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Too much cycling is inhibiting my gains

Old 12-20-17, 08:08 PM
  #1  
Daniel4
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Too much cycling is inhibiting my gains

I cycle everyday. On gym days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) I cycle to the gym which is only 4km away. Non-gym days I either take long trips from 30km to 50km round trip or stay close by around 8 km away for a 16km round trip.

This is my routine:
alternate between squat and deadlift;
dumbell press (I've had two shoulder injuries with bench presses already)
sitting dumbell shoulder press
machine flys (dumbell flys can damage the shoulder too)
and some other exercises to add variation
Because cycling is a cardio exercise, too much of it will consume muscle. However, I want to increase muscle mass as I am a small person and as I age I simply need to maintain it and to maintain bone density.

I had a chat with a trainer who told me to set a 12 to 16 week goal for what I want to achieve. Aside from gaining more strength and more weight I don't know what else I should aim for. He also mentioned that the cycling I do is eating away at the gains I make weight training.

In the past two months I can feel improvements with the weights I am lifting and pressing. But it does seem the progress is slow. I've mixed my routine with 1) light weights, high and fast reps (up to 30) to failure & fatigue; 2) heavy weights, slow and low reps (3 to 7) until I'm shaking. I've increased my body weight by 2 to 4 pounds.

Here are my stats:

Age 56
height 5ft 7in
weight 139lb

I'm not going to give up cycling. I also know that I will never achieve anywhere near Mr. Universe physique even if I don't ever cycle again. I don't know what an achievable goal should be except to continue with what I'm doing inching up in my weight and strength.

Any additional insights and ideas?

Last edited by Daniel4; 12-21-17 at 08:32 AM.
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Old 12-21-17, 04:44 AM
  #2  
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I think what you're doing strength training wise sounds good enough. But I'd find a good program to stick with (I like starting strenght myself) and when you stop progressing with that switch to a different more advanced one. I don't know that much about different program variations, but the thing about programs is that you need to stick with them rather than dilly dallying with various different things. Don't mix things up if you don't have a reason for it. You'll progress even if you do a different kind of workout every time you're at the gym but it'll be slower than if you put your efforts into one kind of training type. When you're good at that you can then pick another program which has a different style and get good at another thing.

At your age muscle gain is not going to be that fast in any case. However people who really, really want fast muscle gain usually put 4-6 days into strength training. But that them requires some changes in nutrition as well, ie. you need to eat a ton. But that kind of gym intensity is not for beginners and probably requires a good overall physique and conditioning to be able to handle the stresses such training puts on your body.

Overall I think what you're doing is great. For optimal health the body needs both cardio and strength training. I also don't think your current level of cardio is doing anything to inhibit your gains. You'd need to be pretty close to your recovery limit for that to happen. You riding every day can do that, but the distances you ride do not seem that long, except if you're riding at very high intensity.

But whatever you do decide to do, make sure your technique is on par. Get a trainer to teach you if you have to, or read the starting strength book. Two shoulder injuries from bench pressing heavily suggests bad technique.
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Old 12-21-17, 04:50 AM
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If your goal is to build as much strength and muscle as possible then you need to limit the amount of cardio that you do and prioritize weights for a couple of weeks or months. You don't have to quit riding but just limit the time and distance you spend on your bike and focus on weights...It's extremely difficult for most people to put on mass and do a lot of cardio at the same time, you also need to eat big and be in caloric surplus. The older you get the more difficult it becomes to put on muscle. At 56 your body is not going to recover as fast, as if you were 26. Prioritize your goals, pick a routine , stay with it for a few weeks or months and don't try to do too many things at the same time.
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Old 12-21-17, 05:10 AM
  #4  
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Originally Posted by elcruxio
Two shoulder injuries from bench pressing heavily suggests bad technique.

Not necessarily true...Sometimes shoulder injuries happen because people neglect training their shoulders and their back, especially the upper back. Back muscles play an extremely important role in keeping the shoulders strong and healthy. For every pressing movement you should be doing 2-3 pulling movements. Modern lifestyle is not really all that healthy for shoulders. Sitting at the desk in a hunched over position, and even cycling in hunched over position is not all that healthy for the shoulders. People should be doing more exercises to improve their posture and strengthen the upper back and it would go a long way to preventing shoulder problems.
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Old 12-21-17, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4

Any additional insights and ideas?

Pretty simple, just eat more. Opposite of trying to lose weight.

Riding 4k two times isn't "cardio" unless you're straight off the couch with no recent exercise. Yours is a calorie-issue, not a cardio issue.
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Old 12-21-17, 08:23 AM
  #6  
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join a weight training forum
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Old 12-21-17, 08:52 AM
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Thanks for all your input.

I'm already in a weight training forum where I learned alot about the basic barbell exercises (https://exrx.net/forum/). I thought I’d post here to get advice from cyclists’ perspective like myself.

Needless to say (but I’m going to anyways), I’ve read a lot from other sources in the internet including youtube. My go-to training is Athlean X.

Originally Posted by wolfchild
...For every pressing movement you should be doing 2-3 pulling movements. ....
I forgot to mention that I also do the dumbell row.

When I mentioned various other exercises, I meant the additional suggestions from Athlean X to cover areas I may have neglected, finishers or extras to get out more from your muscle group you are focusing. Now when I do a bench press, I’m holding the bar underhand (palms facing towards my head).

Then I realize my four basic exercises can balloon to eight and with additional variations to the basic four, I’m at the gym for 2 hours.
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Old 12-21-17, 11:46 AM
  #8  
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As a 56 y/o ectomorph, you'll never get huge. Sorry! You can definitely look more "athletic" and get substantially stronger. Sounds like you have a good routine. I'd kill the flys and switch to 2 days/week at some point (yes, one less day - I assume you're trying for all-around good shape, not Mr. Olympia). Add one set of curls and one set of a tricep exercise to failure if you want the beach muscle arms. As you stated, be careful about adding accessories as one more quick set quickly leads to unsustainable 2 hour workouts.

As for the cycling hurting lifting, so what? If you're truly trying to optimize one, that's true. Want to get huge (or is it fat?)? Google the GOMAD diet - gallon of whole milk a day. No thanks. Keep it thin and you'll live longer with less nagging injuries.
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Old 12-21-17, 12:00 PM
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Conventional wisdom says that when you lift in the range of 3-5 reps you're training primarily on strength, some of which is neurological. For optimal muscular hypertrophy you should aim for 8-10 reps, but closer to 8 than 10. Higher than 12 and you're training for muscular endurance, which is not what you want. So first off, I'd lose those high rep exercises. Here's a good read:

https://www.bodyrecomposition.com/tr...phy-zone.html/

You won't gain a lot of muscle mass. You can blame your parents for that your genetic makeup. And you won't gain them very quickly. Blame your declining testosterone level for that. But if you eat clean and are diligent and disciplined about hitting the weights you can still make some gains.

The cardio isn't going to help you achieve your goal one way or another, but I am skeptical that riding a bike for a couple of hours is going to do much to sabotage your efforts in that regard.

For reference sake, I'm probably built like you as well--5'9", 145lbs, but because of my low body fat (less than 10%) I appear to have more muscle mass than I actually do.
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Old 12-21-17, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Goldsbar
Keep it thin and you'll live longer
& easier to maintain?
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Old 12-21-17, 01:15 PM
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I started lifting at about your age. It sounds like you're clear on your goals. A few comments:

IMO what counts is strength, not muscle mass. Work on strength. The way to get strong (and also increase muscle mass) is to lift to failure. Every exercise, on the last set, lift until you can't complete the lift with good form. That said, I don't do that on squats, rather I lift until I feel I'm going to fail the next rep.

One injury can ruin your whole season. Injuries are easy to come by in the gym because our tendons and ligaments lag behind our muscles in getting stronger. My advice to those starting a strength program is to spend the first year doing nothing but 30 rep sets. I did a routine straight out of Cyclists Training Bible twice a week. I did these in circuits, 30 rep sets, not done fast rather powerful up and slow down, same weight each set, weight chosen that will limit my last set to ~28 reps at failure:
1-Squat
2-Seated row
3-Back extension
4-Leg sled
5-Bench press (bar or dumbbells, dumbbells maybe preferred)
6-One-legged calf raises (may not get 30)
7-Bent leg lifts on Roman Chair, knees come above hands
8-Stiff-legged dead lift
9-Lat pull-down
I did one circuit for a couple weeks, then 2 circuits, then 3 circuits. You'll be amazed.

The next year, start with 3 sets of 12, go to 4 sets of 10, then work your way down to 4 reps in April.

Much more detailed information here with a year's complete workout plans:
Introduction to strength training for the endurance athlete

What was the diagnosis on your shoulder injuries? Many people have impingement problems from not spending time as adults hanging from their hands. See: https://www.amazon.com/Shoulder-Solu...dp/1589096428/
Worked for me after I overdid it on the bench. Also keep your upper arms at ~45 to body centerline, not perpendicular.
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Old 12-21-17, 01:56 PM
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c'mon guys where are your chinups? throw in a simple 5x5 of chinups. palms toward you. easy peasy & great for biceps w/o annoying curls



Last edited by rumrunn6; 12-21-17 at 02:07 PM.
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Old 12-21-17, 02:30 PM
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Looking at your routine, you should do more back work. Rows, chins etc. You're doing several different pressing exercises, but really no pulling ones. I'd also add in some dedicated hamstring work on your squat days if you feel up to it.

I'd probably keep reps in the 8-12 range. Starting Strength, which has some things I disagree with, but is pretty good overall, recommends 5 reps for many exercises. I certainly wouldn't go higher than 12-15.

As others have said, cycling (or any other activity) competes with strength training for your body's recovery resources. Doing too much of one will limit progress in the other. Adjust your volumes based on your priorities.
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Old 12-21-17, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4
I forgot to mention that I also do the dumbell row.

That's not enough to keep your shoulders healthy if you're doing bench pressing and other types of pressing. Your back has many different muscles and one exercise is not enough. You need to include other types of rowing and exercises which target your upper back, traps and rear delts. I also recommend resistance band pull aparts or face pulls done with light resistance for very high reps.
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Old 12-21-17, 06:34 PM
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To prevent muscle imbalance injuries what you want to do is do pushing and pulling movements in different planes--straight up down (overhead presses, pull ups) to pushing slightly down (parallel bar dip, bentover rows), and pretty much every angle in between.
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Old 12-21-17, 06:37 PM
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Sooo...one thing I learned in 40 years of strength training is if you exercise your largest muscle groups regularly, it will do more to trigger gains in your smaller muscle groups than just doing a crapload of exercises on your smaller muscle groups alone. I.e. to get a big and/or strong upper body, also regularly train your legs.

Keith
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Old 12-21-17, 09:18 PM
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One more thing on the cycling and lifting. My best deadlift (355x5 @ 155ish while in my mid-40s - weak for a powerlifter, but I'll take it) was within 2 months of my one and only marathon. Go figure. I was making good gains and running lots of miles. Now, the last few weeks when I quit lifting and ramped up further, then I really lost a lot and never got back to that level.

It was actually nerve wracking. I feared my deadlift day the entire week. It felt like my whole spine was going to rip apart. Meanwhile, the record at 148 is just under 700 lbs! It's like cycling. Most people are within a vague range of each other. Then you have the really good people...then some that make them look slow...then the few that are significantly faster then them...then the pros that make them all look slow.
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Old 12-22-17, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Goldsbar
Most people are within a vague range of each other. Then you have the really good people...then some that make them look slow...then the few that are significantly faster then them...then the pros that make them all look slow.

At about the 20 minute mark the presenter starts analyzing career top ten finishes of pros that participate in the world's most prestigious races. Of those top pros:

* 78% have never even placed once in the top ten during their entire careers,
* 8% have only ever placed once,
* 3% have placed twice,
* and the percentage gets progressively smaller as the number of career top ten finishes increases.

This analysis only looks at top ten, not wins, which would probably make the percentages even worse, but by comparison, Eddy Merckx won 525 races in his career.

Keith
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Old 12-22-17, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by trainsktg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUuwBfXDlTs

At about the 20 minute mark the presenter starts analyzing career top ten finishes of pros that participate in the world's most prestigious races. Of those top pros:

* 78% have never even placed once in the top ten during their entire careers,
* 8% have only ever placed once,
* 3% have placed twice,
* and the percentage gets progressively smaller as the number of career top ten finishes increases.

This analysis only looks at top ten, not wins, which would probably make the percentages even worse, but by comparison, Eddy Merckx won 525 races in his career.

Keith
Merckx was a beast.
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Old 12-22-17, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by trainsktg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUuwBfXDlTs

At about the 20 minute mark the presenter starts analyzing career top ten finishes of pros that participate in the world's most prestigious races. Of those top pros:

* 78% have never even placed once in the top ten during their entire careers,
* 8% have only ever placed once,
* 3% have placed twice,
* and the percentage gets progressively smaller as the number of career top ten finishes increases.

This analysis only looks at top ten, not wins, which would probably make the percentages even worse, but by comparison, Eddy Merckx won 525 races in his career.

Keith
Wow! This is why I always laugh at racing "strategy." If you don't have the horsepower and you're barely holding on for the last lap of a crit, you're not going to win when others are able to pull off a full sprint. Becomes even more obvious in hilly races.
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Old 12-26-17, 09:53 AM
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Eat more.

Drop the high rep stuff in favor of low rep high weight.

Continue cycling.
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Old 12-26-17, 10:24 AM
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One other reason why people stall their progress in the gym is because they've been following the same routine for too long. After few weeks your body adapts to a routine and it becomes more and more difficult to make progress. Another thing is that, the longer you've been training the more difficult it becomes to improve and make progress, only NEWBIES make fast gains....Make few changes to your routine every few weeks. You can keep the same exercises but just make some changes on how you perform them... Examples: change your rep ranges and sets, change your rest times between sets, change the amount of weights you're using, make changes to your intensity. There are so many different ways of doing things and sometimes you need to stop following the "traditional routines which everybody else is doing" and think outside the box and follow some unconventional training in order to bust through plateaus and make progress.
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Old 12-27-17, 02:48 AM
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First of all, your weightlifting routine sucks. Read some training articles by Bill Starr and base your program around something like that. Ditch the 30 rep stuff as it's a waste of time. Never, and I mean NEVER, train until failure. It's the dumbest bodybuilding advice anyone can give and for some reason unbeknownst to me it's still given. Pay attention to your total training loads. If your training loads are going up and your lifts are improving ... YOU are improving and that will translate to muscle and weight gain. Go by the NUMBERS and not subjective seat of the pants notions.

Also, the "pump" is nothing more than muscle fatigue. Big people lift big weights and eat big. They don't worry about the pump. That's what little people do to feel big. It's just not that important to building size and strength.

Workout Systems: Bill Starr?s 5x5 Program | Poliquin Article

Did I mention quit training to failure? All that does is tax the nervous system and impede recovery.
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Old 12-27-17, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild
One other reason why people stall their progress in the gym is because they've been following the same routine for too long. After few weeks your body adapts to a routine and it becomes more and more difficult to make progress. Another thing is that, the longer you've been training the more difficult it becomes to improve and make progress, only NEWBIES make fast gains....Make few changes to your routine every few weeks. You can keep the same exercises but just make some changes on how you perform them... Examples: change your rep ranges and sets, change your rest times between sets, change the amount of weights you're using, make changes to your intensity.
I'm not disagreeing with this, just cautioning against taking it too far. Somebody gave me the good advice of always doing your lifts in the same order. If you squat before you bench, do it that way every time. That way when you add weight to the bar, you know it's because you got stronger, not because you were more fresh that day because you didn't squat first.

Same person suggested some of what @wolfchild is talking about, like changing between 5x5 and 3x8 schemes for almost the same volume, when you hit a plateau.
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Old 12-27-17, 11:48 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Doctor Morbius
Pay attention to your total training loads. If your training loads are going up and your lifts are improving ... YOU are improving and that will translate to muscle and weight gain. Go by the NUMBERS and not subjective seat of the pants notions.
This is weight lifting not cycling. The plates have numbers on them, that's how much they weigh. You should be recording what you lifted, and increasing it, and ideally even using something like an app or spreadsheet that can show a chart of your progress. There's no reason to guess or go by feel, the weights have numbers right on them.

(Sometimes I tell people a power meter is a little bit like the numbers printed on weights at the gym.)
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