The foundations for successful riding
23 posts • Page 1 of 1
Okay, how do I get myself a set of leg muscles like that? I'm thinking those things must burn the calories at a hefty pace even when you're sleeping.
And don't say "cycle more":)
I'm now trying to maintain 2 hours of cycling 4 days per week. Weekends I'll either go for another 2 hours per day or 100+ km rides occasionally. (when I'm not working like this weekend).
I took on this hill on Thursday afternoon on the way home, suffered on my commute rides yesterday and decided to rather rest today for my legs to recover. So clearly it's a bit of a problem still.
I don't care if that's a small hill for others, it's a problem for me right now. So my question is how do I get from where I am now (struggling 2 days later) to being able to climb that hill on every commute ride without much trouble?
Do I just push through and ride the hill every morning and afternoon until it becomes natural?
Do I start by just climbing it say twice a week? Or once a day at first and work towards both commutes?
Assuming I won't be working most weekends and cycling instead, is 1 day rest enough per week or should I consider 2 rest days (out of 7) if taking on hills more regularly?
Is it worth considering Creatine or is that going to interfere with my weight loss efforts?
Up until now I've avoided hills as much as possible, but I don't want to do that anymore.
Going over or around the above hill makes less than 500m difference on my total commute. But there's a bigger hill that will increase my commute with a couple of kms as well. Nowhere near ready for it, but would be nice if I could include this in my commute within the next 6 months or so.
I'm having deja vu. Have I asked something like this before?
As a matter of interest, I have noticed that these knicks (whatever they're called) are leaving a red mark around my thighs lately and even hurting me a little. So at least it means that my legs are growing some
Well to get those legs...yes you would have to cycle more....a lot lot more!.But there are not many people in the world that can ever get to that level.
For you I would start pushing the pace in your training rides...on the flats or in the hills.Hills is about power to weight.Improve your power by raising you intensity with things like 20 minute hard intervals...and keep dropping your weight.It really is as simple as that...whether it is simple to achieve is another matter.I am finding it extremely difficult to do either at the moment .
I reckon its do-able for you, but need more info.
Are you powering over the hill as hard as you can, or are you spinning over it with a combination of techniques ? (sitting / standing / using hip flexors to pull up)
What is the min speed you are holding on the 7% section, going hard but being sustainable ?
What part of you feels the hurt more - your legs, or your lungs ?
The creatine question is interesting - how effective it would be depends on how you are attacking the hill. If you are powering over it, then you would be using more fast twich muscle than slow twitch muscle ... and creatine gets used in the fast twitch muscle. It gives a bit of tail to hard efforts, but does not last long. It wont interfere with weight loss (as far as I know, but Im no expert). The point with creatine is supposed to be to allow you to extend your hardest workouts just a tiny bit extra .. so you get more training benefit. It doesn't by itself add power. Creatine wont help too much on longer climbs
Actually - if you are going to try that path, consider stacking beta alanine with the creatine as well, over a 4 week period. This will give you a higher tolerance to lactic acid .. good for short hard efforts. All these supplements though only add very small % benefits at the end of the day.
Interval training should do the job to add power, but you may get even better gains by focusing on efficiency.
This video is just gold :
I dont know if going out more often for longer is going to help too much for now. Id be looking at building more recovery time into my routine, and building up intensity if not duration. (have a read up on periodization as well) There is no rush anyway ... that hill is not going away any time soon.
From what you said in the OP, you are already doing 10 hours a week and quite a few k's. If you are doing these at a nice comfortable pace, then you are doing a lot to improve cardio and the slow twitch/endurance side of your phisiology, but the fast twitch muscle fibres and anaerobic side does not get hit so hard. Hence the issues with climbing. 1 or 2 shorter rides per week where you really step out of your comfort zone and feel the pain, followed by full on rest days may be what you need ?
Just cycle smoother and harder until the hill becomes easy. Then you can do it all again in the big ring, and then do it all again on a longer climb. Incredible Hulk here we come !!
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To increase the size of your leg muscles use a big chain ring and a small rear gear, (ie: 52 & 12 tooth gears). Basically if you push over a big chain-ring with small rear gear you will encourage the muscles to get bigger faster. If you use a smaller chain-ring (say 42 tooth) and spin, then you improve your heart and tone the muscles, but they don't get as big.
You can also try doing weights to improve the size. And vary your rides each day. Don't do the same thing each time and ride different distances using different gears. Push a big chain-ring some days and on other days spin on an easy gear.
Kicked a black cat? Sounds more like ran over one, backed over it, hunted down its mother and did the same.
Thanks for the replies people.
I took on the hill again this morning in the opposite direction to Thursday (Should have mentioned that Thursday I cycled in the opposite direction to the graph) and it was a huge effort!! Firstly I've overindulged a "bit" these last 2 days, so I weigh 3kgs heavier this morning than Thursday morning:( And, clearly the short, steep incline of this morning kills me more than the slower incline from the other side. I'm going to go past there again this afternoon, but only to search for my heart and lungs, which both jumped out of my chest at some point.
Okay, I'm not really going to aim for anything near those legs, just meant that I want to improve mine a bit. If I wanted big legs purely for the sake of it, I'd probably ask Tom Platz instead:) Though he's probably retired by now.
As for the interval training, bugger!! Guess I'll have to start at some point coz that's what I've been told on here to do to increase my average speed as well (which is currently limited to "very slow").
Alright, maybe I should have explained my own situation a bit better:) I crawl over the hill with every last bit of effort I have. I cannot stand on a bike. I mean I can, but I don't last for more than 1 minute standing. So I just sit there in a lowish gear and occasionally smile at the pedestrians who ask whether they should phone an ambulance. No, nobody's asked that, but they do stop talking and stare sometimes because I sound like a friggen steam engine.
So to answer your question, I don't know about technique... I flip between granny gear and "2nd" gear and at this stage just aim to get to the top. In fact, the last time I tried that hill from the direction I did this morning (same as the graph) in October, I didn't make it and stopped halfway up for a rest.
I don't know about the speed, will check. Certainly my lungs feel it the most during the climb and previously I had been concerned about my HR, because it felt like my heart was just about ready to jump out of my chest. These two days my HR seems to have been much, much better so I think my fitness has improved a bit. However, my legs do take strain as well, as should be evident from 2 days of pain after Thursday
Right, then I may rather steer away from it. though I don't know much about it, Creatine scares me a little. I used to add a tablespoon of protein powder or Sustagen Sport to my Muesli in the morning, so may just return to doing that.
Next Saturday I'm cycling "towards" Sydney. I say "towards" because I don't think I'll make it all the way and may jump on the train at Gosford or so. However, Gosford is 90kms from my house, so I will at least encounter that one climb starting at 72kms. hehe, not even dreaming about riding all the way to the top, but pushing your bike is exercise as well you know:)
Anyhow, I'm keen to see how my legs feel tomorrow to see whether I can start doing the hill every day. I suspect that Thursday was just a big shock to the system and hoping they won't hurt for two days again after this morning. Will let you know how I go.
Last edited by justD on Wed Jan 13, 2010 5:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The other thing probably worth mentioning is that I currently ride without cleats, which I think makes a big difference up hills.
My new bike is in transit at the moment and I should get it tomorrow or sometime this week. Got pedals and cleated sandals lying in the cupboard waiting to be fitted:)
You probably don't want to hear this, but the best way to improve climbing is to lose a lot of weight (if you are overweight that is).
I found out just carrying a heavy backpack deteriorates my climbing.
I think you are already cycling a lot - you certainly seem to cycle a lot more than me. How hard are you pushing yourself?
I've found out that lots of cycling builds fitness and endurance, but doesn't necessarily make me a better or faster cyclist.
If you recall, a few months ago I posted something along the lines of "I need to learn how to HTFU."
A few people said it wasn't a matter of HTFU, I should just cycle more.
In retrospect, they were wrong. Practising HTFU does improve my speed and cycling, I have been keeping stats and my average speed has improved at least 5 km/h in the last couple of months.
I read somewhere that it's about pushing your body beyond boundaries, over time it adjusts to a new boundary, and then I push the new boundary. The hard part is finding out where the boundary is - you are lucky in that if what you are posting is correct you know where your current boundary is - you just need to push slightly beyond it each day.
I "practicsed" HTFU first by learning how to pedal standing up, then I tried doing it as often as I can, even when I didn't need to, and measured how long I could stand pedalling standing up before becoming exhausted (it is anaerobic, so eventually one does become exhausted).
At first, it was only a few seconds, but pretty soon I could pedal standing up small hills, then medium hills.
Another method is to keep going up hills faster and faster, without blowing up. When I started, I tend to do hills at 13 km/h or lower. Now I do them 18 km/h, and if I'm pushing myself 20-21 km/h.
Lastly, see how fast you can sprint, again without blowing up. When I started, I'll be lucky if I could maintain 30 km/h. Now I feel I can safely do 35-36 km/h.
All those improvements were in the last 2 months, prior to that my training method was "just go out and cycle."
The best way to push myself is to find a bunch faster than me, then try and keep up with them. The first few times I got dropped, then one day I hung on (with not even one breath to spare). Now I sprint when they sprint. Once you find the bunch ride becomes comfortable, time to join a new, faster bunch.
What do you weigh anyway? Most of those guys pictured are super cut (I don't think any would be above about 10% bf), which is responsible for a lot of the way they look. For a normal person (ie. not a pro who does 30+ hours a week) to get their BF that low it's probably more about diet than exercise.
i assume by wanting bigger legs you want to get faster.
First thing i would suggest is to ride with others who are faster than you.
You will be amazed how much faster you can actually ride when being pushed above your limits (or what you thought your limits where), soon your limits will be higher.
But dont be a wheel sucker and bludge, ride alongside the other riders or far enough back to not be in the draft. You may and probably will get dropped for a bit, but the speed and power will come.
hehe... 125kgs (BMI 34.6) and the sad part is that in November I was down below 120. Stopped cycling for 3 weeks in December to rest my knees from some pain and, well, it was December:) Just back on the bike this week.
So I'm not under any delusions about looking like those guys any time soon, but as Christine pointed out, there is training and there is intelligent training. I've also had the attitude of just "get out and ride" up to now, but hoping to change that.
Anyway, it's about 15 hours later and my legs have absolutely no discomfort from this morning's climb, so I'll assume Thursday was just a "welcome to hill climbing shock":). I'm going to aim for climbing the hill Monday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings this week, casual/hill-free/recovery rides on Tuesday and rest Friday for Saturday's ride towards Sydney. Do that for 2-3 weeks and then add something on.
A few of you suggested group rides, but time is my enemy (I know, everyone's enemy). At this point I'm regularly working 50 hour weeks and this one that's just finished was about 65. Long week if you try to fit in 2 hours of riding almost every day.
Thanks people, I'll let you know how I go over the next couple of weeks.
I'm amazed no one has said this yet, but eat more. You're never going to put on significant amounts of muscle unless you're training hard and eating a calorific excess which includes sufficient protein.
Creatine will make you gain weight, but it's water weight, not fat weight. I wouldn't bother with it.
But if you're trying to lose weight, that's going to interfere with getting bigger legs. If you really want bigger legs, you'll have to try to switch to gaining weight for a few months.
125kg's how tall are you Dirk?
When I first started my BMI was around 30-34
I'm around 20-25 and this made a huge difference in my climbing
Look at Andy Schleck and Contador they are the best climbers in the world and there legs are nothing like the legs of Fabian Cancerella's.
You will hate this but ride more to lose weight and get that BMI down if climbing ability is what you are looking for.
I know, I know and I'm trying. My plan last year was to wait until I get my weight down below 115 and then to take on that hill, but after picking up weight (again) during December, I got impatient and thought I may try it other way around and see if climbing some hills would help me with the weight - hence this topic.
Anyway, I've been up that first hill (75m) 3 times since Thursday now and I think by the end of the month I'll try to upgrade to the bigger hill (125m) and just build from there.
Fitness of any type is basically your body adjusting to the loads/stress you regularly put it under i.e. your body will generally repair itself stronger after being pushed past it's normal limits (unless pushed to breaking point!).
Most people are not aware of what they are physically capable of - it's amazing just how much punishment our bodies can take.
Give it a go - muscle soreness generally eases after a couple of days!
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Big legs won't come from 10hrs a week. Especially if your rides are averaging 2hrs each.
If you want bigger legs (as opposed to becoming a better cyclist) then there are two ways to achieve this. A) go to the gym and focus on squats and leg presses, B) Practice your standing sprints in a big gear - like trackies, who often have much bigger legs than their road counterparts.
Big legs don't equate to power. Contador has stick legs compared to most riders, yet he's one of the best these days when riding the TT. A format that requires sustainable power. The 2hr rides you're doing are great for building an aerobic base and will probably give you muscle definition over time. But it will not make your legs significantly bigger.
You don't see bodybuilders curling 1kg weights for 2hrs do you? No! They do 6-8 reps of a big weight that fatigues the muscle very quickly. The best way to replicate this force in a cycling specific way is to whack your bike in one of the top few gears and from a standing start go as hard as you can for about 300m. Rest for a few mins and repeat 5-6 times (you will feel it in the morning). Other than that you need to hit the gym, which most pro cyclists have in the routine anyway.
Sure, short intervals and seated climbs with a cadence of about 60 will increase size to some degree, but primarily it's to build functional cycling leg strength. The size aspect will come from using more fast twitch muscles or solely concentrating on leg strength (not cycling leg strength). I say this because the forces exerted for each rep during an interval, or seated endurance session are small compared to leg pressing 250kgs.
Last edited by Leigh on Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Keep riding, stop eating / adding anything sweetened (i.e. no fizzy drinks, fruit juice, icecream, sugar in coffee, sweets, etc...), and no more alcohol. If you do that you should start to lose the weight. After a month you should stop missing the extra sweetness and have improved appetite (improved as in you won't eat too much).
Hills shouldn't be any more difficult than the flat - IF you're putting out the same power, perhaps you're just trying to ride over them too fast? Losing weight and improving your sustained power will result in a much better power to weigh ratio allowing you to increase your speed up the hills. Concentrate on that.
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As a matter of fact I used to take weight lifting quite seriously. My arm circumference used to be 45cm and just measured my left arm now at 39cm AND, while I've always been big, there is a lot more fat in this 39cms than back then But that was 20 years ago...
So I do know something about that type of power/size training, but I was surprised to see those cyclists with such big legs as, like you said, the only way I thought that was possible was through much higher intensity than a bike ride is going to give you.
To answer a couple of people's question, my interest is in getting better at climbing, not really the size. I was amazed by those pics, which made me feel like I need to get my butt in gear and work harder, which, in turn,let me to asking for some advice, but certainly the size is not a big driver for me.
As to my progress:
I've climbed that hill three times now since Thursday, including yesterday morning. Then yesterday afternoon I went for a 35km ride with a colleague who is A LOT more fit than I am (and ended up falling on the first day riding my new bike ). I understand why you guys suggested riding with a group, because he certainly worked me harder than I generally push myself, except for that one hill which is a pretty short portion of my commute. So if he's patient with me, we'll be riding together more often from now on.
In the meantime I struggled to stay awake at the office yesterday, legs were hurting this morning and even though I didn't ride today, I struggled to stay awake today as well. So... a lot of work needed to get me with. I struggled with the tiredness when I first increased my commute to 23kms as well, so I know that'll pass, but I obviously can't let my job suffer for the sake of cycling, so I'll have to watch that or improve my eating.
I don't agree. I've read someone else say that as well and I assume it comes from someone who's never been terribly fat/unfit. On top of being overweight, I used to also smoke close to 40 ciggies per day and there was a point before I started cycling where I'd have to rest while tying a shoelace!! Embarrasing, but yeah, I was there... at age 37!!
I've tried to climb that hill in my lowest gear of my previous bike, but seemed to just burn out before I reach the top. That was a couple of months ago, so maybe I should try again. However, the idea that you can climb any hill if you take it easy doesn't seem to work for me. Even now I go at 7kph up the steepest part, any slower and I think I'll fall over:)
Just quickly, this topic has been good for me as inspiration. I'm looking forward to the day I can post a ride profile here where I've done both those hills whose elevation I posted in the OP. ha, will probably take a while, but a nice goal for me. So thanks for all your input.
Climbing is dam hard, I think this drawers alot of people too them, more a challenge for yourself.
It's easy to be impatient, but patients is the key.
The hill we climb around our area is approx. 250m and 4k's in length. When I first started climbing it I too become impatient trying to climb to fast and blew up. Mentally this was a negative. I started climbing aerobically, for me thats no more than around 80% of my MSHR about 180BPM after a while I started throwing in a few Hill Intervals (lactate).
Climbing it is never easy unless i'm being lazy but i am faster.
Don't beat yourself up keep at it, you'll soon be looking for bigger and better to conquer.
Keep informed of your progress.
It is very easy to go too deep in the first part of a climb....try to hold way back instead of attacking a climb (if it is a longer climb).Try and keep a constant pace all the way over.
I never realised how hard I had a habit of pushing at the start of climbs...I can be sitting between 500-700 watts...but I can only hold 450w for 5 minutes so it is no wonder I was blowing up.In races I have to hit huge watts to keep up with the smaller guys...over 1000w quite often...these days I try to start the climb at the front and drift back thru the bunch so I still finish with the group instead of been spat out the back...of course if the break goes on the climb I am stuffed...but I am usually stuffed no matter what on a hilly race.
Hills are ALL ABOUT power to weight...at your weight and ex life style you are always going to find it hard...baby steps will get you there as long as you stick to it.
I suck at climbs...but I love to climb so I always go back for more
congrats on making hills part of your training this year, I've decided that climbing MT Sugarloaf is something i want to achieve within the next 12 months. I'm starting with small (35k) rides through and around Merewether which according to google can go from 10-150m elevation across 2-3ks depending on which streets you take, it's going to be a struggle but from all reports should eventually result in stronger legs, easier climbs and faster flat speed, good luck
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