Before I became an instructor, I used to ride 3-4x a week for years with one of my favorite human beings in the world, John Tarmaggiore (NYSC 59th/Park - Thurs 6PM. I totally recommend you taking his class!). John has these go-to cheesy lines that have never, ever changed for YEARS -- and he's just so cool that he can get away with it. One of "John T" (as he goes by)'s classic -isms is the following: "You're not going to get big butts from riding a bike? Right? What builds big butts, everybody?" To which the entire room full of regulars would synchronously chant in a sing-songy voice: "CHEESECAKE!"
Hilarious. I wish I were that cool to have -isms that people chant. Oh, John T.
Anyway, it's so true. For *irrefutable* scientific evidence of such, I'd like to refer you to my previous posting from a February '08 Spintastic mailing (linked here): "You Won't Get a Big Butt on a Bike!!"
Truth be told, cyclists by and large are NOT bulky. Check out this guy with the chicken legs:
Yeah, that guy... maybe you know him.
I think his name is Lance.... ;-)
If you DO know a cyclist with bulky legs, he or she most certainly did NOT get them from cycling. As described in the above-linked post, we build bulky muscles on the weight room floor... not in (or out of) the saddle.
Many times, however, I meet students who tell me that they are noticing that their legs are bulking up... "are they using too much resistance?" NO. No matter what, resistance on that Spinning bike DOES NOT BUILD BULK. EVER. NEVER, EVER, EVER HAPPENS. What does happen, sometimes, is that we build lean muscle mass *BENEATH* the fatty tissue -- and you'll remember from [oh, I don't know... every time I open my mouth?!] that if we are training at too high heart rates, WE DO NOT BURN FAT. And when we overtrain (click my "topic" links for overtraining), we over-stimulate our appetites.. and we overeat, creating a caloric surplus. While bikes don't bulk us up, caloric surplus sometimes does.
Even as lean (non-bulky) muscles are developing... but we never get to see how awesome they look until we burn that fat. How do we we know that we're burning fat? That part's the easy part. Get a heart rate monitor! (Click my "topic" links for heart-rate training and endurance for more explanation as to why you should upgrade your life!).
1) DO NOT BE AFRAID OF RESISTANCE. RESISTANCE ON A STATIONARY BIKE CANNOT POSSIBLY BUILD BULKY LEGS OR A BULKY BUTT.
2) HEART-RATE MONITORING = GOOD
OVERTRAINING = BAD. OVERTRAINING --> OVEREATING --> BULKINESS.
HEART-RATE MONITOR = PREVENT OVERTRAINING --> PREVENT OVEREATING
Lemme know if you have any questions.
*UPDATE* Psychological Effects of Heart Rate Monitor Use Study
12/21/2010: Preliminary results were reported at Indoor Cycle Instructor in October 2010. Manuscript in preparation. Once published, results will be made available on this site and at ICI.