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Old 06-05-09, 12:09 AM   #1
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Riding 20 Miles a Day. Losing leg muscle?

I've been riding my commuter hybrid bike for the past week now about every single day. I usually ride about 20 miles or so a day. Non-stop, I do about 5 or 6 miles at a time.

I've been told by my friend/student health guru that you're not supposed to work out the same muscle everyday, because you need a day or two for recovery.

Does this mean that if I ride everyday, 20 miles a day, 5 days a week, that I'll lose muscle mass, strength, or anything like that because I don't take a recovery day? What would be the best way to counteract if that's the case? (I must ride everyday to commute. I hate the bus. :[ )
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Old 06-05-09, 12:14 AM   #2
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You can ride 20 miles a day, 5 days a week. It won't hurt you. Just wait till you start riding centuries (100 miles) on the weekend.
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Old 06-05-09, 01:28 AM   #3
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This type of advice is correct, if you're primarily talking about anaerobic activity. When you perform exercise to failure, which I seriously hope doesn't happen to you on a bike (because you then have bigger problems), your body needs lots of rest to recover. If you're a weightlifter, then your friend is correct that you generally need at least a day's rest. It's during this time that your body adapts to the stimulus. The stimulus from a 20 mile ride is not nearly the same, nor is the wear on the muscles; we're talking an aerobic activity you do for an hour instead of maybe half a minute. I think 4-5 days a week is fine for someone starting out. But you should definitely take a couple of days off a week. Your cv system, muscles, joints, and nervous system all need rest. At this point, just back off if you feel tired or unusually tight or sore.

Exercising every day won't make you waste away or anything. Unless you're really sprinting to work, you're primarily working your heart, which doesn't need as much recovery. You just won't get the full training benefit, and you set yourself up for injuries and risk bailing on your exercise plan. You will temporarily lose strength once you get fatigued. Days off also help fight mental fatigue.

If you have to ride every day, and the ride does fatigue you, leave yourself a little extra time say on Wed or Thurs (assuming Wed is the middle of the week for you) and spin nice and easy. Won't get the HR up too high or tax the muscles much. Overall, if you can handle the ride easily, I wouldn't worry.

Last edited by tadawdy; 06-05-09 at 01:36 AM.
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Old 06-06-09, 07:58 PM   #4
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also, be sure your meals are rich in whole food protein. on top of that I drink a homemade protein recovery shake after every ride; weight training session; run or swim session. my formula is 1 scoop of whey protein powder and 4 ozs of fruit juice. I prep them when i can't make one and carry them in small tonic water bottles in a cooler nag with a small ice pack.
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Old 06-06-09, 08:04 PM   #5
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You don't need a recovery drink for 20 miles of commuting a day, 5 or 6 miles at a time.
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Old 06-07-09, 08:45 AM   #6
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Riding 20 miles per day will not hurt you. You should gain leg muscle mass. I have ridden many more miles than that per day for long periods of time. I am assuming that you are not doing something really extreme like sprinting until your leg muscles are quivering.

You also do not need any special diet. A healthy diet is plenty to sustain that level of activity.

Normal vigorous daily aerobic exercise will not hurt you.
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Old 06-07-09, 07:55 PM   #7
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Just eat more, of healthy food that is, and you'll be fine. Protein is key for preserving and building muscle.

If your losing weight, just eat a little more.
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