Unneeded Muscle Mass

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by Taylor S, Mar 3, 2010.

  1. Taylor S

    Taylor S New Member

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    A little background:

    I've been riding pretty seriously for about six years now, and my high school days are coming to and end here in a few months. While in high school I ran both cross country and Track very competitively. And with those two sports (primarily track and field) came required weight lifting. For four years I lifted ~3 days a week, and with that I got stronger in both my upper and lower body.

    I've made the decision not to run in college, and instead do what I love, which is cycling. Now though I'm stuck with quite a bit of unneeded muscles in my shoulders, arms, and back and I'm looking for a way to tone them down.

    I'm very lean (6,2-165 lbs) and I feel that loosing some of that muscle mass will benefit my riding.

    Any tips would be awesome!
     
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  2. genedan

    genedan New Member

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    I wouldn't say those muscles are unneeded, cause you certainly use your shoulders and back muscles a lot more than you think when cycling, especially when climbing. Anyways what are your strengths? Sprinting, Climbing, everything?

    Your size is not bad at all for cycling, so I really wouldn't worry about your weight right now and just focus on getting better on cycling. I think after you build up to a good level and figure out what you want to accomplish, you start thinking about body weight. Take a look at Bradley Wiggins, he's pretty much your size at 6'3'' and 160 lbs, and he's climbing exceptionally well. So I'd say for now not to worry so much about weight.

    What college are you going to by the way? Are you thinking about doing collegiate cycling?
     
  3. Taylor S

    Taylor S New Member

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    Thanks for the advice.

    As for strengths, I couldn't really classify myself as a climber or sprinter. I like climbing more, but as of right now, i'm better at sprinting. I do find myself most at home when i'm leading a breakaway.


    As for colleges, i'm looking at UCSB, San Fransisco state, and Sacramento state. I'm leaning towards San Fran, but unfortunately it doesn't offer a school sponsored team.
     
  4. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

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    Taylor, genetics will play a big role in your goal. It seems like with your body stats @ 6'2" / 165 that you would look thin so I am having a hard mental image of you being that wide. I come from the world of lifting so I would classify you as a hard gainer, but in the world of cycling where a reduced frontal area helps sweeten the deal I understand your plight.

    I will throw in my simplistic view to your question.
    The only way to reduce muscle mass is to not stimulate the muscle. The body will waste what it does not need, as in the unfortunate case of a person who is confined to a wheel chair. Eventually the more time in that chair and the muscle not stimulated it will begin to atrophy. However, and again genetics plays a role, just doing daily living picking up boxes, raising a cup to your mouth things require upper body motion and stimulate the muscle.

    Some who are more mesomorph in structure can gain minute amount of muscle even in the slightest of motion. That is why a person who is confined to a desk all day and is sedentary in general do not atrophy completely like those who are confined in a wheel chair or bed. Even walking to the bathroom or to the car stimulates the muscles just enough to keep that person from completely becoming atrophied.

    You can take knowledge like this and shape your training path.

    Shaping your path can be done a little. When I started lifting in college I was 115 lbs at 5'6" and was considered a hard gainer. I could eat pizza buffet everyday and not gain an ounce of weight. So I began to reshape my path by training with weights and laying in bed the rest of the day when not going to classes in order to conserve calories. I gained 40 pounds of bulk that first year and my muscles grew so fast I ended up with stretch marks everywhere. I eventually made it up to 190 lbs and qualified for the NPC nationals. The point is that I was able to reshape my path despite my crappy genetics for gaining muscle. Eventually my genetics stopped me from going further, but I was able to take knowledge and change my current direction and do what a lot of people thought was impossible for me to do.

    You can take knowledge of nutrition and physiology and apply it to your goals and despite genetics you may be able to warp your natural path.and achieve some of your goals.
     
  5. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Bear in mind that Sacramento is pan-flat and is pretty much over 100F every day in summer. I live about 35 miles away and you really do have to get back by 10am some days. It's a very dry heat but still... You have places like Lake Berryessa (30 minutes drive to the west) and the high Sierras for some epic rides and 8000+ft passes an hour or so drive to the east but as far as cycling goes it's very forgetful.

    The SF Bay Area has the Marin headlands and Mt Tam, Mt Diablo to the east and a whole wildness if you head north...

    ... if Sac State are offering a sponsorship it better be a good one to endure several years of riding around one of the most forgetable cities in the US.

    As for the unneeded muscle mass. Ride, ride and ride some more... it'll go away eventually. Climbing is all about weight and power - you don't need bulky muscle for the amount of power that even the top pros put our - like Contador, Shrek Jr, Rassmuchicken, Pantani and even Sir Lance a lot in his prime.
     
  6. Taylor S

    Taylor S New Member

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    Thank you for that information Felt Rider. I'll seriously take that stuff to heart and begin changing somethings up. Would push ups be a good alternative to bench press. I'm hoping that training at my body weight will help me loose some muscle but still stay strong and tone.

    As for my college choice, I'm still on the rocks with my decision. I've grown up in Fresno, Ca and riding here during the summer is about as unbearable as it can get. Hot, dry, and super sunny. So I think i'll be able to handle Sacramento. San Fransisco seems like an nice change of pace, and I hear both cities have a nice riding community.

    Growing up in Fresno does have it's advantages. I'm about 15 minutes ride from being at the base of the sierras, and that makes for a good ride climbing wise. And Climb to Kaiser starts and ends minutes away from my house (which is a lovely course to ride if you have 9+ hours to kill:p)
     
  7. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    I don't think the muscle mass is unneeded, but it does sound like you have quite a bit of unneeded height. ;)
     
  8. Enriss

    Enriss New Member

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    Yeah, at your height, you've got to be pretty skinny at 162 already. Train hard and let your body decide how much muscle it needs for the stress you put on it.
     
  9. Taylor S

    Taylor S New Member

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    For my height I am very skinny. Around 1-2% body fat. I'm just carrying around some extra muscle in my upper body, primarily sholders/back, from the weights.
     
  10. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

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    LOL! I have to laugh on this one! 6'2" 160ish, and you have excess upper body muscle that you believe you need to lose in order to the best cyclist you can be???!!! Most definitely - it's all relative!

    Try being me - 6'2"and change and 195-200 with 5% bodyfat...now I'm talkin' 20-25lbs of truly excess upper body muscle...:D

    Anyway, losing muscle is a tough order, as has been mentioned, due to the fact it likes to stick around if it feels it's needed by the organism (you) in some way, shape, or form. Riding a bike most definitely stimulates those shoulder, back, and pec muscles as they are required for stability while just tooling around, and leverage during hard efforts.

    The main problem is as you lose weight (at your BF, you don't have the luxury of losing much, if any, fat), you don't get to pick and choose from where that weight (muscle) will come from. So, along with losing some upper body muscle you will lose some lower body (bike propelling) muscle too.

    You gotta cut calories, my friend. And you gotta cut some protein. The exact numbers I don't know with certainty. The web will give some direction...

    Be prepared to take this endeavor VERY gradually, otherwise you will significantly hurt your performance on the bike...
     
  11. genedan

    genedan New Member

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    Yeah again, I really don't think you need to be losing any weight.

    So like, if you're college doesn't have a cycling team you can always form one yourself...it takes like 10 minutes on the USAC website.

    For instance, Ted King cites that he was frequently a one-man team from Middelbury College...then he signed with Cervelo. Not bad, huh?
     
  12. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    Do nothing. Just ride. As a lot have said, you're likely very thin, so weight loss shouldn't be on your plate. You're also what might be too lean. A bit more fat could be more healthy. There is no useful purpose for striving for such low body fat levels.
     
  13. Taylor S

    Taylor S New Member

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    The low body fat level came with doubling up on a cross country workout with a riding workout. Never purposely got this skinny, just happened.
     
  14. Tapeworm

    Tapeworm New Member

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    I'm sure it's low but I would wager it's not that low, unless you've had a dexascan or the like to prove me wrong. Callipers or the like have a very wide error margin . Body fat levels this low can result in serious health problems. So if you are that low you may need to have this looked at.
     
  15. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

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    I think everyone is hitting the same thoughts for advice. There are two ways to achieve the goal you are asking (reduce upper body mass) that I know. The first is to not stimulate muscle tissue and let it atrophy. That means no stimulation including push ups. The other way is to become catabolic and that comes from training and not feeding or recovery properly. Going into a catabolic state is not ideal, but hard training athletes tend to go catabolic a little anyway. Especially endurance athletes. On the other end of the spectrum (those in bodybuilding) try to stay as anabolic as possible (train, recover, adapt) and keep the body's natural testosterone and growth hormones up and the cortisol hormone down and insulin steady through the day. Endurance athletes tend to go into a catabolic state by the greater volume of training time and a reduced recovery time. Thus the body begins to refine itself based on the type of stress and genetics. We are all individuals (various genetics) and respond differently to training stress.

    Getting back to what everyone says here don't worry about this goal and just ride. Don't even get caught up right now on hormones, catabolic, anabolic and atrophy. Focus on power output that will overcome the frontal area factor. Like Tony mentioned there are many of us who are carrying much more mass and wider frontal areas, but the focus is on moving that threshold ceiling upward to overcome genetics in that manner. The training will or may cause the body to refine itself to fit the mold. Sounds to me you already fit the cycling physique so just focus on cycling.

    Best wishes
     
  16. Taylor S

    Taylor S New Member

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    Thanks everyone for the advice and input. Going to switch up my training/rest here in a couple of weeks. give it my best shot.
     
  17. Carrera

    Carrera New Member

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    I like to cross train for very good (personal) reasons. Firstly, cycling is terrific but is very aerobic and cardiovascular related so tends to ignore bone loading and muscle strengthening. Also, too much weights at the expense of cardio leads to imbalance in the opposite way. I tend to cycle in a way that's suited to my weights work since I calculated spinning for me is highly inefficient. Guys who carry muscle need to move big gears and also (mechanically) go for longer cranks for climbs. That's more energy efficient. However,guys who carry more muscle as I do are really at a disadvantage over distance. You can go fast for bursts but may fatigue far more quickly.
    My gut feeling is skinnier guys who spin make better cyclists but bigger guys can be more efficient using bigger gears and lower rpm.

     
  18. Doctor Morbius

    Doctor Morbius New Member

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    As Felt_Rider stated, stop the stressors for the areas where you want to lose muscle mass, eat clean and get in plenty of miles and you'll loose any unnecessary muscle.
     
  19. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

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    A welcome voice from the past. Hello Dr. M
    Good to see you are still in action.
     
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