There are plenty of distance runners and cyclists who view muscle mass as being counterproductive to their goals. They think bigger muscles can weigh down their performance over the long haul. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows there’s still a considerable amount of controversy surrounding this topic.

To measure the effect of body composition on peak and mean power, scientists had men with normal body weight, high levels of body fat and high levels of lean mass cycle on stationary bikes. Both peak and mean power were significantly higher in the muscle mass group compared to subjects with more fat mass and the normal weight control group.

True Strength Moment: According to this study, it isn’t body mass that throws off your endurance game. It’s an unfavorable balance of body composition. Because endurance athletes aren’t likely to develop bodybuilder amounts of lean mass, kick-starting training recovery with a protein shake could help retain the type of mass that powers quicker finish times.