Muscular Adaption and Cycling

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by James SA, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. James SA

    James SA New Member

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    Firstly, thanks to everyone who answers all the newbie questions. It is such a huge benefit to get quality information regarding training when there is so much BS out there.

    I am curious as to why I have noticed an increase in leg muscle mass considering that most physiologists and coaches emphasize that cycling is aerobic (although they occur also within the muscle)? If strength and force training is not necessary for cycling performance then why would I be building muscle to adapt to my training load?
     
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  2. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

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    LOL! How do you know you won't get BS in here? Being a newb, how can you distinguish between what's BS and what's not?

    Anyway, endurance cycling is not an anabolic (tissue/muscle building) activity, physiologically speaking. Too many repetitions with too little resistance.
    You can walk up stairs? If so, you won't need to build muscle to improve your cycling performance. Physical adaptations are occurring within your muscles to better handle the stresses of endurance cycling, and increased muscle mass is not usually one of them. You will probably see an increase in leg definition because you will presumably become leaner the more you ride, but a size increase may or may not occur. With some people, their legs do get bigger, some get smaller - strictly depends on the individual.
     
  3. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    Bicyclists have to stop using this stair climbing argument.

    To go up stairs a walker lifts only his weight. A bicyclist needs to also lift his bike. A bicyclist needs to be stronger than a walker.

    Stairs are designed as an impedence match to the walker. Stairs are not designed as an impedence match to a bicyclist.

    If I recall, indoor stairs are about 80% grade (8" rise; 10" tread). I don't think many people can bicyle indoor stairs. But everyone who bicycles can carry an equivalent of their bikes up indoor stairs. Bikes are just too awkward to carry up stairs.
     
  4. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

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    LOL! AOG strikes again! Easily discernible BS right there - don't have to be a vet to know that./img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif
    I'm sure the OP will appreciate your addressing his concerns./img/vbsmilies/smilies/icon14.gif
    Oh yeah, my stairs are always 7" rise and 12" run.
     
  5. maydog

    maydog Well-Known Member

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    Its a complicated subject, you haven't told us much about your pre-cycling condition. In general, I believe that a trained muscle will have better tone and mass than the equivalent untrained muscle. Training promotes growth of structures within the muscle cell body.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_hypertrophy

    The chances are that your leg muscles were not optimal for the force and power demands during a ride. Your legs were a weak link now your body is adapting to your riding style.

    Riding style may also play into hypertrophy as microtrauma is a proposed stimulus for growth. I suspect that riding at low cadences and/or high forces will result in more muscular trauma and result in more growth. For sustained riding, it is generally accepted that a relatively low force and higher cadence is more efficient overall.
     
  6. James SA

    James SA New Member

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    I figure that if a listen to theoldguy and ignore all the advise from Daveryan, Rapdaddy, and the like I will be better off. After all, he does make sound arguments against Dr Coggan from time to time /img/vbsmilies/smilies/redface.gif.

    On a serious note, when I started training about 12 months ago I was 82 kg (6 ft or 184 cm) and am currently 72 kg. So your point regarding the definition opposed to muscle mass is probably correct. But over the last two months (after reaching my current weight) it seems that I have gained more leg size.

    My weak points on my training profile is currently the 5 sec and 1 minute efforts and have tried to incorporate more "force" training via low cadence hill efforts into my schedule (I know that not everyone on this forum agrees with this approach). A local coach suggested gym work to improve anaerobic power but this too seems to have been dismissed by most contributors to the forum (there are many threads for this topic already).

    My purpose for asking the question was simple. If muscle size increases to compensate for the training then it must be a "limiter" (as suggested by Maydog) and I would use the best approach to improving it (gym work). I am already trying to do more Z4 work as is suggested by Daveryan and others.

    On another note; my other weak point on my profile is longer rides (i.e. over 3 hrs) which I plan on tackling with longer weekend endurance rides.
     
  7. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

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    Tony answered it well. We will not all respond equally (in performance gains and how the body changes in appearance) with the same stimulus or stressor. Your legs may have indeed added some size, but what is incredible about the human body is its unique ability to adapt to the stressor even if the end result is that we take on a different appearance.

    Regardless of how your legs are currently responding or adapting to the stressor try to ignore that aspect and focus in on sports specific training. If your leg muscularity is currently increasing just forget that aspect and let them adapt and change shape as training continues. Please trust me as a former strength consultant and competitor that gym training is not the answer and will probably end up hurting your cycling training more than helping.

    I am a big believer in sports specific training and evidence/science based training, but there are times when faith based training is crucial. Faith based training in my terms is when you don't quite understand what is going on or what you need to do or when you start second guessing the program or sport specific stressors is that you have faith in those that are well versed like Dave, RDO, Alex, Coggan and a few others. Wisdom based is when you can see through some of the crap posts that make no sense at all and just completely discount those. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

    Currently it takes a whole lot of faith for me because my gains in cycling are very slow and hard compared to others. It takes me many months of consistent L4 training just to see the smallest of fitness gains. It has nothing to do with the solid advice that Dave and RDO have given to me. It has more to do with my genetics and that I simply will not progress at the rate like Sillyoldtwit did on the its killing me thread.

    I probably could gain at a slightly better rate if I stopped training at the gym, but that is not my ultimate goal. If I were desiring to be a competitive cyclist I would without a doubt drop lifting because I have a better understanding of what it takes to get real results in the gym and what you have to do in the gym with progressive lifting or if you did it the right way you will not hit L3 or higher for a sustained period because of DOMS. None of what I do at the gym transfers to the bike except lugging my weight up a hill. So it is only the negative that transfers to the bike.

    Stay focused on the goal with specific training is my advice
     
  8. frost

    frost New Member

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    Maybe you initially lost a bit "too much" and then when started eating more gained a bit back to find your "natural balance"? Cyclists have defined and muscular looking legs but just looking at their weights tells quite well that there is no huge muscle mass.

    My weak points on my training profile is currently the 5 sec and 1 minute efforts and have tried to incorporate more "force" training via low cadence hill efforts
    There are some studies of usefulness of low cadence efforts but that is more to efficiency side of aerobic efforts (if for any). Low cadence efforts (unless you are talking about sprinting uphill) are most probably detrimental to your 5 sec rather than helpful.

    A local coach suggested gym work to improve anaerobic power but this too seems to have been dismissed by most contributors to the forum (there are many threads for this topic already).

    Actually if there is help from gyming to cycling that most agree, it is exactly in that area, maximum power and anaerobic capacity. Usual advice however is to first try to maximize the gains with a bicycle, doing exercises targeted to that area, (short) flying sprints, big geared standing starts and short intervals (30-90 sec) with complete recovery. These should be all done rested and recovered to have full benefit and quality first in mind.
     
  9. James SA

    James SA New Member

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    Thanks Frost. Do you incorporate these "sprints" and "short intervals into a typical Z2 longish ride (3 hrs) or keep them as a stand alone session?
     
  10. frost

    frost New Member

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    If you can "afford" (you have a slot in your training schedule) to have a separate session then I think it is worth it. Especially when talking about anaerobic capacity exercises that are really taxing should be done rested and should allow enough resting. Interestingly there is study by Parra et. al that showed that high intensity intervals 5 times per week "did not change "anaerobic" work capacity, possibly because of chronic fatigue induced by daily training."
     
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