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How important is upper body strength ...(14 posts)

How important is upper body strength ...cyclinseth
Oct 12, 2001 7:46 AM
in regards to cycling. We all know about stomach and back muscle strength. I'm thinking more about shoulders and arms, especially for one who seems to stand up on pedals at the first hint of incline.
It's the key to climbing wellmr_spin
Oct 12, 2001 8:00 AM
My climbing improved 100% when I started doing two things: crunches and pullups. Don't go nuts and build huge muscles, but you should be able to do 100 crunches and 10 pullups easily.

When you climb, you use your upper body as leverage to push the pedals down. So the more upper body strength you have, the more easily you will turn the pedals when the road turns up.

I think upper body strength is most evident in mountain biking, where on a steep incline, you often have to pull up on the bars to force the back wheel down to get traction (like riding a wheelie up the hill!). Usually you can't stand up in that situation, like you would on a road bike. MTB is a great way to build upper body strength, too, assuming you have steep enough hills.
re: How important is upper body strength ...DINOSAUR
Oct 12, 2001 8:03 AM
I don't think upper body strength is too important in cycling. However you need leverage when pulling on your bars when climbing. Upper body strength also helps you support yourself and prevents injuries. I try to do some type of cross training in the winter. By then by body is all all of whack and I need some resistance exercises. I think one of the reasons the pro's of today are better athlete's than the cyclist of old is because they are bigger and stronger and most do some type of weight training during the off season. Anyway- I need upper body strength so I can help my wife haul in the grocery bags after she goes shopping...
Oct 12, 2001 8:11 AM
They do not have one more once of upper body muscle more than the minimum needed! You get more than you need and you start to increase your weight. So although some upper body strength is good for climbing... "strength" is a relative term.. enough to pull on the handle bars will do. And how much do you meed to 'pull' on the HB? Not much.. LOOK at Pantani, Amstrong, and all the climbers...big muscles right? NOT!... and they are even smaller in person!!!

MTB is a completely different story since they have to move the bike back and forth all over the place...same goes with springting...
Sure, Armstrong is very slender but ...cyclinseth
Oct 12, 2001 8:18 AM
his arms look really ripped. I can't imagine you get that look from not doing anything. That's what I do, and I don't look like that, even if I were at 3% body fat.
hmm at 3% body fat....nestorl
Oct 12, 2001 8:36 AM
there is nothing left but muscle to show!. YES lance and all climbers look ripped! but it is because their BMI are around 18-20! AND, yes, I admit, they do some very very light weight workout during the off season. Check their training schedule. Although I heard Carmichel during a workshop in Boone, NC and he was very adamant AGAINST strength training for upper body....maybe because most people over do it?

I do agree light weights can only make you better since you become more efficient at processing calories and keeping your weight down. and may give you a slight noticable edge when long as you weight is low. Cheers. Nestor
This is about right....mr_spin
Oct 12, 2001 8:41 AM
re: How important is upper body strength ...morey
Oct 12, 2001 8:52 AM
From my understanding you use your arms and shoulders appreciably pulling up on the bike while you pedal down.
re: How important is upper body strength ...morey
Oct 12, 2001 8:57 AM
Addendum: This obviously does not take a great amount of strength. Light weight is probably all you need. Large muscle mass and weight are the climbers and/or bikers enemy.
Take it from a competitive bodybuilder/powerlifter, strength is not all its cracked up to be on the bike!
re: upper body musclesguido
Oct 12, 2001 10:15 AM
Lance didn't do too well (that is he wasn't racking up Tour victories) before his bout with cancer because he came from triathlete conditioning. He had a heavy upper body from swimming, which slowed him down. The ideal cycling body is like Fausto Coppi's: ripped but lean. Now is the time to do upper body conditioning for Spring. As many have said, cycling doesn't do much for your stomach muscles either.
different strengthcyclopathic
Oct 12, 2001 11:36 AM
sure Lance won't lift much but he can climb Boone standing

to climb out of saddle you have to have strong core/arms.
it shouldn't be weight lifter strength, but whatever you do you should be able to do repeatedly 50-70times a minute for 5-10-20min or more.

Slow twitching fiber usually doesn't add much bulk and what it adds way compensates extra weight

you can try exercises with free weights, though I think the best way to develop arms/core is riding hills on singlespeed/fixie or just geared bike in high gear standing, sprints out of saddle etc
Redefine 'strength' for cyclingpeloton
Oct 12, 2001 12:15 PM
A lot of pros certainly don't have large upper bodies in the sport of cycling. Upper body 'strength' is still important though. You need some functional strength in order to climb out of the saddle, and to apply torque to the bars in a sprint or hard effort. A 'strong' upper body is less likely to cramp up and allows you to stay supple on the bike. By the word strength here though, the definition is probably more one of muscle balance and flexibility, and not cross sectional muscle mass. A larger upper body will decrease power to weight ratio. One thing to remember though is that you can train properly to increase the strength of your upper body quite a bit before you put any size and mass on. A muscle can be made a great deal stronger before it will start getting noticeably larger. Strength training your upper body will decrease your risk of injury from acute trauma or overuse injuries. Properly done strength training will also increase your flexibility. Added flexibility on the bike will make you more comfortable and less likely to get tired faster. Strength training your upper body can also help to fight off some of the muscle imbalances that one can get from being all bend over the handlebars for miles on end.

Strength training can help your upper body to be more healthy for cycling. Just remember to keep the weight low, use good form, and not to get caught up in trying to bench press the national deficiet. Plus, doing a little work in the weight room is better for you than doing 12 oz curls when the weather gets cold.
Redefine 'strength' for cyclingJon
Oct 12, 2001 5:54 PM
From the bit of physiology I've taken and comments from some of the trainers at the U of A elite athlete
conditioning program here in Edmonton, my understanding is that the postural muscles in the upper body (spinor erectae,
abs, etc.), which constitute what we think of as the core, are all aerobic or mostly aerobic muscle fibre
types. They consequently respond best to high repetition, low weight exercises. Subjected to this
kind of stimulation, they obviously will not bulk up, but will become stronger and able to function
under light loads over long periods of time. This of course is exactly what is required of the upper
body in cycling. It functions more as a stabilizer through which force is transmitted to the legs. As
Morey notes, a lot of upper body bulk isn't required for cycling. But muscle tone and muscular
endurance are.
...wouldn't worry about itfiltersweep
Oct 13, 2001 7:12 AM
If you cycle religiously, you won't gain or maintain upper body muscle mass anyway (unless you are completely going out of your way to maintain it- like eating 6x/day, etc...). I've lost considerable upper-body muscle mass over the summer (with a 10-15% reduction in strength)- cycling is too cardio to support it (on me at least). My philosophy is to lift all winter and do maintenance cardio, and ride all summer and do maintenance lifting. I'm not training to be a world-class cyclist, but I look and feel great! Most males at a gym seem to focus solely on upper body workouts (vanity muscles like biceps and pecs)... ever notice how there is at least a 4:1 ratio between upper body equipment and leg equipment? Or how few guys use a butt blaster or thigh abducter? I think it is all about balance and strength to weight ratio- which seems weird when bombarded with images of over-developed upper-bodies (making a "cyclist" body appear to be underdeveloped).