Research into weights/cycling



Carrera

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Hi all,
I was browsing something in the archives and found some of the group discussions on weight-training applied to cycling. I would like to know what actual research has been done into weight programs for cyclists, what the results revealed and, above all, whether any of the pro-cyclists such as Ullrich, Indurain and Armstrong have ever devoted time to weight-training programs. If so, how did they weight-train? Did they use circuit speed training, for example?
The reason I ask this is because I was very surprised to see one of the fastest sprinters in the world (in running) doing a weight program. I won't mention his name but he set a world record at his peak and incorporates heavy squats into his program. I was never aware that sprinters squatted heavy and I'm assuming it must, therefore, have aided the sprinter in his performance.
Of course, we should bear in mind that sprinters aren't marathon runners and the goal of the sprinter is explosive speed over a short period.
Do coaches ban cyclists from weights or is it the case that some of them adopt gym work while others avoid it? Alternatively, would squats actually hinder cycling performance by stimulating the wrong types of fiber?
 

Fixey

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Originally posted by Carrera
Hi all,
I was browsing something in the archives and found some of the group discussions on weight-training applied to cycling. I would like to know what actual research has been done into weight programs for cyclists, what the results revealed and, above all, whether any of the pro-cyclists such as Ullrich, Indurain and Armstrong have ever devoted time to weight-training programs. If so, how did they weight-train? Did they use circuit speed training, for example?

The reason I ask this is because I was very surprised to see one of the fastest sprinters in the world (in running) doing a weight program. I won't mention his name but he set a world record at his peak and incorporates heavy squats into his program. I was never aware that sprinters squatted heavy and I'm assuming it must, therefore, have aided the sprinter in his performance.
Of course, we should bear in mind that sprinters aren't marathon runners and the goal of the sprinter is explosive speed over a short period.
Do coaches ban cyclists from weights or is it the case that some of them adopt gym work while others avoid it? Alternatively, would squats actually hinder cycling performance by stimulating the wrong types of fiber?

I have all my trackies at the gym doing squats/deadlifts. I donot do high end road coacheing so cant comment on what the thoeries are as far as Gym for endurance goes.
 

ric_stern/RST

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Originally posted by Carrera
Hi all,
I was browsing something in the archives and found some of the group discussions on weight-training applied to cycling. I would like to know what actual research has been done into weight programs for cyclists, what the results revealed and, above all, whether any of the pro-cyclists such as Ullrich, Indurain and Armstrong have ever devoted time to weight-training programs. If so, how did they weight-train? Did they use circuit speed training, for example?
The reason I ask this is because I was very surprised to see one of the fastest sprinters in the world (in running) doing a weight program. I won't mention his name but he set a world record at his peak and incorporates heavy squats into his program. I was never aware that sprinters squatted heavy and I'm assuming it must, therefore, have aided the sprinter in his performance.
Of course, we should bear in mind that sprinters aren't marathon runners and the goal of the sprinter is explosive speed over a short period.
Do coaches ban cyclists from weights or is it the case that some of them adopt gym work while others avoid it? Alternatively, would squats actually hinder cycling performance by stimulating the wrong types of fiber?

there's some research looking at weight/strength training and cycling and weights/strength training and other sports. specifically looking at endurance cycling and weights, there's no benefit, and it's possibly detrimental to performance. this is because the forces involved in endurance cycling (any event over about 75-secs) are so low that virtually anyone can meet the forces required. obvious exceptions to this are e.g., frail old ladies, cardiac rehab patients, clinically obese, people who are small, etc.

in general, elite endurance athletes are *no* stronger than age, gender and mass matched healthy controls.

all the research with (endurance) cycling and weights in trained athletes has shown no benefits to performance.

research with other endurance sports and weights generally shows no benefits.

adaptations occur at the joint angle and velocity at which they are trained. weight training does not replicate this in cycling and some other sports. for adaptations to cross over from one modality to another there needs to be an increase in muscle cross sectional area (hypertrophy). this increase in contractile proteins allows a greater force to be developed for *sprinting*. currently any healthy person can generate more force in a sprint than in an endurance efforts (e.g., VO2 max test, TT, RR, whatever). often healthy untrained individuals can generate more force and power than elite div 1 pros.

as Hills force-velocity curve shows that forces decrease at higher velocities and as we don't pedal at 0 velocity (and that starting efforts in endurance events don't mean anything), we know that submaximal forces are below maximal (!) and that anyone can generate more force by sprinting than for endurance we're not limited by maximal forces in endurance cycling. this applies to track endurance as well.

again, untrained individuals can meet the force and power requirements of e.g., a track pursuit assuming they're healthy, age, gender and mass matched. it's sustaining these forces for the requisite period of time that is the difficulty, and this is down to metabolic and cardiorespiratory training (i.e., increasing LT and VO2max).

I'm sure some pros weight train. however, this could be a multi-faceted reasons behind this, e.g., at the end of the season they may require time off the bike (e.g., burnout) and any training is better than no training, a misguided belief that more strength = better aerobic performance, and just just because a pro does something doesn't mean we should (e.g., we know some pros take drugs, but that's not a good reason to copy).

as regards sprinters, both running, cycling, and many other sports that have specific sprinters (i'm not talking about cippollinis and zabels of the world, but the queally's and eadies), these sports do require weight training, because maximal force is limited by (in part) muscle cross sectional area, so they do need to concentrate on making themselves large and strong.

ric
 

ric_stern/RST

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Originally posted by Fixey
I have all my trackies at the gym doing squats/deadlifts. I donot do high end road coacheing so cant comment on what the thoeries are as far as Gym for endurance goes.

i hope they're all track sprint riders (e.g., 200-m, 500-m, 1-km, keirin, olympic sprint, etc)...?

ric
 

Fixey

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Originally posted by ricstern
i hope they're all track sprint riders (e.g., 200-m, 500-m, 1-km, keirin, olympic sprint, etc)...?

ric

Indeed :D
however writing this im drawn on thought towards points races, I've never trained one but I would have investigated weights if I had. Seems to me most track riders need High end speed with the exception of pure pursuiters. I'm guessing by your previous post you would not agree with this, while I certainly follow your logic for endurance athletes, can you elaborate on longer distance track events that involve multiple times in anarobic zone?
 

ric_stern/RST

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Originally posted by Fixey
Indeed :D
however writing this im drawn on thought towards points races, I've never trained one but I would have investigated weights if I had. Seems to me most track riders need High end speed with the exception of pure pursuiters. I'm guessing by your previous post you would not agree with this, while I certainly follow your logic for endurance athletes, can you elaborate on longer distance track events that involve multiple times in anarobic zone?

it's similar to (e.g.) roadie sprinters, i.e., they should train by sprinting on their bike, along with training with other aspects on the bike (e.g., increasing VO2max, LT, etc)

ric
 

trekchic

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I have a question about weight training:

Are you guys referring to "heavy-weight" training? Does this include "resistance-weight" training? I joined a women's only work-out facility last April when I was about 30 lbs over weight and so out of shape I couldn't walk a mile without fatigue. The facility is set up as a circuit where you work on a muscle group in the upper body for 30 secs; then walk/jog/move on a jog pad for 30 secs to keep your heart rate up; then move to a lower body machine for 30 secs...and so on. It's not based on heavy, bulking weight. It's based on fat burning and muscle strengthening. Just a month after starting this program (this is "pre" cycling, mind you) I had lost 9 lbs and 10 inches all over and I felt great! I kept it up for 5 months, as well as walking about 2.5-3.5 miles about 4 times a week and then added cycling when I got bit by the bug! I stopped working out at the circuit training but kept up the walking and cycling. I noticed how quickly I got "flabby" in certain parts of my body ie: arms, torso, back, shoulders... everywhere except legs. I had previously been on a protein laden, no carbs diet that I changed to be able to stay on the bike.

With the onset of winter, I bought a trainer to keep up with the spinning, and truthfully, I was not faithful like I should have been. But, I did still eat the carbs! I haven't gone back to the circuit training as of yet. The result: I have gained 15 lbs back, I feel horribly out of shape and have little muscle tone in the places I need it!

I have decided that, for me, someone who is training to ride in some races this summer and fall, I am going back to that facility at least 2 times a week to decrease fat, increase muscle tone (fat burning at it's best) and continue to ride about 150 miles a week. I know I'll have to continue eating the carbs to stay on the bike, but I think I'll adopt the "South Beach Diet" plan of carbs. Which, I truthfully didn't do before! I just added pancakes and waffles and pasta and rice and potatos........everything that calls my name and makes me fat! back into the diet. They've all got to go!

So, how does that add up with cycling training? Most of the cyclists in my area that are interested in the racing and riding competitively are men and don't have time for me! What do you guys/girls think about that program? I've got to drop the 15 lbs quickly to fit into my clothes!
 

Aztec

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Originally posted by trekchic
I have a question about weight training:

Are you guys referring to "heavy-weight" training? Does this include "resistance-weight" training? I joined a women's only work-out facility last April when I was about 30 lbs over weight and so out of shape I couldn't walk a mile without fatigue. The facility is set up as a circuit where you work on a muscle group in the upper body for 30 secs; then walk/jog/move on a jog pad for 30 secs to keep your heart rate up; then move to a lower body machine for 30 secs...and so on. It's not based on heavy, bulking weight. It's based on fat burning and muscle strengthening. Just a month after starting this program (this is "pre" cycling, mind you) I had lost 9 lbs and 10 inches all over and I felt great! I kept it up for 5 months, as well as walking about 2.5-3.5 miles about 4 times a week and then added cycling when I got bit by the bug! I stopped working out at the circuit training but kept up the walking and cycling. I noticed how quickly I got "flabby" in certain parts of my body ie: arms, torso, back, shoulders... everywhere except legs. I had previously been on a protein laden, no carbs diet that I changed to be able to stay on the bike.

With the onset of winter, I bought a trainer to keep up with the spinning, and truthfully, I was not faithful like I should have been. But, I did still eat the carbs! I haven't gone back to the circuit training as of yet. The result: I have gained 15 lbs back, I feel horribly out of shape and have little muscle tone in the places I need it!

I have decided that, for me, someone who is training to ride in some races this summer and fall, I am going back to that facility at least 2 times a week to decrease fat, increase muscle tone (fat burning at it's best) and continue to ride about 150 miles a week. I know I'll have to continue eating the carbs to stay on the bike, but I think I'll adopt the "South Beach Diet" plan of carbs. Which, I truthfully didn't do before! I just added pancakes and waffles and pasta and rice and potatos........everything that calls my name and makes me fat! back into the diet. They've all got to go!

So, how does that add up with cycling training? Most of the cyclists in my area that are interested in the racing and riding competitively are men and don't have time for me! What do you guys/girls think about that program? I've got to drop the 15 lbs quickly to fit into my clothes!

Your case is very different. There's absolutely nothing wrong with your circuit training workouts. Just don't expect it to translate to better performance on the bike (other than the obvious benefit of lighter weight = faster).

As for the carbs making you fat, I don't buy it. It's the calories that made you fat! I don't want to start an Atkins battle here, so I'll leave it at that. Eat your HEALTHY carbs, a couple hours before, and immediately after you cycling, and you will be better for it. Then limit calories -- especially from sugar -- the rest of your day. You'll be fine.
 

trekchic

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Thanks for answering that question about weight training. I do feel better when I stick with the circuit training. I feel stronger and like I "hold myself together" better. Since the program is not built around bulking up, I feel it is extremely beneficial in my cycling regimen as it makes me stronger on the bike.

As for the diet, do I ommit carbs during the meals that don't preceed riding? For instance, eat a protein breakfast, heavy carb lunch, ride late afternoon, eat a carb snack, and then eat a protein only dinner? I do better eating a few smaller meals a day than sitting down to 3 heavy ones.

I do think you're right about the calories, in my case, eating the carbs makes me want MORE carbs! so, I have to be very careful. The South Beach Diet adds the Healthy carbs back into the diet in the 2nd phase. We'll see........I just know I want to get back to my goal weight quickly!
 

Carrera

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Hi Ric,
Thanks for your imput. I'll need to re-read your information on this theme when I get more time tomorrow. I just got back from a bike ride and have to start my nightshift.
One question I do have at the moment has to do with how weight-training may affect performance in cases where a trainee adopts a fresh type of training. In my case, I trained exclusively with weights over Winter but got back on the bike towards Spring. I found my performance on the bike was pretty down (probably due to my increased weight and neglect of stamina).
However, do you think those folks who trained many months with weights would find it more difficult to adapt to cycling than someone who never did any weights? I refer to the fact that weights stimulate different muscle fibres. Or do you think the body just adapts regardless and accommodates itself to endurance and power performance? Are there any people on this forum who switched from weight-training to cycling or even from running to cycling? How did they find the adaptation?
By the way, my boss at work is female and used to cycle at a high level. The difference in strength between myself and her is striking yet she has done one particular climb I can't presently do. Then again, she's far far lighter than I am. She told me she averaged 25 mph when she rode while I average less. So, sure, weight-training doesn't seem to have helped me as a cyclist but I wonder whether this is something that lasts over a period. I just find this issue kind of interesting which I why I raised it. Cheers.








Originally posted by ricstern
there's some research looking at weight/strength training and cycling and weights/strength training and other sports. specifically looking at endurance cycling and weights, there's no benefit, and it's possibly detrimental to performance. this is because the forces involved in endurance cycling (any event over about 75-secs) are so low that virtually anyone can meet the forces required. obvious exceptions to this are e.g., frail old ladies, cardiac rehab patients, clinically obese, people who are small, etc.

in general, elite endurance athletes are *no* stronger than age, gender and mass matched healthy controls.

all the research with (endurance) cycling and weights in trained athletes has shown no benefits to performance.

research with other endurance sports and weights generally shows no benefits.

adaptations occur at the joint angle and velocity at which they are trained. weight training does not replicate this in cycling and some other sports. for adaptations to cross over from one modality to another there needs to be an increase in muscle cross sectional area (hypertrophy). this increase in contractile proteins allows a greater force to be developed for *sprinting*. currently any healthy person can generate more force in a sprint than in an endurance efforts (e.g., VO2 max test, TT, RR, whatever). often healthy untrained individuals can generate more force and power than elite div 1 pros.

as Hills force-velocity curve shows that forces decrease at higher velocities and as we don't pedal at 0 velocity (and that starting efforts in endurance events don't mean anything), we know that submaximal forces are below maximal (!) and that anyone can generate more force by sprinting than for endurance we're not limited by maximal forces in endurance cycling. this applies to track endurance as well.

again, untrained individuals can meet the force and power requirements of e.g., a track pursuit assuming they're healthy, age, gender and mass matched. it's sustaining these forces for the requisite period of time that is the difficulty, and this is down to metabolic and cardiorespiratory training (i.e., increasing LT and VO2max).

I'm sure some pros weight train. however, this could be a multi-faceted reasons behind this, e.g., at the end of the season they may require time off the bike (e.g., burnout) and any training is better than no training, a misguided belief that more strength = better aerobic performance, and just just because a pro does something doesn't mean we should (e.g., we know some pros take drugs, but that's not a good reason to copy).

as regards sprinters, both running, cycling, and many other sports that have specific sprinters (i'm not talking about cippollinis and zabels of the world, but the queally's and eadies), these sports do require weight training, because maximal force is limited by (in part) muscle cross sectional area, so they do need to concentrate on making themselves large and strong.

ric
 

germanboxers

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Originally posted by Carrera
Are there any people on this forum who switched from weight-training to cycling or even from running to cycling? How did they find the adaptation?

Carrera, in my early 20's I incurred a severely pinched nerve in my thoracic area due to heavy squatting (475+lbs for reps). After a 3 day stint in the hospital and numerous hours of traction, I found squatting too painful to enjoy so I quit. I happened upon cycling and it quickly became my summer replacement to powerlifting. B-ball was both a winter and summer replacement for powerlifting, although technically I always had played b-ball.

I cannot say my weightlifting made me a better cyclist. From the first day I rode a nice bike, I could sprint pretty fast, faster than people who had been riding/racing for a long time. However, this is likely a result of genetics. I don't know what my vertical jump was/is, but at just under 6 ft, I could throw down some pretty nasty dunks with one or two hands. In other words, I think I had/have a fair amount of explosive muscle fibers and it was this, not my previous weight training that made me a decent sprinter relative to those who had ridden for many years.

But, as they say, a good sprint doesn't do much good if you're not there at the end of a ride/race. I learned rather quickly that my muscular endurance was NOT good. Neither my previous weightlifting nor my sprinting ability helped when it came to maintaining higher speeds for longer distances. I found this part of my fitness improved slowly, but consistently as I added miles and seemed to build some summer-to-summer (I only rode from May - October, played B-ball from Aug - June).

I also don't think it hurt me to be strong, except maybe on long climbs (shorter/medium climbs I usually did very well, but then needed recovery at the top). I've maintained a fair amount of my muscle size from my 20's (now 38). My goal over the next several seasons is to slowly reduce this mass (fat first of course) and see if I can put out some decent watts/kg.

What ricstern and some others have said sounds reasonable to me. Paraphrasing: 1.) Any increase in strength through hypertrophy will be offset by a greater demand on the aerobic system (more mass, less mitochondrial density). 2.) Strength increases need to be at similar joint angles and velocities relative to the cycling motion to be of significant help.
 

edd

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Originally posted by Carrera
Hi all,
I was browsing something in the archives and found some of the group discussions on weight-training applied to cycling. I would like to know what actual research has been done into weight programs for cyclists, what the results revealed and, above all, whether any of the pro-cyclists such as Ullrich, Indurain and Armstrong have ever devoted time to weight-training programs. If so, how did they weight-train? Did they use circuit speed training, for example?
The reason I ask this is because I was very surprised to see one of the fastest sprinters in the world (in running) doing a weight program. I won't mention his name but he set a world record at his peak and incorporates heavy squats into his program. I was never aware that sprinters squatted heavy and I'm assuming it must, therefore, have aided the sprinter in his performance.
Of course, we should bear in mind that sprinters aren't marathon runners and the goal of the sprinter is explosive speed over a short period.
Do coaches ban cyclists from weights or is it the case that some of them adopt gym work while others avoid it? Alternatively, would squats actually hinder cycling performance by stimulating the wrong types of fiber?

I read somewhere that some top road cyclists, weight train during their active rest period, between seasons, to build some muscle mass to replace what has been wasted away from many grueling miles on the bike.
 

rkohler

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Originally posted by ricstern
in general, elite endurance athletes are *no* stronger than age, gender and mass matched healthy controls.


I have to chime in again with my two cents. If elite endurance athletes are generally no stronger than age, gender, and mass matched healthy controls, then that means that a 32 year old, 155 pound, male cyclist, no matter what his level of training is (just as long as he's healthy) has the same strength as many of the Tour de France riders for example?


all the research with (endurance) cycling and weights in trained athletes has shown no benefits to performance.

"The study carried out by R. C. Hickson and his colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago was considerably more practical. In that investigation, eight experienced cyclists added three days per week of strength training to their regular endurance routines over a 10-week period. The strength training was incredibly simple, focusing on parallel squats (five sets of five reps per workout), knee extensions (three sets of five reps), knee flexions (3 x 5), and toe raises (3 x 25), all with fairly heavy resistance. The only progression utilized in the programme involved the amount of resistance, which increased steadily as strength improved.

Nonetheless, the strength training had a profoundly positive impact on cycling performance. After 10 weeks, the cyclists improved their 'short-term endurance' (their ability to continue working at a very high intensity) by about 11 per cent, and they also expanded the amount of time they could pedal at an intensity of 80% V02max from 71 to 85 minutes, about a 20-per cent upgrade."

Not "all" research shows this. This is only one study that shows a positive effect on resistance training, but there are many more out there. The problem with many studies is that they do not always take into consideration where the athlete is in his training and incorporating the strength training can easily push the athlete into Overtraining. Then there will obviously be decreases in performance. I think that many of the researchers are either not very well versed in strength training or cycling training and they push their subjects (trained cyclists) to strength train while they're still trying to maintain their normal weekly volume and intensity - that's just a recipe for disaster.

research with other endurance sports and weights generally shows no benefits.

Generally, there's a mixed bag of results out there for many research topics. It's only research. Every study has a limitation of some sort, which makes it fallable. We can never be absolutely 110% certain of anything. We can have guidelines, recommendations, and theories, but when it comes to training, everything needs to be individualized for the person in question.

adaptations occur at the joint angle and velocity at which they are trained. weight training does not replicate this in cycling and some other sports. for adaptations to cross over from one modality to another there needs to be an increase in muscle cross sectional area (hypertrophy). this increase in contractile proteins allows a greater force to be developed for *sprinting*. currently any healthy person can generate more force in a sprint than in an endurance efforts (e.g., VO2 max test, TT, RR, whatever). often healthy untrained individuals can generate more force and power than elite div 1 pros.

True that. But where did you find the info about healthy, trained individuals generating more power and force than elite div 1 pros? I'm not questioning it right now, but am interested in reading about that.

I'm sure some pros weight train. however, this could be a multi-faceted reasons behind this, e.g., at the end of the season they may require time off the bike (e.g., burnout) and any training is better than no training, a misguided belief that more strength = better aerobic performance, and just just because a pro does something doesn't mean we should (e.g., we know some pros take drugs, but that's not a good reason to copy).

There is a multi-faceted reason behind it, but we don't really know why they do it for sure. For some, burnout may be the case, but for many, I believe that they do it not so much for the aerobic gains (because there aren't many aerobic gains via resistance training), but for the injury prevention and overall strength and muscular endurance gains.
 

Carrera

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Sorry I've been absent for a few days, folks. I'm bogged down with work but at least I just found time for a cycle ride today and am feeling the better for it.
With regard to squats I'm now facing the fact I'm not as young as I was. I used to squat pain free and heavy in my twenties but later I found my hips and knees got sore. These days I prefer to squat light and go for reps in the range of 15 per set. This gets my heart pumping very hard and is less risky than heavy work (I'm 39 with a few aches here and there).
I think the consensus that squatting doesn't help cycling is probably correct. I also think that muscle tends to slow a person down on the bike and I also wonder whether having big thigh muscles might slow down cadence ratios. Even so, there may be a case for arguing that squatting could help sprinting or it may help on climbs perhaps. I guess I really don't know.
I would be interested if anyone could tell me what (if any) weight programs are followed by top cyclists such as Ullrich, Armstrong, Vinikurov and company. Has there been any experimentation with speed weight-training or high reps?



Originally posted by germanboxers
Carrera, in my early 20's I incurred a severely pinched nerve in my thoracic area due to heavy squatting (475+lbs for reps). After a 3 day stint in the hospital and numerous hours of traction, I found squatting too painful to enjoy so I quit. I happened upon cycling and it quickly became my summer replacement to powerlifting. B-ball was both a winter and summer replacement for powerlifting, although technically I always had played b-ball.

I cannot say my weightlifting made me a better cyclist. From the first day I rode a nice bike, I could sprint pretty fast, faster than people who had been riding/racing for a long time. However, this is likely a result of genetics. I don't know what my vertical jump was/is, but at just under 6 ft, I could throw down some pretty nasty dunks with one or two hands. In other words, I think I had/have a fair amount of explosive muscle fibers and it was this, not my previous weight training that made me a decent sprinter relative to those who had ridden for many years.

But, as they say, a good sprint doesn't do much good if you're not there at the end of a ride/race. I learned rather quickly that my muscular endurance was NOT good. Neither my previous weightlifting nor my sprinting ability helped when it came to maintaining higher speeds for longer distances. I found this part of my fitness improved slowly, but consistently as I added miles and seemed to build some summer-to-summer (I only rode from May - October, played B-ball from Aug - June).

I also don't think it hurt me to be strong, except maybe on long climbs (shorter/medium climbs I usually did very well, but then needed recovery at the top). I've maintained a fair amount of my muscle size from my 20's (now 38). My goal over the next several seasons is to slowly reduce this mass (fat first of course) and see if I can put out some decent watts/kg.

What ricstern and some others have said sounds reasonable to me. Paraphrasing: 1.) Any increase in strength through hypertrophy will be offset by a greater demand on the aerobic system (more mass, less mitochondrial density). 2.) Strength increases need to be at similar joint angles and velocities relative to the cycling motion to be of significant help.
 

edd

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Originally posted by rkohler
I have to chime in again with my two cents. If elite endurance athletes are generally no stronger than age, gender, and mass matched healthy controls, then that means that a 32 year old, 155 pound, male cyclist, no matter what his level of training is (just as long as he's healthy) has the same strength as many of the Tour de France riders for example?

Strength is a very broad term. Most cyclist develop declined pectoral strength from riding, but don't ask them to do push ups. Cyclist who do no weight training at all are also stronger in the legs and core then a Mr Do-nothing, however chances are they maybe weaker in arms and in over head shoulder strength.

The variance in general strength of the average Joe is quite considerable. I work a gym floor and I've seen guys who have never been in a gym before and looking almost identical, one can do 15 push ups no sweat, the other not even one. I believe that this kind of variation probably exists in the upper body strength of cyclists too, it's a historic and genetic thing I think.
 

Carrera

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One interesting thought here is how do you measure strength?
There was a time I did far more weight work and could bench press far more than a layman. However, can you believe everyone wanted to armwrestle me and surprisingly being able to outbench them had no effect on my ability to either win or lose an armwrestling bout. I would measure no different from the average guy in the street, assuming our body weights were equal. Therefore the best way to get good at armwrestling would be to armwrestle.
It's also interesting to consider Bruce Lee could do press-ups on one finger. I don't know any power lifters who could imitate that and neither do I know any powerlifters who could kick half as hard from the hip (or punch as fast and with as much power).
In the same way, how many powerlifters could climb a mountain on a bike and would a layman do better? It's an interesting question.
In some ways you could argue cyclists do exhibit a certain amount of strength or perhaps "power" is a better term. But how do you measure a cyclist's strength? Asking him or her to do a clean and jerk or a squat wouldn't be a fair measurement in such a case.
In some ways I think that maybe strength is a relative term that opens up various definitions.



Originally posted by rkohler
I have to chime in again with my two cents. If elite endurance athletes are generally no stronger than age, gender, and mass matched healthy controls, then that means that a 32 year old, 155 pound, male cyclist, no matter what his level of training is (just as long as he's healthy) has the same strength as many of the Tour de France riders for example?




"The study carried out by R. C. Hickson and his colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago was considerably more practical. In that investigation, eight experienced cyclists added three days per week of strength training to their regular endurance routines over a 10-week period. The strength training was incredibly simple, focusing on parallel squats (five sets of five reps per workout), knee extensions (three sets of five reps), knee flexions (3 x 5), and toe raises (3 x 25), all with fairly heavy resistance. The only progression utilized in the programme involved the amount of resistance, which increased steadily as strength improved.

Nonetheless, the strength training had a profoundly positive impact on cycling performance. After 10 weeks, the cyclists improved their 'short-term endurance' (their ability to continue working at a very high intensity) by about 11 per cent, and they also expanded the amount of time they could pedal at an intensity of 80% V02max from 71 to 85 minutes, about a 20-per cent upgrade."

Not "all" research shows this. This is only one study that shows a positive effect on resistance training, but there are many more out there. The problem with many studies is that they do not always take into consideration where the athlete is in his training and incorporating the strength training can easily push the athlete into Overtraining. Then there will obviously be decreases in performance. I think that many of the researchers are either not very well versed in strength training or cycling training and they push their subjects (trained cyclists) to strength train while they're still trying to maintain their normal weekly volume and intensity - that's just a recipe for disaster.



Generally, there's a mixed bag of results out there for many research topics. It's only research. Every study has a limitation of some sort, which makes it fallable. We can never be absolutely 110% certain of anything. We can have guidelines, recommendations, and theories, but when it comes to training, everything needs to be individualized for the person in question.



True that. But where did you find the info about healthy, trained individuals generating more power and force than elite div 1 pros? I'm not questioning it right now, but am interested in reading about that.



There is a multi-faceted reason behind it, but we don't really know why they do it for sure. For some, burnout may be the case, but for many, I believe that they do it not so much for the aerobic gains (because there aren't many aerobic gains via resistance training), but for the injury prevention and overall strength and muscular endurance gains.
 

acoggan

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Originally posted by rkohler
If elite endurance athletes are generally no stronger than age, gender, and mass matched healthy controls, then that means that a 32 year old, 155 pound, male cyclist, no matter what his level of training is (just as long as he's healthy) has the same strength as many of the Tour de France riders for example?


Go to the wattage list, read the thread I started here:

http://lists.topica.com/lists/wattage/read/message.html?mid=909876115&sort=d&start=21324

and you'll see that, *based on direct measurements*, this 45 year old, 150 pound male cyclist who can't sprint worth a darn is just as strong (when pedaling, and per kg body mass) as one of the world's best match sprinters.

I repeat: except perhaps during a standing start, strength is NOT an important component of cycling performance.
 

rkohler

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Off this specific qustion and back to the broad question of resistance training and cycling, I just want to add something that seems to be left out of much of the discussion.

Cycling is a non-weight bearing sport as we all know, and there is very good research out there that shows the decreases in bone mineral density (BMD) due to participating in non weight-bearing activities (i.e. cycling). If there is not some sort of weight bearing activity, whether it's running, hiking, walking, or resistance training, then cyclists (especially older cyclists) are putting themselves at risk for osteoporosis and more severe injuries if a crash or other accident were to happen.

Look at Beloki in last year's TDF. I can't say if he was doing any resistance training or not, but if he, or anyone else, was NOT doing any or enough weight bearing activity, then I think that the injuries sustained could have been either avoided or severely reduced.
 

Carrera

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I was flicking through a cycling-training manual today very briefly in the library. The coach who wrote the book spoke quite positively in favour of weight-training for cyclists since he claims that cyclists from Eastern Europe have experienced positive results from such auxiliary training.
He also reasoned that while it may be the case a cyclist may gain weight through weights he (or she) is far from likely to instantly convert into a musclebound hulk so the small weight gain acheived would be more than compensated for by increases in power.
However, I should stress the coach said that the kind of program a bodybuilder does would hinder the cyclist and cause him to underperform. I'm not exactly sure how his recommended weight program was put together but I think it was geared specially towards athletes.
Obviously the best way to tackle a weight program would be to try and discover the facts and bear in mind that tests done in this field have opened up various pro-weight and anti-weight factions. Some tests seem to have proved weight-training can be beneficial while other tests contradict such findings.
To my mind, common sense would indicate that a cyclist needs to get his weight down to the minimum without losing power and stamina. He needs a mixture of stamina, endurance and I think some strength in the legs should help in the hills. Too much muscle would be a problem, of course.
I still prefer to withold making any decision on weight-training for cyclists till I find out more facts and this is why I raised the question. I wanted to know what the experts like Vinikurov, Ullrich and Indurain think on the topic, whether they differ in their views e.t.c.
As for bone-loading, it's hard to say. I weight-trained for years but I would hate to come off my bike since my larger frame would cause me to fall all the harder. If a bigger guy falls he goes with a bang I think. Smaller guys don't hit the floor with so much weight on their limbs.


Originally posted by rkohler
Off this specific qustion and back to the broad question of resistance training and cycling, I just want to add something that seems to be left out of much of the discussion.

Cycling is a non-weight bearing sport as we all know, and there is very good research out there that shows the decreases in bone mineral density (BMD) due to participating in non weight-bearing activities (i.e. cycling). If there is not some sort of weight bearing activity, whether it's running, hiking, walking, or resistance training, then cyclists (especially older cyclists) are putting themselves at risk for osteoporosis and more severe injuries if a crash or other accident were to happen.

Look at Beloki in last year's TDF. I can't say if he was doing any resistance training or not, but if he, or anyone else, was NOT doing any or enough weight bearing activity, then I think that the injuries sustained could have been either avoided or severely reduced.
 

rkohler

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Originally posted by Carrera
I was flicking through a cycling-training manual today very briefly in the library. The coach who wrote the book spoke quite positively in favour of weight-training for cyclists since he claims that cyclists from Eastern Europe have experienced positive results from such auxiliary training.
He also reasoned that while it may be the case a cyclist may gain weight through weights he (or she) is far from likely to instantly convert into a musclebound hulk so the small weight gain acheived would be more than compensated for by increases in power.


This is exactly why there can be resistance training for cyclists, but the program needs to be individualized to each athlete. Obviously, you can't put a cyclist through a bodybuilder's routine in the middle of his high-intensity training time of the year and see any gains. However, if you did insert a hypertrophy phase, for example, after an anatomical adaptation phase while the cyclist was still in his foundation period (easy rides, no LT or high-intensity work), then you can see nice gains in muscle size that will not hinder him on the bike.
Of course, if you continue with this type of lifting right into, say, a preparation phase, where the athlete is doing more LT work, then it's going to hurt him. He won't have enough recovery time, and you'll see decreases in performance. This is why resistance training gets a bad name.

Also, I think we need to re-word our terms and say "resistance" training instead of "strength" training. I think the word "strength" gives us images of large, muscle-bound guys waaaay to big to ride a bike efficiently. On top of that, "strength" training does have a "strength phase" to it, but there are other phases as well that are required for anyone to have a good weight training program. If you only focus on strength, you're missing everything else and you have an imbalanced and inadequate program. "Resistance" seems to be a better word to use to describe what cyclists can do to increase muscle mass, bone mineral density, and decrease injury risk.

However, I should stress the coach said that the kind of program a bodybuilder does would hinder the cyclist and cause him to underperform. I'm not exactly sure how his recommended weight program was put together but I think it was geared specially towards athletes.

Right on.

Obviously the best way to tackle a weight program would be to try and discover the facts and bear in mind that tests done in this field have opened up various pro-weight and anti-weight factions. Some tests seem to have proved weight-training can be beneficial while other tests contradict such findings.

This is why we cannot completely disregard resistance training for cycling, which seems to be very easily done in this discussion group.

To my mind, common sense would indicate that a cyclist needs to get his weight down to the minimum without losing power and stamina. He needs a mixture of stamina, endurance and I think some strength in the legs should help in the hills. Too much muscle would be a problem, of course.

Exactly. You'e talking about the strength-to-weight ratio. For cyclists, it's best for them to get their % body fat down to the lowest possible amount without compromising their bodily functions, immunity, recovery, etc. This would mean that they will be maximizing their lean muscle mass. Since muscle helps to burn fat, optimizing your lean muscle mass in your body is a logical way to go to improve your cycling. I don't care much about what research says about forces applied to the pedals, etc. and about those forces being too low to really make any difference whether or not the cyclist were to resistance train. There are many more reasons than that to take up resistance training, and I've detailed many of them in this discussion. There is no conclusive evidence to say that resistance training is 110% useless for cyclists, so why discount it?

I still prefer to withold making any decision on weight-training for cyclists till I find out more facts and this is why I raised the question. I wanted to know what the experts like Vinikurov, Ullrich and Indurain think on the topic, whether they differ in their views e.t.c.
As for bone-loading, it's hard to say. I weight-trained for years but I would hate to come off my bike since my larger frame would cause me to fall all the harder. If a bigger guy falls he goes with a bang I think. Smaller guys don't hit the floor with so much weight on their limbs.

That's good that you're asking so many questions about this. It is still a relatively controvesial topic. But one thing to remember is that you can easily take up a simple resistance training program that includes lighter weight and higher reps (similar to a general anatomical adaptation phase) and this will help strengthen your joints and the surrounding ligamentous structures, improve your bone density, and a list of other things that I don't need to get into now.
What's hard to say about "bone-loading?" If you're talking about resistance training to increase bone mineral density, then it's in the literature and it's been shown to work. There are no questions about it. If you load your skeletal system with forces that it's not used to for a certain frequency and duration, then it will respond in a positive way, as long as the way you're doing it is safe and individualized for the specific person. You're right about the bigger guy taking a bigger fall and smaller guys hitting the ground with not as much weight.
BUT, it doesn't matter if you're the big guy or the little guy. Everyone is different, and there are certain forces exerted on a person when they hit the ground - a bigger guy may have more of an area to spread out the force, while a smaller guy may have less area...regardless of the physics behind it all, both guys can be safer during and after that fall if they have more bone mineral content, from resistance training for example, than the same guy who never resistance trained in his life.
 

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