Maximum strength and cycling performance

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by dominikk85, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. fergie

    fergie Active Member

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    Off to the Science behind the Tour de France conference in Leeds. Presenting my research using the performance manager in WKO+ to predict performance readiness. Ronnestad who did a lot of studies on weight training and cycling is one of the headline speakers so will try and have a chat with him. Then just casually GET TO WATCH THE START OF THE TOUR!!!
     


  2. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Well-Known Member

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    Best wishes on your presentation

    Also wish I could be standing nearby if you get to chat with Ronnestad.

    There are things about the subject that I question. One of the chief thoughts is diminishing gains for a cyclist that does strength train in the off season and then switch over to focused cycling training as the season ramps up. This has been one of my stumbling blocks as I have watched discussions here and there with cycling coaches promoting strength training for a few months during the off season and then stop strength training. It seems like many of the studies I have read are only for a period of weeks and measurement of performance, but I have not seen any long term studies where progressive training in both strength and endurance and how that may impact performance in one or both.

    I know from experience that to keep progressing in strength one must keep incrementally attempting to push more progressively or strength declines. If one stops training altogether than whatever minimal gains are made in that training period begin to diminish over a period of time. So what is the value of strength training for a few months if it abruptly stopped if those gains lost as the cycling season progresses?

    It would seem like this would be a natural observation from a cycling coach because if one say works 1 hour power up to a certain level over a period of months and is injured or stops for some reason they will eventually begin to lose those gains and will have to rebuild again. Same goes for strength training. I think it was Ric or someone that used to say, "you are either training or detraining."


    There would be other questions I would love to ask because there may be valid reasons/methods for each I have not yet considered.
     
  3. ira41

    ira41 New Member

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    There would be other questions I would love to ask because there may be valid reasons/methods for each I have not yet considered.
    Interesting just before reading your post I was reading this tidbit. I suspect if you do gym work and then follow up with a typical cycling plan the work on the bike ensures the gains in the gym are not lost.

    http://www.trainingbible.com/joesblog/2009/12/force-training.html
     
  4. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Well-Known Member

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    Ira, interesting discussion to me so I am just adding to it for discussion and not trying to be adversarial.

    From JF's blog post link
    Quote:
    I like to have athletes start with a short, resistance-training phase in the early Base period and then switch over to sport-specific training in the mid-Base period while maintaining the gains made in the weight room. While resistance training is not the same thing as swimming, biking and running, it gets your muscles ready for the sport-specific phase which is where the greatest gains are eventually made.


    So I wonder how his plan maintains the gains in the weight room when he specifically notes a change to sports specific training?

    From what I know the gains from resistance training will be lost in time. For me it may take longer since I have many years invested in strength training, but even when I stop I lose strength fairly fast. It is an ongoing weekly effort to maintain strength much less gain strength.

    The same would be true if we reversed this.
    Let's say I was a competitive lifter and for some nutty reason my coach thought it was best for me to improve my FTP during a few winter weeks and let's say during that short few weeks intervals on the bike before I switch back to a laser focus on strength training my FTP does bump up by 10 watts. Would you expect that I would hold that 10 watt gain from spring until early fall?
     
  5. ira41

    ira41 New Member

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    Well I think one has to separate into two groups. and lets toss out which is better (Cycling or weight training) for the sake of exploring one aspect, weigh training.

    1. Aerobic and Anaerobic
    2. Pedal force and fatigue

    From everything I have read stronger legs lead to more pedal force and less muscle fatigue under the load. It doesn't do anything for the Aerobic engine. However if I can push a harder gear because my legs are stronger, i'm going to be stressing that Aerobic engine more than previously.

    In fact I think this may be where i'm at now, I run out of breath before my legs give out at this point in most cases. Last year with cycling only training my legs were giving out before I would run out of breath. I could be in maybe high tempo breathing pattern but my legs would collapse, this year its the exact opposite.

    Keep in mind i'm not trying to debate anything just trying to understand the details of my own experience at this point. I am definitely not saying had I spend equal time say doing threshold intervals I wouldn't be better off, just trying to get why I improved at all. I wish i had just lifted weights vs doing the stair machine, then for me at least the answers would be crystal clear.
     
  6. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Well-Known Member

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    But force on a bike even up hill is minimal. We can observe young children that have very little muscular strength development (certainly no specific strength training) can go up a small incline on a single speed child's bike.

    It doesn't make sense to me in endurance cycling where most average healthy adults that train endurance can produce enough force especially with gearing to help need additional strength training.

    If I were a competitive cyclist I would gladly give up all my strength to have the aerobic fitness of one of my female coworkers who wins her AG in just about every triathlon she enters locally. She is built like a starved super model (and sort of looks like one too) and has little "strength", but has the conditioning to drop most of the guys on her team that I imagine have far greater natural strength than she does.

    I am having a hard time agreeing that it takes much force on a geared bike to the point where strength needs to be trained. However, it someone finds it to be a benefit than I say go for it. In your case I honestly believe you got most of your gain from the stair climber.

    I will say that for physical rehab for post injury endurance athletes could be a huge bonus to strengthen muscle groups that have suffered atrophy due to time being sedentary.
     
  7. needmoreair

    needmoreair New Member

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    AWESOME!

    Look forward to hearing about it!
     
  8. needmoreair

    needmoreair New Member

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    I've been going back on forth on going back to the gym to improve sprinting.

    My sprint is about 10-15% less then it was a few years ago. I started running for a while and wonder if that had anything to do with it, but regardless I seem to lack some of that top end I used to have and it doesn't seem to be coming back from just bike work alone.
     
  9. Colnago62

    Colnago62 New Member

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    An area in which lifting is beneficial for cyclists, is overal health and posture. Cyclists who are putting in large, intense miles, tend to lose muscle mass. Also, as mentioned, bone density can become compromised. By maintaining good health, a cyclist can train harder and more consistent. One positive outcome with increased muscle size is for match sprinters and kilo riders is that in their events, they are depending on stored energy. The bigger the muscles the more stored energy to draw upon. Dr. Edmund Burke wrote about it in his book on muscle recovery, I believe.
     
  10. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Well-Known Member

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    Certainly I don't want to come off as the know it all Cliff Clavin of Cycling Forums. I do have many years in practical experience, study and consulting others in the world of strength type training, but even in that there are specialties and my specialty focused in on powerlifting and bodybuilding. I became very good at taking my subpar genetics to a higher level as well as helping some others achieve their goals. However, there are areas that I am not experienced in regards of taking an athlete to the higher level. For instance I know of Olympic Lifting, but I cannot coach it. I was privileged to train at a gym that has one of the best and most notable women's coaches for Olympic Lifting. So even amongst strength athletes there is sports specific training. I am not specialized in every type of event and just want to make that clear.

    _________________

    But I have always found it interesting that among this forum's membership I am one of the most outspoken against weight training for an endurance cyclist and yet strength training is my number one passion (even though my blog is called Cycling Addiction). I've been training consistently with weights for over 30 years.

    ________________

    So I will admit that I don't know everything about strength training when it comes to attempting to use strength training to enhance endurance performance. But I have yet to see anyone or study fully explain how it can be done without leaving holes. Like Joe's blog does not explain in detail how he can suggest his athletes do a few weeks of resistance training, switch to sports specific training and then maintain the "strength gains" after switching to sports specific training. I know this to be true that if you stop training you stop progressing and you will eventually decline in performance. How many times have we seen someone post here or elsewhere that claimed to be a Cat 3 or higher, took a break from cycling for a few years and now wonder how to get back to cycling shape? I don't think I have ever witnessed a person say they took a break completely from training and the day they returned it was as if they never left training. So how in the world can someone suggest a few weeks of "strength training" in the winter months and think those minimal gains are going to stick with them?

    I struggle when people talk about needing gym training in context of pedal force. I mentioned children and ultra thin cyclist able to do quite well without specific strength training. Here is another observation that I had on several occasions doing rehab from strength training lifting injuries from strained muscles or back injuries where I could not even climb up stairs without assistance. During those times of rehab I would select cycling as part of the physical therapy because the pedal force is so much lower that I could keep movement in the muscle group (try to prevent further atrophy). Last season I injured my lower back to the point I could barely walk and yet I could cycle because the force is lower climbing stairs. I did feel discomfort as the wattage climbed up in to the 200's, but my point is that pedal force on a geared bike is pretty low - IMO.

    Here is one of those rides (managed 80 miles on the bike when I couldn't even climb stairs)
    http://thecyclingaddiction.blogspot.com/2013/06/comet-back-rehab-ride.html

    Then the next weekend
    http://thecyclingaddiction.blogspot.com/2013/06/brewery-back-rehab-ride.html

    Then the next weekend
    http://thecyclingaddiction.blogspot.com/2013/06/comet-back-rehab.html

    In this case I was able to use cycling to keep motion in my legs only because the pedal force was low. During that time I could not train legs at the gym and as mentioned I was barely able to go up stairs even with using a handrail.

    In summary I do love lifting and strength training, but I do find it odd that I am one that struggles with the idea that strength training is important to cycling performance. Perhaps it is beneficial for those who race a few intense laps at a track, but for endurance I am not convinced.
     
  11. Colnago62

    Colnago62 New Member

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    I wonder if part of what makes this discussion difficult is that, at least for bike racing, there are so many levels or skills needed to be successful. While endurance is extremely important, the ability to accelerate is also an important component. It takes more force to accelerate mass to a given speed then it does to maintain that speed. I have heard it said that sprinters don't have a higher top speed than other riders, they just get there faster. I have also heard the saying Sprinters with no endurance won't win sprint tournaments and road riders who can't sprint won't win road races. There was a time when sprint riders did minimal endurance work. It was found that endurance work enhanced their abilities to ride fast. I guess what I am saying is maybe the topic is not fully understood and their will be more research needed in the future.
     
  12. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Well-Known Member

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  13. kopride

    kopride Active Member

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    Not to be Norm to Felt's Cliff Clavin, but the issue of strength training in the context of an endurance sport is one that I have been fascinated with as well; and I have some personal experience trying to do both activities. Based upon my own experience,and some preliminary review of the limited research on the subject, I believe that strength training has either a negligible or negative effect on endurance cycling. That being said, like Felt, I like strength training and endurance cycling so I do both. Personally, I think that there is some tradeoff in that I will never reach my peak potential in either pursuit in the same way as I could have if I just focused on one activity only. But again, I can and do improve consistently in both activities.

    Strength training versus nothing, may help someone become a better sprint cyclist; but strength training versus short hard spring intervals? I am not sure than any reputable sports scientist would be recommending squats over the intervals. And given that very few on this forum are at the pro level where we have maximized everything we can do on the bike, it's difficult for me to imagine a scenario where more sprinting wouldn't always be the path to improvement for sprinting.

    I think that there are proponents of strength training as an adjunct to cycling on issues like injury prevention, overall wellness, and just boredom prevention--but cycling is always the primary activity to improve cycling. The converse is true for weight lifting/body building. Some strength athletes will use some cycling to help lose weight for weigh ins, or to help them get a little leaner--but they are not using it as a substitute for a squat or leg routine.

    I have posted pictures of myself on this forum in another context; and Felt has shared some as well. Suffice it to say that we do not look like any contenders of the tour; and we do not look like the typical winner of the local criterium. (One poster remarked that I might go faster with a hand bike) Strength training causes definite organic changes in body composition and increased body mass. For my personal goals, staying strong, fit, and enjoying riding with my buddies, a mixed/cross training routine works. But the additional mass on my legs that helps me do a squat or one legged pistol doesn't really help me in the endurance context.

    At some point, you have to decide what your goals are; and build a routine that helps you reach them. If you want to become a better cyclist, including being a stronger faster cyclist, then jump on the bike. If you want to cross-train, then Felt is a pretty good example of someone who is reaching goals in both activities.
     
  14. kopride

    kopride Active Member

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    Interesting. Felt, did you notice that the non-lifters were doing no short hard interval work and were just basically doing sub-threshold riding? In other words, I would like to see Lifters, Control, and then an L5 group that added some level of L5 work while the others were lifting. My hypothesis is that the L5 group would post better all out 5 minute scores than the lifters and control. It will be interesting to see what the sports scientist on this forum like Coggan or coaches like Fergie think.

    In my opinion, this is a poorly designed study.
     
  15. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Well-Known Member

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    yep

    I mentioned before that every study or program from a coach implementing weight training into endurance cycling has left me with certain questions.
     
  16. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Well-Known Member

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    I agree with this statement, but my personal experience with sore glute muscles has often left me wondering if I could preempt the problem with some strength work before the cycling work. I basically understand the cause of the problem. When I resume serious training after a multi-month interruption in training (for whatever reason), my legs develop faster than my glutes. So, while my legs may be able to do 500-750 watts seated early in my training after a restart, I know from experience to avoid this level of intensity until several months into my restart because my glutes aren't ready to handle the strain until then. I haven't actually tried to pre-condition my glutes in advance, but it has crossed my mind. I have no idea what weight work I would do -- I would send a PM to Felt and ask him.[​IMG]
     
  17. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Well-Known Member

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    As a general comment and then hopefully I am ready to move on, I have really enjoyed Dr. Coggan's FB posts the past few weeks and just a couple of days ago he again used the, "It's an aerobic sport, dammit." He has posted just in the last few days about muscle fiber types in regard to fatigue. I appreciate his posts and his study of the sport.
     
  18. ira41

    ira41 New Member

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    When I consider my maximal efforts last year and this year, I have to disagree on pedal force. I have one particularly small but very steep incline on the tail end of my 40 mile loop. For now I just want to compare Highest wattage attained and 5 second power from June of 2013 and June of 2014.

    I also want to highlight this is not a seated climb rather out of the saddle because the grade is nasty likely 20%+. Last year my max on this climb was 1100 watts highest achieved, this was out of saddle and using my bars as leverage to pull up and push down as hard as possible. My 5 second power was 810w. This year they are 1400w and 940w. I get the strength required to cruise on flat ground with little wind at 18mph is not much.

    I'm starting to think the FTP increase was more from the stair machine too at this point, I spent a lot of time on it, I increased the time I could do it threefold from the start of last fall until the spring of this year. But I do still think my climbing and other anaerobic efforts were helped by the weight lifting.

    Again not saying I wouldn't have gotten better results from cycling specific work targeting both systems.

    Another thing I think for personality types such as mine, being at the gym with other people around I simply push harder, heck being on the bike with other people around I push harder. So I also think my overall seasonal effort is just more than alone in my garage on a trainer.

    I'm finding to be the type of cyclist i want to be I need to be training at least 10 hours per week, during fair weather months I can handle this ok because I have a 32 mile round trip commute that double as hard efforts. However from fall through winter when I only have the trainer as an option I struggle to hit 5 or 6 hours. after a month or so, I find i'm looking for excuses, the gym provides me with an alternative.
    I know this doesn't cut to the heart of the issue on strength training rather is more reason why ill keep doing it.
     
  19. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Well-Known Member

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    I should have been more clear about "minimal pedal force" was in context to the comparison to the force in a heavy squat since that is the topic. Even at 1000 watts that relates to a very light squat and probably nowhere near someone's 1RM for squat or leg press.

    My mistake on not writing that out clearly
     
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  20. Colnago62

    Colnago62 New Member

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