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  1. #1
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    Bulking to Ride

    My question is how to reconcile the needed muscle mass with the desire to stay light?

    Some background, I'm 29, 6'3" 186lbs and 13% body fat. So there is a little fat that can come off but not a ton. The issue is I really need some more upper body mass. Would I like to be stronger, yes but it's not a huge issue at the moment. What I'm after is impact protection. I'm a gravity focused rider so performance on climbs and over sustained time periods isn't the main concern.

    I know the basic principles to put the muscle on but with routinely burning 1000+ calories a day how are you guys here eating enough to gain?

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  2. #2
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    5 good IPA beers will cover the 1000 calories.

    Just kidding.

    I would say ride like you do, do resistance training to build muscle/strength and eat as much as you feel like eating. For most of us, that usually means gaining too much weight.
    Do the math.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    5 good IPA beers will cover the 1000 calories.

    Just kidding.

    I would say ride like you do, do resistance training to build muscle/strength and eat as much as you feel like eating. For most of us, that usually means gaining too much weight.
    That's the part I'm struggling with. As it stands right now an average active day ~3000 is the break even point. I'm just not a big eater. I know could load on junk to get there but that defeats the purpose right?

    I'm also doing more body weight type stuff for various reasons, old injuries and being so long and lanky that form becomes an issue lifting.

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  4. #4
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    High resistance at low reps is what builds strength and muscles. How the resistance is generated doesn't much matter, as long as it's there. Body mass exercises are good as long as there is enough resistance. Free weights are great as they require more core engagement and balance than machines, but machines work too.

    On restricted calorie diets it's important to eat the right stuff so you're not missing out on important nutrients, but if you're burning a lot of calories, it's fine to eat more calorie-dense foods (carbs and fats), as you should already be getting enough nutrients if you're eating reasonably well. You should check to ensure you're getting enough protein, which isn't usually and issue, but can be depending on what you eat.
    Do the math.

  5. #5
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    You need to build up your intake slowly for your body to adjust. Too much too soon and you're going to have some problems in your gut. Learn how to cook, diet is one of the most important things when trying to achieve a certain figure. I don't imagine too many guys here looking to build mass like you on here. Might want to run it by some body building forums for better advise. Chicken, eggs, yogurt, protein shakes, soy milk. I'm no body builder but I'm no string bean. That's what works for me when building lean mass. Everyone is different though.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    High resistance at low reps is what builds strength and muscles. How the resistance is generated doesn't much matter, as long as it's there. Body mass exercises are good as long as there is enough resistance. Free weights are great as they require more core engagement and balance than machines, but machines work too.

    On restricted calorie diets it's important to eat the right stuff so you're not missing out on important nutrients, but if you're burning a lot of calories, it's fine to eat more calorie-dense foods (carbs and fats), as you should already be getting enough nutrients if you're eating reasonably well. You should check to ensure you're getting enough protein, which isn't usually and issue, but can be depending on what you eat.
    Thanks for the advice. Where I'm at now body weight is giving plenty of resistance. What I meant by junk is not cramming sugar loaded foods and potato chips to get to a calorie surplus, unless I can? Getting the nutrients isn't as much of an issue. I'm averaging around 200g of protein a day and doing a 40-40-20 protein carbs fat ratio. It's just getting into a calorie surplus I'm struggling with.

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  7. #7
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    Look at a couple bodybuilding forums and see what other guys your age and physical size are doing that works. When I was your age, I was eating more protein and fewer carbs than you to bulk up and found it was not hard to do so. I would also supplement my diet with protein drinks as a desert as to prevent the protein drink from suppressing my appetite. 6 small meals a day with a lot of protein and then it's a simple matter of finding your own body's sweet spot of reps and sets vs weight to maximize your gains (everyone is different in this area). Some guys need to stop aerobic training for a week or two to stimulate anaerobic training gains. It is not a cut and dry formula for everyone. Everyone responds differently to weight training. You need to find what works for you.
    The basics are more protein, more frequent meals, protein drinks after each meal, no carb based recovery drinks (your body will need more protein after each workout) and finding what anaerobic routine works best for you.
    Look at the bodybuilding forums for more ideas/help.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by tuckerjt07 View Post
    My question is how to reconcile the needed muscle mass with the desire to stay light?

    Some background, I'm 29, 6'3" 186lbs and 13% body fat. So there is a little fat that can come off but not a ton. The issue is I really need some more upper body mass. Would I like to be stronger, yes but it's not a huge issue at the moment. What I'm after is impact protection. I'm a gravity focused rider so performance on climbs and over sustained time periods isn't the main concern.

    I know the basic principles to put the muscle on but with routinely burning 1000+ calories a day how are you guys here eating enough to gain?

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    While this is not really what you were asking...

    For injury resistance weight training is great IMO. Not only do your muscles get stronger but your bones and other connective tissues become stronger as well - which results in impact protection.

    But... to see gains in strength and injury resistance you don't have to gain a whole lot of muscle mass/weight. Impact resistance comes from strength not mass.

    That said, if you want to maximize benefits from weight training you should likely be eating more.

    My favorites are real eggs bought from people raising their own chickens, mashed potatoes, and roasted sweet potatoes. I eat that stuff usually twice a day every day. Also real pork from people raising their own pigs - humanely and feeding them good stuff. Learn how to make your own bacon and you'll see real fast how easy it is to take in calories.

    My moto is I eat as much as I want as long as it doesn't come from a factory.

    Another thing I've learned is if I stay away from any processed foods or foods with wheat I can eat as much as I want and really don't put on bad weight - relatively speaking.

  9. #9
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    You dont need bulk to be strong. Maybe genetically you are naturally lean however you can develop a strong core and overall strength and endurance. Good advise from previous posts.

    I'm only 125lb but I can deadlift 225lb; I do cleans and snatches; My PR back squat is 180lb but front squats are better for core (my PR is 155lbs) I can do pullups; military pushups; hold a plank for 10 minutes etc. etc. 5 years of strength training (in addition to HIIT) ... one hour a day and I'm almost 60. It's never too late to start. BTW my diet is plant based.
    F*ck Cancer

    Eat your veggies

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclelicious View Post
    You dont need bulk to be strong. Maybe genetically you are natually lean however you can develop a strong core and overall strength and endurance. Good advise from previous posts.

    I'm only 125lb but I can deadlift 225lb; I do cleans and snatches; My PR back squat is 180lb but front squats are better for core (my PR is 155lbs) I can do pullups; military pushups; hold a plank for 10 minutes etc. etc. 5 years of strength training (in addition to HIIT) ... one hour a day and I'm almost 60. It's never too late to start. BTW my diet is plant based.
    Thanks. I get that but I'm not looking just for the strength aspect of it. Strength really isn't an issue or the problem I'm trying to solve. Would I take being stronger, absolutely but I need some additional mass between my skin and bones. Would much rather have deep tissue bruising than a bone bruise or worse.

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  11. #11
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    Bulking to Ride

    The question I have is this:

    Is that added quarter inch of muscle on X part of your body going to protect you from the added kinetic energy of you + 10/15/20lbs slamming into the ground at 25mph?

    Iím not going to pretend to know how to work that out math-wise, but Iíve done enough bike racing and other sports (wrestling) to have seen a lot of people eat it, hard. The lighter guys SEEM to have better survivability, from what Iíve seen.


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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    The question I have is this:

    Is that added quarter inch of muscle on X part of your body going to protect you from the added kinetic energy of you + 10/15/20lbs slamming into the ground at 25mph?

    Iím not going to pretend to know how to work that out math-wise, but Iíve done enough bike racing and other sports (wrestling) to have seen a lot of people eat it, hard. The lighter guys SEEM to have better survivability, from what Iíve seen.


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    I get what you're saying and at a certain point I agree. I have muscle and decent strength but my muscle is very "small" because it's so spread out. There is also stuff from enduro and high end slopestyle guys that say it contributes to injury resistantance.

    I'm not going for a body builder style bulk. Ideally I would put on about 10 lbs and only be up to around 15% body fat. Then I could cut back down to 12%-10% which should not result in a massive net gain. My frame isn't going to support a healthy weight much, if any, below 180lbs as it is.

    I know I'm probably not making sense. Like I've said before I am horribly vocab and explanation challenged when talking about this stuff.

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  13. #13
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    Bulking to Ride

    Nah, I get it.

    Hereís the problem, as I see it. Gaining muscle, and any kind of endurance exercise, are very hard to do at the same time. I have two friends that were into body building at various points on their lives, and not only was gaining bulk a very difficult process (diet, workouts, recovery), but they basically had to stop any kind of aerobic exercise.

    I donít understand the physiological process that drives it, other than competition for resources, but I imagine itís similar to that described by an old ranch hand saying. Something along the lines of ďrunning the beef off those cattleĒ. The body has to make a choice.





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  14. #14
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    I absolutely agree with the hard to do at the same time. Even with a focus on gravity I still put in quite a few miles a week and there is no way you could bodybuild style bulk doing that I don't think.

    Part of the issue I think is what Julian Shapiro describes. "You can't gain muscle if you are a single calorie deficient that day" (paraphrased). With both a strength plan and regular biking that is a lot of calories to get down in a day, especially if you aren't a chronic over eater.

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  15. #15
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    My suggestion would be take a couple months off the bike, if you can, and lift hard. Or, only low intensity riding, a couple times a week.

    Then, after you have reached your weight goal, add more riding back in, and lift to maintain mass.




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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    My suggestion would be take a couple months off the bike, if you can, and lift hard. Or, only low intensity riding, a couple times a week.

    Then, after you have reached your weight goal, add more riding back in, and lift to maintain mass.




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    Thanks, we have a great shuttle area about an hour away. I may start hitting it more than I have in the past. Race season starts in May and I'm trying to get through a mental block from my last couple of slams but shuttling the DH runs could help with both ends I suppose.

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  17. #17
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    I was in to lifting prior to mountain biking and at my peak I weighed 220 at 5'10. When I gave up lifting and focused on biking, I noticed that no matter how much I rode, my upper body would lose strength and mass.

    The best solution I found was training on a rigid SS. The extra work your upper body has to do will improve your strength and add just enough mass without making you bulky. The low RPM climbing out of the saddle is also a great full body strength workout.

    My race weight now is around 165-170. I could be lighter, but I feel best around this weight.

  18. #18
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    Based on my experience of working with professional athletes as a trainer and spending years in the gym building mass despite being naturally slim:

    1. Do basic lifts (bench press, squats, deadlifts, overhead press). Keep reps in the 4-5 range and lift as heavy as you can with good form. Rest adequately between sets. Lifting heavy will also likely increase your appetite. The 5x5 weight training program is popular right now, and it is essentially what I just described and can be found online.
    2. Limit cardio to riding. I.E., go to the gym to lift weights and get stronger/build muscle.
    3. The easiest way to gain weight is to do so in a liquid form. It's difficult to eat enough food to gain weight if you are training hard and naturally slim. You are already getting plenty of protein. Add healthy fats to protein drinks to get extra calories (fresh nuts or nut butters, avocado, flax seed oil, cacao butter, etc.). Have a drink every night before you go to sleep. It is easy to make an 800-1000 calorie drink if you add fruit and nuts and some kind of healthy weight gain powder.

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    drich yup that 5x5 is a great place to start. I'm very slim. 5'6" 135-140lb with chicken legs, skinny bones, narrow shoulders, etc. etc.

    Before I started riding, I was out of shape and probably 150lb. But I was a little stronger. Then I started riding regularly, with no gym work. I got slimmer, but I noticed I started getting weaker. 50lb bags of rice (hey we're Asian, we go through this in a month) all of a sudden started getting heavier. More importantly, my golf swing lost speed.

    I didn't do anything for nutrition either. After I lost 25 yards on my driver, I decided, dangit I need to get this strength back. So now I do take a protein shake about an hour or two after my ride. I started the 5x5 program. When I started the 5x5 I actually didn't ride for about a month as I didn't have time.

    Well 4 weeks of 5xt and no riding, when I went back to my normal trail, I noticed I was out of breath a little bit more, but my legs? My legs were fresh as can be. One of the local trails has a long fire road to the top (not the only way but we take that way up and then single track down). With my chicken legs I've always used the granny gears (24 up front, 36 in back it's a 2x10) and I was 3 gears higher in the back than I usually am.

    So now I alternate. I will try to hit the gym MWF, and ride on the weekends, and Tues-Thur if I have time.

  20. #20
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    Iím in the same boat as you my friend! Iíve been through a huge body transformation 6í7Ē 320lbs in 2015 down to 200lbs in 2016 and now standing at 220lbs @ ~10% body fat. Now Iím fit and active Iíve gotten into mountain biking in a big way but found it really mess with bulking if your not careful!

    Top tips
    Must monitor your calories being burnt! I can go to the gym and out for a 3 hour ride in a day and burn 4000 calories on top of metabolic rate of 3500, so 7500 need to be replaced not to loss weight! To bulk you have to maintain 200-500 calorie surplus.

    Carbs and fats are your friends! They will give you high calorie meals and slow releasing energy that you want and need to keep going and stop your body becoming canobolic and breaking down the muscle youíve worked hard to build additional EAA drink will help protect this.

    Donít let yourself get hungry, have regular calorie rich snacks while riding and eat like a beast in general!


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  21. #21
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    If you're not in the gym yet and are 13% BF you're eating close to enough already. Bulking up isn't what you want to do unless you're a powerful athlete. I would suggest bumping up your protien a bit (25-50grams) a day and hit the gym. You will get stronger quickly any way.
    Most men gain 4-5lbs just buy lifting on the same diet when starting out.
    If you already are in the gym and have a good program and aren't seeing progress than you need more calories to recover. More than a 5lb increase you'll start to see cardiovascular being taxed, until you adapt.

  22. #22
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    I was able to bulk my upper body while maintaining constant weight (aka recomp, it's slower for bodybuilding, but biking isn't bodybuilding) by doing a carnivore diet. Carnivory is probably optimal for strength to weight ratio. After about 6 months focused on compound lifts, there was a huge jump in my descending capabilities.

    If you are not too worried about losing some aerobic base, there is no reason not to do it. If you do it with carbs though, it's easy to gain a lot of weight unless you are very meticulous, which most people aren't.

    If you want maximum carry over to biking, do closed kinetic chain exercises. So don't just bench, also do weighted dips. Do pull-ups, not just barbell rows). Dual arm movement's will build strength faster than single-arm. I'd say deadlifts > squats for mountain bikers since it balances out quad focus from biking. Plus, aerobic loss from strength exercise is partially muscle specific so it reduces aerobic loss in quads, while providing useful strength for your back in a similar way to pulling on handlebars.

    Don't listen to the people saying you can do this without gaining any mass -- neurological strength gains can be improved, but that tops out quickly and is not relevant to biking where you have repeated sub-maximal efforts. With non-neurological factors, muscle strength is proportional to size so if you want a certain strength level for dozens of impacts on a descent, lifting and gaining some mass is the best way to do it.

  23. #23
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    either wait a few years when your metabolism slows down or, like me, come to grips with the fact that you may never be able to gain weight. I'm 5'10 and in high school weighed 125. started working out around age 30 and now weigh 140 but can't gain more than that, i just don't have the appetite. I'm 42 and the strongest I've ever been in my life, but I'm probably at my peak weight. tried creatine and protein powder and all that to no avail.

  24. #24
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    https://70sbig.com/blog/2009/10/if-y...t-eat-the-man/

    There was a time at the Old Westside gym where I couldnít gain weight to save my ****ing life.

    There was this dude who trained there who could just put on weight like ****ing magic. Heíd go from 198 to 308 and then to 275 and back down to 198. And he was never fat. It was amazing.

    I finally asked him one day how he did it.

    ďYou mean I never told you the secret to gaining weight? Come outside and Iíll fill you in.Ē

    Now remember, weíre at Westside Barbell. And this guy wants to go outside to talk so no one else can hear. Think about that for a minute. What the hell is he going to tell me? This must be some serious shit if we have to go outside, I thought.

    So we get outside and he starts talking.

    ďFor breakfast you need to eat four of those breakfast sandwiches from McDonalds. I donít care which ones you get, but make sure to get four. Order four hash browns, too. Now grab two packs of mayonnaise and put them on the hash browns and then slip them into the sandwiches. Squish that shit down and eat. Thatís your breakfast.Ē

    At this point Iím thinking this guy is nuts. But heís completely serious.

    ďFor lunch youíre gonna eat Chinese food. Now I donít want you eating that crappy stuff. You wanna get the stuff with MSG. None of that non-MSG bullshit. I donít care what you eat but you have to sit down and eat for at least 45 minutes straight. You canít let go of the fork. Eat until your eyes swell up and become slits and you start to look like the woman behind the counter.Ē

    ďFor dinner youíre gonna order an extra-large pizza with everything on it. Literally everything. If you donít like sardines, donít put íem on, but anything else that you like you have to load it on there. After you pay the delivery guy, I want you to take the pie to your coffee table, open that ****er up, and grab a bottle of oil. It can be olive oil, canola oil, whatever. Anything but motor oil. And I want you to pour that shit over the pie until half of the bottle is gone. Just soak the shit out of it.Ē

    ďNow before you lay into it, I want you to sit on your couch and just stare at that ****er. I want you to understand that that pizza right there is keeping you from your goals.Ē

    This guy is in a zen-like state when heís talking about this.

    ďNow youíre on the clock,Ē he continues. ďAfter 20 minutes your brain is going to tell you youíre full. Donít listen to that shit. You have to try and eat as much of the pizza as you can before that 20-minute mark. Double up pieces if you have to. Iím telling you now, youíre going to get three or four pieces in and youíre gonna want to quit. You ****ing canít quit. You have to sit on that couch until every piece is done.

    And if you canít finish it, donít you ever come back to me and tell me you canít gain weight. íCause Iím gonna tell you that you donít give a **** about getting bigger and you donít care how much you lift!Ē

    Did I do it? Hell yeah. Started the next day and did it for two months. Went from 260 pounds to 297 pounds. And I didnít get much fatter. One of the hardest things Iíve ever done in my life, though.

  25. #25
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    If you weigh 186 lbs (84.5 kg) and consuming 200 gm protein per day and 40% of calories, you are getting plenty of protein (2.4 gm/kg/day is borderline too high). Consuming more will not benefit, and possibly start giving you negative effects (inhibiting strength gains).

    You can try altering your resistance routine a bit. Recent research is showing great benefits with lifting each set to failure instead of a fixed number of reps/sets, coupled with proper eating afterwards (no protein shakes immediately post workout, use a 4:1 carb protein snack first. Follow up with protein every 2 hrs or so afterwards with with one right before bed. Doesn't have to a be a protein powder, any protein source will do, like real food.) Spread the protein intake across the day, not concentrated at normal mealtimes.
    Do not take anything I post seriously. I don't.

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