Muscle bound...forever?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by ejglows, Jun 23, 2004.

  1. ejglows

    ejglows New Member

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    I have just finished reading the `gymming` post and have come to a few conclusions about myself. I was a Division 1 college athlete in a `burst` sport. I added muscle rather than endurance and now 2 years later I am having trouble changing my body type. I know this has to do with genetics AND training. I am a woman (5`2", 130, 17%Body fat) and have a hell of a time shedding the extra mass. It seems the more I train, regardless of type of exercise, I still get big.

    My question here is, do I have hope to become an endurance athlete? Should I expect years of training to change the composition of my muscle (fast to slow twitch fibers)? In University I was fed protein powders/supplements because I was (am) a veggie and I now find it hard to simply consume enough protein `au naturale.` I thought that this would actually help!

    Any suggestions will help...

    e
     
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  2. jimbooffa

    jimbooffa New Member

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    Why not do both? I am a natural bodybuilder (6'1" 220lb 10% BF) and I regularly ride 30 to 50 miles on either a Saturday or Sunday. Biking this past year has helped me to become leaner than I have ever been in my life.

    If you are not doing strength training you muscles should atrophy some.

    Protein powder is an excellent low calorie replacement for traditional food sources.

    Good luck
     
  3. Aztec

    Aztec New Member

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    I wouldn't worry. Just about anyone can become a decent endurance athlete, while only a much smaller group can succeed in what you refer to as 'burst sports.' With enough time and training, you'll lose whatever muscle mass you gained from that previous training (at least some, possibly all). Think about it -- if you gained it from training, you'll lose it from not training. endurance sports do little to build/maintain muscle mass.
     
  4. Doctor Morbius

    Doctor Morbius New Member

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    We must be somehow related. I've even gained size & weight riding the bike for 1.5 - 2.5 hours at a time 4 - 5 days per week! My Cousin, who is a personal trainer, is amazed. The only thing we can think of to explain this is that I must be made mostly fast twitch fibers. I actually weigh 22 LBS more than I did last summer but my bodyfat % is lower. Thank God!

    I measured my arms and legs a couple of weeks ago and the ol' biceps were 19" and my thighs measured 28". That's as large as they've ever been, even when I was a strappin' young lad 20 years ago when I only lifted weights for bodybuilding! This is while riding 8 - 10 hours per week between 70% - 80% Max Heart Rate and lifting weights every 5 - 6 days a week doing about 3 - 4 sets per bodypart. During the summer months I only lift for upper body because I want to save my legs for the bike. I don't recouperate like I used to. So with virtually no weight lifting for my legs they're as large as ever.

    Obviously, my body type has not changed. However, I am able to increase my level of aerobic conditioning. My resting heart rate is around 55 BPM after slightly more than 1 year of somewhat consistant training. I will never be able to compete with the leaner red twitch kind of guys at cycling. However, if they want to arm wrestle ...! :D

    To answer your question, "Are you going to be able to become an endurance athlete?" Based on the information you've provided and without knowing you better I would have to answer no. I'm sorry if that's not what you would like to hear but with such a predisposition toward white fast twitch muscle fiber and a propensity toward muscular weight gain it is highly unlikely. This is why people like us tend to gravitate toward "burst" sports. People tend to enjoy things better when they are successful at them. That's why the tall lanky kids ran cross-country or played basketball and the stocky guys ran sprints, did shot put or played football. It's just more natural for them.

    That being said you should not give up. I'm enjoying the crapola out of cycling. It gives me a tremendous sense of accomplishment when I can cover the same mileage while noting a decrease in my working heart rate. Yesterday's ride was 2 hours long and my average heart rate was 83% of Max and today I feal friggin' great! I can't wait to get back out on that bike again today, even though I suck at it!
     
  5. ejglows

    ejglows New Member

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    I guess I will only have solace in the fact that I can kick the living S**T out of the girl on the line next to me at the END of the race...of course after having devised a plan while watching her back tire for over an hour...*sigh

    I do understand what you are saying about your body composition changing/not changing. Maybe I should start weightlifting again and suck it up. However, I like to believe that since I am still young I do have a better shot at changing muscle twitch composition. I will hold on to my hope, even if it is a false hope. I will look into events with killer mountains...any course that requires more power AND muscular endurance. Play on the good qualities of such a body.

    Oh, I ride 5-6 days a week 1 1/2-3 hours a session and live in a very mountainous area ( I refuse the third ring...I deny its existence!). Also I changed my sport due to injury (need a shoulder replacement at 22!) and looked into finding something that would not jeopardize holding children later in life, AND something to give me my speed fix.

    Dr. M, 22 lbs UP and a lower body fat? You must look like the Hulk!? Perhaps you were really meant to be another Arnold...
     
  6. jimbooffa

    jimbooffa New Member

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    Damn Doc those are some serious guns for a guy who doesn't train regularly. I had 18s that pumped up to 19 but I have lost 15 pounds in the past year and they've shrunk to 17 1/2. Its all an illusion anyway and I look way better at the lower weight. I had the huge thunder thighs too when I was younger and leg pressing 1200lb.
     
  7. Aztec

    Aztec New Member

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    Doc, those are some pipes, baby. Remind me not to disagree w/ you in any posts.

    That said... I totally disagree with you! At 5'2", buck-thirty, there's no reason she can't be a good endurance athlete. I have one friend in particular who is another genetic freak [like you!] who can run a 40 yd dash in something like 4.5 at the age of 36. He does long course triathlons, and does them well. And I see women of all shapes and sizes in the high triathlon rankings. They aren't all slow twitch waifs.

    Ejglows... hills aren't necessarily going to be your strengths. The flats are. You want outright power to be the factor [we all fight the same aerodynamic load], not power-to-weight ratio [heavier = more work on climbs]. That's why climbers are sticks and sprinters are muscular. Sounds like you would be much better as a criterium rider and sprinter.
     
  8. at_racing_2000

    at_racing_2000 New Member

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    dear ejglows,
    I have to agree with aztec, you can become an endurance athlete, but I must tell you it takes time. I too was a collegiate athlete, built about equally between fast twith and slow twitch muscle running competitively in any race from the 200m to the 5000m.

    My best friend was in your situation though, all fast twitch and he wanted to make the transition to cycle with me for the longer rides. It took about two good summers before he could hack it, but he made the mistake of looking at the body weight ratio and not the power output and still couldn't beat me. At 5'2" 130, I don't think you have a thing to worry about already, just focus aerobic threshold, and work on doing twenty and thirty mile sprints, and I think you'll be one toough cookie to beat. By the by, aztec's advice is very very good, take it to heart and you'll do well.

    good luck

    act
     
  9. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    i don't know where you're located, but as i'm sure you're aware cycle sport has many options. you've got the very high speed of short distance track sprints (e.g., 200-m, 500-m TT) through the long slow slog of a 24-hr TT. there's bound to be something that takes your fancy within the two extremes.

    as to what you may or may not be good at, it's difficult to say at this point. one idea may be to do some formalised testing with either an SRM or Power Tap power meter to ascertain where your strengths and weaknesses may lie. For example if you can turn out huge power over 5-secs, it may be worthwhile taking up track sprinting. if you turn out moderately high power over 5-secs road sprinting may be the option. if you can sustain a high average power or have a good LT then maybe TTing is the way to go for you.

    as regards protein, it's possible to meet and exceed the upper demands of protein requirements for even the most extreme protein/sports demands (i.e., the Tour de France) from a normal diet even if you're a vegetarian. the upper limit for protein requirements in e.g., the TdF is ~ 2.0 g/kg body mass.

    at your current training level your requirement will be ~ 1.0 to 1.5 g/kg body mass or 59 to 89 g of protein per day. last time i analysed my diet i was consuming ~ 1.6 to 1.9 g/kg body mass per day, and i too am a veggie.

    good luck, and let us know how it goes,
    ric
     
  10. CatSpin

    CatSpin New Member

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    Hope that you have access to some "crits" where you live. If so, race em' and I bet you will win them. I too am a large rider and ex-bodybuilder on a 5'11" frame I am down to 185lbs from 230lbs during my big muscle days. Guess what, I am still VERY big to be a Cat3 cyclists and get dropped frequently on long races and climbs. I make it all back on the crits where fast twitch and a couple of extra pounds allow riders like "us" to easily power through corners, jump away from groups or blast out a massive sprint that leave the lightweights scratching their heads.

    Race your strengths, train your weaknesses.

    Good luck,

    CatSpin
     
  11. ejglows

    ejglows New Member

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    Thanks for all the advice. I have been training for more distance races, but I can see how becoming a crit rider would be much more realistic. The biggest challenge now is finding those races! I need to learn more Kanji (Japanese/chinese characters)!!! Ric, I would love to get a more detailed view of my poweroutput and workload, do you know anyone in Japan who speaks English?

    Hey hey, 3 cheers for CT! My hometown is Burlington...

    Well, back to some rainy day training...

    Thanks again...I HAVE HOPE!

    e
    (too competative not to win)
     
  12. Doctor Morbius

    Doctor Morbius New Member

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    Ejglows,

    I knew a guy named Pete. He was a tall thin guy that smoked 3 packs a day. We used to go to the gym together 10 years ago. I remember the first time we went there I had been jogging for about 4 months and thought "boy, I'll show this guy up" thinking that because he was a sedentary person that smoked like a chimney. He blew me away! He literally ran circles around me. I couldn't believe it. I felt like a real putz being blown away by this skinny lankey smoking couch potato.

    Of course, when it came to weights I was significantly stronger than he was no matter what exercise we were doing. But ... and here's where it gets interesting ... he could do 80% of his maximum for 15 - 20 reps whereas I could only do between 6 - 10 reps. My fast twitch muscles would burn out when his red twitch fibers were just getting started. I would have to drop down to around 50% of my max to do high rep sets like that. The weight I used on my high rep sets turned out to be what he could use on most of his heavier lifts of 6 - 8 reps.

    Pete is the kind of guy that excels in endurance sports events, whether it's running, cycling, swimming or whatever. That's also when it hit me in the face that it was all about the genetics. There is just no amount of training, conditioning or steriods I could do to keep up with Pete at endurance activities. Period.

    Oh, by the way, thanks for the flattery on the guns! After my previous post I decided to be certain that I wasn't misleading anyone so I took another measurement. I'm now down to 18.75" on the biceps. That's OK because my last weight training day was May 27th, which was 4 weeks ago today! So in 4 weeks I've lost 1/4 inch worth of pump. Nothing that a couple weeks wouldn't fix though.
     
  13. Doctor Morbius

    Doctor Morbius New Member

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    Another take on this strength vs. endurance thing is if you took 2 identical twins and each had the same strength levels, the better conditioned twin with greater endurance would have the competitive edge.

    Conversly, if both identical twins had equal levels of endurance and conditioning, the stonger of the two would have the edge. That's why I think some cyclists (Armstrong, Ulrich) are into the weights. I don't think Tyler Hamilton has ever seen a weight room. ;)
     
  14. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    some cyclists are into weights because they or they're coaches don't understand the underlying physics of the situation, or because it's 'tradition'. the forces in elite (i.e., TdF level) cycling are low to moderate, such that virtually anyone can meet them.

    ric
     
  15. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    E,

    i'm sorry i don't know anyone in Japan. however, to test and find out all you need is either an SRM crank or a Power Tap hub, and a trainer to test on. if you get a power meter let me know and i'll tell you how to test.

    cheers
    ric
     
  16. Carrera

    Carrera New Member

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    Hmmm, I don't know how he does it either. With my body I either tend to be skinny or pumped up like a gorilla. There seems to be no in between. Soon as I cycle I lose muscle mass like lightning and weight just drops - maybe most of it's water. Sometimes it even bothers me a little since my legs really diminish when I ride a lot. The fact is I can shift my bodyweight dramatically in very short spaces of time depending upon what I do, how I eat and how I train. It's just fat that sticks to my stomach like glue.


     
  17. Doctor Morbius

    Doctor Morbius New Member

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    Carrera,

    I'd like to be able to take credit for some new training technique or some fabulous diet program, but I can't. It's all about who my Father was. It's all genetic. And no I don't take any steroids. I just gain weight/size from exercising. It doesn't matter whether it's weight training or 10 hours a week of cycling.

    Haven't touched a weight in over a month and I'm not pumped for the photo. If the photo isn't too great, it's because I was holding the camera away from me while taking the picture. I couldn't see what was in the lens.
     
  18. Doctor Morbius

    Doctor Morbius New Member

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    Here's a calf shot. I don't do calves at all during the summer. Just ride the bike. Just looked at my calendar and I haven't done any lower body work since January 12th.
     
  19. Carrera

    Carrera New Member

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    Interesting pics and natural calves I would say - a la Chris Dickerson.
    I have some experience being around folks with varied genetics. I don't know if I mentioned it before but I used to train with weights in St Petersburg in Russia back in 97. In Russia the serious guys train in stadiums which are far cheaper than the private health clubs. The 3 strongest squatters in our gym had varied genetics. There were 2 guys who squatted about 520 for deep, full squats (same weight as Schwarzennegger used in his old days). However, these 2 guys had large waists and big hips. There was one other guy who had a slim waist and a terrific physique. Must have weighed about 210 pounds. I personally saw him rep out 1000 pounds for a full squat with 2 spotters each side of the bar in case he didn't make it. He was by far the strongest in the gym but his body didn't need a lot of bulk to shift super heavy weights. He'd have 2 guys pull his belt really tight before he made a lift.
    We also had Paco the champion of Spain in our gym in Navarra, northern Spain. He was one of the strongest bench pressers around - as big a genetic freak as Miguel Indurain in the cycling community of Navarra. He looked like a big fat man who had never exercised in his life. However, he'd press enormous weights till he ripped his pectoral one day and was put out of action.
    As for cycling genetics, it's interesting that Indurain was tested in Pennslyvania State University where it was confirmed his lungs could take in eight litres of air and his heart could circulate 50 litres of blood per minute during maximum effort. This is double the amount of a normal adult male. Indurain almost had the highest V02 max known to sports scientists. Someone once said that riding behind Miguel was like trying to keep pace with a moped.
    No idea how LA would compare physiologically. Maybe someone knows if Lance was tested in labs?
    Genetically I think I may possibly be more favoured cycling-wise than strength-wise. My overall genetics are very poor but I've been able to make up for such deficits by determination and the ability to train really hard. You obviously have good genetics for power sports and cycling so I guess you should make the most of your good fortune.


     
  20. mjh456789

    mjh456789 New Member

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    I encourage you to do some reading about Eric Hieden, the famous Olympic ice skater (endurance & sprint) who turned to endurance cycling events. He was massive in his skating prime and he had difficulty in cycling the first year due to his mass, but he some how shed some of his mass and went on the compete very successfully as a Pro. I believe he even won the USPRO Crit Championship in Philly back in 1984 or 1985. He's now a doctor at U of Cal Davis. You could probably find his e-mail on the Cal Davis web site. Maybe he could give you some advise. I understand he is a really great guy.

    Good luck and keep dreaming...that's where champions are born.

    Mike
     
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