thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

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thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby zill » Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:32 pm

We know the ultimate goal of a cyclist is to maximise the power to weight ratio. But it is a fact that some people are born to have thinner legs and others born to have thicker legs. My question is for two elite cyclists with the same weight, is it more advantageous to have the naturally thicker or thinner legs in a race and why?
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by BNA » Sun Apr 13, 2014 9:33 pm

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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby Le Mong » Sun Apr 13, 2014 9:33 pm

String. How long. Piece.
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby herzog » Sun Apr 13, 2014 9:45 pm

Thick legs = track cyclists, ski racers and weight lifters.

For endurance road cycling you need to be light. Tyler Hamilton's book throws a lot of light on this (amongst other things)
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby cp123 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:37 pm

depends if you want to get to the top of Alpe D'Huez first (ie be a mountain goat) or be first across the line in a mass sprint.

You can't compare 85 kg Thor Hushovds with 60 kg Alberto Contadors. Each are good in their own right.
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby zill » Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:53 pm

Please note that I am assuming two riders with the same weight!!!!!!!

Would the person with the thicker or thinner legs be preferred?
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby Derny Driver » Mon Apr 14, 2014 12:48 am

zill wrote:Please note that I am assuming two riders with the same weight!!!!!!!

Would the person with the thicker or thinner legs be preferred?

Neither.
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby bychosis » Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:39 am

I used to ride with a guy who was very similar build. Height, weight etc. he did have longer legs, I seem to have a long torso, but he could just pedal faster than me. In a downhill section he would pull away as I would run out of spin. Another factor to consider.
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby nescius » Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:07 am

It's not really something that you can control so it doesn't really matter, but hypothetically I would say thinner legs are better from an aerodynamic perspective. If all other variables were equal (same power, weight, height, etc.) then the rider with the smaller aerodynamic profile has the advantage. In the real world it would never be the deciding factor in a race because there are so many other variables to consider.
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby Xplora » Mon Apr 14, 2014 1:45 pm

Completely and utterly irrelevant, OP. You've mentioned that pushing bigger gears faster is the key to speed in a recent post; bigger muscles makes the bigger gear turn, but you need the lungs *the most crucial predictor of performance if you aren't a match sprinter* to keep them turning past 10-20 seconds. You'll notice almost every high contact sport requires a maximum 5-10 seconds of explosive effort from the big units before they take a low activity level rest. Everyone can sprint 10 seconds before collapsing. Big legs or not, you need oxygen into the muscles to keep them working, and that's a lungs thing, and you get them from lots of riding.
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby Rhubarb » Mon Apr 14, 2014 1:51 pm

Stick with the ones you've got .....
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby rogan » Mon Apr 14, 2014 2:41 pm

Both.

The real difference is above the waist. A thinner upper body is definitely an advantage for road cycling.
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby im_no_pro » Mon Apr 14, 2014 4:06 pm

zill wrote:Please note that I am assuming two riders with the same weight!!!!!!!

Would the person with the thicker or thinner legs be preferred?


Depends on so many other variables. Are they racing up Alpe D'Huez or a hot dog crit? Each will have areas/disciplines they outperform the other in.
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby boss » Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:01 am

The one with the better lungs and heart.
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby zill » Sun Apr 20, 2014 11:07 am

boss wrote:The one with the better lungs and heart.


Ok but how do you measure heart and lungs? What tests are available?

Also what training can be done to improve it?
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby herzog » Sun Apr 20, 2014 11:10 am

Aerobic cardiovascular stuff. Swimming, running, cycling etc.
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thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby toolonglegs » Sun Apr 20, 2014 3:58 pm

zill wrote:
boss wrote:The one with the better lungs and heart.


Ok but how do you measure heart and lungs? What tests are available?

Also what training can be done to improve it?

A VO2 max test ... That will tell you your upper limit, but it isn't the be all and end all. Have a super high VO2 max doesn't mean you are guaranteed success... That comes down to hard work and mental toughness.
You can only sustain a certain percentage of your maximum ... That can only be improved with training, how much of your maximum you can sustain is the more telling figure while figuring in your VO2 max.
The biggest most efficient heart and lungs don't win...Certainly help though :lol:
PS ... A MAP test can be done at home on a trainer, if you have a power meter you can get a pretty good result... It won't tell you your VO2 result but there are comparisons there... If you get up over 500 watts for the last minute then you are at a pretty good level ( if you body mass is also in a good range ).
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby zill » Sun Apr 20, 2014 8:37 pm

toolonglegs wrote:
zill wrote:
boss wrote:The one with the better lungs and heart.


Ok but how do you measure heart and lungs? What tests are available?

Also what training can be done to improve it?

A VO2 max test ... That will tell you your upper limit, but it isn't the be all and end all. Have a super high VO2 max doesn't mean you are guaranteed success... That comes down to hard work and mental toughness.
You can only sustain a certain percentage of your maximum ... That can only be improved with training, how much of your maximum you can sustain is the more telling figure while figuring in your VO2 max.
The biggest most efficient heart and lungs don't win...Certainly help though :lol:
PS ... A MAP test can be done at home on a trainer, if you have a power meter you can get a pretty good result... It won't tell you your VO2 result but there are comparisons there... If you get up over 500 watts for the last minute then you are at a pretty good level ( if you body mass is also in a good range ).


Thanks for the information. Was it true that Cadel Evans had an insane VO2 max?

How about a 20 minute power test? What is that useful for?

Do you think I could fit a 20 minute power test and a MAP test in one hour? Or is that not advisable?
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby Xplora » Sun Apr 20, 2014 9:13 pm

zill, you misunderstand the purpose of maximal testing. You typically need 2 days rest before starting ONE of these tests, and you probably wouldn't do another within the same session, if not the same day. These tests are supposed to make you prepare to vomit and pass out from the pain.

The plus side, MAP and 20 minute power test aren't that different in their aims. I think you are focusing on the How of training, rather than the Do of training. My personal experience, after having a little time off - hard training is incredibly draining on the mind, and you can't get around that. Better to ease into all of this, and do it sustainably.
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby toolonglegs » Sun Apr 20, 2014 9:59 pm

A map test is like a prologue ... Might be very short but you are left totally drained if you give them everything!... Same with a 20 minute TT.
You could probably do a MAP test one day and a 20 min the next if you freshen up before hand.
Really they should be part of your training... Testing once a month or 6 weeks.
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby g-boaf » Mon Apr 21, 2014 6:41 pm

zill wrote:
Thanks for the information. Was it true that Cadel Evans had an insane VO2 max?

How about a 20 minute power test? What is that useful for?

Do you think I could fit a 20 minute power test and a MAP test in one hour? Or is that not advisable?


You wouldn't do that. You'd do one test - and then the other one at a different time. Otherwise I would guess fatigue from one will hurt the other. Once you've done the test - then you've got to take that info and use it to make your training work.

And that's the DO bit that Xplora is talking about. If you don't put in the hard work, it's pointless. The mental toughness is more difficult. Get out there and push your limits . :)
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby jules21 » Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:16 pm

the shape of your legs has nothing to do with it. endurance cycling doesn't require much in the way of pure strength, so gross muscle mass has little impact.
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby zill » Mon Apr 21, 2014 10:24 pm

g-boaf wrote:
zill wrote:
Thanks for the information. Was it true that Cadel Evans had an insane VO2 max?

How about a 20 minute power test? What is that useful for?

Do you think I could fit a 20 minute power test and a MAP test in one hour? Or is that not advisable?


You wouldn't do that. You'd do one test - and then the other one at a different time. Otherwise I would guess fatigue from one will hurt the other. Once you've done the test - then you've got to take that info and use it to make your training work.

And that's the DO bit that Xplora is talking about. If you don't put in the hard work, it's pointless. The mental toughness is more difficult. Get out there and push your limits . :)


What about doing one test followed by one night of rest then the other test the next day?
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby g-boaf » Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:25 am

Yeah, that's what I suggesting.

But wouldn't you just stagger the tests so that you do one, and then later on do another one 5-6 weeks later?

The MAP test would give you a reasonable amount of what you need to know, and you could supplement it with another bit of testing done at the end of each effort if you were really serious. Another variation of that, you could start it at 70% of your FTP and every 3 minutes, ramp the percentage up by 10% until you get to 150%. You would probably finish up at around 130-140% when you reach failure point. That's one I did a while back.

Or you could do something like this:

http://cyclingtips.com.au/2011/02/ais-p ... e-testing/

That will also give you a lot of information to guide your training. If you want to see someone suffer, watch someone doing that test. :lol: :twisted: Believe me, the 10 minutes at the end really hurt, especially the last 2 minutes of the 10 minute effort.
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby dynamictiger » Tue Apr 22, 2014 4:38 pm

I saw this post this morning and thought it is sort of interesting...

Personal observations...Kiwis are good at Rugby. In fact if you go there you will see Rugby is more or less all that is played. When you look at Kiwis as a group they tend to be of a fairly solid build. Not the imports the ones born there I mean. The blokes tend towards stocky rather than thin. This is an ideal build for Rugby...not so good for cycling I think.

In WA I have met more people than any other time of my life across four countries who are all over 188cm tall. This sort of height favours AFL so WA are quite keen on aussie rules and again it is played a lot here.

It seems on personal observations different populations and environments favour one body shape over another. I would be reasonably certain diet comes into the equation as colder climates tend to eat heavier and thicker meals than warmer countries so lead to heavier and thicker builds. What this has to do with legs...

Logic would suggest the person with the thicker legs comes from a population and environment where the heavier thicker set is favoured more than the thinner and lighter builds seen elsewhere. I think it would suggest the two persons side by side, assuming weight is the same, height is similar the thicker legged person would be at a disadvantage. My reasoning follows that the person built naturally bigger should be bigger and to get down to the same size as the smaller opponent is not really fuelling themselves properly.

Anyway for what its worth
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Re: thicker or thinner legs better for road cycling?

Postby nirismo » Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:47 pm

marcel kittel and andre greipel are pretty big guys that turn the gears
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