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So if I go out on a ride where I pedal up a mountain for 10 or more miles or just a big day like 30+ on random terrain- after that when I'm standing on a downhill and go to put some hard cranks in to hit a feature or something I will cramp up. Admittedly my fitness fell off with a very snowy winter but I'm not tired. I've tried pregaming with coconut water, taking electrolyte drinks, eating well before and during, etc. I've started taking magnesium citrate every day for a few weeks too. I still get them. Is it a function of fitness, diet, am I a bad person? It may be of use to know that after I start to cramp in my quads and or hammies during a ride i will also experience cramps in other places in my body for the rest of the day. I also experience frequent muscle twitching spells in every day life. It's really starting to suck. I appreciate and insight.

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Contrary to popular belief, it's usually not hydration/electrolytes issues that cause cramping. I've found high intensity interval training, over-geared/low cadence climbing drills, and isometric strength training (wall sits or "chair pose") to help. It can also help to get deeper with your hip hinge (get your butt farther back) when descending. That fires up your posterior chain, taking some of the load off your quads (and improves handling at the same time.)
 

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At the risk of sending this off into where everyone will start to talk about all sorts of crazy remedies and drinking horse urine, you are burning out and you only have so much given to you by your fitness. It's likely you are pushing yourself too fast too quickly, if you go slower, you may not keep up with the riders you want to keep up with, BUT that's infinitely faster than laying on the side of the trail unable to move from cramps. Some of the smaller ways I fight this is to pedal small fast circles, rather than cranking large (high gear) slow circles. Another is staying seated at almost all costs while climbing/pedaling. Won't go so far as to say I never stand, but I use it very judiciously, because it's far less efficient than seated pedaling, so you burn out faster/earlier if you are standing and springing a lot.
 

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At the risk of sending this off into where everyone will start to talk about all sorts of crazy remedies and drinking horse urine, you are burning out and you only have so much given to you by your fitness. It's likely you are pushing yourself too fast too quickly, if you go slower, you may not keep up with the riders you want to keep up with, BUT that's infinitely faster than laying on the side of the trail unable to move from cramps. Some of the smaller ways I fight this is to pedal small fast circles, rather than cranking large (high gear) slow circles. Another is staying seated at almost all costs while climbing/pedaling. Won't go so far as to say I never stand, but I use it very judiciously, because it's far less efficient than seated pedaling, so you burn out faster/earlier if you are standing and springing a lot.
That's funny, I've been having good luck with using a lower cadence and standing up frequently and pushing a high gear for a few strokes.
 

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So if I go out on a ride where I pedal up a mountain for 10 or more miles or just a big day like 30+ on random terrain- after that when I'm standing on a downhill and go to put some hard cranks in to hit a feature or something I will cramp up. Admittedly my fitness fell off with a very snowy winter but I'm not tired. I've tried pregaming with coconut water, taking electrolyte drinks, eating well before and during, etc. I've started taking magnesium citrate every day for a few weeks too. I still get them. Is it a function of fitness, diet, am I a bad person? It may be of use to know that after I start to cramp in my quads and or hammies during a ride i will also experience cramps in other places in my body for the rest of the day. I also experience frequent muscle twitching spells in every day life. It's really starting to suck. I appreciate and insight.

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I suspect when you have cramps in your non-cycling muscles, then you probably have a systemic problem like dehydration or electrolyte imbalance. I've had really hot, sweaty races where I cramped not just in my legs, but also arms and abdominals. Conversely, if it's just your quads/calves/hamstrings then it might be an issue of training/fitness/overexertion. This is just my own theory, backed up only by personal experience.

I've had good luck with magnesium + calcium supplements relieving nighttime cramps/twitchiness. Just keep taking more until your poop gets too runny, then take one less than that from there on ;)
 

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I suspect when you have cramps in your non-cycling muscles, then you probably have a systemic problem like dehydration or electrolyte imbalance. I've had really hot, sweaty races where I cramped not just in my legs, but also arms and abdominals. Conversely, if it's just your quads/calves/hamstrings then it might be an issue of training/fitness/overexertion. This is just my own theory, backed up only by personal experience.
I would agree with this assessment.

Have you ever measured your sweat rate? Do an hour ride on a hot day, do not drink anything (or keep track of how much you drank). Weight yourself in Kgs before and after. Normal is 1.5 to 2.0kg loss per hour. But heavy sweaters can be 4.0kgs per hour. If you fall in that heavy sweater area then you are likely to have some dehydration or electrolyte imbalance issues.
 

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I suspect when you have cramps in your non-cycling muscles, then you probably have a systemic problem like dehydration or electrolyte imbalance.
This^^

if you are having full body issues with this, you have a problem with Hydration and fueling. I have seen no studies proving that coconut water will fix this or even helps. Its great that the coconut industry has found a way to sell a bi-product that is delicious and refreshing and packs a pretty good amount of potassium.

Do you weigh before and after a ride to track water loss? What on bike hydration and nutrition are you using? Once I found a good fit for me, it is rare that I experience these types of cramp fests, although they do happen occasionally due to different circumstances.

I use Gatorade endurance powder mixed to specifications. I also use the 3x sodium Cliff blocks. This is my Go-to for marathon XC race events.

Single body part issues could be anything, but are frequently due to fatigue and overuse of that muscle, or frankly pushing beyond fitness. I personally find calf cramps to be a mild nuisance when going hard and can still push through by pointing a toe down for a bit and keep ripping along. I tend to have hamstring and groin issues in races where I have a lot of sudden wildly high cadence moments >120 (needs training)
 

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Another is staying seated at almost all costs while climbing/pedaling. Won't go so far as to say I never stand, but I use it very judiciously, because it's far less efficient than seated pedaling, so you burn out faster/earlier if you are standing and springing a lot.
At the risk of derailing this thread, I'm not sure I agree with this tactic in general. If you're riding near or above LT, it's a really good idea to alternate between sitting and standing to keep the power down. The different positions will engage slightly different muscle groups/patterns, which helps combat fatigue. Now, if every time you stand you're also sprinting, then yes, you're going to blow up.
 

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Overexertion is main reason for cramps. Whenever you push through rides that your legs are not in shape for, cramping is very evident. If you gradually build up your rides slowly then you can decrease chances of cramping. Once your legs get strength and fitness for those bigger rides, then the cramping generally disappears.
 

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I used to cramp all the time on longer rides, road or mtb, and especially when there was a bunch of climbing. I even cramped when training with a structured plan.

Went to the doc, he had some blood tests done, and found out I was magnesium deficient. I now take the dose he recommended, and no more cramps unless I seriously over-do it!!
 

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Won't go so far as to say I never stand, but I use it very judiciously, because it's far less efficient than seated pedaling, so you burn out faster/earlier if you are standing and springing a lot.
They've found that at lower outputs, standing is less efficient than sitting, but as the effort goes up, the gap gets narrower.
Full noise standing or sitting are about equal.
 

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I've tried pregaming with coconut water, taking electrolyte drinks, eating well before and during, etc. I've started taking magnesium citrate every day for a few weeks too.
Are you getting enough plain old salt? Electrolytes or not, you could still get dehydrated. The "frequent muscle twitching spells in every day life" would be most concerning to me. If it were one muscle group maybe a mobility issue, but as you describe it, and if this has been going on for more than several weeks, maybe it's time to see your doctor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Are you getting enough plain old salt? Electrolytes or not, you could still get dehydrated. The "frequent muscle twitching spells in every day life" would be most concerning to me. If it were one muscle group maybe a mobility issue, but as you describe it, and if this has been going on for more than several weeks, maybe it's time to see your doctor.
I have considered this but I'm military and they have a tendency to give you some ibuprofen or tell you to drink water for things that aren't pressing. I guess I should at some point.

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I have considered this but I'm military and they have a tendency to give you some ibuprofen or tell you to drink water for things that aren't pressing. I guess I should at some point.
It sounds weird and counterintuitive, but eat 2-3 olives next time you have this problem and see what happens. It's harmless, cheap and easy to throw in a zip lock bag.
 

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When I am cramping, and stand -it is game over. I have to stay seated, slow down and spin a little quicker. I can't even stand to stretch the muscle if I'm fending off a cramp. The only that makes it subside is continued, easy effort. I don't cramp often, it has to be for good reason. I did a few weeks ago, inner thigh on both legs. I had to walk it off once up a hill for about 2 minutes, taking long strides, like if one were doing lunges, but obviously without dipping my hips.

Do you get enough potassium? Carry a banana with you, or half anyway. Have it at top of a hill if you are taking opportunity to break and rest. Use it as prevention, not as a cure after the fact.

Do you stay away from salt/sodium? Perhaps increase your sodium intake if it's now warmer and you are sweating more.
 
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