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I used to powerlifting a while ago and since starting riding I've suffered with my legs burning out really quickly. I get to 25 miles and the legs go numb and I'm off. Getting to that point is really painful.

Has anyone got any advice?

13 comments

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big shug [35 posts] 3 years ago
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Check your seat height; too low and you'll only be using part of your leg muscles which can tire quickly. Choose a low enough gear to keep spinning without leg pain, and build your distances up gradually. As a power lifter you could be carrying a lot of muscle weight that doesn't add to moving the bike forward.

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Gkam84 [9088 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm not sure you are right Shug, as long as the muscle's are working, it shouldn't matter about their weight, Look at Mr beefcake (Robert Forstemann) he has the build of a power lifter, not just his legs.

My first question would be, do you still take supplements that you would have used while lifting? Some of these are ok to use while doing lengthy exercise, but some are designed for short sharp bursts of explosive energy. You'll know better than me.

Could that be the cause of you burning out quickly?

Then, as Shug suggests, make sure your set up is right, saddle height, but also your set and handlebars are set at the right angle, in not, this also restricts the flow of blood if you are leaning to far forward. Which in your case, assuming you have larger than the average legs, would also be a problem, if the blood is not circulating through your legs are a decent rate, you will get pain and feel you have nothing left in your legs.

So I would suggest, either getting a proper bike fit or at least going to your local bike shop, who should be able to give you a decent position on the bike.

Hope that helps. Any more issues, just shout and the forum will always come up with something to help you out  3

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Simon E [2774 posts] 3 years ago
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You don't say how long you've been riding. My first thought is that riding 25 miles (hilly/flat? easy/hard?) may be an alien experience for your legs.

I would suggest the same as big shug.

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farrell [1950 posts] 3 years ago
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Fancy a race up a big hill?

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arrieredupeleton [576 posts] 3 years ago
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I suspect your leg muscles have been trained in such a way as to develop loads of fast-twitch muscle fibres. Endurance based sports like cycling require more slow-twitch muscles which naturally are better for stamina over longer periods. I guess it would help to build up a base fitness of longer slower rides, keeping your heart rate in Zones 2 and 3. It's really hard if you are used to explosive efforts but it works.

Gkam, Forstermann's 36ins thighs are good for sprint events on the track but I doubt he does too many 25 mile efforts. Large muscles work just the same but they require a load of energy to keep them going which can easily accelerate a glycogen deficit.

The obvious short term answer is to get more carbs down your neck on the bike. You body can absorb around 70 grammes per hour. A fructose/glucose mix is best to facilitate this.

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Jeremyg303 [4 posts] 3 years ago
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No but a downhill power run I do.

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Jeremyg303 [4 posts] 3 years ago
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I've been riding a couple of years now, around 70 miles a week. Usually around 35 miles each ride.

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Jeremyg303 [4 posts] 3 years ago
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I did used to squat a lot of weight and I suspect your right about the fast twitch build up.
I recently did a 50 mile fairly flat sportive in 2.45hrs. Throw in a hill and I go into lactic build up that takes a while to spin out at high cadence.

I'll try and put in some base miles at a lower pace and get the gels in more often.

Thanks for the pointers.

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Simon E [2774 posts] 3 years ago
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If it's only hills that hurt so much maybe you're attacking them too hard or in too high a gear. If so perhaps a HRM would help keep your effort levels more consistent.

Energy gels aren't the answer, they are just a convenient (and expensive) alternative to food. You don't need many calories for a 2 hour ride.

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arrieredupeleton [576 posts] 3 years ago
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I agree about gels. Proper food and/or an energy drink like high five 2:1 is better. But I would say that if you have a big energy requirement (i.e. bigger than normal muscle mass) and you're not eating, after 2 hours (35-45 miles?) you are going to feel it.

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Argos74 [407 posts] 3 years ago
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I feel for you, moving from shifting a ton in the squat rack to doing a ton in the saddle is a whole different world of pain. Not just changing the type of muscle fibres, but also the way your body/CNS reacts to activity.

It takes time is all. Focus on building up hours in the saddle, keep the pace steady and easy, and keep hydrated and fuelled on carbs during rides. The sustained speed and longer distances come in time. Don't give up on resistance work altogether - plyometrics, complexes and bodyweight work can still form a valuable part of your overall routine. Just stay away from the nasty big plates.

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bfslxo [144 posts] 3 years ago
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Gels have their place ok but I run a fairly strict paleo diet (with the odd fail i admit!!) so my additional carb intake outside of veg etc is pretty low and I do not take any gels or supplements during a ride, drink nuun tab water & a banana / sorren slice.
I carry out two regular cross fit / body weight workouts a week with 4 sets of squats in there weighted up to 90kgs (obviously nowhere near power lift standard) & I cover an average of 160/180 miles a week & am reasonably average uphill ie not first but normally in the top five of my club weekend runs - however it has taken me near two years to reach this point - just check your not underestimating yourself & definitely get a proper bike fitting, worth its weight in gold. Ps - I'm 47

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Raleigh [1667 posts] 3 years ago
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Are potatoes Paleo? @bfslxo