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Bulky Legs vs. Lean Legs ?(9 posts)

Bulky Legs vs. Lean Legs ?JohnnyCat
Jan 27, 2004 12:59 PM
Are bulky legs better, worse, or mean nothing compared to lean legs. Or do your legs reflect what kind of training and eating you do. Seems like Marathon runners usually have sticks and speed skaters have barrels. In cycling, do climbers have lean and sprinters have bulk for the most part? Could someone explain this to me? Are extremely compact and lean legs created from calorie deficits and long training; like the legs want to grow and get bigger but can't due to lack of nutrients, but are still able to retain a great amount of strength in a small and therefore light package(good power to weight ratio). This would seem ideal for climbing because it deals with overcoming gravity. Will bulky legs result from eating more, thus allowing the leg muscles to grow bigger from exercise. Great for lateral movement where optimum power is needed, but a lower power to weight ratio is acceptable, such as having to speed skate and sprint. Is my theory correct or not. Can one do certain exercises or eat a certain way to achieve a particular muscle mass? Please somebody tell me if I'm on the right track.

Thanks to all who respond
It's not about bulkKerry Irons
Jan 27, 2004 6:08 PM
To some extent, thin vs. bulky is in your genes. However, it's really about power to weight ratio, and if you ride a lot and train properly on the bike, your legs will the the optimum shape FOR YOU. What someone else's legs look like is meaningless, and you can't draw conclusions based solely on appearance.
Jan 27, 2004 10:37 PM
I totally realize that a lot of it is in your genes, and you can't steretype people's ability based on appearences alone. I just wanted to know if in general my logic is sound. Give me a break; I'm sorry but I don't think its meaningless. How many speed skaters have you seen with skinny legs or marathon runners with big bulk? I realize this is an extreme example. It can't just be about power to weight ratio. I believe in some cases optimal strength is needed over optimal power to weight ratio. I also realize that the power to weight ratio one can give up is very finite. It would seem climbing would need the very best power to weight ratio (or lean legs) because every pound you have to lug up there is exponentially harder than having to carry that extra weight on a flat. Why is it that some riders are good at breakaways and flats, but stink at climbing? If you think about it, I believe it matters where you measure the power to weight ratio. If you measured it while climbing it might be different than if you measured it on the flats. You could then tell what your're stronger at, and could focus on achieving a certain muscle mass if a future event emphasizes one skill over another. Also do bulky legs tire more easily than lean?

Just somebody tell me if what I'm saying is for the most part true. Thanks
Bulky Legs vs. Lean Legs ?oddsos
Jan 28, 2004 2:25 AM
Slightly expanding on what Kerry was saying - Your genetics determine which sports you are likely to have an aptitude for. At the lower levels of competition anyone with a bit of determination can have a go and enjoy themselves, however as the intensity of competition increases those without a genetic head start struggle. People reaching the top level of sports will be those who combine the right genes, determination, training, talent and luck. Therefore speed skaters are bulky as this helps in their sport and cyclists are skinny.

Expanding slightly on cycling you will find that even those looked on as being big, beefy sprinters are generally pretty skinny. Sustained power relies on the cardio vascular system more than the muscualr system. I'd estimate that top time trialists are applying maximum forces of 100 lbs to the pedals on each stroke. This is a tiny force and so leg strength is not going to determine cycling ability. Instead it is the hearts ability to supply oxygen to the muscles that determines how fast a cyclist can go.
mostly geneticsColnagoFE
Jan 28, 2004 7:59 AM
I have really lean legs. I squat with high weight and deadlift year round and they never really get big--though they are well defined with little to no fat on them. They are pretty strong as well though I'll never be a world class sprinter as I tend to have more slow twitch than fast twitch fibers--more suited to endurance than speed. You can train to make your legs stronger or have more endurance, but untimately you are stuck with what you were born with. Someone like Marty Nothstein is never gonna be a world class climber and someone like Pantani is never probably not gonna beat Cippo in a sprint no matter how they train.
re: Bulky Legs vs. Lean Legs ?aaroncvc
Jan 29, 2004 12:51 PM
I am under the impression that the quads tend to be composed of predominantly fast-twitch muscle fibers, while the glutes and hamstrings tend to be mostly slow-twitch. I think that has something to do with difference in muscle-mass between "sprinters" and "climbers", and it goes beyond genetics.

If we're looking at the most elite level of the sport, the sprinter-types put alot of effort into building really strong, powerfull quads. These muscles will crank out high amounts of power for a short amount of time... ATP is the primary energy source for an 8 second sprint.

Climbing an alpine pass requires huge amounts of power and fitness as well, but it's more of a sustained, less explosive effort. The back, the glutes, and the hamstrings are used more... Again, muscle groups that are really good at high power outputs for a sustained period... On the other hand they lack the explosive power that the quads do.

Yes, you can do a certain set of excercises to gain muscle mass in your quadricepts, glutes, hamstrings, etc... But is that power neccesarily applicable to a bike? That's something that coaches and fitness experts will debate till the end of time. I am under the impression that most "pro's" use the gym to supplement their cycling... That their strength training in the gym is mostly core and upper body workouts, and the lower body stuff is best left to be developed with specificity - on the bicycle.

I guess I'm suggesting that the genetics determine what sort of specialty a cyclist will lean towards... And that is what has an effect on the systems that they really focus on more than anything. But in the amateur ranks, I think it's a mistake to hyper-focus on a specialty. There's always going to be exceptions, guys that are just built extra slim... or the opposite... But for the run of the mill guy like me, 5'10", 155, it would be mistake to qualify myself as a sprinter, a climber, or a time-trialist. I've had decent results in all three.
Robbie McEwen 5'7" 148 lbs. , doesn't look too bulky to me (nm)hrv
Feb 2, 2004 9:02 AM
I look for the most muscled guy to get behind in critshrv
Feb 2, 2004 9:07 AM
For the cat 3/4 stuff I do, most of the time the guy with the muscles popping out in his legs is usually someone you want leading you out, if you can fight the rest of the pack for his wheel. More often than not, in my experience, he's going to be the one with the most pop to get you to the line, if you can hang.

Long, long ago, another time and place, when I was a speedskater....

Take a look at the TDF last yearFrith
Feb 4, 2004 8:18 PM
The top 3 riders had widely varying leg muscles. Lances were pretty skinny compared to vino's and Ulrich were somewhere in the middle. Tylers are toothpicks. These are the best gc riders in the world... I'm thinking leg muscle mass doesn't mean a whole lot.