Some theories on running, weights and pedalling technique that probably have to be wrong...

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by joroshiba, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. joroshiba

    joroshiba New Member

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    I spend most of my day either riding my bike or mindlessly selling pizza while trying to think of ways to help me ride my bike faster. As such I come up with these ideas which I always think must be wrong... so here it goes. Some theories I'm looking for to be disproved or at least discussion on:

    1) Weights: If one were to do the correct weights before a ride they would fatigue many of the motor units which you would prefer to recruit while riding. If you go out and ride after words, or even the next day when you are a little sore from the weights you start to recruit new motor units similar to the end of a 5 hr ride. Increasing the number of motor units you use can utulize can help to improve power output. Going for lots of long rides would likely be better but for the time crunched a 30 minute weight routine with some L4 intervals afterwords could provide many of the gains plus some help with stuff like bone density and general strength if you care about that.

    2.)Running: seen some studies which suggest it works your Vo2max more effectively that cycling and similar to cycling relies on mostly slow twitch fibers when you go farther. However, on average you absorb and push with about 2-3x body weight running versus 1/5 body weight cycling. Similar to the above you could break down preferred motor units more quickly than cycling and then go out and ride and start recruiting new motor units. I've anecdtotally found that running helps to promote lean muscle growth so this might be better than weights as it is also more aerobically based.

    My theory is that neither of the above is preffered to a 7 hr ride as you also create adaptations that don't help cycling but perhaps better for those who are time crunched and cannot ride for long enough to breakdown motor units?

    3) Pedalling technique, more accurately neuromuscular adaptations. I have noticed that during extended efforts I tend to start pushing against myself more on the upstroke and it feels like I am straining my legs the whole way around. If I focus on pushing at the top of the stroke and letting my leg release and just be total deadweight on the up power goes up, this could be because I'm riding harder but it doesn't feel like it. Perhaps working on high cadence to avoid bouncing could help this or just focusing on pushing earlier and letting go... or perhaps as I've always told people pedal the bike lots and your will naturally end up with something that is fairly efficient.

    4)Core: When I do the pedalling noted above I get side to side rock if I don't tense my core... core strenght might actually be important for power application contrary to what I actually believed or perhaps it only matters once you are producing a certain amount of power (feels like I am pushing myself up out of the seat a bit and rock from that.
     
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  2. karlnowosielski

    karlnowosielski New Member

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    interesting theory, but I can not fully agree with them. When I come back from work to expand on this topic
     
  3. joroshiba

    joroshiba New Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by karlnowosielski .
    interesting theory, but I can not fully agree with them. When I come back from work to expand on this topic

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. I think my thoughts sound too much "have your cake and eat it too," but I fail to find where my exact logic issue is and the limited studies of strength plus endurance I've seen seem to suggest that there are benefits. I've just always assumed an equal amount of stress on the bike would be better.
     
  4. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Weights won't help at all, because they work our fast-twitch muscle fibers. Cycling is mostly an aerobic sport, so it requires the slow-twitch or Type I fibers mostly. There are lots of references online to read about the difference.

    Running is much better as an alternate. It certainly works the core cardio systems (heart, lungs, liver), which are the key to any aerobic activity. But running uses the leg muscles much differently than spinning a crank. As a result, the muscle fibers and capillaries needed for cycling aren't getting the optimum training. You can find lots to read online about the principal of "specificity of training". This principal even applies within the sport of cycling. One reference, the Joe Friel blog, explains why road racing isn't optimum training for TT racing.

    Pedaling technique isn't worth worrying about. Just pedal, and learn to use the gears to keep a good spinning cadence vs mashing with higher loads on the legs. You'll become smooth and efficient by just pedaling many hours at a good cadence, say 90 or higher.

    Core strength is always good to have, but shouldn't be required to prevent rocking on the bike. If you have a problem with rocking in the saddle at higher cadence, could be your saddle is too high. If you're bouncing off the saddle at low cadence/high loads, either shift gears to spin faster or just get out of the saddle and accelerate.
     
  5. joroshiba

    joroshiba New Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by dhk2 .
    Weights won't help at all, because they work our fast-twitch muscle fibers. Cycling is mostly an aerobic sport, so it requires the slow-twitch or Type I fibers mostly. There are lots of references online to read about the difference.

    Running is much better as an alternate. It certainly works the core cardio systems (heart, lungs, liver), which are the key to any aerobic activity. But running uses the leg muscles much differently than spinning a crank. As a result, the muscle fibers and capillaries needed for cycling aren't getting the optimum training. You can find lots to read online about the principal of "specificity of training". This principal even applies within the sport of cycling. One reference, the Joe Friel blog, explains why road racing isn't optimum training for TT racing.

    Pedaling technique isn't worth worrying about. Just pedal, and learn to use the gears to keep a good spinning cadence vs mashing with higher loads on the legs. You'll become smooth and efficient by just pedaling many hours at a good cadence, say 90 or higher.

    Core strength is always good to have, but shouldn't be required to prevent rocking on the bike. If you have a problem with rocking in the saddle at higher cadence, could be your saddle is too high. If you're bouncing off the saddle at low cadence/high loads, either shift gears to spin faster or just get out of the saddle and accelerate.

    A couple rebuttal's here: I agree that cycling is an aerobic sport, and I'd have to dig but I seem to recall slowtwitch fiber percentage being the #1 determinate of cycling performance according to one study. However, I think the idea that weights are not beneficial because of this is false. When you go do weights your type I, and type IIa fibers that have good oxidative energy consumption don't see a heavy load and decide not to go into tension. You still work those fibers as well, they go into tension and strain themselves. You might also see work done to your other fibers that is less productive to cycling, but certainly that weight work has some translation. The key to my thought is that to really see gains, after your weight room visit you don't take the next day off. Do it the day before a semi-long ride. Since cycling isn't destructive you are unlikely to do any more damage to them, but what you can do is recruit other fibers to that pedalling action. I know that you can also convert fiber types, would doing this after breaking down fibers perhaps help with this? (really a question, not a I think this is how it works)

    I'm familiar with the idea of specificity, and largely agree. Specificity, specificity, specificity. But lets say I get home and it is dark outside. I think a 20 minute run at my 5k pace might actually benefit me more than getting on the trainer and doing a 20 min L4 effort. It is all about what your body is used to. A 20 minute L4 effort does very little for me, three of those and I start accomplishing something. A 20 minute run on the otherhand stretches my body with a higher impact, higher force load. Then when I get on the bike the next day, yes I've broken down some muscles that are entirely useless but I again have broken down some muscles I would usually prefer to use, much like at the end of a long endurance ride, I can recruit some new fibers. That said a 40 minute run would offer me no real additional benefits, I would just destroy my body. Thus optimally one would spend lots of time specific training on the bike.

    Pedalling technique: I have been a big believer in the "don't think about pedalling at all" mode for a while. I do think that just riding the bike you tend to find something that works. That said, I think it is dumb to think you can't accelerate the process. The problem is identifying what is actually better. In terms of GE studies will show that preferred pedalling form is better, same with cadence. OF COURSE THIS IS TRUE. Your body has adapted to this, that doesn't meant that after a proper adaptatoin period a more efficient style isn't possible. I don't care about being smooth. I simply put, care about how I can exert energy to get the most power out. That means teaching your body not to work against itself. Our body is very efficient at pushing down, this is largely how we walk and run, the kick of a run is merely follow through, and pulling the foot forward is low force. Thus ideally you want to focus your energy into pushing down, being able to quickly relax those muscles so you are not still pushing down on the pedal on the bottom but not "unweighting" your foot either. You want your leg to get a rest on the upstroke. Then start the push phase early and push through late, you are good at pushing. This is all I'm focusing on, push early, push late. Do some fast spinning 'drills' to improve neuromuscular firing (when you don't let go quick enough at those high cadences you get the bouncing you were talking about). Pedalling is pretty simple, but that doesn't mean you can't do it better. I think that this method of pedalling feels more similar to what i do on a climb, where I consistantly get higher power numbers. http://cyclingtips.com.au/2013/09/climbing-and-time-trialling-how-power-outputs-are-affected/ kinda mentions how I feel about this, making an effort to push for a longer period, I feel, of time helps me.

    I've always historically believed that worrying about core on the bike was a waste if you weren't mountain biking or doing cyclocross. However, as previously noted when I do focus on pushing early through late I rock a bit if I don't tighten the core down. I'm not pushing high or low cadences, I'm at 95ish. Normal for me, I can and have hit 190 and I don't have any issues down to 60, at about 140-150 I tend to see "bouncing". I am pushing higher than normal w/kg for my effort though, a little over 5w/kg for 10ish minutes when doing this.Obviously torque is higher and I suspect peak torque is higher, perhaps the peak torque is much higher than usual but I have no way of really measuring or checking this as consumer PM's do not record at a high enough interval to really check that.
     
  6. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by joroshiba .
    A couple rebuttal's here: I agree that cycling is an aerobic sport, and I'd have to dig but I seem to recall slowtwitch fiber percentage being the #1 determinate of cycling performance according to one study. However, I think the idea that weights are not beneficial because of this is false. When you go do weights your type I, and type IIa fibers that have good oxidative energy consumption don't see a heavy load and decide not to go into tension. You still work those fibers as well, they go into tension and strain themselves. You might also see work done to your other fibers that is less productive to cycling, but certainly that weight work has some translation. The key to my thought is that to really see gains, after your weight room visit you don't take the next day off. Do it the day before a semi-long ride. Since cycling isn't destructive you are unlikely to do any more damage to them, but what you can do is recruit other fibers to that pedalling action. I know that you can also convert fiber types, would doing this after breaking down fibers perhaps help with this? (really a question, not a I think this is how it works)




    I am a former competitive lifter and strength consultant. If it were me knowing what I know and by experience and were aspiring to be a competitive cyclist I would not lift weights. As for the running and other things I am not sure, but the lifting I am pretty sure that I would not. I try to balance the two types of training weekly and have been since 2004 when I picked up cycling as a hobby. I have never seen a moment where lifting has been beneficial to cycling performance. Even though my genetics do not lean to the endurance side and my expected progress in cycling will always be slow and minimal compared to my ability in the gym, I do believe I would progress slightly better in cycling if I did not lift.

    I would not try to convince you otherwise, but for other onlookers of this thread that get confused about the discussions of lifting weights for cycling performance it would be my suggestion don't lift weights if you have a desire to climb the ranks of a Cat level racer. And this statement is coming from a guy that has spent the majority of his life with a passion in the world of strength events where I normally promote and encourage lifting for general health, but in the case of competitive endurance cycling I would not.
     
  7. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by joroshiba .
    I spend most of my day either riding my bike or mindlessly selling pizza while trying to think of ways to help me ride my bike faster. As such I come up with these ideas which I always think must be wrong... so here it goes. Some theories I'm looking for to be disproved or at least discussion on:

    1) Weights: If one were to do the correct weights before a ride they would fatigue many of the motor units which you would prefer to recruit while riding. If you go out and ride after words, or even the next day when you are a little sore from the weights you start to recruit new motor units similar to the end of a 5 hr ride. Increasing the number of motor units you use can utulize can help to improve power output. Going for lots of long rides would likely be better but for the time crunched a 30 minute weight routine with some L4 intervals afterwords could provide many of the gains plus some help with stuff like bone density and general strength if you care about that.

    2.)Running: seen some studies which suggest it works your Vo2max more effectively that cycling and similar to cycling relies on mostly slow twitch fibers when you go farther. However, on average you absorb and push with about 2-3x body weight running versus 1/5 body weight cycling. Similar to the above you could break down preferred motor units more quickly than cycling and then go out and ride and start recruiting new motor units. I've anecdtotally found that running helps to promote lean muscle growth so this might be better than weights as it is also more aerobically based.

    My theory is that neither of the above is preffered to a 7 hr ride as you also create adaptations that don't help cycling but perhaps better for those who are time crunched and cannot ride for long enough to breakdown motor units?

    3) Pedalling technique, more accurately neuromuscular adaptations. I have noticed that during extended efforts I tend to start pushing against myself more on the upstroke and it feels like I am straining my legs the whole way around. If I focus on pushing at the top of the stroke and letting my leg release and just be total deadweight on the up power goes up, this could be because I'm riding harder but it doesn't feel like it. Perhaps working on high cadence to avoid bouncing could help this or just focusing on pushing earlier and letting go... or perhaps as I've always told people pedal the bike lots and your will naturally end up with something that is fairly efficient.

    4)Core: When I do the pedalling noted above I get side to side rock if I don't tense my core... core strenght might actually be important for power application contrary to what I actually believed or perhaps it only matters once you are producing a certain amount of power (feels like I am pushing myself up out of the seat a bit and rock from that.


    These theories aren't entirely wrong. Here are a few thoughts related to them...

    First, it is important to better define what you mean by "riding your bike faster". One of the ultimate form of racing in road cycling for the master level athlete remains (I like to believe) weekend stage races. In such a context, "when" exactly do you want to ride faster? First stage (prologue)? Like putting on a hell of a show then disappearing at the bottom of the pack for the remaining of the weekend? You want to score decent results overall and improve during the TT? You target the GC? Want to rather win a single stage?

    Or maybe are you a cyclosportif riding 1 stage events? This is not clear in your text.

    As a Tri coach, I find it totally useless to approach cycling development using running. It may work for a few exceptions, but generally speaking, hitting consistently your vo2max whilst running requires a training routine which goes above booking hard intervals. More specifically, the potential for injuring yourself is very high without minimal preparation. On top of that, it is soooo easy to hit your vo2max whilst riding, I see no problem there at all. No need for looking elsewhere.

    Muscle micro damage will occur in cycling, given an appropriate overload. I believe it may turn out to be much more complex to try and recreate muscle fatigue condition by first committing to weights, then cycling. It may be much simpler to just making your cycling training harder, which will create this fatigue condition (in a much more specific way). I'm not suggesting that weights is a bad thing, but simply that it may be very complex to try and create cycling specific fatigue using this generic means. I don't think I can do that as a coach, in spite of my knowledge.... Or at least, let us put it this way, the odds of being wrong are so high that I wouldn't want to play this sort of gamble with my folks' precious time...
     
  8. joroshiba

    joroshiba New Member

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    General fitness, I mean going faster overall. Certainly specific fitness matters but I'm thinking more about base, building FTP, and going faster across the spectrum (ok excluding match sprints). Me personally, I race on the road, TTs, crits, stage races, road races. I would consider myself an all-arounder. (I've won 3 field sprints and 2 TT's in the last year)

    I agree running hurts. I ran cross country and track through high school and everytime I do it now (after 2 years of not really running, 2 stress fractures were two many) my legs DIEEEEE. Cycling on the flip side, I haven't gotten sore once in the last year from it. Certainly long rides and hard intervals create fatigue and break down in a very awesome cycling specific way. My ideas where more centered around those who are REALLY time crunched and can't get on the bike for long enough to get to that point (not me at all). It would not be as good as cycling specific fatigue but my guess is that you would certainly work some of those motor units, and you can get gains from that.

    I know when I did rides the day after a weight session last year my legs hurt from the start, and by the end I had completely different pain. Like different units than usual had fired. Possible feel and actuality are two different things here. I followed a very basic regimend, squats, leg press, knee extensions, and some hip flexion work with the cable machine thing. Total time in the gym was like 15 minutes max. I also was in school so it was a 5 minute walk from my room and was available between class on days when I couldn't fit in a bike ride. If i had the time to do a good ride I would have considered it preferable.
     
  9. cyclightning

    cyclightning New Member

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    Quite simply lifting weights are usually used to increase the shorter term strength and power of muscles. Cycling for longer distances near or longer than 4km or so is more or less an aerobic effort. Lifting weights can does increase neuromuscular abilities and all out sprint power but the bodies recovery abilities are stretched when you engage in (strength/short term power) developing activities and aerobic training. Strength/power training also causes hypertrophy of fast twitch muscle fibers, resulting in added muscle mass which is not desired in aerobic sports like cycling. Keep in mind this advice applies to competitive endurance cyclists, or athletes in any other endurance sport.
     
  10. needmoreair

    needmoreair New Member

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    I'd have to think specificity remains supreme. If you have 30 mins I'd still think a 30 min tempo/lt ride would be better than a run.

    I once ran across the parking lot after a race and my cycling coach told me to never do that again. Running was not what true cyclists did, he said. That's pretty extreme, but I really took that to heart at the time.

    Anyway, I don't think it helps. I ran a sub 17 5k earlier this year and then hopped on a bike at the beginning of summer and just sucked. I was super surprised with how low my hr was and how easy my breathing was, but I just couldn't push the pedals. No power! And I raced Cat 1 so it's not like I didn't know what I was doing. I stopped running over the summer and started back riding a 3-4 x a week a few weeks ago and my cycling has improved exponentially. I went and ran a mile the other day and was dying just trying to crack 8 mins. And I was running 75 miles a week at the beginning of the year!

    So that's just my anecdotal experience and all, but I see virtually no cross over. Plus running is so, so, so hard on your body. You have to really build up your running from a pretty low base and that can be hard to do if you're coming from another sport in which you're already quite fit.
     
  11. needmoreair

    needmoreair New Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by joroshiba .


    I'm familiar with the idea of specificity, and largely agree. Specificity, specificity, specificity. But lets say I get home and it is dark outside. I think a 20 minute run at my 5k pace might actually benefit me more than getting on the trainer and doing a 20 min L4 effort. It is all about what your body is used to. A 20 minute L4 effort does very little for me, three of those and I start accomplishing something. A 20 minute run on the otherhand stretches my body with a higher impact, higher force load. Then when I get on the bike the next day, yes I've broken down some muscles that are entirely useless but I again have broken down some muscles I would usually prefer to use, much like at the end of a long endurance ride, I can recruit some new fibers. That said a 40 minute run would offer me no real additional benefits, I would just destroy my body. Thus optimally one would spend lots of time specific training on the bike.




    I don't think you could do a 20 min run at 5k pace unless you're a very slow runner and that's a one off effort. Such an effort is akin to saying you want to do a 30 min time trial at 20k cycling pace. If you ride at 15 mph then that might work, but...

    And the problem with such an effort is that unless you're a fairly consistent runner, your body is not in any way, shape, or form used to that. The impact forces are absolutely enormous and at that intensity you'd be killing yourself to keep it up after 10 mins or so. Runners typically don't go for more than 3-5 mins at a time at 5k pace because it's so hard. I did virtually no 5k paced work in training (I'd stay at 10k and below) when I was running 75 mpw+ simply because it's an intensity that you have to be careful with.

    I don't think your fiber/theory thing is being applied correctly. I understand what you're saying and in running we utilize things like hill sprints for full NM recruitment or specific tempo type efforts at longer durations to target those fibers, but that's still specific to the sport.

    If you're keen on optimizing time, then I wouldn't optimized it with other activities, I'd optimize it with intensity. 5 mins warm up, 20 mins at threshold, 5 mins down. That's still a solid workout and I'd argue is far more beneficial than a 20 min hard run which isn't going to let you recruit so many new fibers so much as leave you reeling from DOMS. The power needed for each activity just differ too much.
     
  12. needmoreair

    needmoreair New Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by cyclightning .
    Strength/power training also causes hypertrophy of fast twitch muscle fibers, resulting in added muscle mass which is not desired in aerobic sports like cycling. Keep in mind this advice applies to competitive endurance cyclists, or athletes in any other endurance sport.



    Doesn't have to. Low reps/heavy weight can give significant performance increases in runners and is sorta the new rage. You don't gain weight unless you're consuming more calories than you're burning. I imagine there's some use in cycling as well.
     
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