Gaining muscle weight from riding

Jul 13, 2010
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Shinjuku
#1
I have just returned from Sweden where I have spent 2 months. I didn't want to lose more time training so I bought a Caad 10 to be able to commute and train.
I was focusing on riding a lot to get stronger and to lose some weight. After 2 months of riding and about 2000km's I thought I had made good progress. I am one size down in pants and I feel stronger on the bike. I expected to have lost around 4-5 kgs.

I jumped on the scale when I came back home and I was surprised to see that I have gained 2-3kgs instead:confused:
My training during the period have consisted of commuting 90kms about 3 days per week and a longer ride (150kms) during the weekend.

I have stayed away from any type of weight lifting and just because I know how easy I gain weight from it....I never expected to see the same thing happen from just cycling.

I guess it's a good thing that my legs are getting stronger but I really want to become 10kgs lighter to improve my climbing.

Anyone else with similar experiences or advice?
Should I just stop care about my weight and keep building strength from riding?
 
Jun 9, 2011
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tokyo
#2
do you know you body fat percentage? i have trouble getting my body fat percentage below 18%. about 3 years ago i was in the 24% range for body fat and around 84kg. I took up running long distances regularly and over several months got down to 77kg (75 or 76 after most 2 hour+ runs) and 18% body fat, but couldn't get much lower. diet didn't seem to make much difference for me. I could starve myself and stay around 75kg for a few days but wasn't eating enough for proper recovery. 18% seemed to be around what was healthy for my body.

i had to stop running about a year ago and switched to spending more time on the bike. for me the bike doesn't come close to running in terms of the ability to burn through body fat, but i've been able to stay between 18% and 20% body fat without too much effort.

if your body fat percentage is somewhere reasonable, around 15%-18%, and you still want to get your weight down upping your cadence might help with leaning out your muscle mass (not speaking from experience here), or if you do and shoulder/arm strength training stopping that might help too.
 

FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#3
Muscle weighs more than fat so although you may have lost body fat and you are now a few sizes down you've also built muscle.

I suggest if you really want to drop total body then if you are using anything like protien powders or recovery drinks to stop and let your body eat itself.

But naturally you'll always gain weight when training before you lose it.
 

thomas

The Crank Engine
Nov 1, 2005
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多摩区
#4
Anyone else with similar experiences or advice?
Should I just stop care about my weight and keep building strength from riding?
Same experience here, Andreas.

I was off the bike for two weeks last year and down to 84kg from 91 while in Namibia. Subsequently, I managed to keep my weight in check all summer by carefully balancing my diet. However, come winter and the blubber was back.

The same happened this year: down to 87kg after two and a half weeks off the bike. I also noticed that the engine had lost some of its power. I believe I'm in pretty good shape now and back to 91kg.

I no longer care about my weight, but about getting faster up those hills! :)
 
Jul 13, 2010
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Shinjuku
#5
Appreciate the input guys,

Without doubt I have gained muscle weight and reduced body volume from fat loss. It is just that I expected to have a net effect of losing weight while doing endurance sports like cycling. Especially since I am far from lean I thought the fat loss would be higher than the the muscle gains. I haven't measured my body fat but I would guess I am around 25%.

I do drink a protein smoothie after my longer rides. Makes me feel better quickly after the rides when I am too exhausted to eat something else for a while.

Thomas,
Good to hear that I am not the only big guy. I am currently around 110kgs so I am still quite a bit heavier than you though:eek:


I have no idea what my ideal cycling weight is.....I will stick to what I am doing as long as I keep getting leaner and stronger I think.
 
Jun 9, 2011
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tokyo
#6
if you don't mind my asking what's your diet like? if you're regularly riding a few hundred km per week and still over 20% body fat it might require a change in diet to go further down in weight.

another thing to try is to not eat or eat very minimally before rides. you can train your body to use stored fat rather than food for fuel during exercise. this should also be combined with minimal recovery eating, like one banana or a small milk or protein shake made with water.
 

Sikochi

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Sep 13, 2010
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Kochi
#7
Muscle weighs more than fat so although you may have lost body fat and you are now a few sizes down you've also built muscle.

I suggest if you really want to drop total body then if you are using anything like protien powders or recovery drinks to stop and let your body eat itself.

But naturally you'll always gain weight when training before you lose it.
Agree with this. If you want to lose muscle then not eating enough protein will make your body break down existing muscle and you`ll drop weight. You can`t gain muscle if your body doesn`t have the building blocks! Another thing to consider, is if you have come from a colder climate then some of the extra weight could be due to extra water retention.

The same happened this year: down to 87kg after two and a half weeks off the bike. I also noticed that the engine had lost some of its power. I believe I'm in pretty good shape now and back to 91kg.

I no longer care about my weight, but about getting faster up those hills! :)
Again, agree with this. What matters is not your total weight, but your power to weight. Losing weight isn`t beneficial (in cycling terms) if you lose more power, proportionally speaking. And as partick.yodar said, losing weight is a very precise thing, as if you don`t eat enough, your body won`t recover enough to sustain the exertion.

Additionally, when commuting, where was the luggage? If you had the luggage on your back, then you could have gained upper body muscle.
 

GSAstuto

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Oct 11, 2009
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#8
Totally on with Patrick's suggestion - in fact, this is the main thing I've been doing to shed more of my core fat. As for muscle weight gain - that's perfectly normal and accepted. If you want to optimize for cycling then you need to do very focused excercise so that you don't unecessarily bulk up your non-cycling muscles. That means - they get less weight with more reps. And , you can also work on muscle reduction of your cycling muscles by focus on higher cadence / cardio favored technique than pushing more into the LAT / anerobic zones.
 

Sikochi

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Sep 13, 2010
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Kochi
#9
Totally on with Patrick's suggestion - in fact, this is the main thing I've been doing to shed more of my core fat. As for muscle weight gain - that's perfectly normal and accepted. If you want to optimize for cycling then you need to do very focused excercise so that you don't unecessarily bulk up your non-cycling muscles. That means - they get less weight with more reps. And , you can also work on muscle reduction of your cycling muscles by focus on higher cadence / cardio favored technique than pushing more into the LAT / anerobic zones.
I`ve heard this before, but have to say I am unconvinced. Any muscle work puts strain on the muscle, so if you want to lose muscle then don`t stress it at all - let it waste away. Low reps or high cadence may not build muscle, but to my understanding, I don`t see how continuing to stress the muscles can reduce them - it will act as maintenance as a minimum.

http://exrx.net/WeightTraining/Myths.html
scroll down to `High Repetitions Burn More Fat Myth`
 

GSAstuto

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Oct 11, 2009
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#10
1) I just go by my own personal results.
85kg -> 62kg in 18mo
58" -> 45" Kusatsu in 12mo
'Bonking' on a HFC ride to Odaiba to finishing 'Best of the West' with the best in 20mo.
I don't ride alot - 4x/week max and generally less than 500km /week total, btw.
I DO use the gym, but only for 30min and focus specifically on core muscle fitness using free weights only.

2) I never mentioned ANYTHING about more reps = fat burn. Only that by reducing the weight and increasing reps you'll tend to work more on cardio efficiency and less on muscle fiber bulking.

3) Fat burn is highly complex and not only lifestyle but also genetically influenced. But there are some pretty decent guidelines that work pretty much for everyone.
- Eat less FAT
- Eat less SUGAR
- Cut down on the carbs at night. (No 'white' at night)
- Burn more calories than you consume
- Trigger the body to burn its fat stores, rather than going into starvation mode and just storing MORE FAT.

Just RIDE HARD , don't bitch, and OBEY THE RULES!

I`ve heard this before, but have to say I am unconvinced. Any muscle work puts strain on the muscle, so if you want to lose muscle then don`t stress it at all - let it waste away. Low reps or high cadence may not build muscle, but to my understanding, I don`t see how continuing to stress the muscles can reduce them - it will act as maintenance as a minimum.

http://exrx.net/WeightTraining/Myths.html
scroll down to `High Repetitions Burn More Fat Myth`
 
Jun 9, 2011
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tokyo
#11
Take a look at the prologue time trial from the 2005 tour de france. compare lance armstrong's cadence and legs to jan ullrich's. if you train at high resistance (heavy gear with a low cadence) your leg muscles will grow to be able to cope with the strain you're putting them under. at lower resistance (lighter gear with higher cadence) your leg muscles don't get strained as much and don't need to get as big.

this isn't only for cycling, but also applies to weight training. body builders tend to do sets of 8-10 reps with heavy weights slowly to get big. wrestlers will do set of 20+ reps with lighter weights quickly to build strength and speed while avoiding building excess muscle mass.

the higher cadence → lighter rider thing only applies directly to muscle mass, though. in order to translate any exercise in to fat reduction you need to work on diet, also. like tim said, there are lots of factors for how fat reduction actually works, but the main point to remember is take in less calories than you use. if' you're not doing this, you're not going to loose weight.
 
Jul 13, 2010
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Shinjuku
#12
Take a look at the prologue time trial from the 2005 tour de france. compare lance armstrong's cadence and legs to jan ullrich's. if you train at high resistance (heavy gear with a low cadence) your leg muscles will grow to be able to cope with the strain you're putting them under. at lower resistance (lighter gear with higher cadence) your leg muscles don't get strained as much and don't need to get as big.
This turned out to be an interesting discussion:)

In my opinion it this is not because they have different cycling techniques but more a result from different genetics. A heavier rider with more muscle mass will not spin as much as a lighter rider.
If I compare myself to many of my friends it has alway been easy for me to put on muscle weight. It has however always been hard for me to get really lean instead.
Many friends are having difficulties to gain muscles but are usually much leaner than me.

I don't think big guys like myself would get a completely different body compostion just because we alter our cadence.


I was just surprised to see my net body weight increase even from riding the bicycle.
I will stick to my current plan and see how my body will change as it further conforms to cycling. Thomas seems to be doing ok at his fairly high body weight so maybe I shouldn't be so concerned about my actual weight as long as I am getting leaner and stronger.
 
Jul 13, 2010
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Shinjuku
#14
But I consider that a very different sport compared to the 150km + rides of regular road riders. Just as comparing a 100m sprinter to a marathon runner.
I wouldn't expect to see many rider built like Chris Hoy in TdF for the same reason.

Apples need to be compared to apples imho
 
Jan 14, 2007
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japanichiban.com
#15
Disagree.... look at Keirin riders.... massive massive legs yet can spin at cadence of over 200rpm in the sprints.
The trick is to use your slow twitch muscles for high speed spinning over a long period of time. Or better yet, don't use any muscles when you are spinning.

Fast twitch heavy powered sprints don't last very long.

We had a keirin rider in our 8 hour Tsukuba team race...he was good at pulling himself to the front of the peleton...then after a lap or two he was toast.
 

GSAstuto

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#17
Cav is great - but he'd die an early death by himself. Look at his performance on the hills. However - someone who is in overall great condition can work both sides - slow and fast twitch. Remember it was Evans that won the Tour. Don't forget - most of the Keirin Pros are out there doing long rides, too. Fixed gear, mind you. Personally I look at Bradley as the real hero (see the recent World's?) where would Cav be without Bradley and MIllar doing the messy work up front? Just shows how much this is a team sport rather than an individual effort. Burn out Cav's legs and he's nothing more than a tail-end Charlie.

If you are a recreational cyclist (like 90.99% of us here) the key goals are getting decent condition to join a couple hundred k rides periodically and live to tell the story. I know there's lots of challenge in the hills - but there's also challenge on the flats and just plain endurance. If you enjoy the ride, feel comfortable with the pace and are meeting your personal goals - then you've won!

I say - just eat healthy, avoid crap foods as much as you can. Get on the bike when you can, even if you don't feel 100% like it. Hit the gym or pool now and then and let the rest follow. It will. Don't sweat it.


Then just look at Thor, Cavendish, theseguys arethe new generation of power houses with high cadence.
 

Sikochi

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Sep 13, 2010
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Kochi
#18
2) I never mentioned ANYTHING about more reps = fat burn. Only that by reducing the weight and increasing reps you'll tend to work more on cardio efficiency and less on muscle fiber bulking.
Sorry, what I was getting at was this

And , you can also work on muscle reduction of your cycling muscles by focus on higher cadence / cardio favored technique than pushing more into the LAT / anerobic zones.
I thought the article touched on it enough but maybe I mis-read it. I take it no-one read the rest of the thread I linked to earlier on bike radar on the weight training thread. Another post courtesy of Mr Alex Simmons:-

"Slow twitch fibres will hypertrophy (grow bigger) from sufficient volume of aerobic level riding, fast twitch fibres will hypertrophy from sufficient volume of hard accelerations, sprints, standing starts etc. (provided we eat sufficient nutrients required to hypertrophy, i.e. protein).

Strength* training (after a while) will also result in hypertrophy of the available fibres so trained (again diet dependent). What gets trained of course depends on our individual fibre type makeup, which is different for everyone and the type of training we do. Sprinters (e.g. Hoy) have a higher proportion of fast twitch fibres, pure endurance riders (e.g. Boardman) have almost none.

So if we are growing muscle mass and increasing our overall weight, in cycling we need to make sure that the additional power we can sustain (over durations relevant to the events we target) more than matches the additional mass. Otherwise you are likely to go slower overall. There are specialist examples where one needs to assess the relative merits, e.g. individual pursuit due to the physics of riding - balancing the energy cost of accelerations & climbing (which scales with body mass and there's no climbing) and air resistance (which is not scaled linearly with body mass and so power to aero drag ratio is the biggest factor in IP).

That will be different for riders targeting track sprint or BMX versus say a grand tour contender. But even an elite track sprinter only needs so much strength, and more can end up being a hindrance. That's because the forces need to be applied at speed (it's actually impossible on a bike to apply maximal force - the only time we approach that is the first pedal stroke of a standing start). A "sprinter" can become super strong but end up going slower."
http://www.bikeradar.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=17173393
 

Sikochi

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Sep 13, 2010
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Kochi
#19
Take a look at the prologue time trial from the 2005 tour de france. compare lance armstrong's cadence and legs to jan ullrich's.
Basically, for each of us, there is a point where our body is most efficient and for simplicity`s sake (in terms of cycling) it can be boiled down to a combination of RPM and gearing. For Lance, he was more efficient at lower gears/higher cadence. For Ullrich it was the opposite. Ullrich actually tried Lance`s style for a while but soon realised it didn`t suit him. You can find your own `sweet spot` by testing yourself (power meter helps, but you can get round it). However, if you are not used to high cadence riding, then it will skew the results in favour of lower RPM`s. Likewise, lower fitness levels will favour lower RPM`s as high cadence taxes the cardio system more.