Disadvantages on training when already skinny?

Just curious to find out is there any disadvantage when your starting serious training already at low body weight.

My body’s physique has always been skinny (still normal looking). I started training more seriously a bit over a year ago. I was 63kg (184cm tall) back then at 180 watt FTP. Now im 64kgs at 270 FTP (4.2kw/kg). Im also at 6.5% body fat (yay, cold all the time). I’ve found the balance on eating so it doesnt just go the belly.

I race almost weekly at cat 2/3 and im great at hills ofc and repeated V02max efforts. High speed flats kill me, but i usually manage.
It seems that it’s way more beneficial to be a bigger rider with more power and weight and lose some weight, but keep the power, than already skinny when starting.

Is it harder for me to get gains in the future and am i hitting my physical limit earlier? I dont have much knowledge about this, since it’s rarely talked about anywhere.

I don’t have a scientific response, but based on observation there are plenty of pros who start out as skinny juniors and go all the way through the ranks being skinny, so I don’t think there is any disadvantage at all, so long as you’re eating healthy and giving your body the fuel it needs to train, recover and get stronger (which it sounds like you are based on your FTP improvements). If anything you’re at an advantage over people who have to balance out losing weight with improving/maintaining fitness, can be hard to do both.

I suspect your view of what’s beneficial is skewed by the fact that amongst amateurs it’s far more common for people to go the other way - lots of people who get into cycling as a means to lose weight or gain fitness after a period of putting on the pounds and/or being sedentary. Or people who have done power sports requiring more muscle mass then got into cycling as they get older and find their joints can’t cope with impact sports any more. Doesn’t mean it’s a better way though! Certainly sounds like you’re doing pretty well. Question for you to figure out is whether with the racing you do it’s beneficial to try and put on a few more pounds of muscle and raise your total power while maintaining your power to weight.

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I don’t see any reason why you can’t continue to increase your FTP, if you’ve only been training a year or so. It’s just going to be harder.

I think it’s a bit of a myth that skinny riders can’t be fast on the flats. Remember Chris Froome keeping up with Peter Sagan in that TdF crosswind attack?

Maybe instead of thinking about weight, think about strength. I bet riders like Froome have great core strength, despite their stick insect look. My big weakness, at 189cm tall and with a past injury, is my lower back.

Do more focused core work and over the off-season, maybe a few weights - see Coach Chad’s recommendations.

Also think about bike position and getting more aero - something that better core strength will let you hold for longer.

You’re in the perfect position where you only need to worry about getting stronger, not having to get stronger and lose weight. Think positioning on the flats is important. You’ll kill people on the hills, but if you keep upping your power you’ll soon be smashing people on all grades (except downhill).

Thanks everyone for the input and a little bit of piece of mind!

I will definitely try to keep the weight thing as a benefit and work on my strenghts and less on the negative. It seems anyways in races around here, that the ability to withstand a lot of surges is the key and i always use hills as a “rest” or positioning my self on the front.

I hope i’ll manage to get some flat power also, since hill top finishes aren’t that common and even birds laugh at my 900w sprint.

Martin ,im interested to learn what exercises you do now knowing you had a lower back injury. i’m still waiting for a lower back injury to heal fully, pain is about a 2/10 after 2 weeks following a back strain.
thanks. Ray

For low back pain the answer is strength training. See all the great threads and podcasts.

As others have said - use your weight to your advantage. Use the hills to attack, not to recover. If you’re hurting then certainly everyone else is in worse shape given your w/kg advantage

Also - surges on flats might feel hard for you as a lighter rider, but that is the bigger guys doing their best to play to their strengths. Survive that and then play to your own when the road tilts upwards.

Think of things from their perspective. It is much harder to do damage to a lightweight rider on the flats than it is to do damage to a heavyweight rider on the climbs. You’re in a great spot

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As Peter Sagan said in the lead up to the TdF a few years ago… “Climbers? We will drop them on the flat”!!!

Race to your strengths:)

At 6.5 % body fat, I don’t think it’d be healthy to lose more weight. But you could look into gaining weight. Not a massive amount, but another 1-2 kg could add valuable muscle mass and allow you to increase your FTP and improve your resiliency (against back pain or illness).

When I was 5% body fat lean, I caught every cold within 100 miles. Eat right is my advice. Don’t restrict calories. And do strength training. Muscles keep you from getting hurt.

Just to add to that: if you are not a pro, you will have other commitments in life, and certain trade-offs that make you a better cyclist, make you a worse allrounder at life. I have a young daughter, and I need to be fit enough to not catch all the germs that she incubates at any point in time, for example.

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The illness part is very true. I try not to touch anything in public :grin:, but my toddler daughter usually brings everything home.

I dont really watch what i eat. I usually eat as much as i can and just count protein and carb amounts. I had like 3-4kgs “extra” in the winter indoor season (long season here, sigh) and all the weight was in the belly.
This current weight feels good if you dont mind feeling cold all the time.

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You can definitely be skinny and healthy.

Admittedly I don’t have a child, but my nephews and nieces and friends’ kids never seem to give me a cold.

For me, eating more veg is key. Which I found really hard to do because of my lifestyle (the last thing I want to do is chop and cook a whole load more ingredients when I make dinner in the evening). So instead I got a nutribullet and have juices at lunch. They’re not delicious but I haven’t had a cold in ages.

Hi Ray, sorry missed this post yesterday.

To be clear, I didn’t start exercising my lower back until well after my injury was healed. My problem was that during the injury, my body was avoiding using those muscles, they got weaker, and I got into bad habits.

So my advice would be firstly, don’t do anything strenuous until the back strain is gone, and be very careful starting off.
The exercises I tend to do are planks (which I make harder by lifting one leg up), kettlebell swings, one-leg kettlebell deadlifts, and “the founder” - look that one up, it’s great.

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Agree. If not diabetic and using a scale to decide how much to eat, that athlete is probably not eating enough.

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There are pros and cons, but since people are naturally supposed to be somewhat thin, the pros outweigh the cons.
Cons:

  • In the winter you get cold more easily. 9Appsapk.vin VidMateapp.vin VLC
  • It’s socially acceptable to shame people for even being on the lower range of “healthy weight”.
  • You’re easier to push over.
  • You’re easier to kidnap.
  • You might look around and feel small because less and less people are the same size as you as you grow up. Well, at least this happened for me.
  • If you are naturally thin, your metabolism will slow one day and you never learned to deal with that.

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