Strength and cycling controversy

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by 11ring, Apr 22, 2006.

  1. 11ring

    11ring New Member

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    Just reading over the whole lifting and cycling thread- now closed.

    In reply to Ric Stern, i think you have used correct facts to make an incorrect argument.

    Precisely because force is inversely proportional to velocity and repetitions for any musce size, it takes a significant amount of strength to produce even a small amount of force at a reasonable speed and for long distances.

    Put simply, if you can't lift 100 kg ten times there is no way you are going to be able to lift 50 kg 100 times, or 25 kg 500 times.

    So lance up the Alps puts 25 kg of force down, but does in effect 1000's of reps. He can only do those thousands of reps cause they are so much under his maximum effort that there is little to no fatigue.

    Whilst aerobic capacity is the primary determinant of sustainable power, resistance to muscualar fatique, which is partly determined by muscle mass plays a part also.

    For example, riding at high cadences delays the onset of muscular fatigue but requires more energy and hence oxygen. A stronger rider who can push bigger gears can use a lower cadence and therefore get more power out of the same aerobic capacity.

    Certainly, 350 watts or so at 75 rpm for 20 minutes up a hill makes my legs sore. Even if i can get my HR down again i will have trouble doing it again. If i had bigger legs i bet i could repeat the effort easily.

    I have found I actually have to ride near 100 rpm to avoid muscle fatigue- which is too taxing on my heart and lungs. I have to slow down to not blow up.

    Now this leaves open weather improving your 10,000 rep strength is best obtained by hill interval, sitting in the Gym doing hundreds of reps or doing smaller reps, but certainly increased muscle mass CAN play a beneficial role in cycling performance, particularily if muscular fatique seems to be a limiting factor.

    If not, cyclists would not have larger than average leg muscles.

    However, on the above question, I think it has been proven that even low reps can increase slow twitch muscle mass, posible quicker than low reps.
     
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  2. dm69

    dm69 New Member

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    Just because a coach on an internet forum says that you dont need strength to ride a bike doesn't make it a fact. I totally agree with you that even though most people can push 25kg's once doesn't mean that lance doesn't have awesome leg strength. Think of all the accelerations they make going uphill that would require good strength. I also agree with you that if you have a high maximum leg force (1-10 rep strength) then that will help at low force's because it is well below maximum.

    HOWEVER!!!:p On the bike training is the underlying factor as to who gets up the hill first. That is not to say strength training isn't a worthwile use of your time IF you do have enough spare time to do a bit of strength work on the side to COMPLEMENT your cycling. A lot of people are short of spare time in there busy lives so my advice to you is just ride your bike.

    This is just my opinion that I have formed on various studies, cycling colleagues and personal experiences. Shouldn't make it any more valuable or invaluable than anyone else on this forum voicing there opinions.
     
  3. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    which is why the majority of sports scientists/exercise physiologists would agree with me, when looking at trained cyclists (which is what the literature shows)

    a significant amount of strength is required for a small force...? ummm?

    he can do them because of his aerobic power (i.e., VO2max and LT), not his strength.

    or to put it another way, i produce less power than LA going uphill, but because i am way slower and ride the same type of gear ratios as pros do (as do the majority of us) and because my cadence is much lower than his, my force requirement is higher than LAs.

    it's to do with VO2max and lactate threshold.

    if you were fitter (i.e., had a greater VO2max and LT) you'd find it easier. Nothing to do with big legs or Jason Queally would be flying up the mountains
     
  4. 11ring

    11ring New Member

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    Actaully i am not posting this because i own a gym and want more suckers to spend their time doing leg presses all day. I have no problem with accepting that riding is probably the best way to get faster.

    It is just that your argument, which may be backed up by data* is not logically consistent in the manner it was presented.

    *(I have seen other studies which attribute benifits to increased strength to even trained athletes, although not as many as as support the other case)

    The fact that most people are strong enough to produce the peak forces required to produce massive amounts of power does not mean that they are have enough muscular endurance (slow twitch muscle mass) to ride hard up big hills day after day.

    As you said in your post, force is inversely proportional (although not linearly) to velocity and repetitions.

    In other words, your maximum force at 1000 reps is related to your max force at 1 reps. It is proportionally smaller, probably 15-25% less of your 1 rep force, but related. Someone with double the muscle mass and same composition will be able to produce, generally double the force at one rep and double the force at 1000 reps.

    Anecdotally, the fact that my brother can lift 1 brick or even 5 doesn't mean he can lay bricks all day. My mate who can lift ten finds it easy.

    Now you may argue that muscle fatigue is simply the result of aerobic stress- i.e. your aerobic capacity determines muscular endurance. But even if someone stays aerobic their muscles will tire eventually above a given force level. Put someone in the gym and let them rest for ten minutes after each set. It doesn't mean they wont fatigue eventually, even at low level of resistance.

    What you need to show is that the average person has enough strength to produce the real world forces that elite cylists produce for thousands of reps, day in day out.

    lets take 20% of max force as the point where the force/rep curve becomes flat for a person with average muscle composition (someone with more fast twitch fibres will have a lower figure)- i.e the point where you can do infinate reps and never tire.

    25kg divided by 20% is 125 kg, which is a big force. Alot for one leg!

    Now if your average person can only leg press say 60kg for one rep with one leg, then their legs will tire eventually, (even if their lung doesn't), if they have to produce more than 12 kg of force. That translates to a pretty ordinary 200 watts or so.

    I dont have a real value for the relationship between force at infinate reps and at 1 rep (will look for an article, but it will vary with muscle composition), for strength to never be a limiting factor in cycling it would need to be close to 50% or so. That sems a bit high for me.

    Your conclusions may be absolutely correct, but the argument needs revision. Science is not just about predictions, but about mechanisms.

    Oh, and if you can ride up the same hills the pro's do in the same gears you are doing good. Even if lance + co are spinning 100rps , if you can do 75rps you are at 75% of 400+ watts or 300+ watts, which is quite good. If you take some pro riders who do 85rpm as your benchmark you are up to 350+ watts.

    And i dont mean any of this in a nasty way or even to advance one side over the other. More interested in understanding the issue than anything else.
     
  5. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    I'll be blunt: i have a new born child. I don't have time to spend going over the same points i and others made in the locked thread at the top of the page. In that thread are comments by me (sports scientist and coach) and other exercise physiologists (e.g., Andy Coggan). The short of it is, that there is *no* evidence to support weight training (in trained cyclists) for endurance cycling performance (i.e., actual studies have shown no effect, see my cyclingnews.com article) and first principles suggest that it would be detrimental to ECP.

    I think you are mixing up sustainable power (which is governed by VO2max and LT) and strength, i.e., repeating a low rep many times versus a 1 rep max.

    Looking at elite cyclists many of them couldn't sprint their way out of a paper bag, and are no stronger than untrained, healthy sedentary people.

    Looking at the previous Hour Record holder most healthy males could generate more peak power (i.e., sprint) and maximal force (i.e. strength) than him.

    Most people ride up hills in the same gears as pros do. Until very recently most racing cyclists (at least in europe) would use say a 12-23 cassette. The last time i went to the Alps, i used 39 x 23 as that was the lowest gear i could find at the time. That'll be the same or similar to what the pros used as a low gear. I'd be generating say ~ 300 W at 70 revs/min versus their ~400 at higher cadence. I require the same force or more as them!

    Ric

     
  6. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    you're confusing strength (maximal force generating capacity of a muscle) and force. No one has said you don't need to be able to generate some force to ride a bike, it's just that the amount required is very low (the only time you could get near your maximal force generating capacity - i.e. strength, would be an all out standing start).

    You then confuse sustainable power (pushing 25 kg many times) with strength, when the former is to do with aerobic ability (i.e., VO2max and LT).

    Increasing strength (i.e., maximal force) to increase ECP is either a waste of time (i.e., neuromuscular power as it doesn't transfer to different joint angles or velocities) or very limited/detrimental to performance (i.e., increase sprint power with increased hypertrophy, or decreases ECP with increased hypertrophy as you have more mass to lug uphill and you decrease the capillary and mitochondrial density of the muscles being trained).

    Ric
     
  7. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    Or to put this another way, if force was the limiting factor in ECP i'd be able to ride with the pros, which i can't do. I can sustain the same or very similar forces for the same duration or (actually) much longer than them. What i can't do is ride at the same power output for the same duration as them. And to clarify i am not strong (i.e., my maximal force generating capacity is very low for a male).

    Ric
     
  8. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    I look forward to your report after you do this. In the meantime, I will continue to use my limited training time on cycling efforts that I know will improve my performance, including high-intensity efforts that target my AWC, VO2MAX and aerobic efficiency. I think the argument has to be more than that a certain activity can improve performance. I think the argument has to be that it is a better use of training time than other activities that target the same adaptation.
     
  9. 11ring

    11ring New Member

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  10. whoawhoa

    whoawhoa New Member

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    Sure-but "muscular endurance" doesn't mean strength.

    So soreness is now related to strength? When did you make this connection? It couldn't be due to acidosis or the many things that cause fatigue that aren't well understood yet? I didn't sleep much last night and am kind of sore this morning, does that mean I'm not strong enough to sleep?



    Now that's laughable. Training on the bike makes you more fit for...training on the bike? That comes as a shock. Come back to us when you can explain what this has to do with strength.




    None of this has anything to do with strength! BTW, could you please define your use of "Muscular Endurance" to clear up an abstract concept?
     
  11. Sillyoldtwit

    Sillyoldtwit New Member

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  12. 11ring

    11ring New Member

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    Muscular endurance as defined by me is your ability to do hundreds or thousands or reps at a given force, independently of aerobic capacity. For simplicity sake and to refer back to my other posts it is the force you can exert for practically infinate reps, or the force below which there is no accumulated fatigue.

    It is generally a proportion of maximum strength. In other words, a stronger person should tend to be able to have a higher fatigue limit.

    Think or materials like steel with fatique limits. Below a certain stress level you can bend a piece of steel back and forwards forever without breaking, but above that limit every stress cycle makes it weaker. Typically the FL for steel is 1/3 it breaking strain. So double the maximum strength of an item and you double its fatigue limit as well.

    Same with legs. If you make someone produce forces over their fatigue limit they will get tired and sore, even if you let their HR go down to resting they are damaged- they cant repeat their previouse efforts. Their muscles get damaged because they cant produce that level of force forever.

    I think ric agrees that a certain amount of strength is required to produce say 300 watts for half an hour, but that the amount of strength needed is quite low. Essentialy the question is weather cyclists really ever go over their fatigue limit- i would argue that the symptoms of muscular stress- like soreness the day after and more to the point muscle growth with training show that many cyclists do.

    The reason i proposed doing lots of high intensity efforts in testing is that it allows for rest time to let your HR recover. People will always be limited aerobically over one hour as it is too short for fatigue to set in and the forces one can produce for an hour are probably too small. Even better do 3 minute intervals with 10 minute rests. That way the power outputs will tend to go over the fatigue limit, and there is enough rest to do lots of them to get enough cycles.

    These efforts ocur in racing all the time, so improved repeatable high intensity effort could reasonable be expected to help in racing.
     
  13. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    depends how long they last for (the efforts). But what has that got to do with strength?

    again, what does any of this have to do with strength?

    how well you recover from high intensity efforts (and thus repeat high intensity efforts) is directly related to aerobic ability and not strength

    what has this got to do with strength?

    Ric
     
  14. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    I think you are confusing too many issues. And i don't think you understand what has been written in previous posts.

    Your ability to repeat a submaximal force many, many times, is your aerobic capacity. Depending on what that submax force is would be your (e.g.) TT power, LT or your all day riding intensity or whatever. These are defined and limited by your cardiovascular and metabolic limits (i.e., VO2max and LT respectively). It has nothing whatsoever to do with strength (which is the maximal force generating capacity or a muscle or group of muscles).

    If you make cyclists (or any athletes) exercise at certain intensities that is intense (e.g. >TTpower) then they fatigue, but this has nothing to do with strength.

    as far as 300 W for some time period, its not strength but a certain force is required, which would vary with cadence.

    ric
     
  15. 11ring

    11ring New Member

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    As you started with massive muscles and no fitness, your aerobic fitness is going to be your limiting factor. I.e your functional threshold is now 220 watts but your fatigue limit (a function of strength) is probably 50 kg, enough to make 800 watts or more.

    At the other end of the spectrum there (may) be cyclists who have functional thresholds at 400 watts, but may have a fatigue limit of 15 kg. So there heart may be strong, but their muscles ability to lift small weights forever will eventually slow them down.

    I am not sure this is the case, but if it is then there may be benefits for targeted training to increase muscular endurance.

    Am i right- you can squat 50 kg pretty much forever.




     
  16. 11ring

    11ring New Member

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    The main symptom of being muscularily stressed- ie too weak to perform a task easily is muscle soreness, followed, by recovery and muscle growth.

    The fact that these symptoms occur at the start of training suggests that muscular strength at high reps was a limiting factor in my performance. Otherwise i wouldn't adapt.

    Being sore the day after isn't just about lactic acid. It can mean muscle damage as a result of over exertion.

    This is okay to happen during training with rest days, but not when you are have a busy racing schedule or doing a two day or longer race- or with a TT as well.
     
  17. whoawhoa

    whoawhoa New Member

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    No, actually, it would be an inability to perform the task.

    Being sore is about a lot of things, many of which aren't fully understood yet. Saying I'm sore=I stressed my muscles=strength is good is a faulty conclusion. I stood up for a long time a few days ago and was sore. Do I need more strength?
     
  18. sugaken

    sugaken New Member

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    11ring,

    The largest problem I can see here is you and Ric Stern (and most others here) use the same word "strength" in very different meanings.

    Had you read Ric's posts or his article on cyclingnews.com carefully, you should have noticed that he has repeatedly stated that strength means "the maximal force" a muscle or a group of muscles can exert. Being maximal it's just once. Not infinite reps.

    According to him, it's a well accepted definition among exercise physiologists, sports scientists, and professional coaches (this is not to say I don't trust his words. It's just that I'm no expert and in no position to confirm his claim or otherwise).

    I'm not sure what is your definition of "strength", but I'm pretty sure it's not the same as Ric's. You need to speak the same language if you want to have a fruitful discussion. Would you agree with me on this?
     
  19. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    There's certain words and phrases that have very specific meanings, and that are well defined within scientific literature or a dictionary. For e.g., strength is a well defined word, whose specific meaning has been around for a long time. Efficiency would be another.

    On the other hand words such as tempo, or muscular endurance have no 'real' meaning in so much as there is not a universally defined meaning to these words.

    You don't need to take my word for it (!), check out page 452 of the renowned exercise physiology text:Exercise Physiology Energy, Nutrition and Human Performance by McArdle Katch and Katch

    Ric
     
  20. whoawhoa

    whoawhoa New Member

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    Unfortunately, you've made a lot of assumptions that might be true for steel or a machine or a human with unlimited aerobic capacity. Unfortunately, humans have limited aerobic capacity, which is what limits endurance efforts. Being stronger won't help because it will mean a reduction in aerobic abilities (less mitochondrial density, more muscle mass to spread the oxygen to) as well as mean more weight to drag around.

    NONE OF THIS HAS TO DO WITH STRENGTH!
     
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