Forum home Road cycling forum Training, fitness and health

Is road cycling a substitute for training legs in the gym?

miurasvmiurasv Posts: 345
I recently started training in the gym working all the body parts over 3 days, chest and back one day, legs the next and shoulders and arms on the next day. A few of my friends have told me that there is no need to train my legs in the gym as I also recently started doing between 10 and 20 miles a day on the bike some of which is quite hilly. Is this true?

Posts

  • freehubfreehub Posts: 4,258
    It's not true as in the Gym you could be training different muscles, you dont use all of your leg muscles in cycling.

    For example, I can run to save my life but can cycle for miles, after a very short run my legs ache like mad.
  • It depends what you're trying to achieve. If you're going to the gym for aesthetics (how you want to look) then training legs with squats will pack on the muscle in a lot shorter time than it would take cycling. Your weights routine seems censored by the way.
  • miurasvmiurasv Posts: 345
    It depends what you're trying to achieve. If you're going to the gym for aesthetics (how you want to look) then training legs with squats will pack on the muscle in a lot shorter time than it would take cycling. Your weights routine seems censored by the way.

    Thanks for your replies Freehub and AW. Seems I can't get away with training the legs in the gym then. Yes, doing it for aestthetics if I'm honest. What would be a better way to train then if my weights routine is censored , AW?
  • Considering you're doing a 3 day split, I'd go:

    Chest/Shoulders/Triceps
    Back/Biceps
    Legs

    The reason this layout is usually preferred is because when training chest the secondary muscles used are mostly shoulders and triceps. It therefore makes sense to train them on the same day. The same goes for back & biceps which complement each other. Legs if trained correctly need a day of their own as they are a big group.

    Your routine at present means when you come to train chest, your shoulders and triceps will still be fatigued from the previous Shoulders/Arms session. Not only will this impede your chest training but because you are now basically training shoulders and triceps again (although indirectly) you are not giving them time to repair. A muscle grows when it is repairing as long as you feed it properly.
  • miurasvmiurasv Posts: 345
    Considering you're doing a 3 day split, I'd go:

    Chest/Shoulders/Triceps
    Back/Biceps
    Legs

    The reason this layout is usually preferred is because when training chest the secondary muscles used are mostly shoulders and triceps. It therefore makes sense to train them on the same day. The same goes for back & biceps which complement each other. Legs if trained correctly need a day of their own as they are a big group.

    Your routine at present means when you come to train chest, your shoulders and triceps will still be fatigued from the previous Shoulders/Arms session. Not only will this impede your chest training but because you are now basically training shoulders and triceps again (although indirectly) you are not giving them time to repair. A muscle grows when it is repairing as long as you feed it properly.

    Thanks very much for your excellent advice, AW. It makes sense. If I do the 3 way split as you suggest, how often should I train for best results?
  • As long as your diet is good and outside influences don't interfere with training too much (manual labour) you should be able to train a muscle group once every 5 days, though many train a muscle group once a week with excellent results. It also depends on intensity and the amount of exercises and sets for each muscle group. A good routine would be:

    CHEST/SHOULDERS/TRICEPS (MONDAY)

    Bench Press x 4
    Incline Bench Press x 3
    Barbell or Dumbell Shoulder Press x 4
    Lateral (side) Raises x 3
    Close Grip Bench Press or Skullcrushers x 3

    BACK/BICEPS (WEDNESDAY)

    Deadlift x 4
    Bent over Row x 4
    Chin-ups or Lat Pulldowns x 4
    Barbell or Dumbell Curl x 4

    LEGS (FRIDAY)

    Squats or Leg Press x 5
    Hamstring Curls or Straight Leg Deadlift x 3
    Calf Raises x 4

    As the arms are used in all upper body exercises there is no need to perform loads of sets. Benching and Pressing utilise the triceps as rowing and chins utilises the biceps. Squats and Deadlifts also give the hamstrings a good workout so there's no need to perform loads of sets for the hams. The greatest mistake beginners make is to think more is better. It isn't unless you're on gear. For size anything between 5 and 10 reps will be okay.
  • miurasvmiurasv Posts: 345
    As long as your diet is good and outside influences don't interfere with training too much (manual labour) you should be able to train a muscle group once every 5 days, though many train a muscle group once a week with excellent results. It also depends on intensity and the amount of exercises and sets for each muscle group. A good routine would be:

    CHEST/SHOULDERS/TRICEPS (MONDAY)

    Bench Press x 4
    Incline Bench Press x 3
    Barbell or Dumbell Shoulder Press x 4
    Lateral (side) Raises x 3
    Close Grip Bench Press or Skullcrushers x 3

    BACK/BICEPS (WEDNESDAY)

    Deadlift x 4
    Bent over Row x 4
    Chin-ups or Lat Pulldowns x 4
    Barbell or Dumbell Curl x 4

    LEGS (FRIDAY)

    Squats or Leg Press x 5
    Hamstring Curls or Straight Leg Deadlift x 3
    Calf Raises x 4

    As the arms are used in all upper body exercises there is no need to perform loads of sets. Benching and Pressing utilise the triceps as rowing and chins utilises the biceps. Squats and Deadlifts also give the hamstrings a good workout so there's no need to perform loads of sets for the hams. The greatest mistake beginners make is to think more is better. It isn't unless you're on gear. For size anything between 5 and 10 reps will be okay.

    Thank you very much again, AW. I am extremely grateful indeed for the time it took you to write the above which will be the way I train from now on. I must admit to never being able to get my head around body builders only training each body part once a week. I always thought it wasn't enough but obviously it is. Thanks again, AW.
  • sandbagsandbag Posts: 429
    no. you want to build more strength and power. squats are so demanding.done right. i think squats, deadlifts, clean and press and not do other gym exercise but more rest and eat more.will see big rewards.

    it important to weight train as it will increase bone mass and keep your bones strong.
  • miurasvmiurasv Posts: 345
    Thanks for your reply, Sandbag.

    For the last 2 weeks I've been doing between 10 and 20 miles a day (mostly the 10) on the bike. What would this do to my fitness level and to the shape of my legs? What muscles does cycling improve the shape of?
  • Fitness wise it all depends on intensity. There's a massive difference in doing a 20 mile interval session and 10 mile mince around the local park. As for what it will do for your legs it really depends on the type of training you are doing and how predisposed you are at gaining muscle in the first place. Some elite cyclists have pretty puny legs. Cycling will mostly build up your quads and calves. No substitute for squatting though!
  • miurasvmiurasv Posts: 345
    edited June 2009
    Fitness wise it all depends on intensity. There's a massive difference in doing a 20 mile interval session and 10 mile mince around the local park. As for what it will do for your legs it really depends on the type of training you are doing and how predisposed you are at gaining muscle in the first place. Some elite cyclists have pretty puny legs. Cycling will mostly build up your quads and calves. No substitute for squatting though!

    Thanks AW. My sessions on the bike are quite intense and mainly try and go as fast as I can. I pace myself but try and pedal all the time apart from when my undercarriage hurts which is quite a lot at the moment. My body responds to putting on muscle quite well and because I watch my diet I can get to look quite defined quickly but probably peak quickly too. Your routine that you set out for me will help this I think. Also I am hoping that my cycling will increase my fitness so I can actually train my legs harder in the gym. Like Sandbag says, if squats are done correctly they are so demanding. I will do at least 10 miles a day and 20 at least 3 times a week from now. What do you think?
  • plowmarplowmar Posts: 1,032
    Airbourne Warrior wrote:
    Cycling will mostly build up your quads and calves.

    Apart from the glutes, which are also exercised, what other leg muscles are there?

    Gym work tends to build muscle which if you have sufficient, and don't want to look like young Mr Hoy, cycling should keep them toned.

    I've looked with sheer jealousy at some that i've seen locally. That sounds wrong doesn't it? but you know what I mean.[/img]
  • plowmar wrote:
    Airbourne Warrior wrote:
    Cycling will mostly build up your quads and calves.

    Apart from the glutes, which are also exercised, what other leg muscles are there?

    About 20 different muscles.

    Gym work tends to build muscle which if you have sufficient, and don't want to look like young Mr Hoy, cycling should keep them toned.

    Not many would be capable of getting legs like Hoy. You think it's easy building muscle? Also what is toned? Isn't that more to do with bodyfat percentage?

    I've looked with sheer jealousy at some that i've seen locally. That sounds wrong doesn't it? but you know what I mean.[/img]

    That you're a right straight bloke! :wink:
  • sandbagsandbag Posts: 429
    you would have skinny toned legs. cycling also works out the shoulders.

    you be a better cyclist with more strength, definition if you didnt cycle everyday and have decent rest days. squats workout quads,hams,glutes,calves.hips,back.

    my way is maximum weight i can do 3x8 with good form. bigger weight with less reps will build strength. a good plan would be to do hill training same day abit before gym. eg. find short steep hill and do it 10x and maintain the same cadence and intensity. rest couple of days eating well, proteins,carbs and healthy fat. do your normal cycling and do the hill/gym 1x a week. spend no more then 30 mins in gym and eat plenty of good quality protein carbs/protein straight after. diet is key. you maximise rest to build muscle. intense shorter harder cycling workouts 'interval training' would help you too. you wont get big muscle because you cycling through the week but you will be stronger and improve your body/hill climbing/endurance massively. give it 3 months of consistency then change the routine.
  • georgio15georgio15 Posts: 77
    just back on AW's training program, there are quite a few people who would put deads with legs and not backs.... :?
  • Deadlifts and squats in one session! They're obviously not putting much effort in then! A proper squatting session should leave you wanting to vomit! Same with a real deadlift session! :shock:
  • miurasvmiurasv Posts: 345
    Would the following work, AW?

    Day 1 (e.g Monday). Chest, Shoulders and Triceps.

    Next Day (e.g Tuesday). Legs.

    2 Days Later (e.g Thursday). Back and Biceps.

    2 or 3 Days Later Start the Above Again. (e.g Saturday or Sunday). Chest, Shoulders and Triceps and so on. This would give 5 or 6 days rest between training each body part.

    How often should I rest or ride the bike? This is my only form of aerobic excercise. I hate those boring machines in the gym for aerobics. I love cycling at the moment and although I would like to do it everyday, like Sandbag says I would make more progress if I rested the bike some days, but how often? Would I be better off cycling only 3 or 4 days a week?
  • That would work and that's the way i train each muscle group (once every 5 days). If you're just after general fitness and keeping the pounds off then just get out as much as you can and when you feel tired have a day or two off. It's not rocket science. If you're after getting as good as you can on the bike then search through the many posts on here for training tips.
  • miurasvmiurasv Posts: 345
    That would work and that's the way i train each muscle group (once every 5 days). If you're just after general fitness and keeping the pounds off then just get out as much as you can and when you feel tired have a day or two off. It's not rocket science. If you're after getting as good as you can on the bike then search through the many posts on here for training tips.

    Top man, AW. Thanks. Are squats much better than using a leg press machine? I appreciate that you use more of the body when squatting but is a leg press machine as effective just for the legs? Also, I have a dicky back so would leaving out the deadlifts be advisable?
  • Leg press will get your legs big enough. I wouldn't perform deadlifts if you have back problems. Rowing and chins will suffice for your back and traps. Not ideal but it's not as if you're looking to compete in bodybuilding.
  • miurasvmiurasv Posts: 345
    Thanks again AW and everyone else for your replies. The excellent information given above will help me a great deal. I'm very grateful.
  • OlliedaOllieda Posts: 1,010
    AW what are the main muscles you use in squat? I've been mainly using the leg press machine at the gym and can easily push 186kg or something like that, did 60 reps a few weeks ago (3 x 20). Reason its a random weight such as 186 is thats the maximum weight the machine has so I wanted to switch to doing squats.

    Been trying to do squats using the smith machine as I haven't got anyone to spot for me but I'm struggling at around 50kg but on a good day can push around 60kg but then my legs ache like mad the next few days.....can't get up and downstairs properly never mind go out on the bike!!!

    I do a 3 day split like you mentioned; Day 1: Chest, triceps. Day 2: Back, biceps, Day 3: legs, shoulders. I just do it that way as its the way the gym instructor set out for me when I first went. I'm assuming that my problem is coming from a muscle thats been neglected in leg press but needed for squat as I've looked at websites to see technique and I'm pretty sure im doing it correctly.
  • Ollieda wrote:
    AW what are the main muscles you use in squat? I've been mainly using the leg press machine at the gym and can easily push 186kg or something like that, did 60 reps a few weeks ago (3 x 20). Reason its a random weight such as 186 is thats the maximum weight the machine has so I wanted to switch to doing squats.

    The main muscles used are the quads.

    Been trying to do squats using the smith machine as I haven't got anyone to spot for me but I'm struggling at around 50kg but on a good day can push around 60kg but then my legs ache like mad the next few days.....can't get up and downstairs properly never mind go out on the bike!!!

    Haven't you access to a squat rack? Smith squats are okay though when taking your stance it is wise to have your feet a little further forward than usual as more stress is placed on the knees on the smith as the bar is stuck on one plane.

    I do a 3 day split like you mentioned; Day 1: Chest, triceps. Day 2: Back, biceps, Day 3: legs, shoulders. I just do it that way as its the way the gym instructor set out for me when I first went. I'm assuming that my problem is coming from a muscle thats been neglected in leg press but needed for squat as I've looked at websites to see technique and I'm pretty sure im doing it correctly.

    Leg press basically mimics the squat though heavy squats place tension on pretty much the whole of the body. Not squatting isn't the end of the world.
  • OlliedaOllieda Posts: 1,010
    Haven't got a squat rack at my gym. I guess if leg press gets close to what squats do then i'll have to stick to that, maybe just doing one leg at a time.
  • sandbagsandbag Posts: 429
    i agree wholly and partly with what everybody says here.

    free weights are superior over any machine as you balancing it yourself. the result is adjacent muscles are used to stabilize the weight so you become stronger which benefits you more for the bike.

    you should forget working out just muscle group and concentrate on squat, deadlift, clean and press minus the bench press. this is a total body workout and does every major muscle group plus more. these lifts will release growth hormone and stress and stimulate the whole body and nervous system so much. it like life threatening to the system. like a dinosaur is running after you and it responds big time. power and strength lifters use these. we not bodybuilding. it simpler workout too and feel like you worked out more. all muscles get rested at same time. these lifts are proven and you can keep doing them for evermore. no change of routine needed.

    it be more effective if you do 3-5 reps with more weight. dont do squats if you got a dodgy knee and dont overload starting off. if you not 100% then dont do squat as you will end up injured. if cant do a full squat then do partial squat still beneficial. start off with a empty bar or light and build up over several months. make sure you warm up good and stretch beforehand. as long as you do them and dont shy away from them.

    you really need 3 days rest from that and dont do any big hills before then. it will be alot more effective if you forget the 20 mile trips or any other cycling and put it on hold for 3 months or save it for weekend. get an indoor trainer or use bikes in gym and do high intensity cycling for an hour 4 times a week. this be ideal accompanient to the gym while you build strength. the 20 miles will then be like a walk in the park. indoor trainers are 3x harder than road. do 90-110RPM 1-2min combinations never going below 90RPM. you end up resting more so stronger plus have more time and be less tired. for burning fat do it every day. these short 1 hour high intensity sessions at 75% of your maximum heart rate burn fat so much and long after doing it, improve aerobic capacity, train to produce less lactate acid buildup and keep muscle more. once you built to the stength you want then return to your normal road cycling and use the same weight to maintain your strength in the gym where you can incorporate other exercises.

    if you got enough energy left then do some of these. very effective
    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Gas ... Raise.html

    when you get stronger you can do triceps with simple chair dips at home.
    http://lorraine.typepad.co.uk/photos/un ... /dips2.jpg

    you can thank me later after all that suffering :) to ease that i suggest taking l-glutamine which really works. speeds up recovery and sorness alot.

    in the end you will have

    Decreased Body Fat
    Increased Metabolism
    Increased Muscle Mass
    Improved Strength
    Improved Power
    Improved Speed
    Increased Aerobic Capacity
Sign In or Register to comment.