Hypertrophy on the bike - possible? (very long)



velomanct

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Let me first state this thread is pertaining to SPRINT CYCLISTS ONLY. This is not the typical cycling 95% of you know. This is not endurance cycling. So don't start telling me what I already know, about how building big legs is bad for endurance - we know that.

Sprinters. You don't want stick legs, do you? Of course not. A larger muscle (larger cross sectional area) will produce more force than a smaller one, correct?

Power to weight ratio. We all know this is fairly important for any athlete who is trying to move themself as fast as possible. We sprinters do not want to look like Ronnie Coleman, do we? well, maaaybe not entirely ;)
The point is we need a good amount of muscle, but not so much that we have poor flexibility and weigh 250+lbs.

Now that we have established that a sprinter would idealy have a fairly heavy muscled lower body, with an upper body somewhat proportional. (think Chris Hoy, and most of the other elite track sprinters.)

Let's say there are two roadies, skinny guys, who want to switch to track sprinting. Assume they are both identical twins who respond the same to training.
Rider A will keep his weight low, while just weight lifting for strength. Rider B will weight lift for hypertrophy and slowly put on some weight (hopefully not too much fat). Let's assume both riders are also training their sprint.

Short term, rider A will make better improvement keeping his weight low and gaining a good amount of strength. But eventually will hit a peak of strength and will not make much more improvement because he is still fairly skinny and not a lot of muscle to build on.

Now, if rider B were to focus on hypertrophy for two years, he will build up some decent muscle, as well as increasing his strength. He will of made small increases in his caloric intake to allow muscle growth.(both riders would obviously be consumming more protein than in their roadie days). He may have gained 20lbs of muscle, but that's ok.

Imagine it is two years past. Rider A is starting to plateau, while Rider B is about to enter his strength training period. Rider B is continuing to produce more power on the bike, while Rider A is just maintaining.
After another 2 years, Rider B is much more powerful on the bike, and even though he weighs 20lbs more that rider A, his power to weight ratio is best.

Can we agree that the above senario would likely happen?

We could repeat the cycle over and over again, but at some point Rider B will not be able to increase his muscle cross sectional area anymore. He will have hit his limit of hyptertrophy gains while maximizing his sprint power.

I believe this would describe most track sprinters. They cannot gain anymore muscle without hindering their bike performance/training. BUT, they got a fairly heavy muscled lower body, correct? It would never be confused with the skinny roadie frame.

Point is, more muscle produces more power, to a certain extent.

Weights are great for building muscle. The problem is, squats, deadlifts etc, is not pedaling a bike. It's not the same movement pattern.

Is it possible to build this muscle from doing big gear work on the bike? I understand that you cannot replicate a 1 rep maximum load from the weight room, onto the bike. BUT, is it possible to produce maybe 50-70% of 1 RM load on the bike? I think so.

Go up a 15% grade in a 53x12. Sprint it. That's enough force IMO.

Typical bodybuilding lifting might be 60% 1 RM for 3 sets of 20. I know there are many other set/rep schemes, but we can agree the above would be useful for building muscle?

So why can't a rider induce hypertrophy from say, 3 intervals of pushing a 53x12 up a 15% hill, which would take 30-60 seconds to ride.

If this does work, imagine how more benificial it would be for sprint cyclists. Build muscle with the same range of motion. Isn't that the holy grail?

I know some of you will disagree with me. I want you to prove me wrong. I want evidence that this would not be possible.
I am purposely going against the grain, in search of a possible better training method.

I am going to experiment with this.


sorry about the essay :D
 

whoawhoa

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velomanct said:
Let me first state this thread is pertaining to SPRINT CYCLISTS ONLY. This is not the typical cycling 95% of you know. This is not endurance cycling. So don't start telling me what I already know, about how building big legs is bad for endurance - we know that.

Sprinters. You don't want stick legs, do you? Of course not. A larger muscle (larger cross sectional area) will produce more force than a smaller one, correct?

Power to weight ratio. We all know this is fairly important for any athlete who is trying to move themself as fast as possible. We sprinters do not want to look like Ronnie Coleman, do we? well, maaaybe not entirely ;)
The point is we need a good amount of muscle, but not so much that we have poor flexibility and weigh 250+lbs.

Now that we have established that a sprinter would idealy have a fairly heavy muscled lower body, with an upper body somewhat proportional. (think Chris Hoy, and most of the other elite track sprinters.)

Let's say there are two roadies, skinny guys, who want to switch to track sprinting. Assume they are both identical twins who respond the same to training.
Rider A will keep his weight low, while just weight lifting for strength. Rider B will weight lift for hypertrophy and slowly put on some weight (hopefully not too much fat). Let's assume both riders are also training their sprint.

Short term, rider A will make better improvement keeping his weight low and gaining a good amount of strength. But eventually will hit a peak of strength and will not make much more improvement because he is still fairly skinny and not a lot of muscle to build on.

Now, if rider B were to focus on hypertrophy for two years, he will build up some decent muscle, as well as increasing his strength. He will of made small increases in his caloric intake to allow muscle growth.(both riders would obviously be consumming more protein than in their roadie days). He may have gained 20lbs of muscle, but that's ok.

Imagine it is two years past. Rider A is starting to plateau, while Rider B is about to enter his strength training period. Rider B is continuing to produce more power on the bike, while Rider A is just maintaining.
After another 2 years, Rider B is much more powerful on the bike, and even though he weighs 20lbs more that rider A, his power to weight ratio is best.

Can we agree that the above senario would likely happen?

We could repeat the cycle over and over again, but at some point Rider B will not be able to increase his muscle cross sectional area anymore. He will have hit his limit of hyptertrophy gains while maximizing his sprint power.

I believe this would describe most track sprinters. They cannot gain anymore muscle without hindering their bike performance/training. BUT, they got a fairly heavy muscled lower body, correct? It would never be confused with the skinny roadie frame.

Point is, more muscle produces more power, to a certain extent.

Weights are great for building muscle. The problem is, squats, deadlifts etc, is not pedaling a bike. It's not the same movement pattern.

Is it possible to build this muscle from doing big gear work on the bike? I understand that you cannot replicate a 1 rep maximum load from the weight room, onto the bike. BUT, is it possible to produce maybe 50-70% of 1 RM load on the bike? I think so.

Go up a 15% grade in a 53x12. Sprint it. That's enough force IMO.

Typical bodybuilding lifting might be 60% 1 RM for 3 sets of 20. I know there are many other set/rep schemes, but we can agree the above would be useful for building muscle?

So why can't a rider induce hypertrophy from say, 3 intervals of pushing a 53x12 up a 15% hill, which would take 30-60 seconds to ride.

If this does work, imagine how more benificial it would be for sprint cyclists. Build muscle with the same range of motion. Isn't that the holy grail?

I know some of you will disagree with me. I want you to prove me wrong. I want evidence that this would not be possible.
I am purposely going against the grain, in search of a possible better training method.

I am going to experiment with this.


sorry about the essay :D
Interesting question. I suspect the easiest way to answer would be to use analyticcycling.com to model out situations where the forces were 50-60% of 1-rep max on a leg press machine with similar joint angles. Then you would just have to figure out if the effort would be realistic or not.

My super-quick run through yielded 550ish watts @ a cadence of 50 with average pedal force around ~150 pounds on each leg. So, is it realistic to hold that wattage for 30ish seconds at that cadence?
 

frenchyge

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Let us know how the riding a 53x12 up a 15% grade for 30-60 seconds goes. I don't think you'll be able to do it without a lot of momentum at the bottom, which would defeat the purpose of the exercise.

The problem I see is that a rider can only apply so much force when their feet are constrained to a particular motion and they only have their weight and the little handlebar to pull against. Have you seen this: http://home.earthlink.net/~acoggan/misc/id6.html ? The trackie involved had a maximum effective pedal force of ~1100N at 0 rpm. That correlates to about 250lbs, which for me would be squats with 75 lbs on my shoulders (or standing on a pedal and pulling up 75lbs with my arms -- seems about right). I don't think that'd provide much hypertrophy, but I'm not a bodybuilder so I could be wrong.
 

frenchyge

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whoawhoa said:
My super-quick run through yielded 550ish watts @ a cadence of 50 with average pedal force around ~150 pounds on each leg. So, is it realistic to hold that wattage for 30ish seconds at that cadence?
I looked at that too. Cadence of 50? In a 53x12 that's about 18mph, which means ~1150w up a 15% grade (85kg bike and rider). Also, the effective pedal force is about 740 lbs in that case. :rolleyes:
 

velomanct

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Dec 21, 2003
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Okay, some good input.


I guess the bottom line is, is there any hypertrophy effect from mashing huge gears as hard as possible for short intervals?
 

whoawhoa

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frenchyge said:
I looked at that too. Cadence of 50? In a 53x12 that's about 18mph, which means ~1150w up a 15% grade (85kg bike and rider). Also, the effective pedal force is about 740 lbs in that case. :rolleyes:
I didn't specificy a gear-I'm really not sure anyone can push a 53x12 up a 15% grade. Speed was 13 kph, I think, so gearing would be drastically lower.
 

velomanct

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frenchyge said:
I looked at that too. Cadence of 50? In a 53x12 that's about 18mph, which means ~1150w up a 15% grade (85kg bike and rider). Also, the effective pedal force is about 740 lbs in that case. :rolleyes:


yeh, I would be at more like 5-6mph in the above situation. so ~20rpms
 

velomanct

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whoawhoa said:
I didn't specificy a gear-I'm really not sure anyone can push a 53x12 up a 15% grade. Speed was 13 kph, I think, so gearing would be drastically lower.
It's possible, but we're talking walking speeds.
 

velomanct

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Frontal Area 0.50 m2
Coefficient Wind Drag 0.50 dimensionless
Air Density 1.226 kg/m3
Weight 90.0 kg
Coefficient of Rolling 0.004 dimensionless
Grade 0.150 decimal
Wind Resistance 1.5 kg m/s2
Rolling Resistance 3.5 kg m/s2
Slope Force 132.4 kg m/s2
Cadence 20. rev/min
Crank Length 175. mm
Pedal Speed 0.37 m/s
Average Pedal Force 1171.6 kg m/s2
Effective Pedaling Range 70. degree
Effective Pedal Force 3012.8 kg m/s2
Speed 3.13 m/s
Power 429.4 watts

7mph up 15% grade in 53x12 is 429watts at 20 rpms = not possible

okay, maybe we can try a slighter smaller gear like 53x16
 

velomanct

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OK, this would be a normal situation when climbing such a hill.
15% 39x23 at 50rpms at 7mph = 429watts

Effective Pedal Force 1205.1 kg m/s2 ????

I must be reading this wrong. I just want to know how much force per leg it is in this situation.

Frontal Area 0.50 m2
Coefficient Wind Drag 0.50 dimensionless
Air Density 1.226 kg/m3
Weight 90.0 kg
Coefficient of Rolling 0.004 dimensionless
Grade 0.150 decimal
Wind Resistance 1.5 kg m/s2
Rolling Resistance 3.5 kg m/s2
Slope Force 132.4 kg m/s2
Cadence 50. rev/min
Crank Length 175. mm
Pedal Speed 0.92 m/s
Average Pedal Force 468.7 kg m/s2
Effective Pedaling Range 70. degree
Effective Pedal Force 1205.1 kg m/s2
Speed 3.13 m/s
Power 429.4 watts
 

frenchyge

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velomanct said:
Frontal Area 0.50 m2
Coefficient Wind Drag 0.50 dimensionless
Air Density 1.226 kg/m3
Weight 90.0 kg
Coefficient of Rolling 0.004 dimensionless
Grade 0.150 decimal
Wind Resistance 1.5 kg m/s2
Rolling Resistance 3.5 kg m/s2
Slope Force 132.4 kg m/s2
Cadence 20. rev/min
Crank Length 175. mm
Pedal Speed 0.37 m/s
Average Pedal Force 1171.6 kg m/s2
Effective Pedaling Range 70. degree
Effective Pedal Force 3012.8 kg m/s2
Speed 3.13 m/s
Power 429.4 watts
There's the real issue. The problem with trying to get hypertrophy out of biking is that you can only put so much force on a pedal by standing on it and trying to rip the bars off the stem.
 

velomanct

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frenchyge said:
There's the real issue. The problem with trying to get hypertrophy out of biking is that you can only put so much force on a pedal by standing on it and trying to rip the bars off the stem.
Yeh, it seems like you should be able to. But I guess it's not.

They need to make some type of machine that would allow heavy resistence training in the cycling motion. That would be great.

I guess step-ups, squats, deads will have to do.
 

frenchyge

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velomanct said:
They need to make some type of machine that would allow heavy resistence training in the cycling motion. That would be great.
On a recumbent or some type of device where your body was fixed and you were really using the quads to generate the force, you could. On a typical road bike, the quads just put our body weight up on to the pedal, and the only excess force comes from our puny arms.
 

whoawhoa

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velomanct said:
Yeh, it seems like you should be able to. But I guess it's not.

They need to make some type of machine that would allow heavy resistence training in the cycling motion. That would be great.

I guess step-ups, squats, deads will have to do.

I thought that neuromuscular benefits were specific to joing angle and speed of movement, which would mean that there wouldn't be any reason to try to replicate joing angles. Of course, the Aussies apparently do videotaping and stuff to replicate various angles, but that may only be when done at high velocity.
 

velomanct

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frenchyge said:
On a recumbent or some type of device where your body was fixed and you were really using the quads to generate the force, you could. On a typical road bike, the quads just put our body weight up on to the pedal, and the only excess force comes from our puny arms.
I see. So I need to strap my butt to the seat!!
that would be real comfortable.

Hmmm, I wonder how much more power one could produce during a seated sprint if that were done?
 

velomanct

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whoawhoa said:
I thought that neuromuscular benefits were specific to joing angle and speed of movement, which would mean that there wouldn't be any reason to try to replicate joing angles. Of course, the Aussies apparently do videotaping and stuff to replicate various angles, but that may only be when done at high velocity.
You are correct. But in this case, hypertrophy is the main goal. I just got a little excited that it might be possible to teach the neuromusclur system at the same time.

build the muscle in the gym. Then teach it how to fire on the bike.
 

velomanct

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Ok, this just came to me. There is a limit to how much force a rider can put to the pedals, not matter how strong they may be.(particularily when seated) The real gains in sprint power are in applying that force as fast as possible.

Damn leg speed always wins.
 

Trainingwheelz

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I don't htink that this aspect of training is supposed to be analysied in such a way. Hypertrophy will be a by product of riding hills and training over long periods of time. You will get hurt (and should -- overtraining is a serious issue) if you overuse your muscles over periods of time. I encourage you to stick to traditional methods of training which have been tried and proven to be effective. Riding in big gears up hils will hurt your tendons beacuse your muscles are pulling on the tendons which are maladapted for that kind of stress. It's doubtful that they ever will adapt to those kinds of exercise which is why the expers recommend lower gears. Whatsmore, I think muscular strength is more important than hypertrophy if your are concerned with performances.

Ian



frenchyge said:
There's the real issue. The problem with trying to get hypertrophy out of biking is that you can only put so much force on a pedal by standing on it and trying to rip the bars off the stem.
 

velomanct

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You might be right about the dangers of such overgeared riding.

Just remember, this thread is about building muscle for the use of sprinting. Has nothing to do with normal, typical cycling.
 

lyotard

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V,
i have a background in lifting, and sprint specialist, kilo type efforts.
here is what i have found, short version.
the legs will develop to a point, esp at first. after that initial adaptation,
on-the-bike drills like you describe can make for some more adaptation.
but beyond this, for those of us with normal human genetics, the bigger legs are developed with the king of all weight lifting excersises,
ladies and gents, allow me to introduce you to:
the squat.
if you once squatted and got the quads, the saying goes like this;
"don't lie to me and say you've forgotten, the trouble with you is you aint been squattin'.
this movement gets the quads, but the whole organism adapts, simular to the other big basic movements such as the deadlift or clean.
and let us admit it, the quads power the bike.
squat and you will see your legs change.
sure, you want the ancillary muscle groups up to what it takes to work in concert with the quads, but they provide the primary force.
after getting the quads, my experience was a major advantage in the initial portion of the sprint, "the jump". riding alongside the local sprinters, they would jump and it would seem no big...
holding speed on shallow inclines or accellerating over short steep hill as well seemed no big deal, and there was nothing most could do to respond except watch.
i find this true to this day, my instantaneous output esp when at lower heart rates is such that i gotta feather it on, or the bike jumps 'round a bit, shall we say. chalk it up to muscular memory of sqauts past.
i accredit this to the advantage of total overall output beating out those with greater power-to-weight ratio, those who would excel at climbing.
now, top speed, this takes more development, and calls for base miles and lotsa high cadence spinning.
this i figure is due to the nature of squatting providing only instantaneous power and not longer duration exertion.
this has been my experience.
Disclaimer:
of late my persomal strategy has been combining blocks of hill work at lower cadence and squatting, with emphasis on the "on bike" drill.





velomanct said:
Let me first state this thread is pertaining to SPRINT CYCLISTS ONLY. This is not the typical cycling 95% of you know. This is not endurance cycling. So don't start telling me what I already know, about how building big legs is bad for endurance - we know that.

Sprinters.
I am going to experiment with this.


sorry about the essay :D