How to Prevent Bulking Up on a Bicycle

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Cycling is a highly effective way to increase your cardiovascular fitness, strengthen your lower body and burn calories to help shed fat. One hour on a bike, cycling at 10 miles per hour, burns between 292 and 436 calories if you weigh between 160 and 240 pounds, though lighter individuals will burn less and heavier folks will burn more. You need a certain amount if muscle mass to sustain you on long rides, but bulking up too much can be detrimental since a higher body weight can slow you down.

  • Reduce your calorie intake. Bulking up has just as much to do with your diet as it does with your training plan, and an excess of calories can lead to muscle gain. The most important factor in building muscle mass is calorie intake, according to sports scientist Jim Stoppani. To build muscle, you need a caloric surplus, so by eating in a deficit, you can ensure that you don't build mass.

  • Avoid high-intensity workouts, such as sprint cycling or intervals and hill training. High-intensity workouts like these can build muscle mass, notes Stoppani. They work your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are more prone to muscle growth and bulking, so keep them to a minimum.

  • Perform mainly long-distance rides. Long, slow, low-intensity cardio leads to a rise in the stress hormone cortisol. Chronically high levels of cortisol prevent you from gaining any substantial muscle mass. By only performing long rides, you will increase your cardiovascular and muscular endurance, but do little to stimulate muscle hypertrophy and bulking.

Tips & Warnings

  • Include 1 to 2 days of weight training in your routine to maintain muscle endurance and strength levels without bulking up.
  • Consult your doctor before starting an exercise routine or diet.

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References

  • Photo Credit Bryn Lennon/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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