bigger = faster??



dhk2

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Aug 8, 2006
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It's totally counter-intuitive to me for at least three reasons. First, pro cyclists have genetics and muscles which allow them to excel at aerobic power production, not anaerobic strength. Second, an average pro cyclist weighs what, 150 lbs, while an NFL lineman could be double that. Even if the cyclist were pound-for-pound as strong, that leaves him pressing half the weight. Lastly, pro cyclists don't train doing heavy leg presses, while linemen certainly do. Seriously doubt any pro-tour racer would risk injury by attempting to challenge the strength of a pro lineman in the gym.

The aerobic power needed by a pro-tour rider is just a totally different thing from the strength needed to lift weights. No one looks at a world-class marathon runner and wonders how much weight he can leg press, but somehow in cycling the myth persists than big, strong muscles are needed to go fast.
 

wayledft

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Aug 6, 2009
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tonyzackery said:
^^^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...

I really hope I kept it because you will owe me an apology and I will accept it. On the other hand I love the mention of my 'unsubstantiated' claim right next you're telling me your a pro football player. Just a little ironic.

I really wish someone would dispel the notion that size and strength are the same thing.
 

tonyzackery

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Dec 23, 2006
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wayledft said:
I really hope I kept it because you will owe me an apology and I will accept it. On the other hand I love the mention of my 'unsubstantiated' claim right next you're telling me your a pro football player. Just a little ironic.

I really wish someone would dispel the notion that size and strength are the same thing.

LOL! Your "detailed work-up/comparison" should be floating around on the net somewhere - if it exists. Concerning the apology, I'll give you one right now - "I'm sorry for hurting your feelings. Please accept that it will NEVER, EVER happen again." How was that? I'm glad you accept my apology...

Pal, I use my true name on this and other forums because I believe in credibility. If you so desire, it's easy to look up my NFL career on the net. As undistinguished as it may be, it still exists and is verifiable. Now you owe me an apology...LOL!
 

tonyzackery

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Dec 23, 2006
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frenchyge said:
That's why the Broncos suck. :p

Very good point!
They must've had some d-linemen that could outlift pro cyclists back in the Super Bowl winning years...:D
 

64Paramount

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Jul 25, 2009
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tonyzackery said:
Very good point!
They must've had some d-linemen that could outlift pro cyclists back in the Super Bowl winning years...:D


I would bet on it! :D
 

Piotr

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Jan 29, 2007
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wayledft said:
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.

What's a leg press got to do with power? I think you meant to say that it's a fallacy to assume size = strength, or you were using a wrong example to prove a point. Either way I disagree. I think all things being equal (no unusual talents or specialized training), bigger people will be both stronger and produce more power.
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.
On the flats power to aerodynamics (W/Cda) is of greatest importance. I assume you mis-spoke, since it's clear that a small rider in an aero position will ride circles around a powerful rider standing on his pedals. That would be all about wind resistance. Most riders will sacrifice some power to become more aerodynamic in a time trial.

In your second paragraph you're contradicting things you said in the first paragraph. First, about power to weight ratio being important vs. non-issue, and secondly, about Lance and Indurain being more powerful ("stronger") because they're bigger.
 

Denny418

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Dec 28, 2005
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I would think that there would be some physiological analogy between cyclists and track runners. Compare the physiques of the 100-meter guys with the marathoners. Does that reveal anything useful about cyclists? (I don't know - I'm just asking.)
 

Felt_Rider

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Oct 24, 2004
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graywulf said:
Yeah muscle size will help in a sprint, on a bike or on foot, to the above poster.

So by this blanket statement we can then assume because Ronnie Coleman, professional bodybuilder, has more muscle mass than Marion Jones, in her prime as a world class sprinter, he will be able to out sprint her on the track?

Or that Ronnie Coleman because he has more muscle mass can out sprint Mark Cavendish on a bike?
 

11ring

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Apr 22, 2006
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Felt rider- that is an unfair comparison becuase they are not training for the same event.

Sure there is always an 'optimum' level, but it is correct that sprinting is a strength based event.

As a better example, compare Cavendish to a track sprinter like Chris Hoy. Cavendish, even as an excellent road sprinter , is still an endurance athlete, in an endurance event, and so cannot specialize his training for sprinting in the same way as Hoy- part of this specialisation includes a rather exceptional amount of strength and muscle development.
 

spaghettihopps1

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Aug 12, 2009
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any racing is dominated by the power to weight ratio. Like a boxer you should try and squeeze the maximum amount of power out of the smallest weight imaginable.

but i agree best thing for going down hill fast is 11 stone of wobbly stuff.
 

11ring

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Apr 22, 2006
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spaghettihopps1 said:
any racing is dominated by the power to weight ratio. Like a boxer you should try and squeeze the maximum amount of power out of the smallest weight imaginable.

but i agree best thing for going down hill fast is 11 stone of wobbly stuff.

Partly true, (air resistance is for some events more important denominator than weight) but the goal is to maximize the power to weight (or air resistance) over the critical portions of the event.

Maximizing power to weight over short time periods (like 10 seconds) is achieved through maximizing strength to weight, which is generally achieved through rather extensive muscle development and % lean muscle mass to body weight. although there is of course a point of diminishing returns as flexibility etc decreases.

But maximizing long term power is not achieved in the same way becuase strength is not the limiting factor, it is your cardiovascular system, whose development and capacity is generally independent of muscle mass, except at the point of malnutrition.

So even if we accept that maximizing power to weight is the goal, the means of achieving this for different time periods is very different, and produced differing ideal body builds.
 

graywulf

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Jul 17, 2009
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Felt_Rider said:
So by this blanket statement we can then assume because Ronnie Coleman, professional bodybuilder, has more muscle mass than Marion Jones, in her prime as a world class sprinter, he will be able to out sprint her on the track?

Or that Ronnie Coleman because he has more muscle mass can out sprint Mark Cavendish on a bike?

You're completely taking my post out of context. The guy asked for a physiological analogy between a track runner and a road cyclist, in which case leg mass will help with explosiveness.
 

Felt_Rider

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Oct 24, 2004
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graywulf said:
You're completely taking my post out of context.
sort of

graywulf said:
The guy asked for a physiological analogy between a track runner and a road cyclist, in which case leg mass will help with explosiveness.

based on what study does leg mass (I am assuming you still mean lean mass) equate to explosiveness?
 

Felt_Rider

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Oct 24, 2004
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Perhaps another way to to look at this would be that training for events that require explosive speed or sprinting events may lead to muscular hypertrophy.

I understood what you were saying, but I was trying to get you to bring more clarity to your statement. Not for my sake but for someone else who may not understand and think that muscle mass simply equates to explosive speed and therefore do what it takes to gain muscle mass.

The point for many is to train for the event using the appropriate methods and if muscular hypertrophy occurs through adaptation then one may say that the individual is potentially approaching "optimal hypertrophy."

But we know that hypertrophy may depend on a lot of other factors, such as, but not limited too keeping the body in an anabolic state and genetics.
 

Felt_Rider

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Oct 24, 2004
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I can use myself as one example of the late Dr. Mel Siff's writings in "Supertraining" about "optimal hypertrophy" compared to "maximal hypertrophy." This is context of just broadly saying that lean mass will improve explosive speed. In some it may, but in others it may be a regression of performance.

As a former nationally qualified bodybuilder, I started cycling in 2004 and at that time my stats at 5'6" was 190 lbs with my legs being my best attribute (leg mass).

Since starting cycling my body composition has made some adaptations (refinements) to suit my interests in cycling. My weight now is at 170 lbs and I have lost some lean mass overall, but as my body adapts and refines with less mass my overall ability to sustain a higher endurance speed and my sprinting speed has improved with this refinement (reduction of leg mass). The leaner and lighter I become the more I improve in cycling overall. So for me and those like me the blanket statement of increase leg mass does not apply, however, there are those who the statement will apply.

Dr. Siff speaks about each individual has an optimal muscularity for their peak performance in their particular event. For some it may be to gain lean mass and for other it may be to lose lean mass or it could be lose overall mass (body fat & muscle) or to gain overall mass. So it is important to consider these things when discussing that a general statement may not be the best advice to apply to all individuals.

This is why training specificity works so well. Because the human body has such an ability to adapt to the stresses placed on it. By the very nature of sprinting on a bike the body generally has the ability to adapt or refine to the stress be it muscular hypertrophy for some or become catabolic and decrease in mass for others. Same with marathon running, swimming, weightlifting and so on. Given enough time, applied appropriate training methods and consistency, an individual may change in physical appearance based on how their genetics responds to those factors, but the outcome of the physical appearance is not always the same across the board.

If any of that makes sense or seems reasonable for the discussion. :)
 

steve kaspar

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Apr 28, 2009
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felt
impressive photos!!!
i have a friend who was a former mr. new orleans, mr southern states, mr louisiana...
than took up cycling..
like anything new he was a bit wreckless on his bike, but was getting better and better handeling it.
on a flat 3.6 mile circut we train on in the winter, we would do these power jumps in the saddle. go all out in the 53x11 for 30 rpm's .. he blew all of us away on all these.. but when we did 30rpm's hard , and then spun for 30 and then did another 30rpm's hard, he was off the back..
very very powrful, but lacked the endurance /stamina.
this guy killed all us more experienced cyclists in the discipline of doing jumps, but if we did any kind of hard tempo riding, afer 30 minutes he was off the back.
and this was after a few years of him doing 200+ miles per week training..so maybe his gift, after transfering from bodybuilding to cycle racing should have been the track type racing, cause he really didnt improve much in the endurance part of the sport..
so, per this strength coach ,my buddys bigger/stronger body should have been blowing all us away, but it sure didnt happen.just in a 200 meter sprint..so i guess it is up to the individual really. how were born?? whats inside us? maybe all genes??some skinny guys are super strong, some bigger guys are a bit weaker, and visa versa..
hell, i dont know, i just try to get better by reading, visiting forums, and hopefully trining the correct way. that for me being old school. a hard day, a few ez days. a hard day a few ez days with a long one in there..
anyway thanks to all for the posts.
steve
 

Felt_Rider

Well-Known Member
Oct 24, 2004
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steve kaspar said:
felt
impressive photos!!!
i have a friend who was a former mr. new orleans, mr southern states, mr louisiana...
than took up cycling..
like anything new he was a bit wreckless on his bike, but was getting better and better handeling it.
on a flat 3.6 mile circut we train on in the winter, we would do these power jumps in the saddle. go all out in the 53x11 for 30 rpm's .. he blew all of us away on all these.. but when we did 30rpm's hard , and then spun for 30 and then did another 30rpm's hard, he was off the back..
very very powrful, but lacked the endurance /stamina.
this guy killed all us more experienced cyclists in the discipline of doing jumps, but if we did any kind of hard tempo riding, afer 30 minutes he was off the back.
and this was after a few years of him doing 200+ miles per week training..so maybe his gift, after transfering from bodybuilding to cycle racing should have been the track type racing, cause he really didnt improve much in the endurance part of the sport..
so, per this strength coach ,my buddys bigger/stronger body should have been blowing all us away, but it sure didnt happen.just in a 200 meter sprint..so i guess it is up to the individual really. how were born?? whats inside us? maybe all genes??some skinny guys are super strong, some bigger guys are a bit weaker, and visa versa..
hell, i dont know, i just try to get better by reading, visiting forums, and hopefully trining the correct way. that for me being old school. a hard day, a few ez days. a hard day a few ez days with a long one in there..
anyway thanks to all for the posts.
steve

Seems like we are in agreement that performance comes in a variety of physical packages. Some of those packages seem to be out of what we would think to be the norm and yet those types seem to have some sort of special spice to their genetics, mental attitude, threshold for pain and so on that help them break the mold and take them to the top of the sport.

Thanks for sharing because this subject intrigues me a lot. I am curious if you saw any physical transformation in the least to the friend's appearance over the span of time?

Just for fun, I had hoped to transfer some of my strength to the bike like your friend, but it did not work for me even on the short sprints. :( With my genetics favoring fast twitch and hypertrophy, endurance sport is a struggle. I keep trying anyway and my physique has refined a bit, but I will never be a threat to a cat 5. :)
 

frenchyge

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Apr 3, 2005
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steve kaspar said:
we would do these power jumps in the saddle. go all out in the 53x11 for 30 rpm's .. he blew all of us away on all these.

so, per this strength coach ,my buddys bigger/stronger body should have been blowing all us away, but it sure didnt happen.just in a 200 meter sprint..so i guess it is up to the individual really.

The first scenario is most likely a strength exercise -- overgeared, higher force/slower contractions, few reps -- the kind of training that is of little practical use to a cyclist, but it's not surprising to see a bodybuilder excel.

Sprinting however (with the exception of standing starts during track sprints), has much more to do with contraction speed and coordination than actual strength. This is true whether a person is on foot or on a bike. That's why you don't see bodybuilders dominating sprint competitions.