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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
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    5

    How cycling changes your body

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    So...Ive gained some weight. By some, I mean about 25 pounds. I went back to college after a two year hiatus and holy crap. But seriously, how does cycling change the body? Its a cardiovascular exercise, so to burns calories...but does that mean I will be all leg and no muscle anywhere else? Does it mean Ill lose weight everywhere (the good parts and bad?). I do some occasional cycling around town, but I want to start going the distance. Let me know what you guys have experienced if you do rides 50+ miles.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Nebraska
    Posts
    83
    I've lost size all over, have gained muscle in my legs, core, back, and arms, have gained lung capacity, and made my heart stronger. Road cycling is awesome exercise and makes me feel like I can rule the world.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Hillsboro, OR
    Posts
    5,037
    I started cycling almost 6 years ago now and in the first 4 years, did nothing but gain weight. I fell so in love with cycling that I dropped all my other activies in favor of it (weight lifting, other cardio, etc) and managed to gain 30 lbs in the first three years.

    Just be warned that 1) you cannot out ride what you can eat and 2) multi hour rides do not justify multi-hour meals!
    My new non-farm blog: Finding Freedom

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    MI
    Posts
    2,546
    Quote Originally Posted by GLC1968 View Post
    Just be warned that 1) you cannot out ride what you can eat and 2) multi hour rides do not justify multi-hour meals!
    So true! I started biking 7 years ago. And gained 50 pounds (there were two kids and 2 major surgeries in there too).

    And now that I've lost all that weight, the comment I get most is "wow! you must have a strict workout routine!" But my workout routine hasn't really changed all that much, just my diet No one likes to hear that though.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,132
    As others have suggested, cycling can only do so much for you if you're unwilling to modify your diet. Endurance activities are tough in that you generally have to eat something before and during in order to fuel them. Plus, they tend to enhance your appetite. So, finding that balance can be tricky for some. I, personally, have mostly maintained my weight through cycling and my other activities. I've lost a few (and gained a few) pounds, but that's about it. I am absolutely ravenous most of the time when I up my mileage. From that standpoint, I actually think shorter, more intense rides are better for weight loss. Still, it's all about calories in versus calories out. There's no magic bullet.

    I would strongly urge you to get engaged in a variety of activites in addition to cycling: walking (or running) hiking, kayaking, Pilates, yoga, strength training. Especially if you're worried about whole-body muscle development, it's good to balance cycling with other pursuits. Balance and flexibility are also important.

    Good luck!
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    MI
    Posts
    2,546
    I will add, that I LOVE my legs now. Very muscular. And my hiney is getting smaller. I like the toned look that cycling and running helps to achieve.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    2,710
    Quote Originally Posted by indysteel View Post
    I would strongly urge you to get engaged in a variety of activites in addition to cycling: walking (or running) hiking, kayaking, Pilates, yoga, strength training. Especially if you're worried about whole-body muscle development, it's good to balance cycling with other pursuits. Balance and flexibility are also important.

    +1. I recently started yoga classes, and they're making me painfully aware of how unflexible I am and how weak my core is, despite being a dedicated cyclist (road and mountain). No wonder I deal with hip and knee injuries...

    As for body changes: I'm the same size (more or less) that I was 10 years ago, but I weigh more due to increased muscle mass, and I think I look better. Healthier, stronger, more fit.... It's all a good thing in my book

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Between the Blue Ridge and the Chesapeake Bay
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    5,219
    Perhaps an even more important question is, "How does cycling change your mind?"

    I think most here would agree that we are happier when we ride our bikes. And that happiness extends to the rest of our lives when we are off our bikes. We are more relaxed and generally have a better attitude.

    Wouldn't you agree, ladies?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,132
    By the way, don't let the mere possibilty of weight gain deter you from getting on your bike or engaging in physical activity. Most of us, if not all, will readily admit that we feel and look better from biking regardless of what the scale says. For many of us, myself including, cycling instigated a whole host of changes for the better in our lives. From alleviating to depression to making new friends to seeing new parts of the world to meeting a significant other. It just opens up the world in so many ways. Trust me on this. I have few regrets in my life, but one of them is that I didn't start biking seriously until I was in my late 30s. I cringe when I think of all the time I wasted.

    Edited to add: I didn't see Tulip's post until after I posted this. Yes, I agree wholeheartedly!
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    2,511
    I find that cycling gives me tremendous motivation to keep my whole body fit.

    As far as weight gain, I eat more than I ever have in my life and lost ten pounds after I bought a bike. Cycling seems to normalize my appetite -- I find it easy to eat what I need. If I'm not burning much energy, I naturally eat less.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Arlington, VA
    Posts
    4,490
    Quote Originally Posted by Alisha View Post
    Its a cardiovascular exercise, so to burns calories...but does that mean I will be all leg and no muscle anywhere else? Does it mean Ill lose weight everywhere (the good parts and bad?).
    The answer in part is that it depends on your body type. I do not have huge leg muscles. When I lost weight I lost it from the top down, because I have a tendency towards being pear-shaped.

    As others have mentioned, merely exercising was not enough for me, and I had to cut my food intake to see real weight loss. I never starved myself, though. I just stop eating when I start to feel full so that I don't overeat.

    I stopped training for centuries because I was gaining weight. The really long rides made me very hungry for days, and also too tired to do any exercise for days. So now I generally limit my long rides to 40-50 mile rides, with a few 60ish-mile rides each summer. This way I'm able to remain consistently active instead of seesawing between huge bursts of activity and couch potatodom.

    BTW, I highly recommend Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook. I really like her approach to eating for weight loss.

    http://www.nancyclarkrd.com/books/sportsnutrition.asp


    Also, I agree with indysteel's advice about the importance of a variety of activities for overall good health. But, you gotta start somewhere, and you have to find activities you enjoy if you're going to keep at it. So go ahead and start cycling, with some stretching on the side to help prevent injuries. Once you get into a routine you can look into other activities for whole-body fitness.

    Good luck!

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    213
    Quote Originally Posted by Becky View Post
    +1. I recently started yoga classes, and they're making me painfully aware of how unflexible I am and how weak my core is, despite being a dedicated cyclist (road and mountain). No wonder I deal with hip and knee injuries...
    Totally agree. Road cycling with no core development over many years had hurt the flexibility and strength in my core. I started having issues due to a weak core and very tight piriformis, adductor and psoas. Pilates worked best for me.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Whitmore Lake, Michigan
    Posts
    930
    Let me start with the fact that I don't do 50+ mile rides yet. In the 16 weeks I rode this summer I lost weight, about 20 pounds however my appearance changed more than 20 pounds. I'm more toned everywhere and dropped a full clothing size. During some weeks I would see the scale move up particularly after hard rides, only to move down below what it was previously after a day or two of recovery.

    As others mention this is because of muscle gain which weighs more than fat. As Tulip mentioned the most important change was to my mind. As cycling progressed so did the desire to incorporate a healthier lifestyle into every aspect of my life.

    I have more energy, eat better and more importantly I am satisfied after a normal sized meal. I began riding to benefit my arthritis and stiffness of joints. All of the side benefits are a BIG bonus. I have increased lung capacity, stamina, strength, endurance etc. I just can't say enough good things about how much better off I am since taking up biking again. I love my bike and more importantly I love me more too now.
    Bike Writer

    http://pedaltohealth.blogspot.com/

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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Posts
    9,681
    I learned how to ride a little over 11 months ago and this summer was riding like a mad woman Rode over 100 miles a week, got to where I was doing 50-60 mile rides and longer every weekend, which when combined with strength training and spinning classes I was doing a lot of work.

    My body certainly has changed a great deal, in looks even more than the 55 pounds that I lost + something like 6 sizes in clothing - though that is hard to tell with the vanity sizing that is in so many stores. Even at the height of my long distance riding this summer when my weight became stable, I continued to loose body fat and toned. I have never had a butt in my life, but I do now Well.....it is still flat but it is TONED flat

    It is important to have a well rounded set of physical activities - good for the body and soul. Also important to make sure you work in appropriate rest and recover times

    In a nut-shell, you don't have to ride 500 miles a month to see improvement, what matters is consistency and being well rounded/balanced. Keep in mind that the longer you are on the bike, then you are going to build those leg muscles - love those leg muscles However muscle weighs more than fat, so after a certain point I think it is better to pay attention to how clothes fit, not what the scale says.

    Just my 2 cents worth, I've only been riding for a season that ended early due to over-use injuries - but you have found a website where there are a large number of very wise women with a lot of experience.





    2011 Custom Gunnar

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    3,197
    Quote Originally Posted by tulip View Post
    Perhaps an even more important question is, "How does cycling change your mind?"

    I think most here would agree that we are happier when we ride our bikes. And that happiness extends to the rest of our lives when we are off our bikes. We are more relaxed and generally have a better attitude.

    Wouldn't you agree, ladies?
    Yes.
    Each day is a gift, that's why it is called the present.

 

 

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