Too much muscle too easily
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  1. #1
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    Too much muscle too easily

    Thank goodness you're here!

    All right...I'm 40 F. Raced competitively in late 80's.

    Got back into riding last year a little, but am just now getting on track with consistency. Here's the deal. I'm 5' 7", and currently weigh about 135#. Been working on gradual weight loss and have an additional 10# estimated fat loss to go. The bike weighs 16.4# minus saddle bag and bottles. Dropped about 5# fat the last month but now no actual "weight loss" just gain in muscle pounds. Hence the following:

    I'm plagued with the same problem I had in my teens/twenties. I amass muscle at lightning speed. No roids needed here. I thought It was because I always rode the big gears way back when. I've been trying to avert this by riding mostly 30-40 mile flat to small incline rides, in small gears and high (for an old girl ) rpm's around 90-120. I am able to keep my HR around 160-170's comfortably-ish. I interperse this with one session of short-hill sprints a week at 5-10 reps, 10% gradient, 20 secs.

    I do not want to look like Jan Ullrich. I absolutely love long gut-busting climbs, (I'm lucky to have a 4 mile, 14-17% right near) and if I keep the fat down am a decent all-rounder. But, I have limited that climb to once a week, because until the remaining blubber goes away I'm afraid I will develop into Helga The Terrible once again.

    I just want to keep my nicer smaller frame/muscle mass as small as possible. The only thing that doesn't put the bulk on for me in the past has been running. I'd rather ride the bike so how can I make it work?

    If you've got some tips that I'm missing here, I would so very much appreciate it.

  2. #2
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    That's a tough one, I think that you need to focus on being as lean as you can but still staying healthy. We all have a certain weight where we are the strongest, and sometimes we don't realize it until we have lost to much.

    Kendra Wenzel did a nice study a while back looing at the weight of elite cyclists and made a nice hight/weight chart. Here are the numbers she came up with for your height:

    How have you had your body fat analyzed and are you confident the number is correct? If it is and you feel comfortable losing the additional 10 lbs that would surely help your climbing.

    5'7" female climber 116-130 sprinter 123-144

    I would say your right there in that sweet spot if you want to be a good all arounder. At yoru age your falling into the masters category and you can add about 5 lbs for each category.
    <a href="http://www.wenzelcoaching.com/Lee%20Shuemake.htm">Wenzel Coaching</a>

  3. #3
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    Do you have that whole chart?

    I have thought about my plans for next season, and I think I might need to get a little bit more weight / leg muscle mass, of all things. I'm (almost) 6'0", and 138-140 lbs...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sub
    That's a tough one, I think that you need to focus on being as lean as you can but still staying healthy. We all have a certain weight where we are the strongest, and sometimes we don't realize it until we have lost to much.

    Kendra Wenzel did a nice study a while back looing at the weight of elite cyclists and made a nice hight/weight chart. Here are the numbers she came up with for your height:

    How have you had your body fat analyzed and are you confident the number is correct? If it is and you feel comfortable losing the additional 10 lbs that would surely help your climbing.

    5'7" female climber 116-130 sprinter 123-144

    I would say your right there in that sweet spot if you want to be a good all arounder. At yoru age your falling into the masters category and you can add about 5 lbs for each category.
    Thanks Sub.

    Well, never had body fat percentage officially analyzed. The skinniest/lightest I've ever been was a few years ago, was 118 lb with a bit less muscle than I have now (still much less than racing days). I felt very good at 120 #, and too skinny at 118.

    At this point, taking into consideration present muscle mass I can only hazard a guess that "fit" (not cachectic) for me would be in the neighborhood of 122 #. No science behind this thinking, though.

    Even if I'm only 10 # over, I'm sure that the 10 # added resistance will only serve to speed me on my way to Popeye-thighs.

    I'm thinking, although hating the idea, that I need to get off the bike and run. Solely as it takes the weight off without gaining mass. I was just hoping there was a way to accomplish this by bike. Should I avoid hills altogether until I drop the fat? Say it ain't so...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldEndicottHiway
    Thanks Sub.

    Well, never had body fat percentage officially analyzed. The skinniest/lightest I've ever been was a few years ago, was 118 lb with a bit less muscle than I have now (still much less than racing days). I felt very good at 120 #, and too skinny at 118.

    At this point, taking into consideration present muscle mass I can only hazard a guess that "fit" (not cachectic) for me would be in the neighborhood of 122 #. No science behind this thinking, though.

    Even if I'm only 10 # over, I'm sure that the 10 # added resistance will only serve to speed me on my way to Popeye-thighs.

    I'm thinking, although hating the idea, that I need to get off the bike and run. Solely as it takes the weight off without gaining mass. I was just hoping there was a way to accomplish this by bike. Should I avoid hills altogether until I drop the fat? Say it ain't so...
    Don't avoid the hills. Read over that info I sent you and get back to me if you have any questions.
    <a href="http://www.wenzelcoaching.com/Lee%20Shuemake.htm">Wenzel Coaching</a>

  6. #6
    Shut up legs!
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    man i would kill for the "easy muscle" body!

  7. #7

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    ride slower and longer . yup may need to add back in running. 160 hr is high for riding. amazing as it may seem most pros ride their race 100-120 bpm till the last hr or so. tool along and keep you hr below 70 percent of may. Amazingly in the weights to build muscle world coaches strive to get the athelete in the 80-85 max hr range. this range promotes muscle mass. Long answer but you just need to ride slower.
    It was good enough for Eddy

  8. #8
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    Thanks Hoop, very much.

    Will definitely look into this method more closely.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Argentius
    Do you have that whole chart?

    I have thought about my plans for next season, and I think I might need to get a little bit more weight / leg muscle mass, of all things. I'm (almost) 6'0", and 138-140 lbs...
    There is one (kinda) in some issue of Road magazine. Maybe not that exact study, but it has heights/weights of sprinters/climbers of various ProTour variety (tour winners, KOM winners, sprinters, etc etc).

    It's a few months old now. I'll see if I can find it and send it to you.

  10. #10
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    OldEndicottHiway,
    If you are hoping to lose the mass the best strategy is to increase your volume miles. I don't remember the exact physiological explanation but as you start to stimulate your muscles more frequently you will need to replenish their energy stores and one of the last lines of energy is protein (ie. your muscles). As you start to increase volume you will see that at first you will lose body fat but then you will lose muscle mass as well. Your body will basically "feed" on your muscle supply to keep it going. This is why even road sprinters are so lanky (think Tom Boonen, Robbie McEwen etc). The volume of miles they are required to ride prevents them from gaining any additional muscle mass.

    In essence you need to do the exact opposite of what a body builder would do. This means decreasing your protein (especially red meats) intake since without additional/supplemental protein your body will be unable to build more muscle. This why when you see distance runners physiques over time they all start to have that emaciated look :-). This is the exact strategy that Marty Nothstein used to lose nearly 40 lbs of muscle when he retired from track racing and went on to road racing.

  11. #11
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    Thx Hppy.

    This is along the lines of what hooper wrote as well. Much appreciated. I wouldn't have thought increased mileage would be an answer. I would assume keeping in the smaller gears as well? Interesting. Thank you again folks, for the help.

  12. #12
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    OldEndicottHiway,
    Regarding Hooper's comment on heart rate...I wouldn't worry about the 150-160 hr unless that's your heart rate for recovery days. 150 is not too bad for someone riding alone. The pros or anybody riding in a pack don't have to work as hard. If you ever see power readings for most local road races and crits you would be amazed at how little they pedal. The files I have seen were Pro-1/2 riders who had zero watts for nearly 50-60% of the race...they were tucked away inside the pack and coasting. When you are only pedalling half the time it's really easy to keep your heart rate near 120 bpm. One guy even had a heart rate at 90 bpm in an elite level race! He was tucked away deep in the pack.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldEndicottHiway
    Thank goodness you're here!

    All right...I'm 40 F. Raced competitively in late 80's.

    Got back into riding last year a little, but am just now getting on track with consistency. Here's the deal. I'm 5' 7", and currently weigh about 135#. Been working on gradual weight loss and have an additional 10# estimated fat loss to go. The bike weighs 16.4# minus saddle bag and bottles. Dropped about 5# fat the last month but now no actual "weight loss" just gain in muscle pounds. Hence the following:

    I'm plagued with the same problem I had in my teens/twenties. I amass muscle at lightning speed. No roids needed here. I thought It was because I always rode the big gears way back when. I've been trying to avert this by riding mostly 30-40 mile flat to small incline rides, in small gears and high (for an old girl ) rpm's around 90-120. I am able to keep my HR around 160-170's comfortably-ish. I interperse this with one session of short-hill sprints a week at 5-10 reps, 10% gradient, 20 secs.

    I do not want to look like Jan Ullrich. I absolutely love long gut-busting climbs, (I'm lucky to have a 4 mile, 14-17% right near) and if I keep the fat down am a decent all-rounder. But, I have limited that climb to once a week, because until the remaining blubber goes away I'm afraid I will develop into Helga The Terrible once again.

    I just want to keep my nicer smaller frame/muscle mass as small as possible. The only thing that doesn't put the bulk on for me in the past has been running. I'd rather ride the bike so how can I make it work?

    If you've got some tips that I'm missing here, I would so very much appreciate it.
    You're 5'7" 135 and complaining about muscle? What's your fat percentage? Muscle isn't built without lots of calories taken in--what you eating? Also try to spin more than mash. Really though it sounds like you have to accept the genetic card you were given and work with it. You can only do so much.

    //edit...just saw you were female, but the advice still applies. Your thighs will only get so big...work on taking off the fat and let your body be what it wants to be. You can really only do so much without doing damage to your metabolism.
    "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark." -S. Hawking

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Argentius
    Do you have that whole chart?

    I have thought about my plans for next season, and I think I might need to get a little bit more weight / leg muscle mass, of all things. I'm (almost) 6'0", and 138-140 lbs...
    Dude, I'm about as heavy as you are and I'm 5'9" !

    Wait, ok I'm a sprinter in track. So I actually need to be heavier.
    Quote Originally Posted by tconrady
    If I can get some more tomorrow.... I thought it'd grow on me but I'm not feelin' it....wait..
    Allez United!

    Glory, Glory Man United, and the Reds go marching on!

  15. #15

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    How much free time do you have?

    Are you one of those lucky people who are financially set? Or do you have to work for a living?

    If you have lots of free time, it is a good idea (as others have mentioned) to increase mileage on the bike spinning a fast cadence in smaller gears.

    If you don't have too much free time, and you don't want your thighs to be compared to Boonen's, running at a moderate to easy intensity is a good option - IF you are not prone to injury.

    Be sure to get proper footwear. You may even want to seek a shop that specializes in running.

    To hedge your bets, try running in the park; grass tends to be much kinder on the knees than asphalt.

    Treadmills are also safer than running on asphalt but the boredom can be excruciating. Personally, I like the treadmill set at 1% incline (a runner's trick to compensate for the lack of wind resistance). It's nice to stop at any point and not have to worry about a trudge back home or to my car.

    Go for a 45 min run first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. It's fine to hydrate with water or zero calorie caffeine prior. There's no need to go above zone 3. Save the hard efforts for the bike; after all, cycling is your primary sport.

    Taking in fewer calories throughout the day is the logical companion to this approach (as others have mentioned). However, there is the danger of losing too much muscle mass. Translation: you may like what you see in the mirror but you may also suck ass on the bike.

    You're obviously not a kid, so I won't patronize you with a use-your-best-judgment speech. I do think it's a good idea to stay on top of your essential fats (flax seed oil, fish oil, almonds are what I would use) as well as vitamins and minerals. Remember, some vitamins are water soluble and some are fat soluble.
    Last edited by 514Climber; 08-22-2007 at 09:40 AM.

  16. #16
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    Thanks Boceph and 514, good points as well.

    Yup, been doing the (ugh) running as has been suggested by a few. Felt like poop for a couple days but lost a pound already just with a couple miles a day. Interesting how running puts no appreciable mass on me.

    Hopefully with careful planning, and listening to sound advice, I can get into that right zone for the bike.

    All the best and happy riding to all.

  17. #17
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    The old-school of thought in this thread is going to make my head explode.

    I'm sorry, but it's genetic. Stay off the sprints and weights and keep running, but cadence doesn't change the amount of muscle you build (just the type--fast or slow twitch), LSD rides won't build less muscle than short intervals, etc. Sorry, but the force generated in a 1min interval isn't great enough to elicit muscle changes that aren't also apparent in a 2hr ride. Running on an empty stomach in the morning is only going to train your body to conserve fat and burn muscle.

    You guys also still believe that higher reps in weight training are still for toning and lower reps are for muscle strength, aren't you?

  18. #18

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    You need to factor in the OP's

    Quote Originally Posted by iliveonnitro
    The old-school of thought in this thread is going to make my head explode.
    aversion to running.

    I based my advice on the OP's preference to cycle. If she cannot or does not want to run, high-cadence spins at low intensity/reduced caloric consumption is a viable option.

    If you read my original post, I also recommend running first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Low to moderate intensity for no more than 45 minutes to an hour ABSOLUTELY WILL BURN FAT. If the intensity and/or duration is too high, then, yes, the body will break down the muscles for fuel (I believe the process is gluconeogenesis).

    As for genetics, I'm also a predominant mesomorph. I have been able to reduce unnecessary muscle mass with the advice previously given.

    Before I was a cyclist, I'd hit the gym and do low intensity work on the exercise bike as well the treadmill. And it did result in atrophy of the legs. I kept the hard anaerobic work for the rock climbing. My body adjusted accordingly and retained muscle mass above the waist because I took in just enough calories.

    It can be done with limitations.
    Last edited by 514Climber; 08-22-2007 at 11:11 PM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bocephus Jones II
    You're 5'7" 135 and complaining about muscle? What's your fat percentage? Muscle isn't built without lots of calories taken in--what you eating? Also try to spin more than mash. Really though it sounds like you have to accept the genetic card you were given and work with it. You can only do so much.

    //edit...just saw you were female, but the advice still applies. Your thighs will only get so big...work on taking off the fat and let your body be what it wants to be. You can really only do so much without doing damage to your metabolism.
    Hey Bo Jo, I gained about 2 pounds of muzzle already since the last thread where we talked bout me weight.

    Now only about 15 more lbs or the like to be 145 or so.
    Quote Originally Posted by tconrady
    If I can get some more tomorrow.... I thought it'd grow on me but I'm not feelin' it....wait..
    Allez United!

    Glory, Glory Man United, and the Reds go marching on!

  20. #20

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    If you read my original post, I also recommend running first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Low to moderate intensity for no more than 45 minutes to an hour ABSOLUTELY WILL BURN FAT. If the intensity and/or duration is too high, then, yes, the body will break down the muscles for fuel (I believe the process is gluconeogenesis).


    This is the wrong thing to do. Yes your body always burns FAT for fuel (even when you sleep) it just varies as a % of total fuel used based on intensity.
    But the issue becomes you wind up burning less over all Kcals and more as a % from PRO. Besides the fact that you won't be able to work as hard so a Z2 or 3 work out becomes a Z1 workout . This type of way of working out tricks the body into thinking it's being starved so metabolism slows (more) and your burn more PRO for energy(gluconeogenesis). Yes even for 45-60min, this is the kind of misunderstood info from muscle and Fitness or name the fitness mag/site of your choice.

    Oddly the OP has never said what she does for training that puts on all this excess muscle mass.
    Do you strength train? What do you do(Exercises, rep, sets machines, free weights)?
    Do you use periodization (endurance and strength)?
    How long does it take for you to put on muscle mass and how much mass do you put on(most studies show women avg. around 5-7lbs of mass gain in 1year that declines with age)?
    How did you measure this(elec-scale, calipers, bod-pod ,hydrostatic weighing)?
    I think before any one can 'answer" your questions we would need more info

  21. #21
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    Oddly the OP has never said what she does for training that puts on all this excess muscle mass.
    I thought I had outlined it fairly well up top in the first post? 2nd and 3rd paragraphs. I was contrasting this to the "methods" I used when I was actively racing...always the big gears and to add, a whole lotta miles (300-400 wkly).

    I appeciate your and everyone's input.

    Over the last week, I've stopped hill-sprints but still do the hill climb, decreased intensity of rpm's and HR and stayed in small gears. Also, started running lightly (as I hoped I wouldn't have to). My nutrition is great, and protein intake is adequate for my size at about 40-60gm a day.

    As mentioned in other posts, I'm just genetically proned to muscle and hoping to avert becoming as bulky as I did in my young years. This week so far, has been stellar simply by doing the aforementioned.

    Thanks again all, have a good one.
    Last edited by OldEndicottHiway; 08-23-2007 at 06:50 AM.

  22. #22

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    I bet you're one those people

    Quote Originally Posted by reikisport
    If you read my original post, I also recommend running first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Low to moderate intensity for no more than 45 minutes to an hour ABSOLUTELY WILL BURN FAT. If the intensity and/or duration is too high, then, yes, the body will break down the muscles for fuel (I believe the process is gluconeogenesis).


    This is the wrong thing to do.

    Oddly the OP has never said what she does for training that puts on all this excess muscle mass.

    that operates more on theory and college text books as opposed to first-hand experience.

    I've learned it's a waste of time debating with the likes of you because you're alway happy to pound the bible of your choice.

    I said in my prior post phrases such as "no need to go above zone 3" and "moderate to low intensity."

    Low to moderate intensity for about 45 minutes is not herculean. Don't you twist what I've said to fit neatly into your argument.

    By the way, the advice of doing short, moderate cardio first thing in the morning was given to me when I was in college. A good friend who wrestled for the team turned me on to it. And wrestlers are quite skilled at walking the razor's edge of weight control with little or no strength loss. During my rock climbing days, I've employed the same tactic because that is another sport where you must be as lean as possible with no strength loss.

    Again, don't you accuse me of ripping off some fitness magazine when that is far from the truth.

    This, in addition to the fact the OP did give a fairly comprehensive outline of her training regime, shows that you're not much more than a tourist on this particular thread: you stop by, gloss over the posts, throw in lab-coat logic that does not always bear fruit in the real world.

    OldEndicottHwy - I encourage you to at least consider all reasonable advice provided on this thread. I've said it before and I'll say it again - Empirical knowledge trumps theories and rhetoric every single time.

    Ignore the tourists.
    Last edited by 514Climber; 08-23-2007 at 11:41 AM.

  23. #23
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    Jimminy Christmas! Didn't mean to start a war. Can't we all just be friends? Ah well, competitive people we bike-types are. No changing that.

    Again I thank all. Will let you know what results I've achieved (Helga The Terrible or not) in a couple months, and what methods used.

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by iliveonnitro
    The old-school of thought in this thread is going to make my head explode.

    I'm sorry, but it's genetic. Stay off the sprints and weights and keep running, but cadence doesn't change the amount of muscle you build (just the type--fast or slow twitch), LSD rides won't build less muscle than short intervals, etc. Sorry, but the force generated in a 1min interval isn't great enough to elicit muscle changes that aren't also apparent in a 2hr ride. Running on an empty stomach in the morning is only going to train your body to conserve fat and burn muscle.

    You guys also still believe that higher reps in weight training are still for toning and lower reps are for muscle strength, aren't you?
    fast twitch muscles have the highest factor for size increase. There are several types of fast twitch fibers that can be changed to become more of an endurance muscle than strength muscle and this is the group of muscle fiber that you can vary easily to bring the muscle size down instead of up. 80-85% of maximum usually induces the most growth in a persons muscular system. As a strength coach one will try to work predominatly in that range to achieve the quickest and most responsive results towards muscular size. Yes muscle can increase by doing higher reps lower intensity but not nearly at the rate of a higher intensity workout. By keeping her primary training in the lower heart rate ranges of 55-70% of max she will not induce growth to the effect that riding at her higher intensities will occur. Instead of larger muscles she will build efficency. Also over time her type two fast twitch will convert more to the aerobic side of the equasion. Thirdly as things progress her type 1 fast twitch will not be utilized and therefore shrink from inactivity. So the prescription is to slow down ,ride with less intensity, and develop more economy as opposed to strength. As a side benefit much less food is required to recover and feel good on her rides shrinking her fat cells as well. It's proven through experience that a ride where you burn 30-35% fat will make you much more hungry than one that burns the same amount of calories but at 50-60% fat.
    It was good enough for Eddy

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