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Muscle recruitment, leg development(17 posts)

Muscle recruitment, leg developmentempacher6seat
Jan 23, 2003 6:36 PM
During one my post ride traditions of staring at my thighs in the mirror (c'mon, you know you do it too :) ) I've noticed that my rectus femoris is the only prominately developed muscle in my quads. Near the insertion points of the vastus lateralis and medialis, there are the two "buldges" but the rest of my leg seems oddly underdeveloped, especially considering my past with sports that are pretty taxing on the legs. There doesn't seem to be much in the ways of abductors or adductors or sartorius.

Also, I know that the more muscles you can recruit to do a job, the easier it will be to do that job! That being said, is there a way to "target" these other muscles through cycling that would help them add to the power generated by the muscles I seem to be using more of now? Or is this a job for the weight room?

I'll stop here before Nick gets mad at me :)
In my relatively experienced opinion...PODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Jan 23, 2003 7:40 PM
Its not so much asking the question its just making sure you can sort the well-intentioned advice that isn't worthwhile from the worthwhile stuff.

Anyway depending on the range of motion different muscle in the quads are used. Your best off looking on the internet for which ones work at which angles but the medialis is used at the top 0-30 degrees, femorus in the middle range 30-60 degrees and lateralis at the bottom 60-90. These muscles can be emphasized by doing squats at different angles. I might have gotten the order mixed up but inner is used at the top, middle in the middle and outter at the bottom.

As for the muscles of the hip you just have to really focus on forcing the pedal stroke to come out of your hips and legs. I've been doing this and my glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors have been killing. This is probably the best way to improve the power in your stroke then over time raise the cadence.

In my relatively experienced opinion...netso
Jan 24, 2003 4:40 AM
Is this advice or an opinion? I thought no one knew anything about weight training to give advice and/or opinions.
re: Muscle recruitment, leg developmentRaven1911
Jan 23, 2003 9:49 PM
Don't know where got his info but from my experience the quads do not work that way. I am a physical therapist that has done extensive biofeedback and needle EMG studies on these muscles. The quads work in unison, with the vastus medialis firing hundredths of seconds before the vastus intermedius and vastus lateralus. You cannot isolate the quads in certain leg positions. It simply does not work that way and I have tried through needle EMG, especially with the medialis which is thought to have an impact on the knee cap movement, but does not. The rectus femoris is the only muscle the goes over the hip joint and the knee joint.

So to answer your question you cannot target certain quads, but it is more of a genetic thing as to what muscles are more developed than others. I would not worry about these other muscles, but make sure you are getting the performance out of your cycling and the development of your muscles will come with time. Try concentrating on the hamstrings and gluts are these muscles are invaluable in cycling.
re: Muscle recruitment, leg developmentwasabekid
Jan 23, 2003 10:15 PM
Raven: I threaded a question to one of your replies mentioning "single leg presses". I'm not sure if you missed it the first time before it got buried, but your insights will be appreciated.

This is a variation of single leg (squat) I've been taught:

wasabekid "Poll: squats" 1/17/03 8:43am


re: Muscle recruitment, leg developmentRaven1911
Jan 24, 2003 7:14 AM

The single leg leg press exercise I am referring to is done on an actual leg press machine with one leg at a time(the other leg helping stabilize you on the floor). Make sure you are able to see you toes in front of your knee when doing this exercise though. You bring your knee almost all the way to your chest and press away from you. If done right you will feel it in the gluts and hamstrings, believe it or not. But this is an excellent exercise for cycling specific weight training. Yours sounds really good too though;)
Interesting researchPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Jan 23, 2003 10:34 PM
I'm speaking from experience of course and not research. I know when I have done leg extension before or squats I have done different angles and felt it in different spots on my leg. You do say it fires hundredths of a second prior so in a slow movement such as weight lifting could this firing slow down? I'm interested to know. Either way thanks for correcting me.

Interesting research for podiumbound.caRaven1911
Jan 24, 2003 7:10 AM
Nick, It would depend on how slow you did your movement. Obviously if you did the movement in an EXTREMELY slow manner you could get the medialis to fire at a slower rate from the other quads, but you still couldn't get the others to fire separately. From my research we are doing average controlled speed to fast speed, not extremely slow speed. My main point is that all the quads share a common insertion and origin tendon (besides the rectus femoris), and all are wrapped in the same type of connective tissue (bag) so to say (I know this from cadaver studies), so it is really hard to get certain muscles to fire separately at different foot positions. You can target the adductors, however, with a wider stance during a squat. However, if you really wanted to target the medialis, adductors (which are huge stabilizing muscles) and the lateralis a good exercise to do is what speed skaters do, which is the stationary skating from side to side on a slide board. We use this a lot with high level athletes and it works the quads, lateralis and adductors something fierce and differentiates them quite well. This exercise works because you are using an adduction(toward the body) and abduction (away from the body) movement which is different than a pressing movement like a squat in an up and down motion. I am not sure if this movement would benefit a cyclist since our motions are mainly up and down, though. A good association to join to learn more is the national strength and conditioning association .

Foot positionsPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Jan 24, 2003 8:00 AM
Thanks for the info. After you explained it it seems correct.

Then I've heard that foot positions don't affect which muscles are used but does it affect which ones are emphasized or are they all used equally? Would this mean riders like Mario Cipollini and world class speed skaters just have the genetic capability to have a large vastus medialis?

re: Foot positionsRaven1911
Jan 25, 2003 11:23 AM
Foot positions can emphasize inside or outside of the thigh(vary slightly), however, people like Mario Cipollini probably have the genetics as well as the world class training to get massive medialis'. Pro's are animals and all they do is ride.

Regarding foot positions: I would have your feet positioned like you have them on the bike when you do squats. Some people position their cleats straight on both feet, which is wrong. You should position your cleats relative to how you walk(provided you don't walk like a duck). Not everyone walks with both toes of their feet straight ahead. Me...I position my left straight ahead and my right toe slightly out. I then typically do squats with my feet positioned that way, because that is the way they will be on the bike when I sprint.
Thanks guysempacher6seat
Jan 23, 2003 10:11 PM
I appreciate both your replies. Interesting info from both. I agree with Raven on his remark about genetics. I can't keep muscle on my arms if my life depended on it! I thought it would be strange for one muscle in a particular group to be more prone to growth then another, though.

Nick, I agree with your move to educate people about proper weight training, however, it seems a bit pointless. Almost analogous to trying to stop people from posting spoilers, or SUV rants. I think the most that can be done is perhaps a disclaimer on the boards informing newbies that we are not all gurus of anatomy and physiology, and to check with their doctor or trainer for proper advice. Even then there will be people bring up the topic. Either way, I applaud your efforts.
Jan 23, 2003 10:39 PM
This is a perfect example of experience vs. research from 1 fairly experienced person in the weight room then of course a physiotherapist who has a great deal of education. I came out wrong. You'd be interested to know speed skaters and riders like Mario Cipollini have highly defined vastus medialis muscles. From the theory I thought was correct this muscle would fire in the last portion of the pedalstroke and propel the pedal through the dead spot there... thats why I thought it as being correct.

Thanks for your support... people should know what they are getting themselves into when they ask for advice on here so a disclaimer would be nice.

Out of curiousity what ever happened to the guys who pushed you off your bike?

Nothing, unfortunatelyempacher6seat
Jan 24, 2003 11:17 AM
No witnesses, no leads. No windows were repaired on the vehicle I described at any major shops, either, so they might've been from out of town or something.
Squats and Jumping rope.CJ838
Jan 24, 2003 6:12 AM
The best way to develop all the muscles in the leg, lower back and hips, is squats (with or without weights). Try doing 100 standing squats with no weights, hands on your hips.

The second, and more targeted, is jumping rope.

These are basic exercises, that evry pro athlete will tell you WORKS.

Try it.

I think I qualify as a squatting machine alreadyempacher6seat
Jan 24, 2003 11:21 AM
For rowing we would do hundreds of squats/jump squats and lunges. I feel like I can squat forever! I haven't done much as far as weighted squats go, though.
Try front squats and sissy squats (which aren't for sissies) nmbrider
Jan 24, 2003 11:23 AM
Problem with hundreds of squats (from my understanding)PODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Jan 24, 2003 3:40 PM
I've talked to numerous people and at about 18 reps two things begin. 1) The body begins to produce mass ammounts of lactic acid (dependent on how heavy the weight is and this actually starts probably around 10) then 2) the muscles begin to fatigue to the point where the load of the excercise is distributed into the tendons and ligaments. What this means I'm not sure. From my understanding it can do one of two things 1) help to strengthen them or 2) increase the risk exponentially of injury in areas which are as easily repairable as muscle.

From the programs I do theres max strength and then strength endurance which stretches the max reps out to about 12.

My (relatively unqualified but releatively experienced) 2 cents,