Research into weights/cycling



Carrera

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Quite an interesting discussion, I think. I'd just like to add that it's a good idea to consider what muscles may benefit a cyclist and which muscles he (or she) doesn't need.
I would say that lower back muscles are useful and certainly some loading of the thighs and hips (possibly during cycles in training) should be a point of consideration. The only possible danger I can see could be if a road bike rider develops too many of the wrong fibres in the leg muscles via squats or leg-presses. This is why I was curious about pro riders and how they might incorporate a weights program.
I think that developing pectoral and lat muscles could cause problems for a cyclist due to the fact he may not need these muscles and any muscle mass that results would add a few extra pounds in weight to a bike that has been modified to be as light as possible. Muscle still weighs pretty heavy. Myself I'm definitely a bit top heavy at present and I can''t really kid myself I wouldn't be better off shedding a little upper body muscle mass, as well as a little bit of fat round my waist. However, the plus is my legs are really durable and my lower back is very strong these days.
Sure, though, there is a valid argument for sticking to cycling as a purist and I don't knock it. I mean, to be a good climber you can definitely get good by simply climbing e.t.c. However, I have a gut feeling you might find cyclists such as Vinikurov and Ullrich probably place more emphasis on weights than riders such as Mayo just because Russia and the old Eastern block countries have always considered weight training as beneficial. I once trained in Russia and there were lots of guys in the gym who did skiing and squatted quite seriously.
Any thoughts?
 

rkohler

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Originally posted by Carrera
Quite an interesting discussion, I think. I'd just like to add that it's a good idea to consider what muscles may benefit a cyclist and which muscles he (or she) doesn't need.
I would say that lower back muscles are useful and certainly some loading of the thighs and hips (possibly during cycles in training) should be a point of consideration. The only possible danger I can see could be if a road bike rider develops too many of the wrong fibres in the leg muscles via squats or leg-presses. This is why I was curious about pro riders and how they might incorporate a weights program.


It's not so much about what the pros have to say. They do what their coaches recommend most of the time.

I think that developing pectoral and lat muscles could cause problems for a cyclist due to the fact he may not need these muscles and any muscle mass that results would add a few extra pounds in weight to a bike that has been modified to be as light as possible. Muscle still weighs pretty heavy. Myself I'm definitely a bit top heavy at present and I can''t really kid myself I wouldn't be better off shedding a little upper body muscle mass, as well as a little bit of fat round my waist. However, the plus is my legs are really durable and my lower back is very strong these days.
Sure, though, there is a valid argument for sticking to cycling as a purist and I don't knock it. I mean, to be a good climber you can definitely get good by simply climbing e.t.c. However, I have a gut feeling you might find cyclists such as Vinikurov and Ullrich probably place more emphasis on weights than riders such as Mayo just because Russia and the old Eastern block countries have always considered weight training as beneficial.


This is a perfect example of why we have coaches and other specialists to make the proper recommendations. The pro's weight routines aren't much different from what would be recommended to any other rider. Everyone has to follow some sort of periodization when it comes to resistance training and also focus on the specificity of the exercise. If a resistance training program is placed "appropriately" in a cycling program, then it will benefit the rider.
For example, a pro rider (or any rider for that matter) who wants to increase muscle strength would follow a program that starts with an anatomical adaptation phase, then progresses to a hypertrophy phase (if he/she wants to develop more muscle mass), and then to a strength phase to accomplish his or her goals. If this person (pro or regular cyclist) has a competent coach, then they'll be training the appropriate muscles and using the proper weights, sets, reps, and rest periods. There should be total body training done to maintain the balance and not develop any muscular imbalances (those lead to injuries as well).


I once trained in Russia and there were lots of guys in the gym who did skiing and squatted quite seriously.
Any thoughts?

Squats are one of the most important exercises for skiers, especially the downhill racers. Total body strength is a major major determinant of ski performance. If you have weak legs and an upper body and try to do some of the downhill courses that these skiers do, you'll severely injur yourself.
 

Carrera

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To be honest I feel I could give plenty of advice on weight-training for people who simply want to gain weight and strength e.t.c. At this stage, though, I'm not sufficiently clued up with regard to how cyclists and other sportsmen should train. I do occasionally train in a gym full of pole-vaulters but they always have a coach with them, as you say, and their routine combines various aspects of weights and keep-fit.
Looking on the bright side, of course, my years doing weight-training taught me something about nutrition, rest, recovery and learning to get in tune with the body.
For the next three days or so it will be all I can do since my bike is in repair. I was amazed that it's so costly to have gear shifters fixed if they break. Total cost will be about 90 sterling and I already miss my bike. Therefore, I might as well do a bit more in the gym till I can get back on the road.



Originally posted by rkohler
It's not so much about what the pros have to say. They do what their coaches recommend most of the time.




This is a perfect example of why we have coaches and other specialists to make the proper recommendations. The pro's weight routines aren't much different from what would be recommended to any other rider. Everyone has to follow some sort of periodization when it comes to resistance training and also focus on the specificity of the exercise. If a resistance training program is placed "appropriately" in a cycling program, then it will benefit the rider.
For example, a pro rider (or any rider for that matter) who wants to increase muscle strength would follow a program that starts with an anatomical adaptation phase, then progresses to a hypertrophy phase (if he/she wants to develop more muscle mass), and then to a strength phase to accomplish his or her goals. If this person (pro or regular cyclist) has a competent coach, then they'll be training the appropriate muscles and using the proper weights, sets, reps, and rest periods. There should be total body training done to maintain the balance and not develop any muscular imbalances (those lead to injuries as well).




Squats are one of the most important exercises for skiers, especially the downhill racers. Total body strength is a major major determinant of ski performance. If you have weak legs and an upper body and try to do some of the downhill courses that these skiers do, you'll severely injur yourself.
 

rkohler

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See, that's interesting. You say you feel that you could give plenty of advice on weight training for people who want to gain weight and strength, etc. And you sometimes train pole-vaulters? So what makes cyclists that different? I understand that you may focus on different muscle groups with pole-vaulters for example (i.e. more upper body development as compared to a cyclist).

But when you think about this whole weight training bit, all you have to do is look at the sport and determine which muscles are involved, the ranges of motion they go through, etc., develop the program (weight, sets, reps, etc.) to best train the muscles for the what they're doing (specificity), and make sure that you're doing it in a safe manner. I'm a strength coach and cycling is one of my main areas of interest and training, but I would feel completely comfortable training a soccer player, basketball player, or sprinter for example.

Weight training and program design aren't the hardest scientific endeavors. As long as you have the necessary understanding of physiology, biomechanics, etc. for your sport along with a working knowledge of strength training (and/or a certification), then your imagination is the limit. Weight training, I think, becomes more of an art form because it has many benefits that go beyond simple strength gains (which seems hard for many people to grasp - not you, but just in general by looking at many of the other comments out there).

Enjoy the gym while your bike is getting worked on. That's a bummer to replace shifters. They are pretty costly to get fixed! The thing is, that they probably don't even cost as much to produce as they do to get them fixed. ;)

Originally posted by Carrera
To be honest I feel I could give plenty of advice on weight-training for people who simply want to gain weight and strength e.t.c. At this stage, though, I'm not sufficiently clued up with regard to how cyclists and other sportsmen should train. I do occasionally train in a gym full of pole-vaulters but they always have a coach with them, as you say, and their routine combines various aspects of weights and keep-fit.
Looking on the bright side, of course, my years doing weight-training taught me something about nutrition, rest, recovery and learning to get in tune with the body.
For the next three days or so it will be all I can do since my bike is in repair. I was amazed that it's so costly to have gear shifters fixed if they break. Total cost will be about 90 sterling and I already miss my bike. Therefore, I might as well do a bit more in the gym till I can get back on the road.
 

ric_stern/RST

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Originally posted by rkohler
See, that's interesting. You say you feel that you could give plenty of advice on weight training for people who want to gain weight and strength, etc. And you sometimes train pole-vaulters? So what makes cyclists that different? I understand that you may focus on different muscle groups with pole-vaulters for example (i.e. more upper body development as compared to a cyclist).

But when you think about this whole weight training bit, all you have to do is look at the sport and determine which muscles are involved, the ranges of motion they go through, etc., develop the program (weight, sets, reps, etc.) to best train the muscles for the what they're doing (specificity), and make sure that you're doing it in a safe manner. I'm a strength coach and cycling is one of my main areas of interest and training, but I would feel completely comfortable training a soccer player, basketball player, or sprinter for example.

Weight training and program design aren't the hardest scientific endeavors. As long as you have the necessary understanding of physiology, biomechanics, etc. for your sport along with a working knowledge of strength training (and/or a certification), then your imagination is the limit.


i'm sorry ryan, but you seem to be lacking this [the understanding].

if you have the necessary understanding of the physics and physiology involved in endurance cycling performance, then you'll realise that weight training to increase performance is useless.

Myself, and Andrew have tried explaining this to you...

Apart from a few groups of people (e.g., frail old ladies, someone with a functional disability etc), everyone can produce the forces needed in ECP.

ric
 

rkohler

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I just checked this whole thread, and the only time that I even mentioned the word performance when talking about resistance training was when I wrote one comment about skiers in response to Carrera's post, and when I posted, as an example, that there are studies out there that have found resistance training to increase cycling performance. At no other time did I spout off about resistance training increasing performance without backing it up with research.

I have no intention on touting the benefits of resisntance training for every single cyclist nor do I plan on saying that every single cyclist who does resistance train will increase their performance. In nearly all of my posts, I said that there are other reasons for cyclists and other endurance athletes to take up some form of resistance training, but again, in none of my posts did I say that it would improve their performance except in the one paragraph where I cited one of the many studies that did happen to find an increase.

Therefore, you can see that resistance training is not "useless." If it were, there would be absolutely zero studies out there that found increases in performance. But alas, there are some that did. So, that's exactly the reason to not discount it for everyone and say that it's useless. Coming from a researcher, I'm sorry to see such a close-minded statement like that posted in this forum. Research is done to test theories and develop hypotheses. It's the theories that drive the research and, in my opinion, there should not be any 110% certain conclusions drawn from any research. There is no perfect research design. They are nearly all fallible, and it's for this reason that we cannot say resistance training is "useless."

And I guarantee that if you put almost any regular shmo who's never been on a bike and never resistance trained on a bike next to me or any other trained cyclist, he would get blown away anyday because he won't be able to produce those forces necessary for endurance cycling, nor would he be able to keep up if there was an attack made on him.

Originally posted by ricstern
i'm sorry ryan, but you seem to be lacking this [the understanding].

if you have the necessary understanding of the physics and physiology involved in endurance cycling performance, then you'll realise that weight training to increase performance is useless.

Myself, and Andrew have tried explaining this to you...

Apart from a few groups of people (e.g., frail old ladies, someone with a functional disability etc), everyone can produce the forces needed in ECP.

ric
 

acoggan

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Originally posted by rkohler
in none of my posts did I say that it would improve their performance except in the one paragraph where I cited one of the many studies that did happen to find an increase.


Name just one study that has shown an improvement in endurance performance when trained *cyclists* add weight training to their normal training program.
 

ric_stern/RST

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Originally posted by rkohler
And I guarantee that if you put almost any regular shmo who's never been on a bike and never resistance trained on a bike next to me or any other trained cyclist, he would get blown away anyday because he won't be able to produce those forces necessary for endurance cycling, nor would he be able to keep up if there was an attack made on him.

i don't doubt that they would. however, he or she would be able to produce those forces and powers (assuming they don't fit the categories i mentioned previously). it's sustaining them that's the problem (which isn't trained with weights)

ric
 

rkohler

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Originally posted by acoggan
Name just one study that has shown an improvement in endurance performance when trained *cyclists* add weight training to their normal training program.

See one of my above posts...I also just pasted it below for an easier time finding it.

"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."
 

rkohler

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Originally posted by ricstern
i don't doubt that they would. however, he or she would be able to produce those forces and powers (assuming they don't fit the categories i mentioned previously). it's sustaining them that's the problem (which isn't trained with weights)

ric

So you're saying that if you take a newbie who's never been on a bike before, you wouldn't recommend any resistance training at any time of the year? You would only prescribe bike workouts for him?

I completely agree with your point about being able to sustain the power, but I don't see how you wouldn't prescribe any resistance training to someone who's never been on a bike before. What about muscle imbalances? If I were a betting man, I'd bet anything that he would be likely to see some sort of muscle imbalance (and the increased possibility of injury) just because of his inexperience and lack of knowledge of cycling training. One main thing is bike fit...if his bike isn't fit properly, he can see all sorts of biomechanical inefficiencies which can lead to those imbalances, specifically between the quadriceps and hamstring groups.
 

ric_stern/RST

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Originally posted by rkohler
So you're saying that if you take a newbie who's never been on a bike before, you wouldn't recommend any resistance training at any time of the year? You would only prescribe bike workouts for him?


probably not (although i did say that weights would *likely* be beneficial to a newbie --- as *any* exercise will increase performance). many people ("newbies") are advised to take up exercise (for what ever health reason) or start for fun, and they wouldn't necessarily do weights. if memory serves me correctly, back when i started 20 years ago, i started weights at the end of my first season (we suffered more injuries in the weight room and gym, then we ever did on the bike, which i think was the main reason we stopped, as we had no idea about sports science at this point in time).

ric
 

rkohler

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Originally posted by ricstern
probably not (although i did say that weights would *likely* be beneficial to a newbie --- as *any* exercise will increase performance). many people ("newbies") are advised to take up exercise (for what ever health reason) or start for fun, and they wouldn't necessarily do weights. if memory serves me correctly, back when i started 20 years ago, i started weights at the end of my first season (we suffered more injuries in the weight room and gym, then we ever did on the bike, which i think was the main reason we stopped, as we had no idea about sports science at this point in time).

ric

So it really depends on who we're talking about - newbies, trained cyclists, or pros. I completely agree about any exercise helping newbies. Anecdotal evidence from 20 years ago can't hold any water in today's discussion because of the wealth of knowledge we have and the ways that resistance training has become safer for everyone to do.
Overall, if we're talking about newbies, then resistance training is great. It gets sticky moving on from there. Recreational, trained, and pro cyclists are all different. For some, resistance training has been shown to work, while for others it hasn't. The only point I wanted to make is that we can't say it's useless. We need to take each person and look at them individually and even just try it out to see what works for them. If they feel better resistance training, then that's great - keep going with it. If not, and it's hurting their performance, then they can stop doing it. For others, it may be a placebo effect that they're experiencing...maybe resistance training makes them "think" they're getting stronger. But hey, whatever floats your boat is the way I look at it. If they're doing the exercises safely and still recovering enough to get high quality bike workouts in, then by all means, the resistance training can continue.
If nothing else, they'll at least be contributing to maintaining a healthy bone mineral density, improving joint integrity, and improving range of motion depending on the exercise, among other benefits. Whether or not it improves performance, I don't really think it matters in the big picture.
 

ric_stern/RST

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Originally posted by rkohler
So it really depends on who we're talking about - newbies, trained cyclists, or pros. I completely agree about any exercise helping newbies. Anecdotal evidence from 20 years ago can't hold any water in today's discussion because of the wealth of knowledge we have and the ways that resistance training has become safer for everyone to do.


if you think i don't recommend weights because of what happened to us in the gym 20 yrs then you're mistaken. I don't recommend weights to increase performance, simply because there's no evidence to suggest otherwise -- either actual data from research or looking at first principles.

Overall, if we're talking about newbies, then resistance training is great. It gets sticky moving on from there. Recreational, trained, and pro cyclists are all different. For some, resistance training has been shown to work, while for others it hasn't.

there is any evidence to show that it works in trained cyclist. for the basis of this discussion, i'd class anyone as trained if they race or are capable of racing in any category.

The only point I wanted to make is that we can't say it's useless. We need to take each person and look at them individually and even just try it out to see what works for them. If they feel better resistance training, then that's great - keep going with it.

i feel great sat at home with my feet up, watching TV and eating nuts (especially brazil nuts, if anyone wants to send me some!), but i ain't recommending that for training purposes. if that sounds glib, i'm sorry, but i'm just extending your argument

If nothing else, they'll at least be contributing to maintaining a healthy bone mineral density, improving joint integrity, and improving range of motion depending on the exercise, among other benefits. Whether or not it improves performance, I don't really think it matters in the big picture.
[/QUOTE]

i haven't looked fully at the data on BMD etc., but what i have seen does look possibly equivocal and less than if you used medical intervention.

it does (weights) possibly look like it's more detrimental to performance than helpful.

ric
 

rkohler

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Originally posted by ricstern
if you think i don't recommend weights because of what happened to us in the gym 20 yrs then you're mistaken. I don't recommend weights to increase performance, simply because there's no evidence to suggest otherwise -- either actual data from research or looking at first principles.


I didn't mean it that way. But there is evidence to suggest otherwise...I posted one example of that evidence above.


there is any evidence to show that it works in trained cyclist. for the basis of this discussion, i'd class anyone as trained if they race or are capable of racing in any category.

Can you expand on that more? I don't get what you're trying to say.

i feel great sat at home with my feet up, watching TV and eating nuts (especially brazil nuts, if anyone wants to send me some!), but i ain't recommending that for training purposes. if that sounds glib, i'm sorry, but i'm just extending your argument

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend that at certain times during training as well. Nuts are a perfectly healthy choice for athletes to have as snacks, and sitting at home watching TV is a great way to relax after a stressful day or tough workout. I'd be happy to let my argument extend that far, although not my original intent, it definitely works.

i haven't looked fully at the data on BMD etc., but what i have seen does look possibly equivocal and less than if you used medical intervention.
it does (weights) possibly look like it's more detrimental to performance than helpful.

If you were to only ride your bike, you would have significantly lower BMD than a cyclist who also did some sort of weight-bearing exercise. There's no question about it. And maybe weights look to be more detrimental to performance, but I must say again, I'm not trying to say that resistance training helps every cyclist. All I'm saying in this circular discussion is that:

1) it's been shown to be beneficial to performance in some studies - i.e. this is why we can't say it's useless and why more research needs to be done

2) there are other benefits to resistance training such as increased/maintained BMD, increased joint strength, to mention only two. (and both of those benefits will not decrease your performance in any manner).
 

acoggan

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Originally posted by rkohler
I'm not trying to say that resistance training helps every cyclist. All I'm saying in this circular discussion is that:

1) it's been shown to be beneficial to performance in some studies - i.e. this is why we can't say it's useless and why more research needs to be done

Again, not to be a pain-in-the-ass, but can you name one - just one! - study showing a beneficial effect of resistance training on performance in trained cyclists? For the life of me, I can't, and I make my living doing research in the field of exercise science!
 

rkohler

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Originally posted by acoggan
Again, not to be a pain-in-the-ass, but can you name one - just one! - study showing a beneficial effect of resistance training on performance in trained cyclists? For the life of me, I can't, and I make my living doing research in the field of exercise science!

I just did. I replied to your last message with a "see above" comment because I posted it in this thread. Then I just copied and pasted the study into that message. It's about 3 or 4 replies up...maybe more.

Also, Ed Burke must not mean much to anyone here. He is one of the best researchers in the exercise science field, and he specialized in cycling performance. He even wrote a book, "Serious Cycling," in which he talks about the benefits of resistance training for cyclists. Again, I'm not saying that there will be performance benefits in EVERY cyclist, but there are important benefits that every cyclist can get from resistance training.

You might also want to look at this study:
Marcinik, E.J., Potts, J., Schlabach, G., Will, S., Dawson, P., Hurley, B.F. (1991). Effects of strength training on lactate threshold and endurance performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 23, 739-743.

And another:
Hickson, R.C., Dvorak, B.A., Gorostiaga, E.M., Kurowski, T.T., Foster, C. (1988). Potential for strength and endurance training to amplify endurance performance. Journal of Applied Physiolgy,65, 2285-2290.

And one that found no improvement:
BISHOP, D., D. G. JENKINS, L. T. MACKINNON, M. MCENIERY, and M. F. CAREY. The effects of strength training on endurance performance and muscle characteristics. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 31, No. 6, pp. 886-891, 1999
*** However, the researchers in this study did say the following: "The present data suggest that increased leg strength does not improve cycle ENDURANCE performance in endurance-trained, female cyclists.
But there is another, often overlooked, benefit of weight training. We're discovering that cycling may contribute to bone loss in both men and women because it's not a weight-bearing activity. So cyclists should crosstrain for bone health. Weight training and jumping (like rope skipping) are helpful." (which is exactly what I was trying to get at this whole time...for at least one of my points)****
 

acoggan

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I knew Ed Burke, and his contributions to cycling should never be belittled. However, he wasn't really a scientific researcher, at least beyond the first few years of his career, but more of a science reporter. More to the point, had the present subject ever come up, I would have happily debated it with him, and I don't think I would have lost any such debate. (I haven't written any books, but you can search PubMed for what I have written.)

The subjects in the study of Marcinik et al. were not trained cyclists - in fact, they weren't trained at all.

The subjects in the study of Hickson et al. also really weren't trained (competitive) cyclists, but a mixed bag of runners and recreational cyclists. Also, this study suffers from the lack of an appropriate control group.

As somebody who is technically osteopenic (despite lifting weights for 3 mo every winter), the effects of weight training on bone mineral density are of special interest to me. Thus, having read the literature and also having friends/colleagues (e.g., Wendy Kohrt) who make this their research speciality, I have to say that if you're counting on weight training to either guarantee life-long good bone health or to completely reverse any age-, stress-, or inactivity-related decreases, you're probably out of luck. I'm not saying that lifting isn't beneficial or that people shouldn't pursue lifting to help maintain their bones, just that in the big scheme of things the effects of weight lifting are small relative to other factors that alter bone mineral density, e.g., aging, menopause, drugs.
 

rkohler

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I know you have a ton of research to back up everything you're saying, and I can't argue with that, nor do I intend to. Off that topic though, I'm not sure how all of this got back to resistance training to improve cycling performance because my intent from the beginning was to put in my two cents about resistance training.
I never set out to prove that it improved cycling performance. My point was to say that there are benefits for many people from some sort of resistance training and that it should not be considered "useless" (from ric's post) and that the weight-bearing activities such as resistance training can HELP prevent osteoporosis as ONE of the many benefits. I know there are many other ways to help prevent osteoporosis (i.e. medical interventions), but my intent from the beginning was only to make these simple points. They were obviously not understood nor read with any intent to be understood.

Also, about the Hickson study...what we're talking about here this whole time must have been elite endurance cyclists and not newbies or recreational or even moderately competitive cyclists because the "moderately-trained cyclists" in that study did show an improvement. For this cycling forum, I'm guessing that many of the readers and posters to it are in that newbie, moderately-trained, or well-trained group (or somewhere in between) and that we have a very small percentage of elite endurance cyclists (cat 1) spending a lot of time here. If so, it would be great to hear their point of view.

I find it interesting that researchers in this area tend to focus way too much on what this study or that study concluded, and then try to apply it to every person who poses any question. I realize that for many cyclists (who may be very well trained), resistance training may not improve their cycling performance.
But what about the people who come to this forum (or any forum for that matter) looking for help getting started in cycling or want to move from a recreational cyclist to being able to hang with the "fast" guys in their group ride? Or just be able to pull the group along more than once or twice in a small, local race? It is these riders who can benefit from at least experimenting with resistance training to see if it works. If it does, then they may see a nice increase in their performance (as is shown in some studies), or might be able to cover an attack that they never could before in the local club rides. Whatever the reason, resistance training has the possibility of giving that type of rider the "edge" that he or she is looking for.

We cannot go around saying that resistance training is useless because that type of statement coming from two well-respected researchers and coaches will have a profound effect on many people. You and Ric both have a great understanding of exercise physiology, but I think when it comes to this topic, you need to take a step back and look at each person in a more individual fashion and not just tell them what the research says - because until a study comes out that has a subject pool including every single cyclist in the world, we cannot say for certain that no one should resistance train.


Originally posted by acoggan
I knew Ed Burke, and his contributions to cycling should never be belittled. However, he wasn't really a scientific researcher, at least beyond the first few years of his career, but more of a science reporter. More to the point, had the present subject ever come up, I would have happily debated it with him, and I don't think I would have lost any such debate. (I haven't written any books, but you can search PubMed for what I have written.)

The subjects in the study of Marcinik et al. were not trained cyclists - in fact, they weren't trained at all.

The subjects in the study of Hickson et al. also really weren't trained (competitive) cyclists, but a mixed bag of runners and recreational cyclists. Also, this study suffers from the lack of an appropriate control group.

As somebody who is technically osteopenic (despite lifting weights for 3 mo every winter), the effects of weight training on bone mineral density are of special interest to me. Thus, having read the literature and also having friends/colleagues (e.g., Wendy Kohrt) who make this their research speciality, I have to say that if you're counting on weight training to either guarantee life-long good bone health or to completely reverse any age-, stress-, or inactivity-related decreases, you're probably out of luck. I'm not saying that lifting isn't beneficial or that people shouldn't pursue lifting to help maintain their bones, just that in the big scheme of things the effects of weight lifting are small relative to other factors that alter bone mineral density, e.g., aging, menopause, drugs.
 

acoggan

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Originally posted by rkohler
I know you have a ton of research to back up everything you're saying, and I can't argue with that, nor do I intend to. Off that topic though, I'm not sure how all of this got back to resistance training to improve cycling performance because my intent from the beginning was to put in my two cents about resistance training.
I never set out to prove that it improved cycling performance. My point was to say that there are benefits for many people from some sort of resistance training and that it should not be considered "useless" (from ric's post) and that the weight-bearing activities such as resistance training can HELP prevent osteoporosis as ONE of the many benefits. I know there are many other ways to help prevent osteoporosis (i.e. medical interventions), but my intent from the beginning was only to make these simple points. They were obviously not understood nor read with any intent to be understood.

Also, about the Hickson study...what we're talking about here this whole time must have been elite endurance cyclists and not newbies or recreational or even moderately competitive cyclists because the "moderately-trained cyclists" in that study did show an improvement. For this cycling forum, I'm guessing that many of the readers and posters to it are in that newbie, moderately-trained, or well-trained group (or somewhere in between) and that we have a very small percentage of elite endurance cyclists (cat 1) spending a lot of time here. If so, it would be great to hear their point of view.

I find it interesting that researchers in this area tend to focus way too much on what this study or that study concluded, and then try to apply it to every person who poses any question. I realize that for many cyclists (who may be very well trained), resistance training may not improve their cycling performance.
But what about the people who come to this forum (or any forum for that matter) looking for help getting started in cycling or want to move from a recreational cyclist to being able to hang with the "fast" guys in their group ride? Or just be able to pull the group along more than once or twice in a small, local race? It is these riders who can benefit from at least experimenting with resistance training to see if it works. If it does, then they may see a nice increase in their performance (as is shown in some studies), or might be able to cover an attack that they never could before in the local club rides. Whatever the reason, resistance training has the possibility of giving that type of rider the "edge" that he or she is looking for.

We cannot go around saying that resistance training is useless because that type of statement coming from two well-respected researchers and coaches will have a profound effect on many people. You and Ric both have a great understanding of exercise physiology, but I think when it comes to this topic, you need to take a step back and look at each person in a more individual fashion and not just tell them what the research says - because until a study comes out that has a subject pool including every single cyclist in the world, we cannot say for certain that no one should resistance train.

I confess, I've only checked in on this thread periodically, and the format of this forum is such that it is easy to miss earlier messages (since there doesn't seem to be a 'view all' option). So, first, if I've miscontrued your personal position, you have my apologies.

Second, while increased bone mineral density is an important benefit of training with weights, I believe that it is very important that people be aware of the magnitude of this effect relative to other factors. If they aren't, they can't possibly make informed decisions about their lifestyle and healthcare choices, and may mistakenly assume that just because they lift weights, they will never suffer from osteoporosis.

Third, if you actually go read the Hickson study instead of somebody else's (Burke's?) summary of it, you'll see that the individuals in that study were far from qualifying as 'real' cyclists, even of the weekend-warrior variety. In fact, it appears that their cycling background consisted simply of just training on an ergometer in the laboratory for 3-4 d/wk for several months prior to the study. While (knowing Hickson) this undoubtly included very high intensity *aerobic* intervals (i.e., 6 x 5 min at close to VO2max), it doesn't reflect how 'real' cyclists train (e.g., stomping up short, steep hills).

Fourth, I don't think the opinions of cat. 1 (or even pro) riders carry any particular weight in this debate, since having the natural ability to make it to a very high level in cycling (or any other sport) is no guarantee that that person has any special insight into the best way to train. (Besides, I'm a former cat. 1, and I don't advocate weight training as means of enhancing performance...so who are you going to believe? :D )

Fifth, if you think that people should NOT operate based on the best available scientific evidence, or that your standard of proof for any concept is that it must be tested in each and every individual to see if it works, then obviously we have no basis for any further conversation (and I don't mean that in a rude way). If that's the case, then you've basically decided to reject the scientific approach in favor of empiricism - that's your right, but it is so diametrically opposed to what I believe is the most powerful way of acquiring new knowledge that I don't really know what to say to you, and I doubt that anything I might come up with to say could possible affect your faith.
 

ric_stern/RST

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Originally posted by rkohler

I never set out to prove that it improved cycling performance. My point was to say that there are benefits for many people from some sort of resistance training and that it should not be considered "useless" (from ric's post) and that the weight-bearing activities such as resistance training can HELP prevent osteoporosis as ONE of the many benefits.


i think andy made the point in his previous post about weights not being that great at maintaining or increasing BMD (compared to other interventions). Andy is more widely read on this area than myself, and i would defer to him for good opinion. i've done a little reading in this area and it does seem that the data is equivocal. there's a review in physician and sportsmedicine looking at amenorrhea and BMD in female athletes and nowhere in the suggestions for increasing BMD was weight training mentioned (osteoporotic or osteopenic subjects). additionally as a person who suffers with Stills, research looking at that condition and weight training doesn't seem to be of any benefit (admitedly due to time constraints i didn't do a decent lit review on this area).

Also, about the Hickson study...what we're talking about here this whole time must have been elite endurance cyclists and not newbies or recreational or even moderately competitive cyclists because the "moderately-trained cyclists" in that study did show an improvement. For this cycling forum, I'm guessing that many of the readers and posters to it are in that newbie, moderately-trained, or well-trained group (or somewhere in between) and that we have a very small percentage of elite endurance cyclists (cat 1) spending a lot of time here. If so, it would be great to hear their point of view.

andy mentioned some methodological error and the fact that the riders weren't 'proper' cyclists, additionally, they tested subjects at a fixed intensity to exhaustion. no one really uses this in testing anymore as it can cause lots of issues/problems. in other words it's better to test actual performance (i.e., you ride all out over a specific distance/duration, aiming to cover it in the shortest possible time/doing the most amount of work)


I find it interesting that researchers in this area tend to focus way too much on what this study or that study concluded, and then try to apply it to every person who poses any question. I realize that for many cyclists (who may be very well trained), resistance training may not improve their cycling performance.
But what about the people who come to this forum (or any forum for that matter) looking for help getting started in cycling or want to move from a recreational cyclist to being able to hang with the "fast" guys in their group ride? Or just be able to pull the group along more than once or twice in a small, local race? It is these riders who can benefit from at least experimenting with resistance training to see if it works.

i don't understand why these would benefit most, when we know that a) they can already meet the forces required, b) they need to be better able to sustain a power, c) they'd most likely improve at a faster rate by cycle training

If it does, then they may see a nice increase in their performance (as is shown in some studies), or might be able to cover an attack that they never could before in the local club rides. Whatever the reason, resistance training has the possibility of giving that type of rider the "edge" that he or she is looking for.

the evidence doesn't support that it gives riders the "edge".

We cannot go around saying that resistance training is useless because that type of statement coming from two well-respected researchers and coaches will have a profound effect on many people. You and Ric both have a great understanding of exercise physiology, but I think when it comes to this topic, you need to take a step back and look at each person in a more individual fashion and not just tell them what the research says - because until a study comes out that has a subject pool including every single cyclist in the world, we cannot say for certain that no one should resistance train.

hopefully, the profound effect will be to prevent cyclists from wasting their time to increase cycling performance with it ;-)

jumping back to the forces involved, they're very low and can easily be met by most. to illustrate, at 300 W on 170 mm cranks at 90 revs/min you're looking at ~ 187 Newtons (~ 19kg) average force between both legs. that's not a lot, and 300 W will get you well under the hour for a 40km TT (probably closer to 55 mins). At 442 W (World Hour Record pace) you're looking at about 236 N (~ 24 kg) at 105 revs/min.

however, most (males) can generate at least 900 W in a sprint. the other day while out training i hit 946 W at 80 revs/min which is 664 N (~ 68 kg). i'm extremely weak and poor at generating a high peak power -- but i can way exceed that required to break the Hour Record. Can i ride at 442 W? of course i can, as can many (most) people, but can we do it for a long period of time (i.e., 1-hr). Nope, i'm on the floor at 90-secs. In other words even weak people can generate the forces, it's sustaining them which comes from working out on the bike to train metabolic and cardiorespiratory factors such as LT and VO2max.

additionally, we know that weight training to increase muscle hypertrophy will help with peak power production (hence why track sprinters are so big), we also know that were strength is increased, but there's no change in muscle sectional area the gains are mainly neuromuscular and no transfer (or a tiny amount) is made to a different exercise modality. in other words, train to increase your size, and it will slightly help your sprinting (but will likely hinder you elsewhere).

the cyclists who want to seek the biggest improvements are most likely best off by concentrating on cycling, being consistent in their training and doing some higher intensity intervals.

ric
 

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