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How Strong Are You Really?(23 posts)

How Strong Are You Really?BC
Oct 1, 2001 4:45 PM
Does muscle size have anything to do with how strong you are? I have seen some pros with small legs, but they're pros so they must be strong. On the other hand I know people with big legs that are not that strong. What is the easiest way to get stronger pedaling legs and how often should I lift?
re: How Strong Are You Really?Allen az
Oct 1, 2001 5:19 PM
Really?...I do a Saturday morning ride with about 15-20 other riders, and I'm usually pulling most of time @ around 23-24mph. I'm about 5'9" & 120 lbs. I don't really think it's about how much muscle you have, but how much oxygen you can take in, and the amount of lactic acid in your legs.

re: How Strong Are You Really?Jon
Oct 1, 2001 7:07 PM
For cycling cross-sectional muscle thickness or size doesn't mean a whole lot, unless you're a
sprinter. Muscle-fibre recruitment, peripheral aerobic development, and muscular endurance
are far more important. For instance, consider this, when a muscle is maximally contracted only
about 40% of the motor units are involved at any one time. So the issue in cycling is not so much size
or cross-sectional development, but neuromuscular recruitment and aerobic capacity. If size and
peak strength were THE big things, body builders and/or power lifters would be top cyclists, which
assuredly is not the case.

One other point, when one is developing strength, that strength must be developed in a sport specific
way. A cyclist needs to replicate as closely as possible cycling movements and the velocity
of movement common to cycling. This is another reason why so often strength gains in the gym
don't seem to transfer to the bike. For that reason Chris Carmichael developed several workouts designed
to facilitate strength transfer to the bike.
The Rest of the AnswerJon
Oct 1, 2001 7:12 PM
To answer your question about lifting, the two best sources I know of are Joe Friel, Cyclist's Training
Bible and Tudor Bompa, Periodization Training for Sports. They both have developed cycling specific
lifting programs, periodized to complement training and racing cycles. Hope this helps.
threshold trainingharlett
Oct 1, 2001 11:48 PM
allen.that's an important part of it. as both a runner and cyclist it's one of the main benefits of doing both. cycling helps build stamina, aerobic pathways and helps the runner prepare for aerobic strides and vo2 max enhancing intervals and threshold pace distance training. getting deep into the buffering level of anaerobic threshold is good for both sports. threshold training teaches muscle cells to use more oxygen.. meaning less lactate is produced and your body becomes better at clearing lactate. .
I understand threshold training theoretically...Spinchick
Oct 2, 2001 5:07 AM
it has made me a stronger cyclist. However, why can't I run??? I can come home from a 70 mile ride and feel fine (a little tired) but 4 miles of running do me in. And it's not just the legs -it's everything.
I understand threshold training theoretically...Jon
Oct 2, 2001 8:19 AM
You're dealing with a principle in exercise physiology called the specificity principle. Although you
are aerobically fit, your muscles have been trained to cycle, not run. From a neuromuscular standpoint
your muscles have been trained to "fire" in the sequence most conducive to pedalling a bicycle, not
to run. Same thing goes for upper body movement, etc. Also, which muscles you use are specific
to your activity. In running, the hamstrings are used more, whereas in cycling quads are emphasized.
Also, running involved eccentric contractions, that is contracting muscles when they are already
under load, as in the landing portion of the running stride. All these adaptations are specific to the
activity you're doing even though you enjoy general aerobic development. This explains an important
part of the challenge of multisport activities such as triathloning.
can't run ? for the same reason that I can't ride..dotkaye
Oct 2, 2001 9:35 AM
started riding with 20 years of competitive marathoning as background, and was distressed to find myself an inveterate back-of-the-packer on the bike. After three years of taking riding seriously, as opposed to noodling around a bit occasionally, I have actually moved into the back of the middle of the pack (wow). That training specificity is a beast. Doesn't matter that I have the v02 max of a competitive cyclist, or the muscular endurance of a marathoner, I still can't ride worth beans.. Only consolation is that I can hunt down the cyclists on the run leg of a triathlon..
I understand threshold training theoretically...harlett
Oct 2, 2001 9:50 AM
spinchick.i was just commenting that bicycling and running are complementary aerobic exercises. jon is right about the different muscle use. a lot of runners use cycling as a cross training exercise though. cycling also helps with increasing flexibility, hamstrings lengthen in a relaxed way, you work your quads for running hills.
when training for a marathon, cycling is a good way to occasionally take a break from running. but you need the physiologic and the psychomotor practice of running to improve your running. to train for both sports you can use something like carmichaels functional strength training. he has a program for triathletes that i have worked into my routines. my swimming is to relax though.
doug.i just take what i do seriously and try to be as knowledgeable as i can about how to help my body perform better.. like a lot of people here i would suppose
Dr. Harlett, RSM (Really Smart Person) *S* (nm)Jon
Oct 2, 2001 10:07 AM
Hah! But I'm Not. Don't Know the Alphabet. LOL (nm)Jon
Oct 2, 2001 10:10 AM
you do know that a X is a X is a X...don't you?..*S*..(nm)harlett
Oct 2, 2001 10:21 AM
you do know that a X is a X is a X...don't you?..*S*..(nm)Jon
Oct 2, 2001 10:26 AM
In spite of your Clarence Darrow-like legal machinations I have still ascribed such adjectives
to you as "nice", "clever", and "smart". You're pushin' your luck!
Oct 2, 2001 11:00 AM
triathlons - the reason I'm askingSpinchick
Oct 2, 2001 10:22 AM
is because I plan to do my first tri in June. After I learn to swim better(taking lessons in November), I will swim like a fish for the rest of the winter, ride outside as much as possible (supplemented by bi-weekly spin classes) and run (sigh) 3 to 4 days per week. I just can't get past that 4 mile mark on runs. Guess I'll stick to sprint tris for now. I'd feel better if the cycling leg of the tri were last. At least then I could gain some ground if I knew where I stood.
triathlons - the reason I'm askingJon
Oct 2, 2001 10:32 AM
Why don't you consult with some of the triathletes on this board, check with Harlett with respect to
the Carmichael program, and find a tri coach in your area for advice? There are lots of multisport
resources around and with the right program you can improve by leaps and bounds. A friend of mine
who has done a couple of Ironmans used a coach this year, and as a result of proper advice took
two hours off his previous time. And it only cost him $50.00 per month for five mos. of coaching.
Needless to say he's thrilled with his investment.
triathlons - the reason I'm askingharlett
Oct 2, 2001 11:06 AM
feel free to ask specific(or general) questions anytime....i'll look through my bookmarks and see what's there that might help you.
Harlett, I'm curiousDog
Oct 2, 2001 5:25 AM
You appear to really know what you are talking about here, having knowledge well beyond personal observation or having just read it on the internet somwhere. :-)

What's your background? You may have posted before, but I missed it. I would think you'd make a good coach.

Oct 1, 2001 7:14 PM
Cycling is about power output, and how long it can be maintained. Strength is only a component of power. Climbers might not have huge power, but they usually are lighter, so their power to weight ratio is what counts. Sprinters, especially track, have huge power outputs, but only for a short period. Time trialers have high power which can be maintained for a longer period.
I wish leg strength made me a better rider.Humma Hah
Oct 1, 2001 7:19 PM
I can press about 300 pounds with my left leg, considerably more with my right, and I'm a pathetic rider.

Being able to do a few reps at huge loads has little to do with being able to do 80 reps a minute for hours on end. Strengthening of the legs may increase power for sprints, or may help overcome a tendency for specific injuries, but really is not the key to distance road riding.
Oct 1, 2001 7:36 PM
if you could press 300 lbs. with both legs at 90 reps per min. for 5 min. you'd be a super
world class cyclist! Your point is well made.
A lighter bike & wheels might change your way of thinking. nmMB1
Oct 2, 2001 5:34 AM
cycling is an endurance sportDog
Oct 1, 2001 7:25 PM
For any race over about 2 minutes, muscle size won't matter much (even more obvious for runners. Even a short race for a roadie, a criterium, runs nearly an hour, and really skinny guys can kick butt.