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Old debate: to lift weights or not(33 posts)

Old debate: to lift weights or notDr Lizardo
Oct 13, 2003 11:06 AM
I know this is like asking shimano or campy but I was hoping to hear from people that used to lift in the winter and stopped and those he never lifted before and started, and the effects of each. I'm more focused on leg strength, I have no doubt that working core is good for you even if it doesn't greatly effect cycling performance.
anecdotal evidence...shawndoggy
Oct 13, 2003 11:21 AM
Given my sample size of one and the fact that I've been riding more over the past three years than I did over the past two decades (I'm 32 now), it could just be that I've simply gotten faster, but...

My sprint, leadout and short-hard efforts improved phenomenally last year. On big long climbs I still feel slower than the skinny guys, but on the flats, short rollers, and other efforts governed more by strength than oxygen capacity, I believe lifting wieghts last winter made a big difference. Sprints especially. I'm a contender now (Cat 4) whereas last year I was an also ran.
re: Old debate: to lift weights or notHot Carl
Oct 13, 2003 11:35 AM
Lifting not only strengthens muscle, it also strengthens connective tissues. Cycling is so specific, many muscles and joints can become weak from non-use. Pedaling uses almost no side-to-side motion. Pedaling involves a limited range of motion. You never have to bend your knee much past 45 degrees. Squats and leg presses give you a chance to exercise through the full range.
Also, strength comes from adaptation. Unless you introduce your muscles to new and different stress, they have to reason to grow and change.
ALSO, the more muscle tissue you have, the more calories you burn, so your first weeks of spring riding won't have you looking like 200 lbs of sausage stuffed into a 100-pound casing. It's great for motivation. You'll look forward to testing out your new strength instead of starting the season out as a stiff, flabby newbie.
I trained my legs this past winter. I found that seated accellorations (sp?)are much easier. In situations where I had to bridge a gap, I was able to do it seated rather than having to get out of the saddle and scramble.
Rows and lat work help build muscles to brace yourself in seated climbs.
I found moderate hamstring work is a good idea to maintain some muscle balance. It doesn't do a whole lot of good for pure cycling power, but it does help take some of the stress off of the quads. Same for leg extensions. No calve work. Never needed it.

Finally, injury prevention is a bonus. I'm convinced that pro cyclists break bones and hurt tendons because they're too weak. I'm not a pro. I'm not competing against Heras in uphill time trials. I have to keep healthy to attend school and work. It's worth any weight trade-off for me to be able to absorb the impact of falls and crashes.
Good points, I agreeMariowannabe
Oct 13, 2003 11:52 AM
I do it year round but much more in the winter. Some legs, upper body, and a lot more torso work - abs and lower back. Helps alot on those long rides and long climbs. I heartily agree on the injury prevention point, too.

Also having big ol' biceps makes the red-necks think twice before buzzing me..... actually, that hasn't helped. Oh, well, back to the gym.
for example...litespeedchick
Oct 13, 2003 12:00 PM
the rednecks at the gas station might stare at the fruity outfit, but they don't say anything....
bear w/ me as I learn to post a photo...litespeedchick
Oct 13, 2003 12:03 PM
bear w/ me as I learn to post a photo...lav25
Oct 13, 2003 12:12 PM
Wow, litespeedchick, you really have some guns there!!
Thanks! Do you think I'm getting a little too bulky?:--)nmlitespeedchick
Oct 14, 2003 4:31 AM
dude...those arms are way bigColnagoFE
Oct 13, 2003 12:39 PM
Great for mountain biking but dead weight for road riding.
the chicken leg should be larger than the chicken wing.-nmphlatland
Oct 14, 2003 6:37 AM
you're right - that's why he leg presses >1000lbs for reps(nm)litespeedchick
Oct 14, 2003 8:00 AM
Where is that, Dupont? nmretbchboy
Oct 14, 2003 4:34 AM
no, actually,litespeedchick
Oct 14, 2003 5:46 AM
it's the "whale's back" above Happy Trails and the Palmetto Trail and before you get to the Foothills Trail above Table Rock. Is that clear as mud?
Table Rock where? (nm)SpecialTater
Oct 14, 2003 7:15 AM
South Carolina, Pickens countylitespeedchick
Oct 14, 2003 7:48 AM
in (or near) the Jocassee Gorges area. See link below to the Palmetto Trail website. The exact spot we were on would be difficult to find without a local guide, however.
I doubt I could find it without my friend who grew up in the area.
Beautiful. Thanks (nm)SpecialTater
Oct 14, 2003 8:53 AM
Good answer. My observations are similar.KG 361
Oct 14, 2003 5:28 AM
I used to lift-a lot. After I became serious about riding, I stopped. Last year I started again, concentrating mainly on the areas you mentioned, plus lower back. I was able to turn a much larger gear this year, even when climbing. I, too, will never be confused with a climber, but I do OK for a 185lb, 6' 44 y/o. Esopecially as we age, it is important to strengthen connective tissue and to help stabilize joints. I lifted from Dec thru April. It made a big difference.
For me: weight work good, core work as good or better.hrv
Oct 13, 2003 12:13 PM
I lift yearly like some other posters (have for over 20 years) but last year and esp. now I'm going to hit the weights hard. Just like the overall feeling of fitness, and it's a necessary precursor to my big gear sprint and hill training, as well as my overall knee protection, in spite of what the ortho docs advise against.

I didn't start focusing on core strength until recently (ab work , back stretches for now). In barely 2 weeks time I'm seeing improvements that I can't believe, mostly in really reducing my back pain with the hope of eliminating it. I was always flexible (palms to floor no problem) but I still had a weak core. I can't stress enough if you have any doubts about your core strength (don't know how to measure; maybe something like can you do 100 crunches without stopping?) then start a core program now!

Without weight work I would be a weaker/slower rider. That's why I need to lift all year long, if only 1 day a week. Opinions of others have no bearing on my need to do this.

best ab exercise=deadliftsColnagoFE
Oct 13, 2003 12:44 PM
don't believe me? start a program doing "free-weight" squats and "heavy" deads 3x a week with perfect form--have a trainer show you how. forget the crunches. watch your diet. Pretty soon you'll have a 6 pack. OK...maybe keep the crunches, but doing 100+ crunches is not really needed for strong abs. also stay away from the machines. free weights are all you need. smith machines are evil.
No machines here: free all the way. Will try the deads-thx. (nm)hrv
Oct 13, 2003 1:24 PM
Be careful....funknuggets
Oct 13, 2003 1:26 PM
I used to lift... a lot. I gave up cycling and figured out for the first time I could gain weight. So lifted and lifted and then finally came to my senses and came back to the road. I was heavy for cycling... 192 and 5'9", but was strong. Despite being strong, I climbed like a stone. It is only after 3 years of NOT LIFTING, upper body especially, that I have finally gotten back into racing shape.

Now, whenever I lift upper body, it comes right back. I dont want it back. During peak season I was even under 170!!! Any weight that I put on decreases my ability on the hills which far outweighs any supposed strength gains on the flats. So, if I lift I do mainly heavy stuff for legs and do super high reps with low weight for the upper body...

What I am saying is that upper body bulk is a severe detriment to cyclists. Provides no function and only serves to create more oxygen debts on the rider. Just be careful how you lift and if you lift a lot, keep your miles up and watch your diet, cause you could spend the first months of next season trying to work it off.

Check this pic out. Me on the left at 170lbs, I have to contend with beanpoles like the guy to my right at 153. I outweigh the guy by 17 pounds and he is easily 6 inches taller than me. I'm definitely no longer any type of hercules, but still feel at a specific disadvantage despite the fact that I can squat or benchpress infinitely more. Moral of the story is to be smart about how you lift. Cosmetic gains (bulking up) 'typically' come at the loss of cycling efficiency.

Yeah, stopped most upper body work awhile ago.hrv
Oct 13, 2003 1:53 PM
Just mostly do pushups. Might start light curls. Get enough arm/shoulder work from windsurfing and mtn. biking, and swimming.

there are ways to lift without getting bigColnagoFE
Oct 13, 2003 2:25 PM
personally I'd only do heavy weights...few reps and sets, and compound lifts like bench, pullups, squats, deads. i go more for strength than bulk. if you want to look like a bodybuilder do lighter weights, lots of isolation exercises and eat like a horse. of course much of this has a lot to do with genetics. it is a lot harder to put on mass for most people than you'd think. diet is real key. you won't put on muscle if you aren't eating lots. it just doesn't happen.
FE, we couldn't be more different...funknuggets
Oct 14, 2003 7:13 AM
I guess it goes back to muscle/body types, and as you said... genetics. Low reps/heavy weight make me grow like crazy, not to mention cause my joints to hurt. Insanely high reps with low weights "pump" me up... like during the workout... but does not make me grow. It generally just makes the muscle tired... not tear the fiber down and cause regrowth.

Im going out on a limb here, but Im going to say most people will be like me, getting most effective muscle growth and strength gains on lower reps (6-8), fewer sets (3-5), and heavier weights, rather than higher sets (12+), higher reps (5+) and lower weights. Since I am trying to effectively NOT grow, I would do the later.

Nice advice on the overtraining.

lift weights...yesColnagoFE
Oct 13, 2003 12:36 PM
sure doing leg work doesn't neccesarily translate into stronger on the bike, but it is good for you in general. cyclists have a special need to lift as cycling is not a weight bearing activity and pro cyclists often suffer from bone density loss as a result. you don't have to get huge though as that will adversely affect your cycling. you can get plenty strong without bulking if that's what you want. the main factor for controlling that is diet (and to be honest genetics). focus on compound lifts instead of isolation and heavy weights for 10 or less reps for 2-3 sets and you should be fine. don't overdo it. it's easy to overtrain when you are both lifting and cycling.
Depends what your goals are...BCtriguy1
Oct 13, 2003 2:17 PM
if you're a pro or a serious cat 1/2, etc, then you're probably better off doing intervals and hills.

For the rest of us, I would say weights will help your overall fitness and health for reasons that are already covered in the above replies, but probably not your cycling (the exeption being things like core strength exercises)
Good questionDr Lizardo
Oct 13, 2003 2:33 PM
I race and I try to take it seriously. I'm considering upgrading next season from 3 to 2. I know a lot of racers that are going away from weights and doing on bike resistance. That's why I was hoping to get anecdotal eveidence from people that lifted one season and than didn't lift a season. I've always lifted and I don't want to go through the winter and not lift and show up in the spring with no power. My main concentration is time trialing.
better tell Lance thatColnagoFE
Oct 13, 2003 3:00 PM
lifting some decent weight here too:
weights to riding ratioBCtriguy1
Oct 13, 2003 7:11 PM
Maybe I came across wrong in my original post.

If you're looking to build speed: do intervals. They are superior to weights because they stress your leg in the exact same range of motion that you use while cycling. Squats don't do this. I've been doing squats for years, and I didn't develope the muscle heads above my knees at all until I started cycling.

I'm sure Lance does weights on occasion (compared to how much he rides). A light weights program to maintain upper body strength (yes, you do need some for cycling), core strength, etc is benifitial, but it should take a back seat to intervals. If you think Lance spends countless hours doing squats and leg presses as his secret weapon for success, think again.

If you want to gain speed over the winter, make intervals your focus.

Wasn't that picture taken shortly after Lance got back into cycling after cancer (he's still bald in the picture)? He said in his book that he did squats/leg press to gain back some of the muscle that chemo robbed him of.

On a little side note, I would like to announce that I can squat as much as Lance Armstrong! (Alright, still-recovering-from-cancer-Lance, but hey, it's a start, right?)
of courseColnagoFE
Oct 14, 2003 7:23 AM
I was just saying that most succesful pros do some sort of weight training, but of course it is tailored for cycling--not to compete in the powerlifter of the year contest or to look like Arnold in his prime.
re: Old debate: to lift weights or notlemmy999
Oct 13, 2003 7:23 PM
I don't know what is better for bicycling performance, but I do lift and I feel it makes me an overall balanced person as far as fitness is concerned. Unless competition is concerned a skinny bicyclist that never tries to lift weights is no different than some muscle head in the gym that couldn't walk across the room without being out of breath. Of course when competition is concerned (body building, strength, or bicycle racing competitions) then it all goes out the window.
re: Old debate: to lift weights or notSaddle_Sore
Oct 14, 2003 12:28 AM
I would certainly agree that lifting weights can benefit cycling performance, but would have thought that sorting out your diet would be even more important. At present I am fairly flabby (15% body fat!) and so am trying all sorts to lose the lard, including lifting weights.

I've been told that using free weights is the best way to lift, as machines lock you into one plane of motion and do not allow you to develop and use other muscle groups that help improve control. At present I'm doing a pretty equal mix of upper and lower body exercises.

I'm never going to be a lean-mean-racing-machine, but I don't see how lifting weights (with proper instruction - no point otherwise) can not help with your cycling.

Maybe there are different weight programmes that you should look into depending on whether or not you are a road racer or mountain biker?
re: Get a trainer and lift some weightshudsonite
Oct 14, 2003 3:50 AM
If you want to get strong over the winter, get yourself a personal trainer and tell them what you want to achive. They can create a program for you and help you achive your goals.

Early this spring I worked with a trainer on rebuilding my cycling strength with a weight training program. It accelerated my conditioning and made me much faster than just cycling.

The key is to find someone that knows what they are doing. With the right program, you will be able to push harder and faster. At least for me, it is not only about strength, but also about flexibility and preventing injury. A good trainer will address these and, most importantly, motivation.