T Nation

The Hell That's In My Head


I've been trying to reprioritize things. Here's the situation: I want a lean, muscluar body. But at the same time I'd like to be good at cycling. The means to each of these goals is quite different, both in training and nutrition. My lifting affects my cycling in a negative way, and my cycling affects my physique in a negative way.

As far as cycling goes, I am probably too muscular, especially in my lower body. For my physique, I could definitely use more muscle, especially in my upper body.

I've had some of my cycling friends tell me flat out "you need to stop training." And some people from the forums have said flat out "you need to stop cycling."

I few people have given me suggestions about finding a happy medium. I need to figure out what my priority is or try to find that medium. This really stresses me out.


Or find some way to balance them both.

Currently, I'm a lifter (would rather call myself a powerlifter as opposed to a bodybuilder), cyclist, speedskater, and hockey player.

Out of those, the lifting and hockey work well together (lets call that A group) and the cycling and speedskating work synergistically (they're the B group).

The ones in A like each other. The ones in B like each other. A and B don't like each other at all.

You just gotta find some way to work through your problems.

Find some way to make your muscular physique work to your advantage in biking. Read the 100 Reps to Bigger Muscles article.

Just gotta find some sort of connection between the two and focus on those ways of training compliment both lifting and cycling.


Eat more protein. I haven't cycled a lot lately, but could go a few times a week for 10-20 miles without any adverse effects.
Put the muscle on, you won't reget it. You can crank up the cycling later.


Here is what I would do. Devote separate training blocks to each goal. However you are going to train both in each block. What will differ is the volume(and possibly intensity) of each in the respective blocks. Therefore:

Phase 1 (Lifting Priority)
Duration 4 weeks

Lift 4 times(45 to 60 min.) a week, cycle twice a week for 30 min.

Phase 2 (Cycling Priority)
Duration 4 weeks

Lift 2 times a week full body routine 30 to 45 min. Cycle 3 to 5 times a week.

Remember this is just an example. :slightly_smiling:

Other options are you could use your cycling for your high intensity cardio(to get lean...hey one of your goals) as CT had a good article on that...which I'm sure you've read. Experiment on what volumes of each training you can tolerate. Lastly make the decision on which goal is more important and devote most of your time to that. Rage on!!! :wink:


I hate running, and I love cycling. HIIT works fine with cycling.

I am currently trying to cut, and am using cycling as my endurance exercise. I would keep the volume of cycling down during bulk cycles.

Also dirt bike racers tend to have more bulk then marathon bike riders.

The bulk might slow you down, but if it is only a hobby, and not a serious interest, I would just suck it up.

What you really need to do is decide what you want. If the bulk is the most important then you need to keep you biking down where you won't sacrifice muscle. If the biking is most important then you might need to keep the LBM at a level where it does not interfere with the biking.

And if they are equally important then you need to find that happy medium where you do a moderate amount of biking without getting excessive to the point where you end up losing a lot of muscle, and work on your physique without going for a 300 pound lean body mass which is of no benefit in helping you get up those hills.

Here is an important question to find out how important riding is to you. Do you dress like a human when biking, or do you wear one of those little gay multicolored outfits with the butt protector?


All excellent ideas. Don't be scared to really minimize one or the other for awhile. Your abilities in whatever you cut back on will come back in a heartbeat when you start focusing on it again.

And like irondoc said, you'll probably need to eat several whole animals a day. I know I couldn't keep any weight on doing that much unless I was really stuffing my face.


Thanks for everyone's input.

ArcaneCocaine, I was thinking more of concentrating on lbm in the "off-season," which would be Sept - March, and concentrate on biking on the "on-season." I guess the problem with that is I could get out of shape over the winter.

The Mage, I wear biking clothes when I go biking. I would not even consider doing either mtn or road riding w/o padded shorts. I want to have my sex drive when I'm older! By the way, they do have baggy padded shorts.


Unless you're sponsored or getting paid to cycle long distances, why dont you switch to short distance sprint racing?


Jeff, they can work together assuming you are talking about off road cycling and not road racing.

I don't see a problem having good leg strength when you dirt bike, you need power to climb and control the bike.

And upper body strength would come in quite handy, same goes for a lot of core strength.

Eating is vital, especially if you are biking often.

And that other thought with speedskating not going along with weights, I'm lost on that. Every speedskater i've ever met has HUGE legs, fricken HUGE. They don't get that big by just practicing on ice. Takes food and lots of lifting.

BTW i live in minnesota, we have several skaters here.


Dude, specialize in crit or track riding. Mass isn't a burden there. Just look at Curt Harnett or Ken Carpenter (or Davis Phinney). Some pretty stocky dudes that did okay at cycling (Phinney even competed in the Tour a while back).


I am experiencing the same problem w/marathon training vs getting stronger. All that cortisol doesn't help either.

Around here there IS a thread, if you look up "marathon", where there are some supplements mentioned that help keep cortisol down. I can't remember exactly what they were.

Also, maybe changing out some slow lifts for some olympic lifts and explosive or plyometric excercises may help. I'm experimenting with that right now.

But you are right when you say, you have to decide what will make you happy and go for it. I find for myself, what I can accomplish is a better motivator and makes me feel better than how I look.


Renegade Training for mountain bikers.


~Sakuraba~ & brider, I would kick some butt on a short race, like a 10 mile one (does that exist?)

But my friends ride longer distances, in the 25-50 mile range (road riding). I'm not looking to be an elite cyclist, I just want to be able to keep up with my friends, and do occasional races for fun.

BTW, I do both road riding and cross country mtn biking.

Nate, I'll have look into that again. I'm still worried about doing oly lifts w/o aomeone showing me how.


Jeff I have a few more ideas on how you can periodize your training with respective meso and micro cycles. PM me. Lastly it's not like jumping on a bike will suck the muscles right off you. To some extent a bit of cardio will be like active recovery. Lose the fear. Just means you have to eat more. :slight_smile:


*I'm not sure if it when thru the first time.

Jeff, I don?t see whets stopping you. I guess it comes down to what you define as a "good cyclist." My first months of cycling my average speed/miles were into the 12-14mph/15-30 miles range, after the ride I felt exhausted with little energy. Now I'm averaging between 40-70 mile rides ever other day and my speed has increased into the 17+ mph range (depending on terrain). On several of my long rides especially into Ojai, CA several cyclist have passed me on the climbs and they must be in the 190+ lbs range. The weight issue should be little concern over improving your vo2 max and lactate threshold.

My workout schedule:
M W F SAT - I workout at my gym
T TH SUN - Ride

I alternate as well meaning there are weeks when I ride 4 days and workout 3.

However note that on the days I use weights if time permits I put in time on my bike trainer usually doing cadence/one-legged/Lactate Threshold work, and when ever I do leg work with weights I tend to do mostly recovery rides the days following until my legs feel normal.

Jeff, hope this help and like the Italians say pedala forte, mangia bene.


On a biking forum, another person just suggested "stay out of the gym."

For the cyclists reading this thread, my main problem is going uphill. Even at low inclines, I die. My friends keep chugging along, while I keep slowing down until I'm in my lowest gear, mashing away. I think the problem my be with the abundnace of hypertrophied fast twitch fibers in my legs. Am I right?



You shouldn't have to choose. The essence of athleticism is the ability to adapt to nearly any activity. Cycling is no exception.

Compromise the lifting by scaling back leg workouts to once a week. Perform upper body as often as you see fit.

And to crib a page from my past crew workouts, try this to boost your endurance:

Sprint, 1 minute on, 1 minute off, for 15 minutes. Rest 5 minutes. Repeat once.

Do this every 4 days on an ergometer, a track, or a treadmill. Modify your diet to compensate, and if you intend to ride that day, skip the workout.



KnightRT has the right idea. HIIT style workouts really boost my endurance.

I was half joking about the biking clothing, but the serious bike rider will go more out getting the padded shorts, the gel seat with the crotch hole, the shoes that lock onto the pedals, etc...

Ignore anyone who tells you to quit lifting weights, and anyone who advises you to quit brushing your teeth. I believe that adding some muscle can improve biking performance.

My brother in law is a bike-riding maniac, who has done some ridiculous amounts of biking, and when I hit the trails with him I usually don't have a problem keeping up. Then again we usually are just casually riding, and not racing. I actually take it a little more intensely by myself.

I would say spend the winter working on building. Toward the end of winter focus on leaning up, (like everyone else,) which will lighten you for riding. Once you can start riding, do KnightRT's workout, and also focus on riding some treacherous hills to prepare for the summer.

Tribex has been tested on bike riders, and has shown better recovery and reduced cortisol levels. Also taking Surge post riding might help, and will kick Gatorades ass.

During the riding season I would think doing an EDT workout twice a week just to prevent muscle loss would be beneficial, and might not get in the way of you biking if timed right. (After the first week of being unable to move from EDT that is.) All you would want to do is work out enough to prevent, or slow down any muscle loss.

Oh yeah, spend some of the winter doing the 100 reps to bigger muscles routine for legs. Also you might want to check out Waterbury's Endurance-Training Guidelines here:


It also has a link to the 100 rep program, as well as to his Outlaw Strength and Conditioning (OSC) program.


Here are some books I have on cycling maybe you'll find some of the useful. Some of them contradict each other but like Bruce Lee says Keep that which is useful and discard the rest.

1) Bicyling Magazine Complete Book of Road Cycling Skills

2) The Ultimate Ride by Chris Carmichael (Lance's Coach)

3) Serious Cycling Second Edition by Edmund R. Burke, PhD

4) The Lance Armstrong Performance Program

5) The Cyclist's Training Bible by Joe Friel


Thanks again for everyone's input!

Chuy, if you had to pick one of the books, which one would be best?

The Mage, I guess I am more than a recreational rider. On both my road & mtn bikes, I have "croth holes," and I use clipless pedals on both. Both bikes would be considered entry-level racing bikes and would be valued at about $1200 each if they were new.