Is muscle hypertrophy ever useful for cyclists?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by DennistheMennis, Oct 22, 2010.

  1. DennistheMennis

    DennistheMennis New Member

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    Hello folks:

    For all the bytes expended discussing weight training for cyclists, the "Gyming to improve power" and "Hypertrophy on the bike - possible?" threads, etc., it's surprising how hard it is to get an answer to the question in my subject. I ask because now I'm getting more into velodrome racing and want to switch my training to suit that better, it that will help.

    At present I am skeptical that muscle hypertrophy (big muscles) is useful for cyclists, even sprinters. I even wrote on my blog about that back in 2007:
    http://dennispedersen.blogspot.com/2007/09/beer-bellies-and-track-racing.html

    Short version why big muscles may not help: "the maximum force on the pedal is well within the limits of any person who can walk up a step." My own guesstimate is that I don't produce more than maybe 200 pounds of force on my pedals, ever. So why should I bother doing squats to get bigger leg musles?

    Possible reason why big muscles may help: "Maybe that extra strength somehow translates into better "power" for longer efforts." That is, maybe big muscles don't increase our sprint power, but maybe we can sprint at that high power longer? I don't know, and haven't found a clear answer anywhere. I do know my power drops off after about 6 seconds (my power profile is heavily sprinter type, with best 5-second around 1300W).

    Anybody out there have more time, access to better resources and found clear scientific evidence to support muscle hypertrophy for cycling sprinters?

    Much obliged!
     
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  2. Chapeau!

    Chapeau! New Member

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    Dennis, Lifting in any rep range will produce gains in strength and hypertrophy, but to what degree?. Rep ranges from 2-6, as long as you are fairly close to failure, will produce primarily strength with some hypertrophy, while 6-12 will produce less strength but more hypertrophy. Rep ranges in the grey area, 5-7, are a good compromise.

    The increase in relative strength (positive power-to-weight ratio) is what you should aim for, along with CNS stimulation, not hypertrophy.

    • Increase relative strength (positive power-to-weight ratio). http://www.gymjones.com/knowledge.php?id=6
    • In the gym emphasize strengthening your posterior chain, mainly the (Glutes, Hamstrings, Hips, Legs, Erector spinae & (quads) with multiple-joint exercises such as; (Deadlifts, weighted hip thrusts, squats, good-mornings, dumbbell lunges, dumbbell step-ups etc) & again, not at the expense of gaining muscle mass.
    • Increase/build "isometric" core strength (planks/supermans), not dynamic (crunches/sit-ups). (See below).
    • http://www.cyclingforums.com/forum/thread/480580/new-to-cycling#post_3974752
     
  3. Chapeau!

    Chapeau! New Member

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    The reason being it's always easier to operate at a lower percentage of one's peak power the stronger you are. Your using comparatively lower percentage of your available strength to complete the SAME task and therefore have extra energy left over for all the other parts of the task.
     
  4. Chapeau!

    Chapeau! New Member

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    Stronger legs produce greater forces. Squats are hip/knee extension based activities, just as cycling. Stronger/bigger legs also house more fast twitch.

    Its pretty simple, the more force you can create, the bigger gear you can turn over from that of a weaker competitior.

    We also see having bigger thighs producing results in time trials for the likes of Cancellara & Tony Martin, not just track events.
     
  5. DennistheMennis

    DennistheMennis New Member

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    Thanks "Chapeau!" Since I can easily leg-press well over 300 pounds with a single leg (without doing any weight training), maybe I'm already strong enough, by that reasoning. Just not sure doing anything further will help. Haven't seen anything definite supporting that but willing to hit the squats if that will help. Not convinced yet, but willing to consider.
     
  6. Chapeau!

    Chapeau! New Member

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    I don't squat either, nor am I a fan of leg pressing. I'm big into deadlifting, hip thrusts & increasing core strength mainly. I think cycling will be heading in this direction soon.

    Only when you can push in the region of a 52 x 14 & greater, turning it over rapidly with ease, do you have the qualification to say that.
     
  7. fergie

    fergie Member

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  8. Chapeau!

    Chapeau! New Member

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    Your success on the track at this years Commonwealth Games again Fergie?.
     
  9. Chapeau!

    Chapeau! New Member

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    It also means greater force application, the ability to push bigger gears & ease in which you can overcome inertia during acceleration.

    In endurance racing force of contraction is not a limit to cycling, but where talking about sprinting. Just as in the 100m in athletics, force of contraction is the main player.

    Wrong again.
     
  10. DennistheMennis

    DennistheMennis New Member

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    "The limit is ATP supply to the working muscle."

    Yes, makes sense. But I keep wondering if the greater ATP supply in larger muscles might prolong the higher sprint power, but sounds like you're saying "no."

    No, having subjected a fair few cyclists to a Wingate Test the riders peak for a very short time and the power rapidly drops away. The higher the peak the greater the drop off in power. If cycling had a 50m sprint this may help but we don't.

    But if the sprint stays at the same power (limited by the mechanics of pedalling in any case) as before hypertrophy, couldn't the power remain at that level for longer? Well, that was maybe my hope.

    Thanks for the replies! I'll take what I can from this and... well, dig deeper I guess.
     
  11. fergie

    fergie Member

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    The stored ATP in the muscle is used rapidly as is stored creatine phosphate, all gone within 5-10 sec at best and then it is anaerobic glycolysis.

    If you hold power constant but increase weight your power to weight has decreased and your frontal area has increased so you are actually going slower.

    I would be spending more time in the red zone developing the anaerobic system for sprint events.
     
  12. DennistheMennis

    DennistheMennis New Member

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    Yes, I do that, with 6x5-minute "L5" intervals once a week. And 10x8-second sprints twice a week as the season approaches. I guess I'm doing what I can. Thanks again everybody!
     
  13. DennistheMennis

    DennistheMennis New Member

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    By the way, just for fun I went to the below "Bicycle Power Calculator" Web site:

    http://www.mne.psu.edu/lamancusa/ProdDiss/Bicycle/bikecalc1.htm

    It shows that if I want to maintain 41 MPH I would need to produce 1300W, which takes an average of 118 pounds of force on each pedal.
     
  14. fergie

    fergie Member

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    Was thinking a little more red than that. 60sec efforts with full recovery will really tax the anaerobic system. I wouldn't do them till close till a major event if anaerobic capacity is going to be a factor in the goal race.
     
  15. DennistheMennis

    DennistheMennis New Member

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    Oh yeah, pretty much like racing "kilos" (AKA "killers"!)... I save those for the highest priority races. Or for when I need to induce vomiting. Kidding. I discovered that doing these with a PM is much easier than when I did them per HRM. With HR for pacing I did indeed risk my stomach contents, but with a PM for pacing they aren't so bad.

    Anyway, I'm sort of relieved that I may not benefit from hypertrophy, but a bit disappointed too. I was hoping new research supported having such awesome-looking legs. ;-)
     
  16. fergie

    fergie Member

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    Yup good luck on the prowl with an endurance cyclist's body...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Or a former World TT Champion...

    [​IMG]
     
  17. DennistheMennis

    DennistheMennis New Member

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    That ain't my body type! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

    BTW, I was on fixedgearfever.com and saw a link to a fairly new study on lifting. Oddly enough, it was related to endurance benefits, not sprinting.

    http://www.rappstar.com/pdf/StrengthTrainingEnduranceAthletes.pdf

    Man, it sure is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. All the trackies seem to accept weights as a given, in spite of real evidence... makes me wonder if I missed something??? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/confused.gif
     
  18. fergie

    fergie Member

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    Well they all drink the Kool-aid to say the least. I have said for years that the demands of sprinting dictate that auxiliary strength training is part of the programme. But it is a matter of priority. Hoy doesn't win so many Keirin's because of his maximal power, he wins because he can hold a very high sub-maximal power for longer than everyone else.

    I would challenge Aagaard and company over their comments that stronger muscles mean that less effort is required at sub-maximal levels. When endurance performance is determined by slow twitch muscle fibres that are not trained in the gym. Also that the studies used top level athletes.
     
  19. bbrauer

    bbrauer New Member

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    I think that reasoning has been taken to the extreme. It's just simply counter intuitive and is counter to nearly every known real world example. If a track sprinter's discipline places an emphasis on maximum force generation, then he needs the muscle cross section, actin/myosin bridges and fast twitch fibers to do it. Guess which image belongs to sprinters and which one belongs to the all around cyclists.

    Most of us experience some form of hypertrophy just from our own endurance-based cycling.


    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.pezcyclingnews.com/photos/races10/tdf10/tdf10st11gc-legs.jpg&imgrefurl=http://pezcyclingnews.com/%3Fpg%3Dfullstory%26id%3D8447&usg=__qKi0G1BpTwTguv6wqpELVml2EP0=&h=640&w=465&sz=34&hl=en&start=0&sig2=Bt429IUDD35nETl-91Ct2Q&zoom=1&tbnid=pV8g3dy7ZPM8yM:&tbnh=168&tbnw=122&ei=FnXNTIraGYn2swPD58mBDg&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dschleck%2Blegs%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D1418%26bih%3D649%26tbs%3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=501&vpy=295&dur=2715&hovh=263&hovw=191&tx=98&ty=191&oei=FnXNTIraGYn2swPD58mBDg&esq=1&page=1&ndsp=18&ved=1t:429,r:14,s:0

    http://www.morrisonbicycles.com/images/sprint_cyclist2_w6wr.gif Bummer....I can't upload images on this forum for some reason.
     
  20. fergie

    fergie Member

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