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Quad muscle improvement needed!!!

London RiderLondon Rider Posts: 11
Hi All

Been lurking around and doing a bit of reading up on this forum over the past few weeks. Just joined today. Sorry if this is something you guy's keep hearing about.

Some of the stickies on here have helped somewhat but I'd still like some feedback if possible based on my individual circumstances.

I feel like I really need to address my quads and improve my general techniques in managing these muscles, because from a cardio perspective I feel ready to take the next step in my cycling performance goals but my quad's are being more stubborn :x

1. Just how important is stretching leg muscles before & after riding? Dumb sounding question I know, it's obviously important but I just need to know a little more specifics like...
--> How much time should I spend stretching based on my cycling habits (as below), and should the main emphasis be on after my ride or before or both?
--> I'm only experienced in doing the basic quad stratching where you stand up straight, pull your foot up from behind and maintain the tension to get the strectch. Am I being quite short-sighted in only doing this type of stretch, I guess I need to expand my "tool kit" of Quad stretch techniques?

2. If I am finding my quad's are holding me back (as opposed to cardio which I seem to be doing okay with), should I be training my quad's outside of my cycling spells (see below for my cycling schedule)? I'm really torn about this, as part of me thinks, my non-bike days should be spent resting my quad's, but I'm worried that I'm being too lazy with my quad's and should push them more on non-bike day's, but then again, would I be interfering with my recovery time doing this and working the quad's more than they can handle?

3. It might be obvious, but to ensure clarity here, when I refer to "issues" or "problems" with my quads I refer to the general "burn". It's not like I suddenly slow down when it's uncomfortable, but I do find that it's an intensity of "burn" that sooner than my liking makes it's extremely difficult to carry on at the current intensity (especially hill climbing)

4. Cycling technique..... From what I read about this, I'm under the impression that I really shouldn't have my bum leave the saddle when I am climbing hills? However, I tend to do a bit of 50/50. Once my quad's are burning to a certain level when climbing, I'll lift my bum of the saddle and peddle, this seems to reduce the work load on the quad's, but am I just cheating myself doing this? Is this seen as "bad form"?


Okay if you've read this far THANKS, just some specifics on my situation now
--> I'm 34, been cycling for 3-months now. It's mostly commuting to work. I average 3 to 4 days a week on the bike (for me thats about 60-miles over the course of a week)
--> My longest journey would take about 40-mins on the bike and cover about 7-miles, so average speed of about 10-11mph I think. Lot's of traffic and traffic lights.
--> My bike is a very cheap MTB (not a great choice as am hardly ever off-road!). It's got chunky 1.95" tyres which I am looking to replace with slicks or semi-slicks (1.5" or 1.75").
--> Before I started cycling in early Aug 09, my exercise regime wasn't great. I'd generally only do about 30 or 45mins intense cardio work every 2-weeks (circuit class at gym). I'd also do about two days a week upper body weights (nothing too instense).
--> I've never really paid any attention to my quad's to be honest which might explain the entire thread here! :shock:

Posts

  • Buy a single. Ride it 42 x 16 over all of your existing routes they will adapt or you will expire. Use 'for goodness shakes' and other quality protein sources immediately after hard riding.
  • brownbosh wrote:
    Buy a single. Ride it 42 x 16 over all of your existing routes they will adapt or you will expire. Use 'for goodness shakes' and other quality protein sources immediately after hard riding.

    Sorry to be thick, not following the first part of your post "ride it 42x16". Sorry :oops:

    Thanks for reply though. I currently use Reflex Whey protein powder. Usually one shake in the morning and one after a ride
  • Sorry! Its the gear, tough but not impossible to get over anything with hard work. A single is a bike with only one gear,similar to a track bike but set up for road use. Will develop a fuller smoother pedaling style, improve cadence and work your muscles differently. Good for the core muscles too. Ideal simple engineering for the winter so i thought i would recommend it. I rode one of these last year

    http://www.evanscycles.com/products/spe ... e-ec016877

    Ordered one of these this year

    http://www.genesisbikes.co.uk/bikes/roa ... echnology/


    Forgot to say the 42 refers to the amount of teeth on the chain ring - so part way between the two chainrings on a normal double set up and the 16 refers to the sprocket.
  • InfamousInfamous Posts: 1,130
    You've only been riding 3 months, just keep at it and you will get faster. Don't worry about your quads, they're meant to hurt. Cyclists don't often stretch, but do warm up properly on each ride.

    Just keep going out on your bike! You don't need a singlespeed. Get a road bike.
  • Infamous wrote:
    You've only been riding 3 months, just keep at it and you will get faster. Don't worry about your quads, they're meant to hurt. Cyclists don't often stretch, but do warm up properly on each ride.

    Just keep going out on your bike! You don't need a singlespeed. Get a road bike.

    True, only been 3-months I guess :lol:
  • brownbosh wrote:
    Sorry! Its the gear, tough but not impossible to get over anything with hard work. A single is a bike with only one gear,similar to a track bike but set up for road use. Will develop a fuller smoother pedaling style, improve cadence and work your muscles differently. Good for the core muscles too. Ideal simple engineering for the winter so i thought i would recommend it. I rode one of these last year

    http://www.evanscycles.com/products/spe ... e-ec016877

    Ordered one of these this year

    http://www.genesisbikes.co.uk/bikes/roa ... echnology/


    Forgot to say the 42 refers to the amount of teeth on the chain ring - so part way between the two chainrings on a normal double set up and the 16 refers to the sprocket.
    thanks for the explanation. I've heard about these bike's from someone at work. Will take a look at the links, cheers
  • johncpjohncp Posts: 302
    Infamous wrote:
    You've only been riding 3 months, just keep at it and you will get faster. Don't worry about your quads, they're meant to hurt. Cyclists don't often stretch, but do warm up properly on each ride.

    Just keep going out on your bike! You don't need a singlespeed. Get a road bike.

    +1 on that. Alex Simmons (coach) may be along shortly to explain that in cycling although it may feel like you are short of strength in your legs you are really short of endurance, hence "the burn". So just stick with it and it will get better, although as has been said before, cycling never gets easier, you just get quicker :lol:
    If you haven't got a headwind you're not trying hard enough
  • Johncp wrote:
    Infamous wrote:
    You've only been riding 3 months, just keep at it and you will get faster. Don't worry about your quads, they're meant to hurt. Cyclists don't often stretch, but do warm up properly on each ride.

    Just keep going out on your bike! You don't need a singlespeed. Get a road bike.

    +1 on that. Alex Simmons (coach) may be along shortly to explain that in cycling although it may feel like you are short of strength in your legs you are really short of endurance, hence "the burn". So just stick with it and it will get better, although as has been said before, cycling never gets easier, you just get quicker :lol:

    Cheers Johncp, I'm sure you are right. I think I'm just being a bit inpatient and need to gradually up my miles per week and stick with it
  • BhimaBhima Posts: 2,145
    Everyone feels pain when going hard. It's just that fitter people's definition of "hard" is harder than most people, as thier legs have adapted to the pain over time. No pain, no gain.

    I stretch after a ride. If I don't, my legs tend to feel pretty tight the next morning and it can put me off going out cycling again because they generally can feel worse than they actually are. I don't currently stretch before a ride though. I've heard that it can actually weaken your muscles slighty.

    Why is it just your quads that hurt? What about your calves/glutes? If you've got the ball of your foot over the pedal spindles and your saddle height correct, you should be feeling an equal burn in all of your legs.

    As for getting off the saddle when climbing - just do what you feel comfortable with. I can do hours of climbing without getting off the saddle as it's what I prefer, yet others can be out of the saddle constantly jumping around.
  • GavHGavH Posts: 933
    Cheers Johncp, I'm sure you are right. I think I'm just being a bit inpatient and need to gradually up my miles per week and stick with it

    You've hit it in a nutshell right there. I rushed my mileage increase, adding well over 20-30% each week to my long rides and going from 0 to 60 odd miles in about 7 weeks. Not surprisingly, I ended up with a knee injury. The physio made me do various weird things and then decreed that my VMOs (inner quads) weren't as strong as they could be and this was causing the outer quads to become significantly more dominant towards the end of long rides, in turn pulling my knee cap tracking out of alignment. I took several weeks off and have steadily built the miles back up, adding in some running to try and inject some sessions where the inners get worked more than the outers.

    FWIW, I felt a cramp-ish type feeling in my inner quads going up hill and thought it was me just being weak and that more miles would sort it out. When my knee eventually failed me many weeks later, with a rather excrutiating pop, I was fortunate that it was at the top of a hill only a mile and a half from home.
  • Bhima wrote:
    Everyone feels pain when going hard. It's just that fitter people's definition of "hard" is harder than most people, as thier legs have adapted to the pain over time. No pain, no gain.

    I stretch after a ride. If I don't, my legs tend to feel pretty tight the next morning and it can put me off going out cycling again because they generally can feel worse than they actually are. I don't currently stretch before a ride though. I've heard that it can actually weaken your muscles slighty.

    Why is it just your quads that hurt? What about your calves/glutes? If you've got the ball of your foot over the pedal spindles and your saddle height correct, you should be feeling an equal burn in all of your legs.

    As for getting off the saddle when climbing - just do what you feel comfortable with. I can do hours of climbing without getting off the saddle as it's what I prefer, yet others can be out of the saddle constantly jumping around.

    Thanks for feedback. In answer to the question about just my Quads feeling bad. It really seems to be the case. I can ride flat out as hard as possible for as long as possible and it's only my Quads that feel bad. Actually it's got me thinking as I have not experienced any pain, discomfort or stiffness in any part of my body other than my Quads!!!

    My seat too low? I'm pretty sure it's not too high.
  • 1. Just how important is stretching leg muscles before & after riding?

    2. If I am finding my quad's are holding me back (as opposed to cardio which I seem to be doing okay with),

    3. It might be obvious, but to ensure clarity here, when I refer to "issues" or "problems" with my quads I refer to the general "burn".

    4. Cycling technique..... From what I read about this, I'm under the impression that I really shouldn't have my bum leave the saddle when I am climbing hills?
    1. It isn't (before) and somewhat (after). Warm up and cool down on bike is best. Stretching after is OK. Before you are warm might increase risk of injury.

    2. They aren't from a strength point of view, it's a metabolic fitness and adaptation thing, which will mostly be fixed by riding some more (but also #3).

    3. That's a fitness thing but it can be exacerbated by poor fit of bike to you.

    4. Hill riding is generally better done in the saddle in a relaxed comfortable manner, in a suitable gear (chainring/cog combination). Out of saddle is when you need to use additional muscle mass for extra speed or when the gradient is particularly steep.

    There is no hard and fast rule and everyone develops their own preferred method of getting up hills. Standing involves additional muscles which can help deliver more power but it is also more fatiguing since you are now bearing all weight on the legs rather most of it on your sit bones.


    Cycle fitness can progressively improve over many, many years of consistent training.

    Words of advice:
    A. Make sure the bike fits you properly
    (seek professional help if unsure). As a rule of thumb - you should never experience pain or undue isolated soreness from riding a bike. If you do, something is not right (either fit wise or you tried to do way too much for current fitness level). The sensation from a solid ride should be one of being pleasantly fatigued "all over".

    B. Gradually increase the amount you ride.
    Trying to do too much too quickly is the #1 training mistake made by just about everyone.

    Some items on bike fit here:
    http://www.cyclefitcentre.com/further%20reading.htm
  • 1. Just how important is stretching leg muscles before & after riding?

    2. If I am finding my quad's are holding me back (as opposed to cardio which I seem to be doing okay with),

    3. It might be obvious, but to ensure clarity here, when I refer to "issues" or "problems" with my quads I refer to the general "burn".

    4. Cycling technique..... From what I read about this, I'm under the impression that I really shouldn't have my bum leave the saddle when I am climbing hills?
    1. It isn't (before) and somewhat (after). Warm up and cool down on bike is best. Stretching after is OK. Before you are warm might increase risk of injury.

    2. They aren't from a strength point of view, it's a metabolic fitness and adaptation thing, which will mostly be fixed by riding some more (but also #3).

    3. That's a fitness thing but it can be exacerbated by poor fit of bike to you.

    4. Hill riding is generally better done in the saddle in a relaxed comfortable manner, in a suitable gear (chainring/cog combination). Out of saddle is when you need to use additional muscle mass for extra speed or when the gradient is particularly steep.

    There is no hard and fast rule and everyone develops their own preferred method of getting up hills. Standing involves additional muscles which can help deliver more power but it is also more fatiguing since you are now bearing all weight on the legs rather most of it on your sit bones.


    Cycle fitness can progressively improve over many, many years of consistent training.

    Words of advice:
    A. Make sure the bike fits you properly
    (seek professional help if unsure). As a rule of thumb - you should never experience pain or undue isolated soreness from riding a bike. If you do, something is not right (either fit wise or you tried to do way too much for current fitness level). The sensation from a solid ride should be one of being pleasantly fatigued "all over".

    B. Gradually increase the amount you ride.
    Trying to do too much too quickly is the #1 training mistake made by just about everyone.

    Some items on bike fit here:
    http://www.cyclefitcentre.com/further%20reading.htm

    Thank you for the insightful post and link. Much appreciated. From what I've picked up today from the hours of reading around is I'll probably be better served gradually increasing my time on the bike and increasing the difficulty of my ride and therefore hopefully increasing my endurance RATHER than spending time on specific leg exercises such as squats.

    I mean, if I am going to spend an extra 60 mins or so a week on my legs, I'm figuring the 60 mins (or more) might as well go on riding more!
  • I mean, if I am going to spend an extra 60 mins or so a week on my legs, I'm figuring the 60 mins (or more) might as well go on riding more!
    Most definitely.
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