Cycling VS Bodybuilding

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Cycling vs bodybuilding

 Cycling: What Every Bodybuilder Should Know

It's one thing to ride your bike around town or go for a quick spin. Cycling for competition or long-distance performance is an entirely different beast, as I discovered firsthand this year while training for a 112-mile full Ironman triathlon.

Want to take it a step further? Try cycling if you're a heavily muscled athlete who resembles a bodybuilder rather than a Tour de France racer. Similarly to running, which I discussed in the article "What Every Bodybuilder Needs to Know About Running," your size can quickly begin to work against you—unless you take the proper approach.

During my race preparation, I went through a rigorous learning process to master not only cycling technique, but also the decisions and habits that make or break muscular athletes. I wanted to demonstrate that it is possible to carry muscle and thrive in endurance sports, and I discovered that it most emphatically is!

This is my chance to share this information with you. You can watch me demonstrate these lessons in the Man of Iron video series, but if you want to become a hybrid athlete on the bike, read on!


Purchase the Correct Bike, Handles, and Saddle


A bike, like any other piece of equipment, works best when it is properly fitted to your dimensions and needs. This includes your body mass index! Finding the right ride as a muscled athlete will be especially important when selecting the bike, especially if you're going to use it for long-distance endurance bike events.

Aero bars will usually need to be fitted wider because your shoulders and chest will not allow you to tuck your forearms in flat like smaller-sized endurance athletes. As your training progresses, you'll be grateful for the wider bars.

For added comfort, I recommend trying several saddles until you find one that provides adequate padding and support. This is true for anyone getting into cycling seriously, but especially for those with large legs and a heavy upper body.


Your Size's Fuel

Having longer legs than the average cyclist has both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, you have strength and power for days and may be better able to tolerate the pain of lactate buildup after all those brutal leg days. The disadvantage is that you have more muscle density and weight in your lower half of your body, which means you use more oxygen and have higher calorie needs than a smaller athlete.

I like to compare a gas-guzzling Mustang powered by a V8 to an efficient hybrid car. One has more power, but it also consumes more fuel when you step on the accelerator, putting you in danger of running out of gas sooner. Cyclists are fond of talking about their "power to weight ratio," a performance metric that they typically strive to improve in two ways: by doing more power-focused training and losing weight.

But what if you don't want to slim down? What if you want to be fast on the bike while also adding muscle, burning fat, and looking like a bodybuilder, like me? You've got this. But it will not happen by chance.

A larger athlete can burn up to 500 calories per hour. Headwinds and inclines, for example, will determine how far up this scale you go. You'll need a lot of calories if you're going to be out on the road for a long ride or race.

My race-day supplement and nutrition protocol is detailed in the article "How to Supplement for Endurance Sports," but here's the quick-and-dirty version:

"On the go" energy sources such as dried fruit and Manuka honey
Food-based, nutrient-dense bars
Re-Kaged is a high-quality protein supplement.

Think protein shakes are only for after the gym? Think again. I respectfully disagree. Don't be surprised if you end up consuming more protein as a hybrid athlete than you did as a lifter!

You'll also need to consider hydration, with your hourly needs ranging from 20 to 32 ounces depending on climate and intensity. You don't want to overhydrate to the point of diluting your body's electrolytes and minerals, which can cause cramping and impair performance. Obviously, not getting enough water causes the same problem, as well as poor performance.


Go For The Hills

Believe it or not, your extra weight can work in your favor and help you cover more ground on the flats and downhill. This advantage, however, disappears the moment you begin climbing an incline. You're carrying more weight uphill, which means you'll have to work harder than someone lighter.

No, this does not imply that you should simply coast on the flats forever; rather, you should incorporate hills into your training from the start. I'd recommend following the weekly training sequence below, which I did leading up to my Ironman, to get your legs and cardiovascular system adequately conditioned for long inclines on your bike:


  • Week 1: Cycle up a hill for 0.5 mile, then back down six times for a total of 3 miles.
  • Week 2: Cycle up a hill for 0.5 mile and then back down, repeating this eight times to total 4 miles.
  • Week 3: Cycle up a hill for 0.5 mile and then back down, repeating this ten times to total 5 miles.

Once you've gotten used to this sequence, start incorporating the shorter 3-mile sequence into any long-distance flat rides you do. The following week, progress to the 4-mile sequence, again tagging it onto the back of your long-distance ride.

The goal is for you to be able to complete the 5-mile sequence in 3-4 hours. If you can complete this at the end of your ride when your legs are completely exhausted, you know they are conditioned.

This is something I used to do at the end of my leg day, but it may be too much for many of you, at least at first. You could also do it on a non-competing body-part training day, such as shoulders, as long as you're sufficiently recovered for any long weekend rides you're planning.


 Stop tense!

Old habits die hard, but you'll have to kill a few of yours to successfully transition from full-time bodybuilder to endurance cyclist. First and foremost, you must reduce the tension!

Weight training trains your nervous system to recruit muscle fibers at every opportunity. This is great for muscle building but terrible for energy conservation during an endurance bike ride. You must rewire your brain to avoid tenseness during your cycle. The core muscles, as well as the neck, chest, arms, grip, forearms, and even the face, are frequently tense.

This will increase your energy expenditure and invite fatigue to sabotage your performance. Be aware of this and allow your

Cycling vs bodybuilding


Get On Your Bike

I make it sound difficult, but cycling was the simplest of the three triathlon disciplines for my body to adapt to. It's also extremely rewarding and worthwhile to learn, regardless of your level of experience (or lack thereof).

Use the tips I've provided to improve your cycling ability and general aerobic fitness, whether you're training for a race or just trying to get the most out of your daily cardio on any of my programs. This will have a significant impact on your life and weight training, providing you with increased endurance, recovery, and the ability to increase your lifting intensity.



5 Health Benefits of Cycling for bodybuilders 

It is a Low-Intensity Activity.

Cycling, as opposed to running, is a low-impact activity. Finding low/no-impact cardio is especially important for bodybuilders because many of you carry extra weight that can make high-impact exercise dangerous to your joints.

Running, for example, places significant strain on your joints, particularly your ankles, knees, and hips. The weight you carry while running can lead to more frequent injuries, preventing you from returning to the track and even causing chronic pain.

Sure, there are ways to run that reduce the risk of joint or foot damage, but if you have some money, there are much better ways to get your cardio in that don't involve heavy lifting.

Cycling, unlike running or even walking, is not a weight-bearing activity. You don't have to worry about carrying your weight because the bike will. That makes it an excellent exercise that is gentle on your joints while still getting you moving.


It Encourages Weight Loss

Cycling can burn between 400 and 1000 calories per hour, depending on the speed and vigour with which you pedal. If you're trying to lose weight, this is a great place to start.

Stationary bikes have long been popular in the UFC, wrestling, and bodybuilding worlds, where the ability to burn large amounts of calories without fatiguing muscles or joints is required.

The core logic behind caloric-focused cutting is that in order to lose weight, you must spend more than you consume. While 400 calories won't make or break your weight loss goals, doing so on a regular basis will add up over time.

Don't forget that you need to sleep well in order to reap the full benefits of cycling and accelerate your weight loss efforts. Sleep is when your body rebuilds itself, and without enough sleep, your body will be unable to grow effectively.

If you have trouble sleeping well, make sure you avoid using electronics at least 3 hours before going to bed. Consider limiting your caffeine intake after noon as well. Other worthwhile investments include a new bed, which can make a significant difference in sleep quality and duration, as well as oral sleep aids such as melatonin and ZMA.


3. It strengthens your immune system


Exercise has a direct impact on our overall health. If we lead sedentary lives and don't move around much, we risk a variety of negative consequences, one of which is a weakened immune system.

Cycling can be the perfect activity to help you stay healthy for years to come because there is evidence that our immune system is actually weakened after an intense workout and that what we truly need is some mild but regular exercise.

Sickness means less effective workouts and/or missed workouts, and as any professional bodybuilder will tell you, consistency is essential for achieving your goals. Consistency in diet and training is important, and getting sick can make that difficult.

If you cycle outside, you can also count on the benefits of fresh air and time spent in nature, which, while not having a direct impact on your gains, can have an overall positive indirect impact on your mood and energy levels, resulting in better in-gym workout sessions.


4. It's Beneficial to Your Mental Health

Cycling vs bodybuilding


According to studies, living an active lifestyle can improve your mental health.

Because the link between our physical health and mental well-being is so strong, when faced with a problem, you may hear advice like "go for a walk, you'll feel better afterwards."

You can improve your mental health by cycling every day, especially if your health or lifestyle prevent you from running or engaging in more strenuous strength training.

Indoor bikes, also known as spinning bikes, can be a great solution because they allow you to cycle whenever you want without having to worry about the weather or traffic.

If you work at a desk, there are dedicated work-spinning bikes with a built-in platform for a laptop or keyboard, connected to a stationary bike/cycle lower half, so you can double your productivity by crushing work and burning calories at the same time.

Why do twice as much work? Well, if you do your cardio while doing your paycheck-earning work, you'll have more time after/before work to focus on other things, such as weight lifting!


5. It Aids in Muscle Toning

While cycling will not help you build serious muscle mass unless you lift heavy weights, it will help you tone your leg muscles. Professional cyclists all have MASSIVE quads that any pro bodybuilder would envy.

You can't also spot-reduce fat, so cycling won't specifically help you melt away any fat on your legs, but it will certainly help you lean out. The more muscles you have, the more calories you will burn even when you are sedentary, and your hard work will soon be visible.

When cycling, your calves, thighs, and glutes will do the majority of the work. These are large muscle groups that will expend a significant amount of calories. Developing these muscles will also help you improve your squat and deadlift strength.


6 It Aids in Sleep Better

Regular exercise is another excellent way to improve your sleep.

Cycling benefits both your mental and physical health, leaving you less stressed and anxious, so you should have less trouble falling asleep at night.

Cycling will provide just the right amount of tiredness to assist you in falling asleep. It won't leave you too tired to sleep, but it will help you burn off all that stored energy and relax.

Cycling at the end of the day is an excellent way to burn off any remaining energy or calories.


It Benefits Heart Health

Although most people associate cardio with running, cycling is also a form of cardio.

Heart health is an important topic, especially for bodybuilders, who often end up putting extra pressure on their hearts due to abnormal diets and extra muscle mass, as pumping blood through all that extra tissue requires extra cardiovascular strength.

Your heart rate increases as you cycle, pumping blood throughout your body. This alone is beneficial to your heart's health.

Cycling regularly lowers your risk of obesity and puts you at a lower risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.


It May Benefit Your Cognitive Abilities

Cycling, like most other forms of exercise, is an excellent way to improve your cognitive abilities. We won't be as successful in our mental and cognitive processes if we only work on our minds and ignore our bodies.


Can cycling help you gain muscle?


Cycling helps to build muscle. Cycling's resistance component means it burns fat while simultaneously building muscle, especially in the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. Muscle burns more calories than fat, and those with more muscle burn more calories even when they are sedentary.

Is cycling better than going to the gym?

With its numerous health benefits, regular cycling may more than suffice to meet your daily exercise requirements, both physical and mental. Protects the Heart: People at risk of heart disease were observed riding a bike for 30 minutes three times a week.


Is cycling good for muscle building?

Researchers discovered that following a strength workout with a high-intensity cycling workout did not halt progress in muscular strength or size: rather, trainees increased muscle fiber size by approximately 17% over a 2-month training period. Increased muscle fiber size results in larger, more powerful muscles.

Is cycling better for muscle gain than running?

Cycling can help you gain muscle mass in your lower body. Running will not bulk you up, but it will help you develop stronger, toned muscles. Bike pedaling is resistance training that strengthens leg muscles.
Cycling vs bodybuilding


Is 30 minutes of cycling per day sufficient?

On and off the bike, cycling develops endurance.
Cycling for 30 minutes every day will increase your cardiovascular and muscular endurance. You'll notice an improvement in your aerobic capacity if you put in consistent effort, allowing you to bike longer or on more intense rides.


Is cycling beneficial to abs?

Will Cycling Help You Get Abs? Cycling will not give you rock-hard abs, but it will benefit your core. Building a stronger core will also help you become a better cyclist. Cycling requires the use of your abs for stability; your core keeps you steady and stable in the saddle.

Does biking help you lose belly fat?


Cycling can help you lose belly fat, but it takes time. According to a recent study, cycling on a regular basis can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercises, such as cycling (either indoors or outdoors), are effective at reducing overall belly girth.

Is cycling a full-body exercise?

What muscles are activated during indoor cycling? Indoor cycling is a total-body workout that engages all major muscle groups.

Is cycling beneficial to abs?


Will Cycling Help You Get Abs? Cycling will not give you rock-hard abs, but it will benefit your core. Building a stronger core will also help you become a better cyclist. Cycling requires the use of your abs for stability; your core keeps you steady and stable in the saddle.


What is a reasonable daily cycling distance?

Recommended 15 km is the minimum daily allowance.

30 minutes of cycling at a moderate rate of exertion equates to covering approximately 15 km at an average speed of approximately 30 km/h. 15 km per day equates to approximately 100 km per week or approximately 5500 km per year.

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