Many people think that cycling is not an extreme sport. But, actually, it’s very extreme. Even though cyclists are riding their bikes through nice landscapes, they do it so intensively and dedicated that they deserve awe. Their lifestyles are much different than the lifestyles of an average person. From diet, to exercise.
Cyclists are lean and people often think they are too skinny. So, logically the more specific question appeared. Why do cyclists have skinny arms?
Cyclists have strict food regimes, also they exercise a lot of cardio, which naturally leads to fewer pounds. Most cycling disciplines don’t require a strong upper body, so that results in skinny arms.
In today’s topic, we will cover some more detailed info about the bodyweight of cyclists and some cyclists’ types.
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Reasons Why Cyclists Have Skinny Arms
As we mentioned, the upper parts of cyclists’ bodies are not so muscular. Many road cyclists have flat chests and narrow backs. But, their skinny arms get more attention because they are not covered with jerseys.
That makes non-cycling people wonder why their arms are so skinny. Cyclists have skinny arms because cycling doesn’t require strong biceps and triceps. They are even encouraged to keep low weight so that they can have optimal performance.
So, check out below some more explanations regarding cyclists’ weight.
Cyclists Don’t Need Strict Upper-Body Strength
Cycling is a sport that really moves all body muscles, but only the legs and hips need to excel to move the cyclist ahead. The upper body mainly serves as a stabilization point, as it serves to pull when riding out of the saddle.
The result is poor upper body growth. So, if a cyclist wants stronger upper muscles, some resistance training exercises are needed.
Big Upper Body – Obstacle
As you might know, classic road cycling means a lot of uphill climbing. And that’s an activity that requires a lighter bodyweight. It’s quite logical, more weight-harder road to the top of the hill. So, that is the reason why cyclists have low body fat levels.
But, besides body fat, they also have to limit muscular development. Therefore, since cycling doesn’t require a higher upper body strength those muscles are a bit sacrificed for higher performance.
Also, excessive muscle mass is bad for endurance, because of the higher oxygen need. When the upper body is smaller, the need for oxygen is less.
The thing is, the body grows as a unit. That means even if you train just arms, their mass will be determined by your weight. You might be able to grow your arms’ muscles a bit without a bodyweight increase, but the only way to go beyond is to gain extra bodyweight.
What Is the Name For Cyclists With the Smallest Arms?
Cyclists with the smallest arms are actually called the climber specialists or “grimpeurs”. As you can assume the name speaks for itself. These types of cyclists are great at climbing roads that have great inclines. To be able to complete such hard tasks, they are often very lightweight and have the lowest body mass index.
Types of Cyclists
Depending on the type of cycling activity, there are different types of cyclists too. Like in any other sport, the biking world has its own categories. So, take a look at some of them below.
Even though we got used to that all cyclists are very skinny, there are some exceptions when it comes to their bodyweight. For example, track cyclists are actually really muscular and have some strong and bulky legs.
These cyclists are very massive because the nature of the sport needs it. Track cyclists often train like sprinters, and their goal is to make a lot of power over a very short period. And that calls for large muscles.
The muscle tissues that serve for fast and explosive moves are called fast-twitch. On the other hand, the fibers that are working the hardest during endurance moments are called slow-twitch.
Track cyclists don’t need big arms, but the workout on their legs has an impact on the upper body parts too. Remember, the body works as a unit. And, when a person gains weight, that shows everywhere.
Note: Track cyclists do workouts besides their track. They have strength training like squats and bench presses. So, as the result, they have strong both upper and down body parts.
Mountain Bikers | BMX Riders | FreeStylers
BMX riders and mountain bikers have some heavier tops too. Some techniques and tricks that are used for these kinds of sports give the upper body great exercise. Bunny hopping, which is the core of BMX riding, gives the rider a chance to perform a motion that is similar to a deadlift or a power clean.
Gaining some extra mass can be very helpful for joint stabilization. On the other hand, unlike road cyclists, freestylers don’t get a penalty for being a bit heavy. That is because their discipline consists of high-intensity exercise and plenty of time to rest.
However, it’s common to see some skinny people with small arms among the stunt-oriented cyclists.
Is Aesthetics Important For Cyclists?
Any professional athlete do some big sacrifices to improve performance. Cyclists also need some sacrifices. The track ones perform some weightlifting to build power, and the roadies lose some upper body mass so they can be more efficient.
It’s very important to have in mind, that aesthetics is not something any cyclist aims for. Athletes have certain body images so that they can have the best body shape and give optimal performance for their sports activity.
Do Cyclists Need Stronger Arms?
Cyclists really don’t need to train their arms. Weightlifting is not something that is going to help climber cyclists to get to the top. On the contrary, some wide back and massive biceps can make uphill cycling more demanding.
When it comes to performance, cyclists need to train their upper body parts for better balance and injury prevention. Some benefits that climbing cyclists can get from thin upper bodies are:
- Less drag
- Less weight
- More endurance
Although cycling targets some muscle groups, even with some hard strength training, the number of cardio hours and restrictive diets, prevent cyclists from being muscular.
What Is Catabolic Diet?
Professional cyclists spend a lot of time on the bike. Sometimes training sessions may last for 6, or even 8 hours. They also have low-caloric meals. These two things are a recipe for a catabolic diet that further prevents them from gaining muscle mass.
So, without protein and calories, no amount of physical activity can help muscles to grow. As the consequence, cyclists have developed quadriceps and calves, and that if the rider has good genetics for that muscle growth.
But, besides that, you won’t see many long-distance riders with big legs. Again, it’s very hard to build any muscles when a person doesn’t weigh much.
Can You Tone Arms When Riding a Bicycle?
Riding a bike can support the upper body by gripping the handlebars. So, when you grip the bars and use brake levers for some time, you get a similar result as when using spring clamps. That way you can tone the forearms muscles.
Lots of road and cyclocross bikes have drop handlebars that are placed at the height below the seat. This position requires you to move your body forward during the ride, and that way support the upper-body weight with arms.
The nice thing is that you can release your grip and sit upright so you can take a rest during some long rides. But, the upper arms and forearms are definitely exercised and toned during the ride, and when you seize the handlebars and use the brakes.
Riding on some off-road terrain needs some great balance and control of handlebars and body as you move through various positions. When on bumpy terrain, you use your arms and need a firm grip on the handlebars, so you can keep the front wheel on the road, and that stay away from losing balance.
Not so many ridings can target the muscles in your arms like extreme riding. By moving the front end of your bike to do some bar-hops can tone your muscles in the forearms, upper arms, and shoulders.
Some more extreme movements, like departing a bike in midair tones all these muscle groups. So, yes, biking can definitely give you some nice cardio workouts and prepare you for other sports activities.
To Sum It Up
As you had a chance to see, there are quite logical explanations for cyclists’ skinny arms. Very hard and long training sessions, a strict diet plan, and body muscles that are less-used for cycling seem to give the lean bodies.
It might seem strange for non-cycling people when they see a cyclist’s body mass, but it’s just how that sport rules. It’s definitely not for everybody and requires a lot of sacrifices.
So, if you love riding a bike recreationally but still want to gain some arm muscles, you’ll need to add some strength exercises and perform a protein-rich diet. But, in the end, all that matters is that sport activity provides us with some fun and healthy lifestyle routines.