Endurance cycling and muscle mass

This is more of a curiosity question than anything else, i’m curious if anyone else has noticed this.

I have been seeing some cyclist influencers (on social media) who are known for being endurance/adventure cyclists, now all of sudden building up muscles in a way they never have before.

Jacked endurance cyclists was not something i’ve ever seen. Now my question is: How? How do you manage to build and keep those muscles while you also expend an enormous amount of energy on the bike. Is that an insane amount of work? I understand that these cyclists are doing this for their job so have a lot more time on their hands but jeez that is a lot of work and also seems nearly physically impossible to be both an endurance cyclist and jacked.

By endurance I mean cycling for 10 hours at a time, or even days at a time.

But I could be wrong and this could actually be doable for those who are dedicated.

Lift heavy, eat enough protein, rest. But for me the biggest obstacles nowadays is time. Getting a faster cyclist takes an enormous amount of time, so much so that I have accepted not gaining or even slightly decreasing muscle mass, at least until la marmotte


Eat lots, do lots and, casting no aspersions at anyone in particular, PEDs.

If your job is to look a particular way and encourage/influence folks without competition based testing I’m pretty sure pharmacology will play a part for some people. Not everyone but considering gyms everywhere have PED misuse for just looking swole and pulling, I’m sure if you got paid for how you looked then the temptation is there.


With modern knowledge of fuelling better on the bike a lot of muscle mass can be spared.
Add in some resistance training and high protein diets and you can do pretty well. I’d even say that some strength/muscle mass is beneficial if you are not pro racing in very climbing focussed races.
While I am definitely not an endurance rider I maintain decent muscle mass year round and have to do 2 to 3 hours of gym a week for it. Mildly affects my cycling (slower up big hills, definitely need more calories) but I’ve also hit shorter duration power goals this year.

There is also the usage of TRT which is much higher now. If you’re not competing it’s not cheating and if it helps your social media/your job you can understand why they use it.
My barber and tattooist are both on TRT and neither go to the gym or train any sport (and I’m UK based where it is a bit less common).

Which cyclists are you referring to?


I was wondering TRT as well, it just seems close to impossible without but I just wanted to gauge whether that was an unfair thought - it just seems an unusual body composition for an endurance cyclist.

However, it could be that cyclists used to underfuel to stay unreasonably light and now with enough fueling there is more possibility to keep and build muscle, but you would have to eat an enormous amount to keep up the fuel needed for larger muscles especially those not used for cycling.

I don’t really want to single out any cyclists here, but let’s just say there’s been a few transformations I have noticed that are significant.

come on, point out at least one example because I spend zero cycles looking at any influencers on social media. I’m far from looking jacked (yet :crossed_fingers:), but have put on muscle in my early sixties without TRT or any drugs. Starting earlier this year its gotten really hard putting on bib shorts and jerseys, and it ain’t fat. All I did was follow the biochemistry as explained by Empirical Cycling and StrongFirst, and rebuild my training (total 7-10 hours/week) around the fundamentals. Have been winning in the kitchen all my life. Now take what I claimed is possible in retirement years, and apply it to an elite athlete in the prime of their life.

I’ve wondered how Nick Bare does it (youtuber). He’s jacked and runs marathons and ultra marathons pretty fast, though he might not be natural even if he claims to be.


I’ve always thought most hybrid athletes (like Nick Bare, Alex Viada, etc.) come from a background where they did strength work first and then moved to cardio. I don’t actually know that though – it has always just been an assumption I’ve made since it seems exceptionally difficult to me for someone to go the other direction and to build the level of muscle mass that these folks have.

No way is he natty, I’d bet any amount of money in the world.

Previous to cycling, I was a very committed power lifter, I know tons of people that were on gear. The dead giveaway (imo) is when the deltoids and lats are just bulging out like that. It’s really hard to build muscle like that without gear. You can look up natural body builder physiques, even the worlds best struggle to get lats and delts to look like that.

That being said, gear doesn’t make it easy. I bet he’s still living like a monk, training super hard, eating very clean, and maximizing recovery. Even with gear, running a 2:40 marathon is amazing.


thanks, poked around and found this

breakfast looks familiar, along with fueling work. And he is doing some work starting with easy aerobic running. Yeah he looks gym rat jacked from some help, but who knows.

And the traps.

You don’t need to be jacked to win at longer durations. In fact if you look at pretty anything long endurance the best are quite a different type. Jacked for sprinting sure, but long distance nah.

that wasn’t the question.

The question is how do you put down a lot of endurance work AND build muscle.

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Maybe not but you have to question why? Though hard to answer that without links to these so called influencers.

nicnic19 said

not cyclists that are elite, world class, winning stages at grand tours and one day classics.

Nor winning the blue riband ultra endurance cycling events.

I’ve always been middle of the pack, didn’t pick the right parents. Strong first. Avoid sucking in my 70s & 80s, and absolutely avoid joining the “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” crowd. Pick up heavy things. Be happy at 2.9W/kg achieving 60% percentile on Strava HC climbs. Cut some weight and get into low 3s, rise up a little higher on HC climbs. Strong first.


I don’t think so. I’d bet that most celebrities that get jacked for a film or insta or social media are using pharmaceuticals. Actors, even those with lots of muscle, never looked so jacked in the old days. And it’s not just muscle, it’s the low body fat. Probably ozempic, TRT, and hgh.


Because it’s more healthy and better as an all around human being to have more muscle than a typical Endurance Athlete physique. But you’re right, it does not make you faster aerobically.

I’ve worked pretty hard to not drop muscle, including upper body mass. Basically - keep an exercise routine going, use the muscles, lots of protein. And, it’s just easier for some people. I can maintain upper body mass and very slowly progress strength on 1-2 workouts a week. 46 y/o currently.

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That’s a long way from jacked. A healthy amount of muscle / lean mass is far less. You can still have a typical endurance physique and be strong as well as aerobically in excellent condition without being jacked.