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I weigh very low about 56 kilograms and height is 5 feet 6 inches.I use a hybrid for fun and commuting.

While riding i use the hishest gear on my bike always i.e 48 tooth front and 11 tooth back. I usually travel at the speed of 26km/h - 30 km/h (16.15 to 18.64 mile per hour) on flat with very little opposite side wind but when i push harder i go about 40 km/h (24.85 miles per hour) on flat with very little opposite side wind while only for short bursts of 1 minute or so.

I was wondering if increasing my weight to say +10 kilograms would help me gain speed since its the weight of the body which is used to push the pedals and you can push only so much as your weight considering newtons thrird law of motion,

Every action has equal and opposite reaction

i.e your push on pedals pushs your body upwards so the max amount of force or push that can be applied on the pedals is equivalent to your body weight unless your shoulders are tied to the frame of the bicycle.

  • 1
    The main force being overcome when cycling on level ground is wind resistance. A larger body slightly increase wind resistance. Adding weight (without added muscle) serves on useful purpose -- it increases wind resistance and rolling resistance. Adding strength/power is the only way to increase speed. If you are standing all the time at max power then in theory adding weight will increase power, but probably not in proportion. But, eg. using a lower gear and pedaling faster might increase power even without added weight. – Daniel R Hicks Dec 17 '14 at 0:00
  • I come in at 64kg and have good power to weight. I can climb faster than 95% of those I can just keep up with on the flat, but on the flat its wind resistance that slows me. More power will make you go faster on the flat, more weight - if its muscle - should mean more power, meaning faster on the flat. If the power/weight is lower with weight gain, you will be slower on the hills. – mattnz Dec 17 '14 at 1:04
  • Your logic isn't correct/applicable to cycling. A larger mass means larger inertia, so harder to accelerate, and longer to slow down. Generally, heavier cyclists will have more muscle than lighter cyclists, so even on hills etc. lighter or heavier cyclists, have no advantage over one another (given that they are both at similar fitness to weight ratio). Everyone is different, though, and you should try to lose all the fat you can, and have as much muscle as possible. – W1ll1amvl Dec 17 '14 at 4:56
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TLDR - Weight training is the wrong activity for improving both your sustained speed (26-30kph) and your 1-minute speed (40kph). Read below to understand why.

Background

There are three main types of skeletal muscles: slow twitch (type 1), fast oxidative (type 2 a) and fast glycolytic (type 2 b). Your make up of the three types determined primarily by genetics (with some interchangeability between type 2b and type 2a). These muscles differ by the metabolic pathway used to power contraction, as well as contraction speed and strength and ability to perform repeated contractions.

Slow twitch (type 1) are weak and slow but are what power sustained efforts. These muscles generate power through aerobic glycolysis (i.e., "burning" oxygen). While weaker total force output these muscles have high endurance (due to the use of oxygen). If you are doing any sustained activity over 1 minute in duration you are primarily using these muscles. If you are a professional endurance cyclist you were likely gifted by genetics with a higher proportion of type 1 fibers than the regular joe. (Aside from doping, it really is easier for them.)

If you are sprinting (efforts under 1 minute - like your 40kph efforts) you will be primarily using type 2a. When you are mashing the pedals hard in a maximal effort (under 10 sec) you are using type 2b fibers. Type 2a uses a mix of anaerobic and aerobic pathways while type 2b only use anaerobic pathways.

What weight training actually does...

That leaves us with the question of what will happen when we weight train and gained 10 kilos of muscles (hypertrophy). Muscle hypertrophy occurs primarily through chronic anaerobic, high-intensity resistance activity. This means you will be developing type 2b primarily along with some type 2a (actually changing your type 2a behave more like type 2b) and a bit of type 1 (the actual splits depends on type of resistance training).

Your ability to accelerate quickly would likely improve the most. Your 40 kph (type 2a powered) could increase a bit. Your sustained 26-30 (kph) might increase a little bit, if you kept up aerobic training as well.

The specificity principle

This gets us to the specificity principle. The training needs to be specific to the task. This comes in terms of strengthening the right muscle for the action (circular pedal motion), building up connective and support tissue (strong core is important - you can't fire a cannon from a canoe! - although...) and muscle recruitment pattern (how your brain activates individual muscle fibers).

For cycling, the circular motion is un-natural. As such we need to train your muscles with the activity at hand.

Improving sustained efforts

To improve you 26-30 kph sustained speed you would need to stay away from the weight room as we need to train type 1 muscle fibers. We can't make these muscles much bigger per say, but more efficient.

  1. This means improving muscle recruitment. (ask stack exchange for pedalling exercises)
  2. This means improving aerobic metabolism efficiency. (Long Slow Days - LSD)
  3. This means improving the lactic acid threshold. (Aerobic threshold efforts)

Most when they go on endurance rides they laugh at (1), then ride somewhere between (2) and (3); doing what we commonly refer to as junk miles. You will need to specifically train these three components individually to get the biggest improvements your sustained speed. A coach can be highly beneficial here.

Improving 1 minute efforts

Here we want to train our type 2a fibers and perhaps "recuit" some type 2b to be like, or function more like, like type 2a (this is a bit of a disputed topic as to the mechanism). They gym may help a bit but something like interval training (repeated hard efforts, e.g., 2 min on 1 minute off, repeated 8 times) will do wonders. Interval training is generally hard to do and hard to get right, a coach is recommended.

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    +1 Good answer. Except for the TLDR part. I didn't read that bit. – andy256 Dec 17 '14 at 9:00
  • Yeah good answer – munish Dec 17 '14 at 12:44
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Do you see any fat profession bicycle riders? Do fat riders pass you more than skinny riders? Rather than try and redefine the art maybe go with established best practices. Cadence of 80+ should keep you on the seat on anything other than a hill or sprint. 10 more lbs is not going to make you sprint or climb better. 48/11 at 30 kph is a cadence of 60. Don't eat donuts - pedal faster in the gear to put you in 80 - 110.

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The premise of the question is flawed in that you relate force directly to power

your push on pedals pushs your body upwards so the max amount of force or push that can be applied on the pedals is equivalent to your body weight

As @Blam said - Your cadence is too low.

When it comes to engines power = torque*revs. With cycling, torque is limited by bodyweight, but we do not limit power by limiting revs, which is why we (most of us except a few fashion mistakes) spend so much money and time on those exceedingly complex, fiddly and frustrating things called gears.

Learn to rev faster - think F1 race car engine vs big block V8. Both output similar power, one does it by brute force, the other by high revs. Watch a few cycle races and see how fast they pedal, and notice how light weight most of the top riders are.

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    Optimal cadence (in terms of metabolic efficiency) is a bit of a myth. There is a huge capacity adaption by skeletal muscles. See McDaniel, J., Durstine, J. L., & Hand, G. A. (2002). Determinants of metabolic cost during submaximal cycling. Journal of Applied Physiology 93:823-828. – Rider_X Dec 17 '14 at 5:02
  • @Rider_X - your are totally correct. But the OP appeared to think the only way to produce more power was by pressing down harder on the pedals. This answer tells him how to produce more power without pressing harder and makes no mention of efficiency. – mattnz Dec 17 '14 at 20:30
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You are correct that weight is force (mass x gravity acceleration). If you're continuously falling and using imaginary pedal convert the force into forward motion then you can accelerate like gravity.

But you're not continuously falling, for every downward movement of your body you also push upward, which means you don't get any gain there and the force driving your bike comes from your legs (and wind).

Unless you can gain power by gaining mass (possible), it'll just weigh you down.

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