Recent studies support strength training for cyclists
I have no illusions that citing a few abstract will settle the question of whether or no strength training is effective for serious cyclists ... but what the heck. These recent studies suggest strength training is valuable. Your results may vary.
STUDY 1) Effect of heavy strength training on thigh muscle cross-sectional area, performance determinants, and performance in well-trained cyclists. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Mar;108(5):965-75. Epub 2009 Dec 4.
Rønnestad BR, Hansen EA, Raastad T.
University College, PB. 952, 2604, Lillehammer, Norway. email@example.com
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of heavy strength training on thigh muscle cross-sectional area (CSA), determinants of cycling performance, and cycling performance in well-trained cyclists. Twenty well-trained cyclists were assigned to either usual endurance training combined with heavy strength training [E + S; n = 11 (male symbol = 11)] or to usual endurance training only [E; n = 9 (male symbol = 7, female symbol = 2)]. The strength training performed by E + S consisted of four lower body exercises [3 x 4-10 repetition maximum (RM)], which were performed twice a week for 12 weeks. Thigh muscle CSA, maximal force in isometric half squat, power output in 30 s Wingate test, maximal oxygen consumption (VO(2max)), power output at 2 mmol l(-1) blood lactate concentration ([la(-)]), and performance, as mean power production, in a 40-min all-out trial were measured before and after the intervention. E + S increased thigh muscle CSA, maximal isometric force, and peak power in the Wingate test more than E. Power output at 2 mmol l(-1) [la(-)] and mean power output in the 40-min all-out trial were improved in E + S (P < 0.05). For E, only performance in the 40-min all-out trial tended to improve (P = 0.057). The two groups showed similar increases in VO(2max) (P < 0.05). In conclusion, adding strength training to usual endurance training improved determinants of cycling performance as well as performance in well-trained cyclists. Of particular note is that the added strength training increased thigh muscle CSA without causing an increase in body mass.
STUDY 2) Effects of resistance training on endurance capacity and muscle fiber composition in young top-level cyclists.
Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2011 Mar 1. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01283.x. [Epub ahead of print]
Equivocal findings exist on the effect of concurrent strength (S) and endurance (E) training on endurance performance and muscle morphology. Further, the influence of concurrent SE training on muscle fiber-type composition, vascularization and endurance capacity remains unknown in top-level endurance athletes. The present study examined the effect of 16 weeks of concurrent SE training on maximal muscle strength (MVC), contractile rate of force development (RFD), muscle fiber morphology and composition, capillarization, aerobic power (VO(2max) ), cycling economy (CE) and long/short-term endurance capacity in young elite competitive cyclists (n=14). MVC and RFD increased 12-20% with SE (P<0.01) but not E. VO(2max) remained unchanged. CE improved in E to reach values seen in SE. Short-term (5-min) endurance performance increased (3-4%) after SE and E (P<0.05), whereas 45-min endurance capacity increased (8%) with SE only (P<0.05). Type IIA fiber proportions increased and type IIX proportions decreased after SE training (P<0.05) with no change in E. Muscle fiber area and capillarization remained unchanged. In conclusion, concurrent strength/endurance training in young elite competitive cyclists led to an improved 45-min time-trial endurance capacity that was accompanied by an increased proportion of type IIA muscle fibers and gains in MVC and RFD, while capillarization remained unaffected.
Great stuff!! Thanks.
I like the first study. "More work time = more gains" is pretty much it. (Comparing E to E+S.)
I think the problem is people do S instead of E, and then say that S doesn't work for cycling.
Or do Workout time = E, then the following year, change their workout to Workout Time = E+S (which reduces E), then say S doesn't work. (I'd like to see a study comparing this situation).
The "+S" is the key.
Last edited by Poncharelli; 08-17-2011 at 12:04 PM.
I question whether the just E group added more E time to match total workout time of the E+S group? Does the study mention this? I think it seems obvious that if one group rides 10 hrs a week and the other rides 10 hrs a week plus 4 hrs a week of strength training, then the second group is going to see more gains.
Originally Posted by Poncharelli
Interesting. I'm not at work and so can't access the whole articles, just the abstracts. I wonder what the E group was doing (? all the same) and whether that was controlled like the lifting. Also, did all or just a few benefit from the S+E?
Paper 1 seems a bit at odds with a recent paper I recall that reviewed the topic of resistance training and cyclists. The authors there suggest that S done ONLY in-season was one reason most have not found S training useful for cycists. A pre-season S program PLUS in-season S maintenance - which is my understanding of a good S program for athletes - might help according to those authors. I run out of time before I can do in-season S+E. Maybe that's why it didn't do it for me. The S cut into the bike time.
I like that formula of pre-season S, plus an in-season S maintenance. Under such a formula, you couldn't find a way to do a weekly S maintenance on one of your days off the bike each week? We're talking about a maintenance session which takes at most - what - 35-40 minutes?
Originally Posted by lgh
Then again, I guess I'm thinking of S maintenance during the season as being a once a week weight session for a profile such as fits my age (masters). I usually work it in either on the day following a race, or the 2nd day after a race. Compared to a season or two when I skipped the weekly S maintenance, the seasons where I do the weekly S maintenance every week helps my energy level, and seems to keep my body weight under control a bit better. I have also felt less "spent" at the end of races this year compared to last year when I skipped the S weekly maintenance.
Last edited by BruceBrown; 08-18-2011 at 06:19 AM.
Bruce - I used the standard approach of pre-season 12 week strength and then transition to sport-specific power training (intervals) plus twice a week strength maintenance. The way it shook out in my professional schedule, it was 40 minutes in gym OR time on the bike, not both. That only got me so far. The more elite riders were all doing more time on the bike. ,
I sure would like it if someone discovered the holy grail of cycling, the finding that some pattern of suffer-rest-suffer-rest, repeated many times, isn't really the paradigm for success. People have been looking a long time ....
That's the way I read the abstract as well. One group doing 10 hours of E. The other doing 10 hours of E + X hours of S.
Originally Posted by jmctav23
A study comparing this would be more interesting:
10 hours = E
10 hours = E+S
The total hours would definitely effect the result though.
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