Hypertrophy on the bike - possible? (very long)



whoawhoa

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Trainingwheelz said:
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
Highly unlikely that normal riding will result in much hypertrophy, if any. Forces are just too low.
 

Doctor Morbius

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velomanct said:
...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?
As a general rule, yes. This isn't taking into account that a smaller rider can have superior neural adaptations, thus making him stronger and/or more powerful (force vs power) than a rider with a greater cross section of thigh muscle.

Neural adaptations are where the bigger is better theory falls flat. There are many Olympic lifters (power) and powerlifters (force) than can easily out perform larger and more heavily muscled bodybuilders in max singles in the big lifts.

When getting into higher reps, the bodybuilders can have an edge (Note the Tom Platz vs Fred Hatfield contest... Hatfield beat Platz in a max single, but Platz could do higher reps with a lower weight. It was pretty interesting if you want to google it. )


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.
True, especially considering any upper body bulk is just dead weight that needs to be carried up hills or through accellerations and makes for horrible aerodynamics.


Let's say there are two roadies, skinny guys,
There's a problem right there. Skinny guys, or Ectomorphs, typically can't build much muscle mass. If they do they need to do it in the weight room as what they would do in the big gear just would not be enough stimulus even while consuming gargantuan portions of food daily. So let's assume for the sake of the argument that they are Ecto-Mesomorphs instead, OK?


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).
No need for bodyfat levels to go up at all, in fact.


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.
Truth be told they probably needed more protein in their roadie days. Endurance athletes need more than bodybuilders, even the ones using steroids. Track cycling isn't going to be as catabolic as road cycling, therefore not as high of a protein requirement. Bodybuilding need not be catabolic at all unless one is a chronic overtrainer, which unfortunately is common.


Imagithough ne 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 he weighs 20lbs more that rider A, his power to weight ratio is best.
It shouldn't take 2 full years to add 20 lbs of lean tissue unless one is a real Ectomorph (see above), especially if one has never embarked on a strength/hypertrophy training program before.

The majority of beginners always seem to have stellar progress during their first year of resistance training even on a haphazard program. After a period of adaptation, however, the law of diminishing returns kicks in and they have to train harder and smarter to keep making progress.


Can we agree that the above senario would likely happen?
I would think so.


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.
OK. Yes and at that point any further gains would be counter productive.


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.
The problem is that by training the large muscles of the lower body it is almost impossible to keep from gaining all over. GAS, ;) or the General Adaptation Syndrom will cause one to gain upper body mass as well, even though that is not a desired outcome. By training the huge muscles of the upper legs their ponderal index will also increase. This is why you don't see 20 inch arms on guys that weigh 170 lbs.


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.
Yes, it is actually possible but only up to a point. It will also depend on the genetic predisposition of the individual rider in question. The type of rider that can build muscle in their legs may not be very good at endurance activities at all. As such they may gravitate toward sports where instantaneous burst speed is more important, such as American football, soccer, pro wrastlin', etc.


Typical bodybuilding lifting might be 60% 1 RM for 3 sets of 20.
Not in my world it isn't unless one has had an extensive layoff. 60 % 1RM can induce a training response in beginning lifters but not in a seasoned veteran lifter. It just isn't enough intensity.

Don't get me wrong as I think 20 rep sets - especially for quads - have their place, but they are pretty much useless for the fast twitch hamstrings. The size increases gained from high rep sets is called sarcoplasmic, which is an increase of fluid and supportive structures, such as mitochondrian and capillaries. The lower repitition sets are where the actual muscle proteins of actin and myosin increase in size and density.


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.
As stated before they can but only up to a point as they will eventually adapt to that level of resistance. Then they would need more reisistance in order to go through another apdaptive phase.


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?
Some coaches (Carmichael comes to mind) advise that big gear cycling should be done shortly after heavy weight training in order for there to be a higher functional carryover.


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.
Sometimes I think that is exactly what needs to be done. In fact I think that the body becomes so stale to a particular style of riding that it may need a shock to the system in order to start the adaptive process all over again.
 

lyotard

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this mucle mass also need to be oxygenated, a further demand on the cyclist...

as for the accellerations, the grade of the road and length of effort come into play here, there is certainly a diminishing return as things get steeper and longer, up to that point though, overall total output may edge out.


Doctor Morbius said:
As a general rule, True, especially considering any upper body bulk is just dead weight that needs to be carried up hills or through accellerations and makes for horrible aerodynamics.


again.
 

Doctor Morbius

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whoawhoa said:
Highly unlikely that normal riding will result in much hypertrophy, if any. Forces are just too low.
Unless a person is in a very detrained couch potato state when they start. Then most people will have some increase in leg mass, unless they lean toward the Ectomorph side of the spectrum. Then they may see no gains or actually lose size in their legs as they burn visceral fat.
 

velomanct

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Doctor Morbius said:
As a general rule, yes. This isn't taking into account that a smaller rider can have superior neural adaptations, thus making him stronger and/or more powerful (force vs power) than a rider with a greater cross section of thigh muscle.

Neural adaptations are where the bigger is better theory falls flat. There are many Olympic lifters (power) and powerlifters (force) than can easily out perform larger and more heavily muscled bodybuilders in max singles in the big lifts.

When getting into higher reps, the bodybuilders can have an edge (Note the Tom Platz vs Fred Hatfield contest... Hatfield beat Platz in a max single, but Platz could do higher reps with a lower weight. It was pretty interesting if you want to google it. )


True, especially considering any upper body bulk is just dead weight that needs to be carried up hills or through accellerations and makes for horrible aerodynamics.


There's a problem right there. Skinny guys, or Ectomorphs, typically can't build much muscle mass. If they do they need to do it in the weight room as what they would do in the big gear just would not be enough stimulus even while consuming gargantuan portions of food daily. So let's assume for the sake of the argument that they are Ecto-Mesomorphs instead, OK?


No need for bodyfat levels to go up at all, in fact.


Truth be told they probably needed more protein in their roadie days. Endurance athletes need more than bodybuilders, even the ones using steroids. Track cycling isn't going to be as catabolic as road cycling, therefore not as high of a protein requirement. Bodybuilding need not be catabolic at all unless one is a chronic overtrainer, which unfortunately is common.


It shouldn't take 2 full years to add 20 lbs of lean tissue unless one is a real Ectomorph (see above), especially if one has never embarked on a strength/hypertrophy training program before.

The majority of beginners always seem to have stellar progress during their first year of resistance training even on a haphazard program. After a period of adaptation, however, the law of diminishing returns kicks in and they have to train harder and smarter to keep making progress.


I would think so.


OK. Yes and at that point any further gains would be counter productive.


The problem is that by training the large muscles of the lower body it is almost impossible to keep from gaining all over. GAS, ;) or the General Adaptation Syndrom will cause one to gain upper body mass as well, even though that is not a desired outcome. By training the huge muscles of the upper legs their ponderal index will also increase. This is why you don't see 20 inch arms on guys that weigh 170 lbs.


Yes, it is actually possible but only up to a point. It will also depend on the genetic predisposition of the individual rider in question. The type of rider that can build muscle in their legs may not be very good at endurance activities at all. As such they may gravitate toward sports where instantaneous burst speed is more important, such as American football, soccer, pro wrastlin', etc.


Not in my world it isn't unless one has had an extensive layoff. 60 % 1RM can induce a training response in beginning lifters but not in a seasoned veteran lifter. It just isn't enough intensity.

Don't get me wrong as I think 20 rep sets - especially for quads - have their place, but they are pretty much useless for the fast twitch hamstrings. The size increases gained from high rep sets is called sarcoplasmic, which is an increase of fluid and supportive structures, such as mitochondrian and capillaries. The lower repitition sets are where the actual muscle proteins of actin and myosin increase in size and density.


As stated before they can but only up to a point as they will eventually adapt to that level of resistance. Then they would need more reisistance in order to go through another apdaptive phase.


Some coaches (Carmichael comes to mind) advise that big gear cycling should be done shortly after heavy weight training in order for there to be a higher functional carryover.


Sometimes I think that is exactly what needs to be done. In fact I think that the body becomes so stale to a particular style of riding that it may need a shock to the system in order to start the adaptive process all over again.
Thanks for your input, you bring up some good points.

So you think that high rep lifting would be nearly useless for building any functional muscle?


I think we have now concluded that hypertrophy is not possible from bike work. My knees will thank me, lol.
 

Doctor Morbius

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velomanct said:
Thanks for your input, you bring up some good points.

So you think that high rep lifting would be nearly useless for building any functional muscle?
In a word, yes. High reps definitely have their place and are great for General Physical Preparedness training or taking a break from heavy low rep training and giving the tendons/ligaments a break while keeping some form of training load on the muscle.

Beginners can add quite a bit of size using 20 reps and it may be a great place to start, however, for functional hypertrophy I would opt for lower reps.

There used to program in the old days called "milk and squats" where you would drink a gallon of milk a day and do 20 rep squats for several sets with as much weight as you could handle three times a week. Only a bodybuilder or an underweight lineman would want to do such a program though. ;)


I think we have now concluded that hypertrophy is not possible from bike work. My knees will thank me, lol.
It may be but not likely. Not much. I think Lyotard summed it up pretty well in his first post ... some, then perhaps a little more, but nothing earth shattering. There is also a strong genetic component in that what makes one a great endurance athlete generally does not bode well for large strong muscles.

You may still want to try big gear training AFTER hitting the weight room. That would be the best option for trying to convert strength training into on the bike functional strength training. I know there is disagreement on this but if you were still interested that's where I'd start.
 

velomanct

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Doctor Morbius said:
In a word, yes. High reps definitely have their place and are great for General Physical Preparedness training or taking a break from heavy low rep training and giving the tendons/ligaments a break while keeping some form of training load on the muscle.

Beginners can add quite a bit of size using 20 reps and it may be a great place to start, however, for functional hypertrophy I would opt for lower reps.

There used to program in the old days called "milk and squats" where you would drink a gallon of milk a day and do 20 rep squats for several sets with as much weight as you could handle three times a week. Only a bodybuilder or an underweight lineman would want to do such a program though. ;)


It may be but not likely. Not much. I think Lyotard summed it up pretty well in his first post ... some, then perhaps a little more, but nothing earth shattering. There is also a strong genetic component in that what makes one a great endurance athlete generally does not bode well for large strong muscles.

You may still want to try big gear training AFTER hitting the weight room. That would be the best option for trying to convert strength training into on the bike functional strength training. I know there is disagreement on this but if you were still interested that's where I'd start.
My plan is to start with high rep lifting for the next month or so. I lifted last summer but took the fall off, so I need to ease back into it. I will always do sprints on the bike, at least a day a week. I learned that it is best to maintain your sprint, especially while lifting. Because lifting alone won't improve your sprint much, if at all. Do both together for the best results.
I will work my way back to heavier weights, and gradually put my emaphasis back on sprinting as summer comes.

In the summer I will probally do a month of strength focused lifting, followed by a month of power/speed lifting. Can't do the same thing for too long. Got to alternate.
 

Woofer

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velomanct said:
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.
The men's and women's world champion in the match sprint last year were two of the smallest competitors. There are people bigger than either Victoria Pendleton (about 60 kg) or Rene Wolf (about 72 kg) competing successfully at the international level on mountainous road races. So hypertrophy as a goal in and of itself seems misguided unless it's just for looking buff.
 

fergie

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Woofer said:
The men's and women's world champion in the match sprint last year were two of the smallest competitors. There are people bigger than either Victoria Pendleton (about 60 kg) or Rene Wolf (about 72 kg) competing successfully at the international level on mountainous road races. So hypertrophy as a goal in and of itself seems misguided unless it's just for looking buff.

Rumour has it that both Pendalton and the Germans do quite a lot of miles relative to the goal event (10-30sec sprint).

Hamish Ferguson
Cycling Coach
 

Woofer

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fergie said:
Rumour has it that both Pendalton and the Germans do quite a lot of miles relative to the goal event (10-30sec sprint).

Hamish Ferguson
Cycling Coach
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/womanshour/2005_14_thu_03.shtml

Link doesn't work for me anymore but IIRC it was three hours in the am on the bike, weights, then three hours in pm on the bike five days a week for her mixing road and track sessions with road time and a day off on the weekend.

edit:
So back to the OP - it's possible that the BCF is going for hypertrophy and big gear low cadence riding for her but it's not working. :)
At least two of the fast women at world's last year were smaller than Victoria and she's quite petite - most female road racers I know in the US are bigger than her. To be fair there were also some women that were larger than the average *male* for their height.
 

dot

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velomanct said:
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?

I don't know about short sprints but I know that repeated climbing standing on very big gear (50-60 rpm) on steep off-road 1.5 min climb (20-25% I think) brings excelent hypertrophy. For last 7 years I've known a guy who is a cross contry racer. He is 79 kg and 183 cm. He is lean for his weght but his thighs and calves are HUGE. This exercise is his favourite. He can do it for 1.5 hours (up to 30 times) for three consecuitive days. And with this weight and muscles he regularly beats any MTB-racer here except 3-5 top really professional world class racers (he is local semi-pro). No matter is it STXC or six hour marathon.

That's the most perfect example for me that high gears with low cadence on heavy climbs really work. No science report can't beat this evidence.
 

velomanct

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Woofer said:
The men's and women's world champion in the match sprint last year were two of the smallest competitors. There are people bigger than either Victoria Pendleton (about 60 kg) or Rene Wolf (about 72 kg) competing successfully at the international level on mountainous road races. So hypertrophy as a goal in and of itself seems misguided unless it's just for looking buff.
You can argue that, but if it were true, then all the match sprinters would look the same as the roadies. How do you know that those two sprinters are successful inspite of their slimmer builds?
There will always be some exceptions, but as a whole, sprinters are more muscular than endurance athletes.

Can you really say that most track sprinters have too much excess muscle, and would perform better if they were thinner?

You have to remember, I am not saying that a track sprinter who is already well built should be trying to put on more mass. I am saying that it would be benefical for a skinny guy to put on some muscle to improve his sprint.


The bottom line I am getting to is: would I produce more power (sprint) if I were to go from 23 inch legs, to say 27 inch legs, all other things being equal?

Come on, who would disagree with that?
 

Woofer

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velomanct said:
You can argue that, but if it were true, then all the match sprinters would look the same as the roadies. How do you know that those two sprinters are successful inspite of their slimmer builds?
There will always be some exceptions, but as a whole, sprinters are more muscular than endurance athletes.

Can you really say that most track sprinters have too much excess muscle, and would perform better if they were thinner?
The only thing that matters is their 200 meter time for seeding and judging suitability for the event, and their brain/coaching for tactics. Whether they are big or small doesn't matter. Of course hypertrophy increase the maximum force available. We are not going to see a 60kg man win the world sprint championships. But if someone can't go faster in the event due to their bigger muscles, that hypertrophy is pretty much wasted. Otherwise the USOC should be recruiting offensive lineman for the sprint team. The woman in second place last year at worlds was the smallest woman in the field...
 

velomanct

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Woofer said:
The only thing that matters is their 200 meter time for seeding and judging suitability for the event, and their brain/coaching for tactics. Whether they are big or small doesn't matter. Of course hypertrophy increase the maximum force available. We are not going to see a 60kg man win the world sprint championships. But if someone can't go faster in the event due to their bigger muscles, that hypertrophy is pretty much wasted. Otherwise the USOC should be recruiting offensive lineman for the sprint team. The woman in second place last year at worlds was the smallest woman in the field...
I agree with you, there is a limit to how much muscle a sprinter would want.

More is not always better.
 

Woofer

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velomanct said:
You have to remember, I am not saying that a track sprinter who is already well built should be trying to put on more mass. I am saying that it would be benefical for a skinny guy to put on some muscle to improve his sprint.


The bottom line I am getting to is: would I produce more power (sprint) if I were to go from 23 inch legs, to say 27 inch legs, all other things being equal?

Come on, who would disagree with that?
OK since you edited while I was responding I have to respond again. :) I have way too much time on my hands...

Of course you would have a better short term power. It's also possible that you would change your body enough that you would never be close enough to contest a sprint by the time it ends. I guess you should just make sure you are going faster as long as you are trying to get bigger. Also move some place where they have a velodrome. :)
 

velomanct

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Woofer said:
OK since you edited while I was responding I have to respond again. :) I have way too much time on my hands...

Of course you would have a better short term power. It's also possible that you would change your body enough that you would never be close enough to contest a sprint by the time it ends. I guess you should just make sure you are going faster as long as you are trying to get bigger. Also move some place where they have a velodrome. :)
lol, someday I will live near a velodrome....someday.

For me, it's not really about racing. I simply just want to be very powerful on my road bike. Sounds a bit funny, but I get a lot of enjoyment out of just sprinting on the road, even though it's always by myself. I want to see what my limits are. There is nothing better than doing a PB, and feeling that strong.

I'm a bit odd ;)
and I think its time for bed, 3:34am!!
 

beerco

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whoawhoa said:
Highly unlikely that normal riding will result in much hypertrophy, if any. Forces are just too low.

Come on guys, just look at the legs of the guys around you - endurance cycling definitely produces hypertrophy, it just takes a while.
 

WarrenG

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beerco said:
Come on guys, just look at the legs of the guys around you - endurance cycling definitely produces hypertrophy, it just takes a while.
Some food for thought.

In my age group 45-49, the world record holder for the fastest 200m in competition did 11.3 seconds without using any banking or draft, at sea level (Manchester, UK). He has smallish legs and generates his speed at fairly high cadences. The second best sprinter in the world has large legs and does absolutely no weight training-he does a good amount of sprinting up hills in training.

If you're going to do squats you need to do plenty of core strengthening and upper body too so you can support the forces generated by your legs. If you sprint hard up hills the supporting muscles should get trained to their appropriate levels.

I think your earlier calculated wattages (and maybe forces) were too low. I do uphill sprints for 20" in 53x15 and the wattages are usually 960-1100, for 6 to 9 repetitions. Somebody else already mentioned the neurological adaptations. By sprinting at fairly high force, for this many repetitions (pretty much to failure mode) I think it's likely that you're engaging about as many motor units as possible.
 

velomanct

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beerco said:
Come on guys, just look at the legs of the guys around you - endurance cycling definitely produces hypertrophy, it just takes a while.
The only guys I know who have above normal size legs, they lift weights as well as ride.

I think the people who see cyclists(endurance) as having larger legs, it's more because of the better definition and less visable fat compared to the average person.