bigger = faster??



steve kaspar

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Apr 28, 2009
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like any athlete, i am always trying to find out ways to improve.
on a weightlifting site i visit, a great coach insists the bigger the athlete, the stronger more powerful..
i guess bigger muscles= more power for faster riding..
a strength powerlifting coach, that always seems to say cyclists should listen to his advice and get bigger..
personally i lift weights to be stronger, and have been since i was a kid..
whatever sport i played i lifted to help me get strionger in the sport i was playing.
i read books where weights arnt the best thing for cyclists. i also read where in the winter your supose to do squats and leg presses. about 50/50 on coaches saying to lift and dont lift..
i remember andy hamsten saying he lifted for upper body training, not to get bigger, but overall strength, and did his power strength leg training on the bike.
i remember the dane, jesper skibby saying for 12 years he rode t his suppleness disapearing..
as a lowly cat 2 racer, i will continue to lift, doing my dips, pushups, pullups abs and benches and hang cleans as hard as i can, but legs, i stick to riding and training hard, with the racing too..
is it foolish not to get bigger per this coach? i told him in an email if bigger means faster stronger, why did mark cavandish beat thor every day with 200 to go when the were both even..
thors a lot bigger..
cavandish beat thor every sprint. he says a bigger motor gonna beat a smaller one . to do lots of lifting..

typical racing for me is 35-80 miles of rolling or flat..no 10 mile climbs at all.
i'm 6' 150#..been this way the last 40 years...any opinions?
thanks
steve
 

Alex Simmons

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Mar 12, 2006
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I guess that's why he's a "strength powerlifting" coach and not a cycling coach.

Not all that many interested in the weight lifting for bike debate anymore, it's been done to death a thousand times and there are plenty of threads on it.

Endurance cycling (i.e. anything at or longer than an individual pursuit) is an aerobic sport. Powerlifting is not.
 

steve

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Aug 12, 2001
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steve kaspar said:
like any athlete, i am always trying to find out ways to improve.
on a weightlifting site i visit, a great coach insists the bigger the athlete, the stronger more powerful..
i guess bigger muscles= more power for faster riding..

There used to be a featured thread here, its a good read if you skip over the personal attacks made by certain people.
 

steve kaspar

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Apr 28, 2009
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re: reading my first post.. a point about jesper skibby, a danish pro from a few years back. he said that for a dozen he rode year round. one year he tried to lift for his legs and he felt his suppleness in his pedal stroke disapearing..
i'll look up the old thread.
i even asked this coach why did one of the smallest guys after 2 1/2 weeks of racing, win the final tt. a race that usually favors bigger guys..
( if indeed bigger means faster stronger) i didnt get a reply..
anyway, thanks for the posts.
i'll continue with my weight training, trying to have a balance in my body, and i'll probably always stay 6' 150#...and i'll keep looking for ways to improve, even though at 54, its getting tougher all the time..
thanks again
steve
 

Felt_Rider

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Oct 24, 2004
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I think Alex answered it the best. This is a powerlifting coach and I wonder if he has ever attempted an aerobic activity to the level most of us on this forum discuss. I come from the same or similar background as the coach and it only took my first couple of road rides to realize all the muscle I was carrying was just extra baggage.

I still lift 5 days a week, I am still muscular compared to most cyclists (5'6", light framed, 170 lbs - was 190 when I started cycling in 2004) and I still get dropped on a regular basis by the skinny guys. :D
 

alfeng

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Jul 23, 2005
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steve kaspar said:
re: reading my first post.. a point about jesper skibby, a danish pro from a few years back. he said that for a dozen he rode year round. one year he tried to lift for his legs and he felt his suppleness in his pedal stroke disapearing..
i'll look up the old thread.
i even asked this coach why did one of the smallest guys after 2 1/2 weeks of racing, win the final tt. a race that usually favors bigger guys..
( if indeed bigger means faster stronger) i didnt get a reply..
anyway, thanks for the posts.
i'll continue with my weight training, trying to have a balance in my body, and i'll probably always stay 6' 150#...and i'll keep looking for ways to improve, even though at 54, its getting tougher all the time..
If you want to become faster, then I suspect that if you can manage to become more aero that you may see the results you are looking for ...
 

swampy1970

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Feb 3, 2008
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Bigger = faster works well in track sprinting or keeping the wife happy but doesn't always equate that well to road cycling unless your name is Fabian...
 

Felt_Rider

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Oct 24, 2004
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The conversation last night following another severe beating that I took recreationally racing around a single track mountain bike trail, the guy who beat me by a minute was saying that there should have been no way that he should have beaten me because of the size and muscularity of my legs.:) While he was giving me tips he must of mentioned the size of my legs at least 6 times. I tried to break in and tell him that the appearance of my legs does not equate to power output on a bike.
 

roadhouse

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Aug 2, 2009
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swampy1970 said:
Bigger = faster works well in track sprinting or keeping the wife happy but doesn't always equate that well to road cycling even if your name is Fabian...

fixed.
 

Alex Simmons

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Mar 12, 2006
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steve kaspar said:
i even asked this coach why did one of the smallest guys after 2 1/2 weeks of racing, win the final tt. a race that usually favors bigger guys..
( if indeed bigger means faster stronger) i didnt get a reply..
I coach a 60kg rider who set a new world masters hour record earlier this year. 48.317km.
 

swampy1970

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Feb 3, 2008
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Chris Boardman who holds the ultimate hour record (56.3km) and 4km pursuit record (4.11) was under 70Kg and is about knee high to a grasshopper.
 

grahamspringett

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Feb 26, 2004
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Look at Brad Wiggins: skinny as a beanpole yet multiple pursuit champ (world and Olympic) and now 4th in the Tour de France.

Even Fabian Cancellara isn't that muscular.
 

fergie

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Apr 10, 2004
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tonyzackery said:
Absolutely! Bigger ALWAYS means faster...










p.s. if you're going downhill:D

Would beg to differ. I coach some Pro Downhill Cyclists and there seems to be an optimal weight. Some I have to bring down and others I have to build up. Like any athlete there is an optimum level of muscle and fat for Elite Performance.
 

wayledft

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Aug 6, 2009
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Sometimes. Not always. All else being equal, or close to equal, speed is simply a power to weight ratio. But it is a fallacy to assume size = power. Case in point of fact I saw a detailed work up/comparison of a pro-tour racer and a Denver Broncos defensive lineman, interestingly enough these two guys with totally different builds actually leg pressed the exact same weight.

On a flat course the stronger rider will go faster, wind resistance and friction won't be that much a factor and weight is a non issue on a flat. Mass of course affects acceleration but that is a whole different story.
On a climb its not so cut and dry, Lance and Indurain are two examples of bigger guys who generated so much power that they climbed very well despite the extra 10-15 lbs they carried, though for most of us mortals we strive to build strength without adding bulk.
 

tonyzackery

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Dec 23, 2006
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wayledft said:
Case in point of fact I saw a detailed work up/comparison of a pro-tour racer and a Denver Broncos defensive lineman, interestingly enough these two guys with totally different builds actually leg pressed the exact same weight.

Uh, please provide this "work-up/comparison" for review. A pro cyclist leg pressing the same weight as an NFL d-lineman? I don't think so. Maybe, just maybe, the same relative weight, but DEFINITELY not the same absolute weight...There may be an anomaly (i.e. Cancellara/Hushovd, are pro cyclists that I think may be able to leg press some pretty good poundage) or two on both ends of the weight lifting spectrum, but your statement demands qualification...

Furthermore, this situation - if correct - would be the vast exception and nowhere near the norm; not even close...
 

wayledft

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Aug 6, 2009
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I got it at the sea otter in '02 or'03 so finding it may take a while but I will be only too happy to. Hopefully you'll forgive me for this but not only does my post not "demand" anything further than what I typed. If you want to argue the point provide a counter example rather than intuition and indignation. Again I don't think this is at all counterintuitive, in collage I took a weight training class with about half the football team including both lines and I regularly had to increase the weight on the leg press after those guys. Squats and anything upper body I couldn't hold a candle.
 

tonyzackery

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Dec 23, 2006
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^^^Ahhhh, Internet forums - where the unsubstantiated claim and unverified anecdote flourish...

Hey man, not trying to start anything with you. Unbeknownst to you, I played in the NFL and therein lies the reason I'd like to see the information you base your assertion(s) on...

Good luck finding your "detailed work up/comparison" as I'd really like to see it...seriously...