T Nation

Getting Bigger/Stronger While Cycling?


So, I am a student always looking for ways to save a buck. I am thinking of getting a nice road bike and cycling/busing rather than driving for the most part. However, I am also interested in getting bigger and stronger. Has anyone here had experience with cycling while lifting? My commute would be about 13km to school, another 13km home. Assume I do this 3-4 x a week. Is it possible to still get bigger and stronger?

I'm 5'9, proportioned like a tall guy... long limbs. I am not a short stocky guy. I am not looking to get huge or competition ready strong... just respectable. If I can be a lean 180ish lbs, and have some decent strength I am happy.

I recently started 5/3/1. Am doing a bodybuilder template. Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri


BB Squat 5/3/1
BB Squat 4x10-15 of 50% 1RM
Leg Extensions (4x12-20)
Good Mornings (4x10-15
Weighted Decline Situps (4x10-20)


BB Bench 5/3/1
Weighted Dips (4x10-15)
Incline DB Bench (4x10-15)
Chest Fly (4x10-15)
Tri Rope Pressdown (4x12-20)


DL 5/3/1
Chins (4xMax)
DB Rows (4x10-15)
BB Shrugs (4x10-15)
Hanging Leg Raise (4x20)


BB Military Press 5/3/1
DB Military Press (4x10-15)
Upright Rows (4x10-15)
Lateral Raises (4x10-15)
BB Curls (4x10-15)

What would I need to change, if anything, if I started to commute by bike while still wanting to get bigger and stronger? I am guessing that something has to give.


13 km is nothing, especially on a road bike, assuming you don't have any major hills along your way. If you took it easy, I don't think you'd see a huge impact on your training once you get adjusted to the bike.


I would just up my carbs and protein a bit to support your extra caloric expenditure. There shouldn't be any problems, in fact I think it would support a leaner gain in general and probably keep you healthier overall. I think more people should do regular cardio while trying to put on muscle. I think too many people use bulking as an excuse to stop doing what they don't like.



It is something if the goal is to gain body weight.


You've been here for 3 years. If you're not a lean 180 by now you probably never will be, cycling or not.


The answer as usual is...wait for it.. eat more !


H1N1 or something like it along with two stomach bugs in a single winter can thin you out pretty quick and kill momentum. All of that happened between Jan-March. I was down to 137lbs. On top of feeling like complete shit for a good chunk of the winter, I also needed to maintain straight A's in University to keep my GPA up enough to be competitive for med school down the line. After my shitty winter, I was mostly training for army Reserves bootcamp, thinking I could learn a thing or two there and earn some money for school. They weren't taking anyone at my local unit, so that plan went down the tubes. I was doing mostly running, pushups, and sit ups during that time as I was told that bootcamp is just an endurance grind. I've been back to the weights since April 1st, and between then and now I've gone from 148lbs-160lbs.

I asked a pretty simple question. Do you cycle? Are your trying to get bigger and stronger while doing so? How's it working out for you? Is it affecting lifts such as your squat and deadlift? If your answer to the first question is no... you might not have something constructive to offer... which you didn't.

To any of the others who have responded, thanks. Prof. X, if you have any advice on this matter, I appreciate it. Our goals are clearly different (you are massive), but I know that you know a thing or two about getting bigger and stronger. Obviously I'll be burning more calories than usual, and so I'll have to eat more than usual. I am a little less sure about how to alter my 5/3/1 set up if at all. Squat has always been my weak spot. Also... not even sure if cycling has any carryover to the gym... I'm totally new to it.


I know I have to eat more to compensate for the calories used with the ride... that is obvious. I am wondering how my 5/3/1 would have to change, if at all? Any carryover from cycling to the gym? How? Should I decrease volume on legs days or keep as is? etc.


It's about 8 miles, but as others have said it shouldn't take much out of the OP if the terrain is relatively flat and he keeps his exertion level down.

He shouldn't have a problem covering 8 miles in 20 to 30 minutes while going super easy. The effort level should be comparable to leisurely walk.

I did something similar throughout college and had no problem putting on muscle at the time.

The main thing, if you want to keep energy expenditure down, is to not get competitive with the other cyclists and think that you need to go their speed or faster.


I have been cycling for one summer, around 80-100 km a week, mostly heavy hills and I did not gain a single pound of muscle that summer. I was eating a lot and lifting 6 day a week.

I was riding 2-2.5 hour 3 times a week and sometimes adding a 50-60 km run on the weekend. This is not a lot by cyclist standard, but that was killing my BB progress for sure.

If you have a racer type bike and there is no hill on the road, I would say it may be ok but do not push it, but let see it:

Riding a quality racer at 25 km on a straight road is pretty easy, almost effortless, like walking, I would say even easier than walking. You will do the 13 km in 30 minutes.

That 60 minutes of low intensity steady state cardio 3-4 days a week split in 2 sessions. You look like a beginner, so I would say, yes it's possible if YOU EAT ENOUGH and rest.

The problem, if you are like me, is that if you buy a racer, you will want to ride it fast, you will buy those clip pedal :slight_smile: and say to yourself 'Why going at 25 km/h when you can ride it at 40? Fuck it!' And this is the beginning of the end and you will hurt your BB progress :slight_smile:

Here is a picture of my racer :wink:


Thanks for the responses.

I am looking at a Trek 1.5. Not high end compared to what is out there, but from what I understand it is a good bike for its price range. The 13km to school and back isn't too bad for hills... nothing steep anyway. I'll probably only ride in the spring/summer/early fall as I live in Canada... and the winters here suck haha.

If I enjoy riding to the point that I want to push it and do it more... well then I guess my goals will have changed. I just don't want to look like a Tour rider! If I find the miles are too much and hurting my progress I could always bike to school, leave my bike in my office, bus home, bus to school the next day, and bike home... cutting my riding in half some days. I guess I'll see how it works out.


Check out Tommaso bikes unless you really want an in with the shop you'll have do your maintenance. Look at www.rscycle.com. You'll get a better mix of components for the money, and in the price range you're looking at, bike companies just source their parts from all the same manufacturers and slap their brand on the side. I biked almost 100 miles per week last summer, and yes, it hurt my strength and size. My quads actually grew a bit, however. I guess switching to high reps was a good change for a while.

Others are absolutely right, however, it is more activity, and it can make a difference, as Prof X said. If you can tame your competitive instincts and go slow, however (easier said than done), and eat more, I don't think you'll notice much of a negative difference. I've seen plenty of very jacked dudes on road bikes in my area. Yes, they're the exception, but they're proof that if you have good genes and discipline, you can still get a lot done in the gym while doing some light cycling.

In the interest of full disclosure, however, I've tackled the weights much more seriously since last year, and I haven't turned a pedal since October precisely because I'm training for more size and strength right now. (I also got a motorcycle for commuting so that removes the incentive I had last year to bike a lot.) Good luck.