weight training is going to far exceed any negative effects on your bike performance. Just my opinion.
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Old 06-26-12, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by ArchEtech View Post
Unless you make a living winning bike races does it really matter? Most cyclist on the road I see could use a few months of weight training and alternative exercises to build cardio and lose their man boobs. I'm just saying.... Unless your an elite biker, the benefits of some weight training is going to far exceed any negative effects on your bike performance. Just my opinion.
I am with you on this 100%. I would rather look like an athlete and be in shape and have someone race pass me on the way to the coffee stop then have arms like Andy Schleck and be the fastest guy in the retirement home.

Nobody is paying me to ride a bike or lift weights. I do it because I like the way it makes me feel and it is fun and that goes for both cycling and weight lifting.
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Old 06-26-12, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbon Unit View Post
Nobody is paying me to ride a bike or lift weights. I do it because I like the way it makes me feel and it is fun and that goes for both cycling and weight lifting.
Worth repeating. Both have benefits.
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Old 06-26-12, 05:45 PM
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Bottom line - don't lift weights to get any faster on the bike. It might seem like it should help, but it doesn't.

Even the endless 'core strength' cycling fanboys out there have it wrong. You don't need much of a 'core' on the bike. You can do more reps or max lifts of squats, deadlifts, pullups, abdmoinal crunches, and Mr. scrawny biker (cue Michael Rasmussen) would kill you on the bike if he's doing more cycling than you are. I'm so sick of hearing this 'core argument' to GET FASTER from nonracers (notice how it almost invariably comes from nonracers) that I want to throw up every time I hear it.

Yes, Lance has videos showing himself doing weight training. No, it didn't help him on the bike, and he even admitted in his failed final Tdf attempt that he'd probably accumulated too much 'beach muscle' for his own good which hurt him on the bike.

You get more comfortable riding on the bike for long distances by riding MORE. There is no magic weightlifting that will allow you to feel comfortable in your lower back on a 4 hour ride unless you do the ride itself. Just think of the physiology as well - why the heck would you need so much upper body strength to be comfortable on a bike? And no, you're all not so studly that you pull upwards with such massive force that you need that upper body strength. Zabriskie can TT on an aerobike with zero pulling up on his aerobars at 30+mph, so you don't need to jerk upwards so forcefully either.


And for all of you who think I'm just out to bash weightlifting - WRONG. I lifted weights very seriously in my younger days, and eve now, spend at least 2 hours per week doing upper body lifting just for overall quality of life and yes, the looks. I know a lot about weightlifting, and have even seen its effects from when I go from no lifting to lifting a lot, which gets me a nearly 33% increase in strength in all upper body and core motions. With ZERO bike gains.
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Old 06-26-12, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
Bottom line - don't lift weights to get any faster on the bike. It might seem like it should help, but it doesn't.

Even the endless 'core strength' cycling fanboys out there have it wrong. You don't need much of a 'core' on the bike. You can do more reps or max lifts of squats, deadlifts, pullups, abdmoinal crunches, and Mr. scrawny biker (cue Michael Rasmussen) would kill you on the bike if he's doing more cycling than you are. I'm so sick of hearing this 'core argument' to GET FASTER from nonracers (notice how it almost invariably comes from nonracers) that I want to throw up every time I hear it.

Yes, Lance has videos showing himself doing weight training. No, it didn't help him on the bike, and he even admitted in his failed final Tdf attempt that he'd probably accumulated too much 'beach muscle' for his own good which hurt him on the bike.

You get more comfortable riding on the bike for long distances by riding MORE. There is no magic weightlifting that will allow you to feel comfortable in your lower back on a 4 hour ride unless you do the ride itself. Just think of the physiology as well - why the heck would you need so much upper body strength to be comfortable on a bike? And no, you're all not so studly that you pull upwards with such massive force that you need that upper body strength. Zabriskie can TT on an aerobike with zero pulling up on his aerobars at 30+mph, so you don't need to jerk upwards so forcefully either.


And for all of you who think I'm just out to bash weightlifting - WRONG. I lifted weights very seriously in my younger days, and eve now, spend at least 2 hours per week doing upper body lifting just for overall quality of life and yes, the looks. I know a lot about weightlifting, and have even seen its effects from when I go from no lifting to lifting a lot, which gets me a nearly 33% increase in strength in all upper body and core motions. With ZERO bike gains.
I for one never said that core training would make you faster but it will benefit a cyclist. I use to have a lot of back pain and based on the recommendation of my chiropractor, I started doing a lot of core work and the back pain went away. I think weight training and core training will reduce fatigue but it won't make someone one faster.
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Old 06-26-12, 06:43 PM
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Depends upon what kind of "fast" you want. If you want faster top-speed in a match-sprint or keirin, weight-training is essential. If you want +35mph sprints at the end of a 100-mile race, weight-training will help you get to the end with less fatigue, giving you more in reserve. It may not help that much in average-speed on a 35-mile TT. But will help you maintain that speed if you want to do 35-mile TTs 10-days in a row.

Every single rider that has won the Tour de France, Olympics, any competitive single-day or stage event, has incorporated weight-lifting and strengthening exercises into their training programme. As do the coaches that trained these riders. I think they know something they're not sharing...

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Old 06-26-12, 07:02 PM
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Years ago the conventional wisdom was that football player shouldn't lift weight. Now they all lift. Then, it was boxers that would be ruined if they lifted. They too now lift weights. I think every athlete will benefit from resistance training.
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Old 06-26-12, 07:14 PM
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[QUOTEAdded bulk from lifting is going to hurt your climbing.[/QUOTE]

I highly disagree with this statement. I do strength training every day. I do three routines so each muscle group can rest. When I do legs I do squats, leg press, leg extension, hamstring curls, adduction and abduction machines, and various calve exercises. I also do a lot of cardio (spin bike, and elliptical), yoga and stretching after each workout. All my gym training has improved my biking endurance, climbing abilities, and power. I may still be slow but I can suffer longer.
just google strength training for cyclists, In fact every successful athlete no matter the discipline "cross-trains" year round. just check your favorite athletes blog.
Heres just one article.
https://velonews.competitor.com/2010/...od-idea_139198

my 2cents.
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Old 06-26-12, 07:21 PM
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Link: Resistance Training with Chris Carmichael.

Carmichael doesn't prescribe weight training to gain power, only to gain strength. Power is then obtained through specific training -- i.e. training on the bike. That is why he uses the term "resistance training" rather than just "weight training".
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Old 06-26-12, 08:49 PM
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This subject has been beat in the ground but usually in the winter. From everything I've read in studies plus posts from very knowledgable people here and other places, weight lifting helps with overall strength, balance, and avoiding injuries but does very little or cycling except for track racers as ML said.
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Old 06-26-12, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ArchEtech View Post
Unless you make a living winning bike races does it really matter? Most cyclist on the road I see could use a few months of weight training and alternative exercises to build cardio and lose their man boobs. I'm just saying.... Unless your an elite biker, the benefits of some weight training is going to far exceed any negative effects on your bike performance. Just my opinion.
Well doing both bike training and weight training, both aspects suffer. Hard to do heavy squats when your legs are still sore from the previous ride.

Don't get me wrong, although I am skinny, I do have some upper body muscle! I still do strength workouts in bike season, just not at the same intensity I used to (and will continue in fall/winter)

I just found trying to increase in strength / muscle build and get faster on a bike is very hard to do at the same time.
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Old 06-26-12, 11:07 PM
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I don't want to engage in semantics, but weight lifting and strength training are not the same thing. Weight lifting is usually about mass, for the most part, while strength training is about, well, strengthening muscles, usually through using lighter weights and focusing on repetitions.

I have said it before, strength training makes me a better overall athlete, which then results in being a better cyclist. Did it make me faster, well, I can't categorically say that, but I know that I can ride longer, and my recovery is better after those long rides. Also, it has resulted in making my life easier in all my physical activities (tennis, hiking, squash etc).

I have never been an elite athlete, but from what I've read and seen, there is really not much difference among elite athletes skill-wise, as it usually boils down to the winners having a little edge. That edge can come from strength training, visualization, having more courage, monastic living (no alcohol, cigarettes etc) and old fashion sufferama, ie the ability to withstand pain and suffering better than the next guy.

So, if we come from the premise that being a better athlete is the goal, then at some time, strength training has to be a part of the equation, but as a cyclist, you can strength train all you want, but if you don't put in the saddle time, it ain't happening.

Capiche?
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Old 06-26-12, 11:19 PM
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I lift 3x/wk, ride 3x/wk. I'll most likely do 2x lift/4x ride soon.



I lift now for maintenance, not for building.
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Old 06-27-12, 02:19 AM
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I'll throw in my $.02. You've seen immediates most likely since you just started. Like everything else, you'll plateau and they will diminish until you do something new. As an amateur rider, the true impacts on your cycling probably won't be huge. You may need to buy some bigger clothes, but otherwise we're not talking huge changes. I do some light lifting just cause it's boring riding the spin bike here all the time. My routine is stolen from part of a cross-fit routine, and it's basically 5 deadlifts, 5 rows, 5 military press, 5 squats, repeated for 5 set adding more weight each time. Each exercise is done consecutively, and I add pushups at the end for chest. I haven't gained any mass really, but I'm getting stronger for sure.

Anyway, enjoy yourself.
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