Optimal Cycling Physique
Skinny is generally good, but obviously the optimum is different for different disciplines of cycling. Mtbrs generally are a bit more powerful but still light, as are 'cross riders, trackies are huge overall, roadies are very slight. Though then even in road you have distinctions between climbers, sprinters, and classics/on-day specialists. I guess you can think as much as you like about 'optimal' but you will always find exceptions. Don't let pre-conceptions about your body shape change your ambitions in the sport, there are plenty of highly successful short stocky cyclists. As a general rule less weight is a good thing though 🙂Posted 8 years agoHandsomedogMember
Your type of muscle fibres make alot of difference apparently. Good sprinters for example have, or develop with training, a greater propertion of 'fast twitch' muscle fibres which are what produce explosive power. Endurance riders have a different type and I think its different again for climbers.
Don't know any more than that but got chatting to a guy who is a track sprinter once.Posted 8 years agoSurfrMember
What would be the optimal physique for different types of riders?
I'm curious as to how much of a hindrance my squat little legs are at 29" inside leg. But there are other factors, like muscle make up. I'm short in limbs but quite stocky with decent muscle makeup. I doubt I'd make it to the top of any cycling discipline with my physique. Or do I have it all wrong?Posted 8 years agomolgripsSubscriber
What's more important is your body type on the inside which is related to what you look like to an extent. For mtbing sustainable power to weight ratio is what it's about since you spend most of your effort redlining it up climbs. It's true most super fast XC riders seem to be small skinny guys (low power but lower weight) although there are some bigger quicker guys. The only big men you seem to see on telly cycling are track cyclists.
What Handsomedog says is right about muscle fibres, but it's worth noting that a 'short' mtb race is far longer than many so-called endurance events in other sports. People with fast twitch tend to be the type that have some meat on their bones, but sometimes can also be prone to putting on fat as well as muscle. For example the big fat bloke on a Patriot who burned me off up some climbs in an XC race years ago when I only weighed about 12 stone.
It's not cut and dried in MTBing like it is in say distance running tho, partly due to the mix of courses. In a flatter course like the one near Ringwood (Crow Hill is it?) I have a ball and do fairly well since I can put loads of power down on flat sections, and I have the upper body muscle to hammer technically. I know skinny buggers who hate Thetford cos it's unrelenting – I love it cos there's so little climbing! That's not to say I don't enjoy climbing as a natural sprinter/meso/endomprh but I just don't do it as quickly as skinnier folk.Posted 8 years agomtbrDotMember
What would be the optimal physique for different types of riders?
I'm curious as to how much of a hindrance my squat little legs are at 29" inside leg. But there are other factors, like muscle make up. I'm short in limbs but quite stocky with decent muscle makeup. I doubt I'd make it to the top of any cycling discipline with my physique. Or do I have it all wrong?
if you're an adult and has been in cycling for more than 5 years you won't be a star but you might become a Jan Kirsipuu or Steven De Jongh wanna-be (they're sprinters by the way)
Also you can be a decent MTB racer on flatter courses with long slow climbs or on courses with short steep climbs.Posted 8 years agothisisnotaspoonMember
climbers aren't different to all day riders, that's why Belgium has a habit of producing some realy good climbers. They just need to have the best power to weight ratio. i.e. you could be a huge guy but as long as your power is in the same proportion to the skiny guy you'll match him (headwind's excepted).
Oddly, even through a headwind is realy bad for climbers in a race (they bnifit people with more power rather than a better power:weight ratio), they'r actualy just as good for trainnig for a climb as and actual hill. Back when I was fit I used to ride Snakes Pass form Sheffield to Glossop into the wind on windly days, it hurt, but spending the best part of two hours "climbing" makes anything else seem a doddle (I'm now unfit and considder Cannock Chase hily)Posted 8 years agozangolinMember
monster legs (Monster job advert if you have seen before):Posted 8 years agoourmaninthenorthSubscriber
I'm like you, Surfr, short and stocky. I suffer on any climb of any length (as Handsomedog will testify to), but I'd kick his backside in a sprint over a short distance (though I'd then be ruined and he'd carry on riding).
Broadly, to be a "good" cyclist, you need two things: (1) a high power to weight ratio and (2) a high VO2 max capacity. You can influence the former more significantly by dropping weight, and you can improve the latter very slightly, but fundamentally it's all about natural physiology.Posted 8 years agomiketuallySubscriber
I always thought of myself as relatively tall and lean, until I (for a laugh) entered a cross country race while at uni. Next to those guys, I looked like a rugby player! At the time I only weighed about 10.5 stone too, while I'm 12 now.
At 5'11" and 12 stone, I'd be too heavy to be a good roadie, I'd think. Brad Wiggins is 6'3" and weighed 4kg less than I do now when he was at Le Tour.Posted 8 years agoBig DaveMember
I'm 6'1" and pushing 17 stone. I reckon I've got the ideal build…for going down hill anyway 😉 No better way to build up speed in my opinion. I also believe in the principle that round shapes are more aerodynamic so in fact my stomach actually works like a sort of built in fairing and makes me go faster. Or am I just getting silly now?Posted 8 years agomolgripsSubscriber
Really? I'd have thought that the longer the leg (the femur in particular) the more efficient it'd be as a lever
A long leg means nothing. Where the tendons anchor onto your legs makes all the difference since that determines the leverage ratio which is what's important. Not the length of the lever.
It's not all genetics really. There's a discipline in cycling to suit you regardless I'd say. It's not like the 100m where if you aren't born for it then forget it. If you're a sprint physique there's track – if you're ultra endurance then there's 24 hour or tours etc etc… That's one of the good things about it 🙂Posted 8 years ago
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