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Riding position for training/fitness?

Old 04-28-23, 11:54 AM
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Riding position for training/fitness?

I started another thread in General about what makes a bike well-suited to fitness riding. I got a lot of answers that basically said "any bike." So I'm asking my question here about how I can train better. I'm looking for cardio benefits, and an increase in muscle strength. I want to maintain and improve my performance backpacking, climbing, paddling, and cycle touring. I'm 50 yo., 5'8", 135 lbs, with no fat, so I'm not looking for weight loss. I work out at the gym 3 days a week. In the winter, I was doing weights as well as time on the elliptical, stair machine, or rower. I intend to keep up the resistance training with weights at the gym, but I want to work on cardio and build muscular endurance cycling outdoors because I enjoy the outdoors more than the gym.

My bicycles are upright recreational style, almost cruisers. That's how I like to ride when I tour -- not face down focused on pedaling. Now according to the other thread, this kind of bike would be good for fitness. I'm not sure I believe that but I'm not just looking for confirmation or validation. I'm not convinced either way. If I ride upright, am I not mostly developing the quads? I'm sure I can do the cardio irrespective of the seating position. Would I get any muscular benefit from putting drop bars on the bike or am I unlikely to involve the glutes even if I changed my position? For a non-competitive casual cyclist, does seating position matter for anything but aero?
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Old 04-28-23, 12:46 PM
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I think you are overthinking this. The right bike is the one you will ride. As for muscle recruitment, I don't' think position has a huge effect so long as leg extension is about right. Muscle recruitment is mostly a between the ears thing, IMO. A comfortable position on a bike that fits encourages more riding, which is what counts the most. Again, the right bike is the one you will ride.
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Old 04-28-23, 12:52 PM
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I just answered in the General forum. IMO, it's not "any bike," not al all.
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Old 04-28-23, 01:31 PM
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If you're worried about mostly exercising your quads, try consciously pulling back at the bottom of your pedal stroke (clipless pedals help a lot). But remember, cardio isn't focused on which large muscles you're using, but rather on using them so much that you heart has to work harder.

Overthinking it? Get up from the keyboard and go for a bike ride!
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Old 04-29-23, 01:01 PM
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The biggest overall benefit of cycling is cardiovascular and maybe some lung function if riding encourages you to breath deeper. For muscle fitness you are only going to get that in your legs. And since turning those cranks doesn't work your legs through their complete range of motion then there is a lot to be done off the bike if overall fitness is your goal.

Most any bike, as I mentioned in your other thread can be considered a fitness bike. And that's going to be the bike you'll get on and ride the longest and most often. Changing your desired riding position won't do a thing to make you fitter. Changing your riding position might be advisable if your desired goals of performance aren't being met. But changing your position won't work significantly different muscle groups or significantly increase anything about your overall fitness... unless that change also encourages you to ride more. But still you are leaving out a large percentage of your muscle groups that riding a bike will never do anything for.

Pushing the pedals doesn't give you adequate resistance training for those muscles. If it does, then you are doing it wrong and will likely (IMO) have knee issues later in life and most certainly will be doing short rides because you simply wear yourself out too soon.

So when you keep saying the word fitness, what is your definition of fitness and what are your goals that you want to achieve?

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Old 05-02-23, 10:07 AM
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Goals? I think I described that as best as I can. I'm looking for cardio benefits, and an increase in muscle strength. I want to maintain and improve my performance backpacking, climbing, paddling, skiing and cycle touring. I'm 50 yo., 5'8", 135 lbs, with no fat, so I'm not looking for weight loss. I work out at the gym 3 days a week. In the winter, I was doing weights as well as time on the elliptical, stair machine, or rower. I intend to keep up the resistance training with weights at the gym, but I want to work on cardio and build muscular endurance cycling outdoors because I enjoy the outdoors more than the gym.

So it would seem that I should keep doing resistance training with weights and not worry about building muscular endurance on the bike since it will never activate enough muscle groups. I can ride my touring bike for cardio instead of the elliptical or stair machine and I don't need to make any changes to it.
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Old 05-02-23, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by greatbasin
So it would seem that I should keep doing resistance training with weights and not worry about building muscular endurance on the bike since it will never activate enough muscle groups.
Well, your legs are your biggest muscles, and I wouldn't discount the ability of cycling to build muscle endurance and strength in your legs.

Now that the weather is better, I've started doing my regular 2-hour climbs. The soreness in my quads tell me it's working.
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Old 05-02-23, 12:13 PM
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Cycling does virtually nothing for the hip muscles involved in supporting the back. This is a major area of vulnerability.
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