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  1. #1
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    Losing weight over Being muscular & poweful?

    I've done some research, and from what I gather it's all about losing weight to get faster. But wouldn't being powerful have it's advantages?

    I'm looking into racing and I'm coming from a football/weightlifting background. So my body type is a bit muscular. I feel that being powerful would have greater advantages than losing 10 lbs of muscle? Anyone have facts/input on this?
    By powerful, I mean full body, obviously powerful/strong legs are a must.

  2. #2
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    Inertia is your enemy, you have to accelerate, turn and stop all that extra mass. For a given power output, the lighter rider will be faster.
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  3. #3
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    On the track, yes.

  4. #4
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    I'm qualified to help here. I think this question has a lot of "what if" scenarios. First, weight isn't as big of a deal if you race on the flats and you race for shorter distances. It's a big deal but not as big of a deal. If you do a lot of climbing weight matters a LOT regardless of the distance. I'm fortunate because I can get away with my 215lb race weight here in Texas and be competitive. With that said, I'll never be a pro and I'll never win a race in Colorado or BC or anywhere else with crazy elevation changes regardless of the power I can generate.

    If you're not climbing and you're a heavy strong rider with the ability to go the duration of the race and a good power to weight ratio (cat4 or better by training peaks standards) you can do extremely well in Cat2 and maybe even Cat1. I know this from experience.

    I had a crossfit background when I started racing at the end of 09. Kinda had an offseason linebacker physic and weighed in at 240lbs. Could easily squat over 300lbs. None of that mattered on the bike. As my coach at the time explained, it's great to have strength but we need bike strength which is different so we got to do some converting. It wasn't until we started training my legs for the bike that I started getting faster on the bike. My upper body mass was pretty much useless and if anything it made me more rigid and inflexible which isn't exactly what you want for XC. In two season of racing, I've never seen a muscular or big guy do well at any of the races I've participated in. I did well in Cat3 and Cat2 because I had a HUGE power to weight ratio and spent 8-14hrs a week on the bike training. In cat1 I'm mid pack and I'll probably not move up to the front simply because 2 hours carrying 215lbs at a race pace is a huge task even on the relatively flat courses of Texas. The amount of energy you have to put out and create is way more than a person 50lbs lighter has to put out. To make that much energy you need fuel and a lot of other things. I don't understand the physics of it all but they aren't favoring us. Regardless of strength being heavy (over 180lbs) does NOT favor a bike racer.

  5. #5
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    As far as thick boys, seems that I see more of that on the road side, especially crits. Even here in Utah, with our plentiful vertical , I was suprised by the size of the dudes in the Cat 3's (road). When I race Expert MTB, I have just about the biggest butt in the group (at 5'10", 165); but in Road Cat 3, I have just about the smallest.

    Also, I see big dudes do well in endurance road events. RR>130 miles.

    As ewarner said, Velodrome is where it's at for linebacker looking guys. Get on Youtube and look at some Velodrome Racing videos and you'll see.


    BTW, I fattened up to 170 to get ready for a Cat 3 crit tomorrow. There really is no reason to emaciate myself, like during the MTB season. It's all about raw short-term power and aerodynamics.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ewarnerusa View Post
    On the track, yes.
    *cough* 'Roids *cough*

    added weight requires more energy to climb. in XC mountain biking the race is more often won on the climb (the descent can cause the same person to lose though).

    as others have stated, big dudes will do better on the track, crits, or flat TT's. when it comes to climbing (most XC will have a significant amount) it all comes down to power to weight ratio.
    Try to be good.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1dkl1 View Post
    I've done some research, and from what I gather it's all about losing weight to get faster. But wouldn't being powerful have it's advantages?

    I'm looking into racing and I'm coming from a football/weightlifting background. So my body type is a bit muscular. I feel that being powerful would have greater advantages than losing 10 lbs of muscle? Anyone have facts/input on this?
    By powerful, I mean full body, obviously powerful/strong legs are a must.
    I have lost weight this summer....but I have lost more power so I am actually slower...

    With lots of climbing (MTB around here) it is all about power to weight ratio.

    On the flats it is all about power.

    Look at the Tour de France General catagory riders and compare them to World Cup MTB riders....pretty similar builds

  8. #8
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    I was thinking more towards like better "power to weight ratio". Example-someone that weighs 150 all muscle will not in fact climb as someone 180 all muscle. My theory is that more available muscle power would equal faster in general.

    About flexibility; that is just the elasticy of the muscle. I feel that "muscling" over logs/rocks/etc. helps out. (I haven't rode with many people so I'm hardly sure if this has anything to do with being fast)

  9. #9
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    Don't confused flexibility with the elasticity of muscle. True flexible strength comes from having power throughout the full range of motion vs a short range (think something similar to the legs of a 100m sprinter vs a xc runner).

    Long distance/endurance power comes from 1) using all the relative muscle groups, and 2) having consistent power throughout those groups. Everyone is correct in the calling out of the power:weight ratio being a main contributor to how you perform as if you do not have the sustainable power to push the given mass then you will not have forward motion. Having "big muscle" will not improve this over long distances (as shown by the velodrome guy) as you are required to maintain the power output to continue moving the given mass.

    So really you need to be worried more about what you output ratio is compared to the ratio needed to continually move the given mass. At some point you will get to the point where you will move past the pain and screaming of your legs and continue to pedal at a rate that is sustainable for long periods of time and that will continue moving you forward. That will become a baseline, however throwing in attacks, sprints, crashes, and what not will all effect that energy and power level.

    Just as the old adage goes: A body in motion tends to stay in motion. So no matter what you will keep moving, just the relative pace needed will be dependant on your power.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1dkl1 View Post
    I feel that "muscling" over logs/rocks/etc. helps out.
    I used to think this way. As I started moving up I found that power is no substitute for finesse, smart riding, and efficiency - at least in racing. I thought that being able to hold 1,600watts for 10 sec and continually making little burst over 1700 would be more than enough strength and power. At the end of the day, racing wise, that is all irrelevant if you don't cross the line first. It takes a lot more than strength to finish a race.

    I've got a pretty wicked sprint and a very high ftp. I've had my butt kicked on the road (flat roads) by guys who I'd normally crush heads up just because they rode a lot smarter than I did. Same thing on the mtn bike. power means a lot and blasting through short climbs, killing sprints, bursting over obstacles, accelerating out of turns, and just abusing the drivetrain is impressive but after a little time at race pace it gets harder and harder to find the energy to make those power blips happen and ultimately it starts draining you till you have no gas left for your race pace and have to helplessly watch people continue to come around you.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ewarnerusa View Post
    On the track, yes.
    Now..those legs + a skinny upper body would be a serious recipe for success on the track! And yeh...how do you spell roids again??

    I feel sorry for that bike. Poor thing

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by whybotherme View Post
    *cough* 'Roids *cough*
    Track Sprinter towards all other cyclist: "*cough* EPO *cough*"
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1dkl1 View Post
    I was thinking more towards like better "power to weight ratio". Example-someone that weighs 150 all muscle will not in fact climb as someone 180 all muscle. My theory is that more available muscle power would equal faster in general
    It all depends on what duration you are referring to for application of power. The longer the duration, and even with shorter durations when the body is already at a relatively high level of output (i.e. during a race) it is more likely that you will be recruiting energy systems which don't scale linearly between a 150lb rider and 180lb rider. All other things being proportionately equal in their basic physical makeup, it's easier and more likely for a lighter rider to have a higher power to weight ratio than a heavier rider, which is where your assumption above falls off the rails.

    A look at the body types of top climbers versus "roleurs" in road races like Tour de France tells you all you need to know about how this is more than conjecture.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1dkl1 View Post
    I was thinking more towards like better "power to weight ratio". Example-someone that weighs 150 all muscle will not in fact climb as someone 180 all muscle. My theory is that more available muscle power would equal faster in general.
    You have to remember that the amount of force applied to the pedals during endurance cycling (rather than short bursts in disciplines such as track sprinting) is relatively low. Sustained cycling power outputs don't really require that much leg muscle strength. The amount of force applied by pushing down during a typical pedal revolution is massively lower than the amount of force your legs would produce in a weight training exercise such as the leg press for example.

    Upper body strength is more important in mountain biking than on the road. You need enough functional upper body strength to be able to control the bike offroad safely so some upper body strength and muscle is useful. If you look at the pictures of Julien Absalon and Jaroslav Kulhavy below they have slightly more upper body muscle than a top road racer like Tony Martin but are still quite light. Additional upper body muscle bulk beyond the minimum that's required hurts your power to weight ratio, on or offroad. If the aim is to get faster on a bike then it's worth losing at least some upper body muscle. Having lots of upper body muscle also hurts you aerodynamically because it increases your frontal area increasing drag. The more drag you produce the more effort it takes just to push through the air, especially at higher speeds.

    You can use a calculator such as the analytic cycling ones to estimate how much of a difference weight loss and changes to power output would make to your speed.

    If you have a rider who weighs 180lbs (81.65kg) climbing a 2km 10% gradient hill against a rider weighing 150lbs (68.04kg) at the same wattage of 250 watts then the lighter rider would theoretically be 106.6 seconds ahead by the top. The lighter rider would ride the climb at 7.9mph (3.51m/s) whilst the heavier rider would climb at 6.6mph (2.95m/s). (Ignoring bike weights).

    Weight Loss for the same power output
    http://www.analyticcycling.com/Force...ight_Page.html

    In order for the two riders to ride alongside each other uphill at the same speed of 7.9mph (3.51m/s) then the rider who weighs 180lbs (81.65kg) would need to be producing 299 watts, 49 watts more than the 150lb (68.04kg) rider.

    (The hill gradient is expressed as a percentage. A 10% gradient would be 0.10 in the calculators)

    (The speed is expressed in m/s, 175mm cranks, 90rpm cadence.)

    Power Output to go at the same speed
    Forces on Rider

    Speed for a given power
    Speed

    Pictured below: Mountain bikers Julien Absalon and Jaroslav Kulhavy, Road Racer Tony Martin
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Losing weight over Being muscular & poweful?-julien_absalon2.jpg  

    Losing weight over Being muscular & poweful?-jaroslav_kulhavy2.jpg  

    Losing weight over Being muscular & poweful?-tony_martin3.jpg  

    Last edited by WR304; 10-03-2011 at 10:39 AM.

  15. #15
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    i have the same body type as you it sounds. The skinnier I got as i started mt bike racing the faster I got. I used to have some decent muscle on my arms/back but now it is mostly gone. My thighs are more solid but other than that I feel like a pencil compared to my college football playing days. My riding is so much better after losing the "extra 10 pounds of muscle". If you only do flat courses/road type courses weight isn't as big of a deal, but if you are doing climbing and alot of starting and stopping then weight is a huge issue and the lighter man wins.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by dontheclysdale View Post
    I used to think this way. As I started moving up I found that power is no substitute for finesse, smart riding, and efficiency - at least in racing. I thought that being able to hold 1,600watts for 10 sec and continually making little burst over 1700 would be more than enough strength and power. At the end of the day, racing wise, that is all irrelevant if you don't cross the line first. It takes a lot more than strength to finish a race.

    I've got a pretty wicked sprint and a very high ftp. I've had my butt kicked on the road (flat roads) by guys who I'd normally crush heads up just because they rode a lot smarter than I did. Same thing on the mtn bike. power means a lot and blasting through short climbs, killing sprints, bursting over obstacles, accelerating out of turns, and just abusing the drivetrain is impressive but after a little time at race pace it gets harder and harder to find the energy to make those power blips happen and ultimately it starts draining you till you have no gas left for your race pace and have to helplessly watch people continue to come around you.
    +1!

    Im new to this and pretty much a beginner so take it worth a grain of salt from me.

    I weighed 255 when I started training this spring. By my first race I was 200. Ive raced at around 200 all year. I thought I was skinny (in fact my girlfriend told me "DONT lose anymore weight please."), but now I know if I want the podium im going to need to be at least 15 pounds lighter.

    Im still bulkier than the other guys in my race cat (im built like a linebacker even at 200#). My legs are as strong as anyone I know (think full stack on leg press at gym with ease), but I can tell the extra weight really effects me when it comes to competing in the top of the pack.

    XC racing really seems to favor lighter racers from what ive seen around here (most races require multiple climbs).
    Last edited by pattongb; 09-27-2011 at 05:14 PM.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ewarnerusa View Post
    On the track, yes.
    Obvious photshop job. The arms are a dead give-away.



    But even the "real" big track guys are usually loaded in the legs but not particularly big up top. Upper body mass is just balast in cycling, especially during an xc climb.

    Last edited by Stumpjumpy; 09-27-2011 at 05:57 PM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1dkl1 View Post
    I'm looking into racing
    Try a race and see how you do then look at the bodies of the people that beat you. I bet they're all thinner and leaner than you BUT you have to decide if you want to look like that.

    Andy Schleck would kick my ass on any type of bicycle. Do I want to look like Andy Schleck? Hell no.

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    I also think alot of it has to do with the type of muscle you have. I have a muscular build, I can power up a steep, technical climb with the muscles I have but I am spent after that. There are fast twitch muscles and slow twitch muscles. The leaner guys might not be able to bench 300 lbs but could bench 100 lbs all day long, the muscular guys might be able to bench 300 lbs but not last very long for lack of endurance. For the most part it genetic.
    Still learning how to keep the rubber side down.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by whybotherme View Post
    *cough* 'Roids *cough*

    added weight requires more energy to climb. in XC mountain biking the race is more often won on the climb (the descent can cause the same person to lose though).

    as others have stated, big dudes will do better on the track, crits, or flat TT's. when it comes to climbing (most XC will have a significant amount) it all comes down to power to weight ratio.
    perhaps, but she's beautiful!

  21. #21
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    What kind of weight are you talking about? Fat or muscle. In reality most of who think they are losing muscle are actually losing fat and losing fat will always help your cycling.

    Most endurance cyclist train very similar. Tony Martin, or Cancellara train very similarly to Andy Schleck, the difference between them is the way their bodies react to training.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

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    Quote Originally Posted by bridger View Post
    perhaps, but she's beautiful!

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    Quote Originally Posted by TurnerRick View Post
    I also think alot of it has to do with the type of muscle you have. I have a muscular build, I can power up a steep, technical climb with the muscles I have but I am spent after that. There are fast twitch muscles and slow twitch muscles. The leaner guys might not be able to bench 300 lbs but could bench 100 lbs all day long, the muscular guys might be able to bench 300 lbs but not last very long for lack of endurance. For the most part it genetic.
    +1

    I too have a full build (read...used to be muscular from years of competitive wrestling) and struggle with the longer all out pushes. However, in the past couple months I have dropped 24 pounds and am slowly working on improving my slow twitch muscles over my fast twitch. In my legs I am just as powerful as I have been, but now that I am focusing more on slow twitch movements, I can last much longer. The added weight loss has been a huge help also.

  24. #24
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    Even in track sprinting the rider with the biggest legs doesn't always win. As mentioned above you have other factors, such as the percentage of muscle fiber types, which also influence whether you'll naturally be good at certain sports and events.

    Fast and Slow Twitch Muscle Fiber Types

    If you're looking for pictures of track sprinters then Robert Förstemann is a good example of a big powerful rider. He makes Chris Hoy look skinny. No photoshop involved.

    <iframe width="640" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/v9muarjAa3s" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Pictured below: Robert Förstemann
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Losing weight over Being muscular &amp; poweful?-robertforstemann2.jpg  

    Last edited by WR304; 09-28-2011 at 08:47 AM.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    Even in track sprinting the rider with the biggest legs doesn't always win.
    e.g. Theo Bos of the Netherlands, who has a huge palmares of Olympic, World Championship, and World Cup wins on the track in relatively recent years in the sprint and kilo also, but has a fairly light build.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stumpjumpy View Post
    Obvious photshop job. The arms are a dead give-away.
    That picture is a part of a series of photoshopped cyclist pictures by "Stonepiler". There are some more here:

    Cyclists by Stonepiler on deviantART

    .

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    That picture is a part of a series of photoshopped cyclist pictures by "Stonepiler". There are some more here:

    Cyclists by Stonepiler on deviantART

    .
    I didn't know that is was a doctored photo, I just googled "muscular track cyclist image" and picked the buffest pic I found to post on here. Scrolling through the other cycling pics from that site, I have never seen Kloeden so ripped! This is what must have tipped off that whole Frieburg Clinic scandal!

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    Really now, this is a silly, false delimma. You really think guys like Contador and Schleck aren't muscular and powerful? If you want to look like an alpha male, keep the weight on. If you want to actually BE an alpha male in the cycling world, cut, cut, cut. Cut any weight you don't absolutely need to power the vehicle. Do that and think like that. If your self image won't allow you that much dedication, maybe it's just something you should do for fun only. Fact: bodybuilders will win in a wrestling match with a cyclist, unless they have to run uphill to pin their opponents. There's no linear relationship between the size of a muscle, it's performance output, and gravity. Think about it.

  29. #29
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    Theo Bos is 6'3", so although he appears relatively thin compared to other track cyclists, his muscles are spread over a much larger body. I can relate; put him next to another guy on the podium and it should be evident. The upside to muscular tall guys is that although we must put out larger wattages to go the same speed, this is usually not a problem.

    Mountain bike racing and road racing are endurance sports and it matters more how well your endurance has been developed through training to push a small weight a long distance rather than vice versa. The type of training you're doing with long rides and intervals at high rpms develops your circulatory system, heart, lungs, etc, not just your muscles.

    Quote Originally Posted by Circlip View Post
    e.g. Theo Bos of the Netherlands, who has a huge palmares of Olympic, World Championship, and World Cup wins on the track in relatively recent years in the sprint and kilo also, but has a fairly light build.

  30. #30
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    Thanks. I am happy to hear that those pics have been altered. Nice work in PS though..

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    The fastest local Cat 1 XC rider in our area is rather muscular in stature. He is a far cry from the skinny roadie type that is oft referred to when one thinks of 'lean'. Weight lifting is an essential part of his training program. He also is an excellent solo endurance rider who repeatedly is the top finisher in various 24 hr events.
    Stick around if you're housebroken...

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    The fastest local Cat 1 XC rider in our area is rather muscular in stature. He is a far cry from the skinny roadie type that is oft referred to when one thinks of 'lean'. Weight lifting is an essential part of his training program. He also is an excellent solo endurance rider who repeatedly is the top finisher in various 24 hr events.
    I have no doubt he is everything you say he is but he is the exception, probably via genetics. I remember a sage piece of advice, "Don't go through life thinking you are going to be the exception."

    Larry

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by lgh View Post
    I have no doubt he is everything you say he is but he is the exception, probably via genetics. I remember a sage piece of advice, "Don't go through life thinking you are going to be the exception."

    Larry
    Good advice Larry!

    To OP:

    Ride appropriate number of hours in the appropriate manner each week month after month. Guess what... You will be at ideal weight AND you will be MUCH stronger than you are right now... Lighter/stonger. That is what you want! Why pick one over the other??

    Like Larry said, there are always exceptions. I like to analyze predictable outcomes and ask why? What type of build do you all think will be standing in spots 1,2,3 for the TdF next year? Sastre, Lance, Schleck(s).... yeh...someone most likely built like these guys. Occasionally, some freak like Thor gets up there....haha.

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    let me get my crystal ball out here; i am guessing mr cat 1 bodybuilder is located somewhere other than the rockies or the west coast.
    something about the west coast...it makes me wanna ride

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by uncreative View Post
    let me get my crystal ball out here; i am guessing mr cat 1 bodybuilder is located somewhere other than the rockies or the west coast.
    Well, there is a helluva lot of mountain biking (and mt. bike racing) taking place outside of the Rocky Mountains and the West Coast.

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    The fastest pro mountain biker in Texas is very muscular, as is the fastest Cat 1 roadie in the Gulf South. They match up well against competition from all over. I'm not one of those types but you're setting yourself up for a whoopin if you count them out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    Even in track sprinting the rider with the biggest legs doesn't always win. As mentioned above you have other factors, such as the percentage of muscle fiber types, which also influence whether you'll naturally be good at certain sports and events.

    Fast and Slow Twitch Muscle Fiber Types

    If you're looking for pictures of track sprinters then Robert Förstemann is a good example of a big powerful rider. He makes Chris Hoy look skinny. No photoshop involved.

    <iframe width="640" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/v9muarjAa3s" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Pictured below: Robert Förstemann
    ...talk about performance enhancing drugs!

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    The fastest local Cat 1 XC rider in our area is rather muscular in stature. He is a far cry from the skinny roadie type that is oft referred to when one thinks of 'lean'. Weight lifting is an essential part of his training program. He also is an excellent solo endurance rider who repeatedly is the top finisher in various 24 hr events.
    Put him in an XC race with sustained climbing, against other Cat 1 racers who are as fast on flattish terrain but 15-20 lbs. lighter, and see what happens.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails View Post
    The fastest pro mountain biker in Texas is very muscular, as is the fastest Cat 1 roadie in the Gulf South. They match up well against competition from all over. I'm not one of those types but you're setting yourself up for a whoopin if you count them out.
    You can be a formidable XC racer as a more muscular guy but still struggle comparatively on courses with real climbing. I'd guess the Cat 1 roadie you are referring to is a crit specialist as well, as that is pretty much what we have here in South, with much less open road racing.

    Once power-to-weight becomes key (sustained elevation gain), it's a hindrance. But those same guys can punish the lighter guys on flatter terrain. They are certainly the exception, however, and looking at any Cat 1 starting line (road or MTB) will show you that at a glance.
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    The reason the OP's question is interesting isn't the notable exceptions that people above have cited (successful heavier XC racers). It's that 99% of the ones who ask this question are concerned about aesthetics, and don't want to lose hard-earned muscle developed from power-based sports like football (or just recreational weightlifting).

    These individuals (I know, I was one for years) almost always greatly overestimate how much this extra muscle mass adds to their power output on the bike. It doesn't begin to offset the penalty of the added mass over the course of even a short race, much less a 2-hour XC race. Upper body mass, in particular, is basically useless (note I didn't say "strength", but "mass", as they are not the same thing).

    Ride lots, lift sparingly for functional strength and balance (and injury avoidance), and eat well/recover, and over time your body will adapt to an ideal shape and weight for the activity you are doing most.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    The reason the OP's question is interesting isn't the notable exceptions that people above have cited (successful heavier XC racers). It's that 99% of the ones who ask this question are concerned about aesthetics, and don't want to lose hard-earned muscle developed from power-based sports like football (or just recreational weightlifting).

    These individuals (I know, I was one for years) almost always greatly overestimate how much this extra muscle mass adds to their power output on the bike. It doesn't begin to offset the penalty of the added mass over the course of even a short race, much less a 2-hour XC race. Upper body mass, in particular, is basically useless (note I didn't say "strength", but "mass", as they are not the same thing).
    Well put

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    Hoping I'm not embarassing either of these guys. I'm a big fan of them both and have been honored to line up with them from time to time. I agree with the principles being stated but hard work can overcome limitations. Maybe neither of these guys will ever be the best in the world but they are damn good:

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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    You can be a formidable XC racer as a more muscular guy but still struggle comparatively on courses with real climbing. I'd guess the Cat 1 roadie you are referring to is a crit specialist as well, as that is pretty much what we have here in South, with much less open road racing.

    Once power-to-weight becomes key (sustained elevation gain), it's a hindrance. But those same guys can punish the lighter guys on flatter terrain. They are certainly the exception, however, and looking at any Cat 1 starting line (road or MTB) will show you that at a glance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails View Post
    Hoping I'm not embarassing either of these guys.

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    I don't know the first guy but Fawley races here in Texas. He makes the regional XC races look VERY easy and had a good race this year with the UCI guys at the MJC. I wouldn't call him big but I would say he is yoked up for a pro cyclist.

    That reminds me, there was another UCI rider at MJC. A big dude, tall and muscular but very lean. He was riding a rocklobster. I don't think he did well (heat zapped a lot of those guys) but he was a big dude.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails View Post
    Hoping I'm not embarassing either of these guys. I'm a big fan of them both and have been honored to line up with them from time to time. I agree with the principles being stated but hard work can overcome limitations. Maybe neither of these guys will ever be the best in the world but they are damn good:

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    It's also entirely possible (I'd even say likely) that both of them are "big for a cyclist", which isn't really a big limitation to overcome (and is very different from "big for an average American"). If someone is, say, 5'10", 165-170 lbs, and well-defined with little bodyfat, they will look HUGE next to your average Cat 1 roadie. They might have a little trouble when climbing for an hour straight in the mountains (compared with your average Cat 1, at 5'10" but 140-145 lbs) but would likely be faster on other terrain. They tend to pick their races accordingly (just as a 5'10", 130 lbs. climber won't usually focus on flat crits).

    We're talking about two different things. I know plenty of guys like you are describing. The problem with applying these examples to the OP's question is that most people who ask this question are NOT 5'10", 170 ibs, and ripped to the bone with mostly lower-body muscle. They are usually more like 5'10", 185+ lbs, have more muscle than a cyclist (especially upper-body) but around 12-15% (or higher) true bodyfat.

    These individuals will almost always benefit from dropping unnecessary weight, at least from an endurance sport standpoint.
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    Another major factor is power output. I have pretty big legs for my weight (165), but put out pretty little threshold power.

    Successful cyclist put out great power, regardless of their size, build, muscularity, etc.

    People above are saying how Andy Schleck is a great climber because he's so skinny, but to me, he is a great climber because he can put out ~400W for 20min!! There's only a freaky few (between 140-175 pounds) that can put out that kind of power.

    To me, the power seems like more of a prerequisite than the low weight.

    In my state, there's a handful of guys in the 400W neighborhood (who are all on domestic pro road teams) and it seems like their size vary quite a bit. From 140-180 pounds. But the 140 pound guy was the only one to be on a European squad.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    People above are saying how Andy Schleck is a great climber because he's so skinny, but to me, he is a great climber because he can put out ~400W for 20min!! There's only a freaky few (between 140-175 pounds) that can put out that kind of power.

    To me, the power seems like more of a prerequisite than the low weight.
    It's both, though obviously a weight of 140 lbs. is easier to achieve for most than a 400w 20 min. output

    400w for 20 minutes is obviously not enough to be a top-level world-class time trialist (as evidenced by his performances in the Tour) but at a weight of 140 lbs. it makes for a formidable climber and all-rounder.

    As an aside, note that even Cancellara (a "big" pro cyclist by any standard) isn't very massive in the upper body. He also can't climb with the Schlecks. He can win lots of races that suit him, though (and can climb well enough in the mountains to finish a Grand Tour).
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    but at a weight of 140 lbs. it makes for a formidable climber and all-rounder.
    How is Schleck a good all-rounder? He is pitiful at TT's and descents.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Aswell
    the 5th poster, ganginwoods, is correct

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    Quote Originally Posted by ganginwood View Post
    How is Schleck a good all-rounder? He is pitiful at TT's and descents.
    Anyone that finishes the TdF GC in 2nd place is by definition a good all rounder.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ganginwood View Post
    How is Schleck a good all-rounder? He is pitiful at TT's and descents.
    2nd in the Tour de France x 3 = good all-rounder.

    Look again at his TT finishes - poor compared with pure TT guys (or a better all-rounder like Evans) but still very good. Excellent grand tour/stage racer. Better than one would expect in some 1-day races as well.
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    I have asked myself the same question. Muscle mass or lean and mean? I am a Paleo proponent and recently have come across an easy way to control my weight and keep my energy high for racing.
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    you guys can't be serious.... you really think that finishing high at the tour de france means your a good all-rounder?

    a podium at the tour comes down to only having to be good at two things. time trialing and climbing. if you can do that you win the tour. the fact of the matter is that andy isn't good at 2 out of the 3 disciplines and is still able to podium. how do you explain that? actually he sucks at 3 out of 4 disciplines if you consider descending.

    i'm not saying the guy isn't a good bike rider....i'm just saying a grand tour can never be used as a way to judge an all-rounder. the last 15 years is evidence of that.
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    the 5th poster, ganginwoods, is correct

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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    Put him in an XC race with sustained climbing, against other Cat 1 racers who are as fast on flattish terrain but 15-20 lbs. lighter, and see what happens.
    He'd still crush them. He's pretty much proven it in every race that he attends, handily winning against the Schleckish ectomorphs. Our boy throws down.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lgh View Post
    I have no doubt he is everything you say he is but he is the exception, probably via genetics. I remember a sage piece of advice, "Don't go through life thinking you are going to be the exception."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    He'd still crush them. He's pretty much proven it in every race that he attends, handily winning against the Schleckish ectomorphs. Our boy throws down.
    If he does crush them then he will eventually start racing Pro, where he will be crushed by some a skinny little guy.

    Big guys can be very fast, I get beat by them all the time. However, cycling, particularly mountain biking, is for those without much body mass. A 180lb guy will never win a world cup. Even Kulhavy who is huge, as world cup mountain bikers go, is under 170lbs. The rest of the front end of the world cup field sits between 130-150lbs.

    A big guys has much of a chance of sucess in XC racing as a short guy has in basketball. There are exceptions but they are few and far between.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    He'd still crush them. He's pretty much proven it in every race that he attends, handily winning against the Schleckish ectomorphs. Our boy throws down.
    As I said above, If he did a race with sustained climbing against guys who are AS FAST AS HE IS ON THE FLATS (implying similar absolute power outputs, NOT power-to-weight) then he would eventually get dropped, plain and simple. That's just physics.

    A car analogy: given similar raw horsepower outputs, the lighter vehicle has an obvious advantage once the terrain turns upwards.

    A comparatively bigger engine (like SOME larger riders have) would somewhat offset the weight disadvantage - to a point. But once climbs get really steep and sustained, it's just a matter of time...
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganginwood View Post
    you guys can't be serious.... you really think that finishing high at the tour de france means your a good all-rounder?

    a podium at the tour comes down to only having to be good at two things. time trialing and climbing. if you can do that you win the tour. the fact of the matter is that andy isn't good at 2 out of the 3 disciplines and is still able to podium. how do you explain that? actually he sucks at 3 out of 4 disciplines if you consider descending.

    i'm not saying the guy isn't a good bike rider....i'm just saying a grand tour can never be used as a way to judge an all-rounder. the last 15 years is evidence of that.
    I'd say that finishing 2nd in the Tour 3 years in a row speaks for itself. Most of cycling in a Grand Tour IS climbing.

    You can be a great climber, an OK TT guy, and finish 2nd. A great TT guy who is an OK climber isn't even in the conversation for the GC after 2 mountain stages...

    In the final TT of the 2011 Tour, Andy Schleck finished 17th in the TT. Top 20% finish out of the best riders in the world. Not enough to win the Tour, granted, but still respectable. Now, show me where Cancellara, for example, finished in the top 20 of a climbing stage? And there was only 1 individual TT this year... and many climbing stages...
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganginwood View Post
    you guys can't be serious.... you really think that finishing high at the tour de france means your a good all-rounder?

    a podium at the tour comes down to only having to be good at two things. time trialing and climbing. if you can do that you win the tour. the fact of the matter is that andy isn't good at 2 out of the 3 disciplines and is still able to podium. how do you explain that? actually he sucks at 3 out of 4 disciplines if you consider descending.

    i'm not saying the guy isn't a good bike rider....i'm just saying a grand tour can never be used as a way to judge an all-rounder. the last 15 years is evidence of that.
    OK...you are correct. It is just pure irony that the pros on top of the podiums in both XC mtb/cross and races such as the TdF predictably have the same builds.

    Please don't find the exception to the rule now... nobody cares about that, as it has nothing to do with the OP's question.

    And where the heck does "descending" tie into the OP's question??

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    Louisiana muscle man Mat Davis got 15th in the Leadville 100 in 2010. As you can see by his USAC record he also did very well at Nats this year.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    They might have a little trouble when climbing for an hour straight in the mountains (compared with your average Cat 1, at 5'10" but 140-145 lbs) but would likely be faster on other terrain. They tend to pick their races accordingly (just as a 5'10", 130 lbs. climber won't usually focus on flat crits).
    .

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    Quote Originally Posted by ganginwood View Post
    How is Schleck a good all-rounder? He is pitiful at TT's and descents.
    When I criticize the abilities of others, I usually like to start with myself.

    Let's see, when I enter a TT in my local racing group (Masters 1-2-3), I'm nearly DFL.

    Shleck enters a TT during the tour with some of the best cyclist in the world, and he's top 20-30.

    Using that comparison, I'd say he's light years (or parsecs) from pitiful.
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    Sprinter Oscar Pistorious qualified for the Beijing Olympics . . . with no legs (he was ultimately disqualified as having an unfair advantage).

    However, I think we'd all have to agree that being legless is generally kind of a disadvantage for an aspiring sprinter . . .

    Same thing goes for being a "heavy" cyclist.

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    so losing weight is preferable over gaining muscle, yes. especially in cycling this is very true. the best scenario is to have a very well developed lower half, and a skinny torso and upper half. big motor in a small chassis.
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    Jaroslav Kulhavy is listed as 76-79kg (168-174 lbs), which is appropriate for a pro cyclist of 6'2" height.
    I Am Specialized: XC-MTB: Riders: Jaroslav Kulhavy

    That's the same height as Geoff Kabush, another World Cup race winner, who is a little lighter but past his prime at 75kg (165 pounds). Todd Wells, 2011 USAC triple crown winner and 7th in World Cup this year, is also that height, as is JHK, with similar builds to Kulhavy. Miguel Indurain was the exact same height and at times a little heavier than Kulhavy.

    There's also 6'5" USAC National XC and Cyclocross champ Ryan Trebon at 6'5", 175-180lbs and 6'6", 174lb 2011 Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Vansummeren.

    So although it may be uncommon to see tall, thin cyclists, it seems to be a measure of success.


    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    If he does crush them then he will eventually start racing Pro, where he will be crushed by some a skinny little guy.

    Big guys can be very fast, I get beat by them all the time. However, cycling, particularly mountain biking, is for those without much body mass. A 180lb guy will never win a world cup. Even Kulhavy who is huge, as world cup mountain bikers go, is under 170lbs. The rest of the front end of the world cup field sits between 130-150lbs.

    A big guys has much of a chance of sucess in XC racing as a short guy has in basketball. There are exceptions but they are few and far between.
    Last edited by TunicaTrails; 09-30-2011 at 07:19 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails View Post
    Jaroslav Kulhavy is listed as 76-79kg (168-174 lbs), which is appropriate for a pro cyclist of 6'2" height.
    I Am Specialized: XC-MTB: Riders: Jaroslav Kulhavy

    That's the same height as Geoff Kabush, another World Cup race winner, who is a little lighter but past his prime at 75kg (165 pounds). Todd Wells, USAC triple crown winner and 7th in World Cup this year, is also that height, as is JHK, with similar builds to Kulhavy. Miguel Indurain was the exact same height and at times a little heavier than Kulhavy.
    "Appropriate weight for height" unfortunately doesn't matter as much as "appropriate weight". It's not like taller cyclists necessarily put out more wattage than shorter ones to make up for the extra weight.

    Indurain was a absolute horse, and an outlier in every possible way (VO2 max of ~90 per various sources). Another example of an exception.

    It's easy to list all the exceptions, because they stick out and are so few?
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    "Appropriate weight for height" unfortunately doesn't matter as much as "appropriate weight". It's not like taller cyclists necessarily put out more wattage than shorter ones to make up for the extra weight.

    Indurain was a absolute horse, and an outlier in every possible way (VO2 max of ~90 per various sources). Another example of an exception.

    It's easy to list all the exceptions, because they stick out and are so few?
    +1 Conversely, there are endless pro cyclists that are short.

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    I would hazard that if you looked at average height of elite cyclist you would find that they are about average height, to maybe slightly below average. I think you would also find the percentage of tall and short elite cyclist is about the same too, with again a tiny bit more bias to short cyclist. A large range heights can have success in cycling.

    However, the weights of all cyclist would well below average. As I said Kulhavy is considered big and powerful but is probably 30-50lbs lighter then the average male his height. The range of weight for cyclist to have sucess is pretty narrow. I would hazard 125-170lbs for men and 95-130lbs for women.


    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails View Post
    Jaroslav Kulhavy is listed as 76-79kg (168-174 lbs), which is appropriate for a pro cyclist of 6'2" height.
    I Am Specialized: XC-MTB: Riders: Jaroslav Kulhavy

    That's the same height as Geoff Kabush, another World Cup race winner, who is a little lighter but past his prime at 75kg (165 pounds). Todd Wells, 2011 USAC triple crown winner and 7th in World Cup this year, is also that height, as is JHK, with similar builds to Kulhavy. Miguel Indurain was the exact same height and at times a little heavier than Kulhavy.

    There's also 6'5" USAC National XC and Cyclocross champ Ryan Trebon at 6'5", 175-180lbs and 6'6", 174lb 2011 Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Vansummeren.

    So although it may be uncommon to see tall, thin cyclists, it seems to be a measure of success.
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    This might be slightly off topic

    as this old thread referenced below does not address muscularity but rather addresses height to weight relationship (BMI)

    Whats your BMI?

    What the limited data set shows is that the higher the level of competition, the 'skinnier' the AVERAGE mtb race participant...at least among those who frequent mtbr.

    To reiterate, I know BMI does not say anything about strength or fitness, it just describes body shape (aspect ratio), so no lectures about how the medical community misuses BMI are required.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    The reason the OP's question is interesting isn't the notable exceptions that people above have cited (successful heavier XC racers). It's that 99% of the ones who ask this question are concerned about aesthetics, and don't want to lose hard-earned muscle developed from power-based sports like football (or just recreational weightlifting).
    You’re absolutely right. There’s a tremendous difference between those activities and cycling. Whether fortunately or not, the popular stereotype of a 'big’ athletic build features strongly in the American pantheon, so it’s hard for people to get their minds around the idea that maybe looks are deceiving when it comes to certain sports.

    And of course, we need only reference the sport of bodybuilding itself for comparison. Pro bodybuilders are paid to stand still and be given an arbitrary number that represents a subjective quality. Pro cyclists are paid to move quickly and be given an objective number that represents how long they performed. That’s about as close to diametrically opposed as one can get. One is about feeling and self image, the other is about getting **** done fast, period.

    Oh, and to the people referencing bigger XC racers and their results. That’s fine and dandy - have ‘em step up to nationals and watch their dreams dashed on the rocks by some skinny, stuck up ectomorph (love that word - thanks for reminding me) on a 21lb trail rocket. The exception will prove the rule.

    It’s like this entire topic wants to make-believe away simple physics.

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    Check out the study of Trebon vs. Craig. Taller cyclists put out more power, don't see why there would be a reason to claim otherwise. Their weakness is bike handling through singletrack. And I would contend that the growing number of tall mountain bikers who are winning races coincides with the popularity of the 29er (ducks for thread derail).

    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    "Appropriate weight for height" unfortunately doesn't matter as much as "appropriate weight". It's not like taller cyclists necessarily put out more wattage than shorter ones to make up for the extra weight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails View Post
    Check out the study of Trebon vs. Craig. Taller cyclists put out more power, don't see why there would be a reason to claim otherwise. Their weakness is bike handling through singletrack. And I would contend that the growing number of tall mountain bikers who are winning races coincides with the popularity of the 29er (ducks for thread derail).
    That's one comparison of two cyclists. Tough to generalize that to say that all taller cyclists put out more power, unless you know of a study that made that conclusion.

    I'd agree that 29" wheels have likely been a good thing for the handling characteristics of XL+ size frames.

    This thread was derailed a long time ago. The OP wanted to know if maintaining a power sport physique would be advantageous in XC racing. No matter what examples we give of tall, slender, successful XC racers (or shorter, relatively muscular ones), the answer is no.
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  70. #70
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails View Post
    Check out the study of Trebon vs. Craig. Taller cyclists put out more power, don't see why there would be a reason to claim otherwise. Their weakness is bike handling through singletrack. And I would contend that the growing number of tall mountain bikers who are winning races coincides with the popularity of the 29er (ducks for thread derail).
    Hmm.... majority of guys in the green jersey predictably are NOT "tall". Average height me thinks is typical. I know Cav is fairly short (ONE example...)

  71. #71
    LMN
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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails View Post
    Check out the study of Trebon vs. Craig. Taller cyclists put out more power, don't see why there would be a reason to claim otherwise. Their weakness is bike handling through singletrack. And I would contend that the growing number of tall mountain bikers who are winning races coincides with the popularity of the 29er (ducks for thread derail).


    Trebon produces a stupid amount of raw power, around 450 watts at threshold. The thing is when you look at his watts/kg it matches up with that of the top women not the top men. This is why on the world stage he never had that much success.

    I also know that when he is going well Adam produces way more power then what is claimed in that article. If were to compare top form to top form you would find that the faster rider (Craig) produces more watts/kg and can do more repeated anaerobic efforts.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  72. #72
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    the most important muscle for cycling is actually in the upper half - the heart.
    strong legs are useful but only up to the point at which the heart (plus lungs) is able to to power that muscle sustainably (with the exception of pure sprinting)

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    Personally, i have found that weight training focusing on heavy lifting from Oct-Feb (with the intention of racing in May) has worked quite nicely to build a base for endurance.

  74. #74
    lgh
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    Quote Originally Posted by dontheclysdale View Post
    Well put
    +1

    Larry

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    Quote Originally Posted by skypotato View Post
    Personally, i have found that weight training focusing on heavy lifting from Oct-Feb (with the intention of racing in May) has worked quite nicely to build a base for endurance.
    Without a doubt, particulalry for mtn biking where upper body strength is just as important as leg strength.

    +1 for you.
    Stick around if you're housebroken...

  76. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by uncreative View Post
    let me get my crystal ball out here; i am guessing mr cat 1 bodybuilder is located somewhere other than the rockies or the west coast.
    He's not a bodybuilder as you envision, young fellow.

    Out here in the east, we actually race on technical singletrack, not mountain roads. Endurance, power and technical skill are ALL required.
    Stick around if you're housebroken...

  77. #77
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    He's not a bodybuilder as you envision, young fellow.

    Out here in the east, we actually race on technical singletrack, not mountain roads. Endurance, power and technical skill are ALL required.
    Oh no you di'int!?

  78. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    Without a doubt, particulalry for mtn biking where upper body strength is just as important as leg strength.

    +1 for you.
    No. Never. Wrong.

    I do like your avatar though.

  79. #79
    lgh
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    Without a doubt, particulalry for mtn biking where upper body strength is just as important as leg strength.
    Just as important? You didn't really mean that, did you?

    Also, don't confuse "muscular" with strong. Lifting heavy weights usually implies strength training, which is primarily a neuronal adaptation. I'm not sure what "muscular" means. The OP seemed to be asking about the effect of losing 10 lbs of muscle he had hanging around from football and weight lifting. You can lose that and still be strong, even stronger than needed for Mtb'ng. I'm not sure why you keep arguing against that.

    Larry

  80. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by lgh View Post
    Just as important? You didn't really mean that, did you?

    Also, don't confuse "muscular" with strong. Lifting heavy weights usually implies strength training, which is primarily a neuronal adaptation. I'm not sure what "muscular" means. The OP seemed to be asking about the effect of losing 10 lbs of muscle he had hanging around from football and weight lifting. You can lose that and still be strong, even stronger than needed for Mtb'ng. I'm not sure why you keep arguing against that.

    Larry
    I pined in because not all fast xc racers are wafer thin weight weenies. And I did not say that bodybuilders a racer make.

    And yes, I did mean it when I said upper body strength, or fitness, is equally important in xc racing. One needn't be of noticeable mass, but one best be fit in order to maneuver the bike as needed on a true xc race course. Part of this comes from adequate training.
    Stick around if you're housebroken...

  81. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    Oh no you di'int!?
    Someone has to point out the differences.

    I'm a fan of James Wilson. Let us take a look at what he has to say, like it or not:

    Are you a mountain biker or a roadie on dirt? | MTB Strength Training Systems
    Stick around if you're housebroken...

  82. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    Someone has to point out the differences.

    I'm a fan of James Wilson. Let us take a look at what he has to say, like it or not:

    Are you a mountain biker or a roadie on dirt? | MTB Strength Training Systems
    Legs first. Upper body second. James himself would not disagree with this. You said they are "equally" important. I think I am getting caught up on the details here and I am pretty sure you didn't actually mean to say they are equal.

    Oxygen and money are both important. Oxygen is more important though..

    Just sayin'

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    You guys are looking way too far into this.

    Cat 1 and higher, hell ya. Drop all unnecessary weight, drop body fat.

    Everybody else. Doesnt matter, if you want to be faster then go ride your stinkin bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    Out here in the east, we actually race on technical singletrack, not mountain roads. Endurance, power and technical skill are ALL required.
    The f_u_c_k?? Come out here to Nor-Cal and race trail boy - if the altitude and elevation gain doesn’t get ya, I guarantee the granite chunk everywhere will. One trip to the D-ville Classic outta shut you up good.

    Typical east 'coasters' (pun intended) - bragging about the things they have less of.

    Back on topic: The cyclist looked around the peloton and said “where’s the beef?” “Oh we passed them down in the valley” came the reply.

    Drop the weight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    Out here in the east, we actually race on technical singletrack, not mountain roads. Endurance, power and technical skill are ALL required.
    raced at Mt. Snow and Windham... not bad courses and a bit different than out west, but certainly nothing that warrants a comment that implies the courses are that much different or require any special strength.

    pyrotyro is 100% correct. if you are not CAT1 or Elite then you are best served by riding as much as you can, on as many varied terrains/trails as possible.
    Try to be good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    Now..those legs + a skinny upper body would be a serious recipe for success on the track! And yeh...how do you spell roids again??

    I feel sorry for that bike. Poor thing
    um.. photoshop anyone?

  87. #87
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    This is quite an interesting blog post on the subject of how much muscle mass and strength is useful for endurance sports.

    The importance of strength to endurance | Endurance Corner

    also:

    The Anthropometrics of*Track*Cyclists « The Fixed Gear

    Bodybuilding.com - What Is Your Body Type? Take Our Test!

    Pictured below: Body types of athletes from different sports

    Picture of the three male body types: Mesomorph, Ectomorph, Endomorph
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Losing weight over Being muscular &amp; poweful?-somatotypes3.jpg  

    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by WR304; 12-10-2011 at 04:38 PM.

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    From network television to weight loss health market, more and more people are realizing the amazing potential of acai berry. Adding it to our daily diet can help keep us look young, full of vitality and good health. Acai berry diet plan is a unique type of berry that looks like a grape but a bit smaller. It has a purplish black color with single seed inside. And it is very important food source for people who live in the Amazonian parts of Brazil.

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