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Weight training for balance

Old 07-02-13, 09:12 PM
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RWBlue01
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Weight training for balance

As I increase my miles, should I be weight training to balance the muscles on the front of my body with the back?
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Old 07-03-13, 02:24 AM
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What? Balance the front with the back? I don't think you'll find that cycling overdevelops the muscles in your back.

Opinions vary on the usefulness of weight training for cyclists. Cycling is primarily an aerobic activity, leg strength is rarely the limiting factor, but plenty of very experienced and successful racers say they see benefits from doing strength training in the off-season.

One thing that is worth thinking about is the demands on different leg muscles. Cycling and running use those muscles in very different ways. Personally I run once a week, not because it helps my cycling (it may even hurt it) but just to give those underused muscles a different workout. Plus, cycling tends to shorten the hamstrings, so try to be diligent about stretching in order to keep them, and the hip flexors, loose. And core stability is helpful in any sport, so core exercises - squats, push-ups, planks, burpees - are all good.
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Old 07-03-13, 03:18 AM
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I'm not sure if it is the same for cyclists, but runners who don't weight train can develop a look where there legs are very muscular and toned and there arms look weird by comparison. In my opinion at least.
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Old 07-03-13, 04:42 AM
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Originally Posted by RyderTheRider View Post
I'm not sure if it is the same for cyclists, but runners who don't weight train can develop a look where there legs are very muscular and toned and there arms look weird by comparison. In my opinion at least.
If it's looks you're after, you may have a point. If you want to be a top road cyclist, upper-body muscle is a handicap: it just adds weight. You want to aspire to this.
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Old 07-03-13, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by RyderTheRider View Post
I'm not sure if it is the same for cyclists, but runners who don't weight train can develop a look where there legs are very muscular and toned and there arms look weird by comparison. In my opinion at least.
Any definition in runners legs is primarily due to genetics and body fat %. Distance running, like cycling will not result in muscle hypertrophy. If you see a runner who has disproportionately larger legs than arms it's likely he was born that way.
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Old 07-03-13, 10:36 AM
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One of our club sponsors is a physical therapy practice that specializes in athletes. We get lectures from time to time from them on injury prevention and questions from our club centers around knees and back.

Cycling a lot does some amazingly bad things to ones body and certain genetics can tolerate it more than others. The role of the back muscles is to stabilize the spine and hold it in a neutral position. Many have a cycling posture that rounds the back putting it on constant flexion. This posture neutralizes the glutes which are the most powerful muscle group. A way to look at this is try to pick up a heavy weight by bending over and rounding your back. Most know that this technique puts a lot of strain on the back muscles and compresses the discs toward the nerve canal. The proper way to pick up something is to use one legs and keep the back straight and with a slight extension. This posture uses the glutes to do the majority of the work. Balance requires the muscles on the side of the body to engage as well.

So cyclists can develop sore backs due to bad posture on the bike and actually begin to lose the control of the hip due to the repetitive motion of cycling. Also, bad posture can overdevelop the quads. Then propulsion is principally by the quad with a counterforce in the back - very bad. However, one can be fast doing this. Just not for many years.

The fix is roman chair work to strengthen the the ham strings and glutes while maintaining the back in extension - isometric. Side planks and rubber band work where one puts a large rubber band around the feet and walk sideways, bridges and other core work.
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Old 07-03-13, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
What? Balance the front with the back? I don't think you'll find that cycling overdevelops the muscles in your back.
I am thinking just the opposite.

You are leaning forward doing a long pushup. It should develop your pecks and other push muscles.

I am wondering if I need to do something like rows to balance things out.

Sitting at the computer all day, I am thinking my shoulders are rolling forward.
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Old 07-03-13, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by RWBlue01 View Post
I am thinking just the opposite.

You are leaning forward doing a long pushup. It should develop your pecks and other push muscles.

I am wondering if I need to do something like rows to balance things out.

Sitting at the computer all day, I am thinking my shoulders are rolling forward.
If you are putting enough weight on the handlebar to give your pecs a workout, you are doing it wrong. See Hermes' post above.
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Old 07-03-13, 04:16 PM
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Hermes is of course correct. I'll add to that from my experience.

My abs never get sore riding, nor have I talked to anyone whose do. I find that cycling long distances puts quite a strain even on a straight or on an as-straight-as-I-can-get-it back. So I do back work at the gym to strengthen my back and abs, with about a 4/1 ratio between back and ab work, counting squats, sled, rows, pull-downs, straight legged deadlifts, and back extensions as back work. Glute work does't stop at my glutes, it goes on up my back. Similarly, getting out over my tips when alpine skiing, even with a straight back, is a considerable back strain, or properly speaking, a back stress.

I used to do benches at the gym, but the last few years have given them up in favor of simple pushups since they are a better analogue of cycling and also involve core work. Next time you're on your bike, feel your pecs and lats. They are definitely contracted. I don't do any biceps work, since they are definitely not contracted or at least only for short periods. Maybe pro sprinters do biceps work, I don't know.

However that may be with core and upper body work, I believe that cycling can cause uneven development of the leg muscles. How many knee pain threads have we seen on this and other BF forums? 50 per year? They are almost all related to uneven leg muscle development or muscle development through an inappropriate or limited range of motion. I think some cross training is very helpful to prevent these sorts of overuse injuries. Hiking is very good. At the gym, the Stepmill or Stairway To Hell is very helpful. Also squats, leg press, lunges, and straight-legged dead lifts.

Though I do most of my weight training during the winter, even during the season I try to get to the gym to do 1/2 hour of strength maintenance with some of these exercises once a week.
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Old 07-03-13, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by RWBlue01 View Post
I am thinking just the opposite.

You are leaning forward doing a long pushup. It should develop your pecks and other push muscles.

I am wondering if I need to do something like rows to balance things out.

Sitting at the computer all day, I am thinking my shoulders are rolling forward.
Essentially, you should be riding with almost no weight on your hands. Your core muscles -- around the stomach and the back should be bear most of the effort to keep your body in position.

There was a great shot of Simon Gerrans in the yellow jersey on his bike in the Tour de France stage just gone. One of the things that struck me was his almost extraordinarily straight back. He was riding on the hoods. His posture has come from many thousands of miles or riding and great attention to his form throughout.

There are certain muscle balance issues, and this is probably an issue of definition of the word -- that there is a concentration on the development of some major muscle groups to the detriment of others. The "shortening" of hamstrings is well known, and that can lead to lower back issues. I think the "cyclist's stoop" when a rider stands and walks is one of these symptoms.

Imbalance in the thigh muscles also is another one that can cause patella issues.

Unless you are into racing, and it doesn't sound as though you are, I would suggest an all-round weights regimen might be beneficial. Look for some of the posts by Carbonfibreboy on this subject over the past six months or so. He is a randonneur and touring cyclist, so you would probably regard him as a good all-rounder without the racing, and he seems to have a handle on this.
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Old 07-03-13, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
Unless you are into racing, and it doesn't sound as though you are, I would suggest an all-round weights regimen might be beneficial. Look for some of the posts by Carbonfibreboy on this subject over the past six months or so. He is a randonneur and touring cyclist, so you would probably regard him as a good all-rounder without the racing, and he seems to have a handle on this.
Flat feet
Scoliosis
Lower doosis
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Getting old
Of course I race. All the time. Down steep hills past skinny people.

I am just working on getting in better shape. I hope to do a week long tour later this year and I am building to it. I just don't want to screw myself up before I can get in better shape.
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Old 07-03-13, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by RWBlue01 View Post
Flat feet
Scoliosis
Lower doosis
40#+ over weight
Getting old
Of course I race. All the time. Down steep hills past skinny people.

I am just working on getting in better shape. I hope to do a week long tour later this year and I am building to it. I just don't want to screw myself up before I can get in better shape.
More importantly than anything else... does your bike fit you properly? Sometimes, improper bike fit causes what appear to be muscle issues that can be easily solved by moving something about by a half-inch/centimetre or so. Pressure on the hands is one symptom.
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Old 07-03-13, 10:45 PM
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Since cycling is not the only activity many cyclists participate in I would suggest that weight training is essential to all around strength and fitness. Just doing the basic strength exercises like squats, dead lifts, pull ups, overhead presses etc adds much to any training regimen.
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Old 07-04-13, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
More importantly than anything else... does your bike fit you properly? Sometimes, improper bike fit causes what appear to be muscle issues that can be easily solved by moving something about by a half-inch/centimetre or so. Pressure on the hands is one symptom.
At one point, I think both bikes fit me. Then I got out of shape. As I get back in shape, I am trying to adjust things to fit again. I have changed several things in the past 24 hours, so ... Now I need to pack up for a long ride.
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Old 07-04-13, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by RWBlue01 View Post
At one point, I think both bikes fit me. Then I got out of shape. As I get back in shape, I am trying to adjust things to fit again. I have changed several things in the past 24 hours, so ... Now I need to pack up for a long ride.
OK, so really, we are talking about the need for riding the bike rather than undertaking a weights regimen. Getting your fit right is paramount, and that then feeds into a natural strengthening of your core as you ride.

To be honest, in all the riding I have done, I have used weights only sporadically. The muscle development for riding has come from... riding.
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Old 07-04-13, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
OK, so really, we are talking about the need for riding the bike rather than undertaking a weights regimen. Getting your fit right is paramount, and that then feeds into a natural strengthening of your core as you ride.

To be honest, in all the riding I have done, I have used weights only sporadically. The muscle development for riding has come from... riding.
No, I ride. I like to ride. If it wasn't for riding I wouldn't be getting back in shape. I am finally in shape enough to commute multiple days in a row.

What I wanted to do is make sure I wasn't missing a step and wasn't going to be posting about how I messed up my (name a body part) because the other parts were in shape and that part wasn't.

Or be funnier looking than I already am. Like the body builders who only work on the upper half.

BTW, At this point I think I have my answer. I will continue to ride. I will attempt to diet. (Not very good at the diet part.) I will probably lift weights, but I don't have to lift to continue to ride.
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Old 07-04-13, 06:43 PM
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Cycling a lot of miles will cause you to lose some muscle, as will aging, dieting, etc. Without weight bearing exercise there is also bone loss to think about. Lifting is a good idea for many reasons other than cycling.
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Old 07-05-13, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
If it's looks you're after, you may have a point. If you want to be a top road cyclist, upper-body muscle is a handicap: it just adds weight. You want to aspire to this.
Yea, I'll take the looks.
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Old 07-05-13, 10:51 AM
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For me, personally, 6 weeks of excruciating physical therapy clearly demonstrated my own need to keep all muscles in balance.

Last summer I dramatically increased my weekly mileage and number of centuries (did 5). Kept up with my core and upper body conditioning but figured that the cycling, especially hill work, would take care of the lower body. When the snows fell and I started snowshoeing and more hiking, I developed a piercing pain in my left hip joint. What I thought was arthritis creeping in (I turn 60 this year) turned out to be very weak hip abductors and adductors compared to much stronger glutes, resulting in an outward turning of the legs in the hip socket.

Physical therapy was required to bring everything back in line but I've continued with the assigned exercises. The difference in my cycling has been noticeable. My average pace and cadence is faster, and I'm stronger on hills. A few weeks ago I finished a double metric at the same average pace at which I had ridden last years centuries.
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