T Nation

Forced to Cycle 18 Miles 5 Days a Week


#1

After newbie gains I’ve struggled heavily with making any more gains. 6 months of spinning tires. Got fat trying to bulk so I cut down. But now I need to rebulk but with actual muscle gains.

For my job I’m forced to cycle around 18 miles a day 5 days a week. I can’t afford a car. How much is this sapping my gains. What can I do to combat this other than less riding?

I’m 6’2 170lbs been lifting for 14 months. I look weak, skinny and frail. When I bulked to 190 I was all of that plus a huge gut.

I lift heavy bit I feel all this cardio is not good


#2

Eat well and eat hearty.

Find ways to get lots of clean-ish calories. Extra butter, extra coconut oil, a big spoonful of peanut butter washed down with a glass of whole milk before bed, stuff like that.

Sleep as much and as well as possible.

Take properly targeted supplements. Protein, creatine, ZMA for a start.

18 miles of cycling is not “nothing” but nor is it so much that it should preclude gains. Look at it as a health benefit of some built-in LISS cardio (which also probably means there is no need to do any OTHER cardio besides the cycling to work). I used to cycle 100+ miles weekly and still weighed ~200 pounds at the time while doing (some) lifting, albeit much less strenuous weight training than I do now.


#3

Thanks was just wondering. I’ve been reading and researching like crazy. Most say keep cardio to a minimum maybe 20 min session few times a week. My cardio time is 5x that. 18 miles is an hour of riding a day. I also go shopping on weekends and that’s even more miles


#4

Eat more to account for the burned calories, and pare down volume in the gym.

Do a quick search to find a bunch of threads from over the years where guys discuss working manual labor jobs and building muscle. That’s 8-10 hours out in the sun moving chunks of metal and stone. You’re pedaling a bicycle. It’s definitely not an insurmountable challenge.

But if you got “a huge gut” at 190, your diet and training should be addressed anyhow. What’s your current plan?


#5

You’re not going to turn into Michael Rasmussen riding 18 miles a day.


#6

I was 151 at 6’2 before I started. I looked exactly like that


#7

Just take a nice easy pace on the rides and you should be able to accommodate the extra work easily. Male surr you are getting your sleep amd food in.

This is only an issue if you are into the final phase of preparing for a max effort strength event.


#8

were you doing all this cycling then?


#9

You’re covering a good distance at a nice clip. It must be flat.

I did the same thing for about 4 years. You just have to up your carbs a little. My (possibly flawed) understanding of actual cardio is that it takes approximately 20 min. for the Krebs cycle to fully kick in, and once it does, you produce energy very efficiently. So really, you’re only getting 10 min. of actual cardio.

I also think that the avoidance of any type of energy expenditure other than moving a barbell is a remnant of misguided permabulkers that weighed way more than they lifted.


#10

Think it’s all been said rather well so I’ll just summarize:

  • Guaranteed suboptimal but you can still make plenty of good gains

  • Account for the extra calories burned in whatever diet you are pursuing. Hard to estimate how many calories you burn (might be upwards of 1000) so just watch the scales and see how your weight moves at a certain caloric intake then adjust accordingly.

  • Focus on optimizing recovery and fatigue management and understand the cycling is a whole bunch of volume for your legs that is going to take away from how much lower body work you can do.

  • Go as easy as you can on the cycling itself

  • You’re doing more than enough cardio as is so don’t be doing no HIIT twice a week or some crossfit bullshit. Dunno what your goals are exactly but coming from a powerlifting perspective you got more than enough cardio gains.


  • Worst case you just turn into an upper body bro lel

#11

No extra advice but it’s possible to progress in your situation. I went from 204 to 220 over the summer and I worked in landscaping. I mostly dug holes, filled them in, moved wheel barrows full of dirt/rocks, and laid sod. After work I played baseball, usually double headers (7 inning games). I probably averaged two days off from baseball in a week and I played tournaments on my weekends off from landscaping.

The point is that I was burning a lot of calories and still managed to lift six days per week and gain weight. It was a slow process but I got there.

You can do it.


#12

A fair amount of riding certainly doesn’t seem to hurt this guy’s mass:


#13

Yeah, but look at his legs. He’s all tapped out when it comes time for any leg work.


#15

I commuted to work and back on a bicycle for around 7 years. Probably 80-100 miles a week. Your body quickly gets used to it and it won’t have any detrimental effect on your physique. If anything, it will improve your heart health and lean you out a little.

Road cycling itself is the hardest shit ever in my opinion. Going on a 100 mile cycle, over hilly terrain takes you to a dark place. If you really want to see how ‘sports nutrition’ affects performance then try a long cycle. It’s fucking brutal.


#16

While you are correct that this guy is a sprinter, I don’t think you know very much about training of elite cyclists (even sprint cyclists) if you think he’s spending less time than that on the bike.

Assuming that the OP is speaking of 18 miles total (not 18 miles “one way”) per day, that’s about 30-45 minutes in each direction morning and night. While elite sprint cyclists are not doing long road rides, they certainly spend a lot of time on the bike.

The point wasn’t that the OP should look exactly like this guy, it’s that one can certainly gain a fair amount of quality mass even if they have to spend a lot of time on a bike.


#17

Yeah, that Michael Rasmussen example is extreme, even in professional road cycling. There’s a reason he had the nickname “The Chicken”. His upper body only partially looked like that due to the amount of cycling he did – the other reasons are that (1) he was TRYING to minimize his weight to help his climbing ability, and (2) he did no other exercise, especially weight training for the upper body.


#18

Adjust your calories to offset the energy you’re burning from cycling. You wound up with a gut because you gained too fast. Keep your calorie surplus to a minimum, 150-300 calories per day.

Cardio isn’t going to eat up your gains. It’s great for your cardiovascular health and if you’re eating up the energy you’re losing (along with adequate rest) it won’t be an issue.