Weight Training?



jollyrogers

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Aug 25, 2009
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Enriss said:
On thing I'd wondered about wrt the mitochondrial dilution argument, is that if endurance racing increases mitochondrial density and eventually hits a peak density, and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy increases the size of the muscle and thus decreases the mitochondrial density, shouldn't this allow for another bout of mitochondrial density gains? Would a racer be faster if they had the same density in a larger volume of fibres?

In theory, that should be possible. Dr. Coggan, in a piece titled "Strength vs. Power" from a few years back discusses some of this. Jist of the paper was that most of the short and medium term gains in strength come from improved neuromuscular coordination and are specific to the joint angles and speed of movement used during resistance training. He goes on to say that muscular hypertrophy could increase sustainable power.
 

DancenMacabre

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Jul 17, 2009
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JollyRogers: :)

Enriss: Muscle mass is not the limiter in terms of your sustainable power. You can see this as an even in a completely sedentary, jumped off the couch, just put down the hot dog, average joe/jane, the blood demand for that person's muscles exceeds the capacity of the heart to provide it.

I think as an endurance cyclist what you what are the smallest possible muscles possible (while still enough muscle mass to be able to generate enough short-term power for your specific races/events since muscle mass does tend to correlate with maximal power production). This lets you pack a whole lot more energy pathways and power plants, if you will (aka mitochondria). One glance at the build of the best endurance cyclists in the world shows them to be built much along these lines, very slight and no more muscle than absolutely necessary....Contador, Schleck, even Cancellara isn't a big buff guy, he's fairly slight too compared to the regular population - he just looks big when next to say, Contador or Schleck.
 

Enriss

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Sep 14, 2009
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Is jollyrogers' summary of the Coggan paper inaccurate then? Cyclists have nothing to gain from muscular hypertrophy?
 

jollyrogers

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Aug 25, 2009
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Enriss said:
Is jollyrogers' summary of the Coggan paper inaccurate then? Cyclists have nothing to gain from muscular hypertrophy?

That's not what I wrote, though "imply" would be a better choice than "say".

JollyRogers said:
He goes on to say that muscular hypertrophy could increase sustainable power.

Here is the paper, minus the graphic:

Strength vs. power

Why increasing the former doesn't automatically lead to an increase in the latter.



Many people have a difficult time distinguishing between muscular strength and muscular power, and hence understanding why increasing the former (e.g., via lifting weights) doesn't automatically lead to an increase in the latter. In posting this I hope to clear up some of the existing confusion about this issue.

The plot below shows the relationship between average (i.e., over the full 360 degrees) effective (i.e., tangential to the crank, therefore causing it to turn instead of stretch or compress) pedal force (AEPF) vs. circumferential pedal velocity (CPV, the velocity at which the pedal travels around in a circle). The colored dots are derived from power and cadence data recorded every 1 s (SRM crank) during a variety of races and training sessions, as described here. The solid black line represents this individual's maximal AEPF at any given CPV, as determining using Dr. Jim Martin's inertial load technique. AEPF is highest (at 918 N) when CPV is zero, and falls to zero when CPV is maximal (i.e., 3.63 m.s). In other words, when measured at the joint angles achieved during pedaling, this person's strength is 918 N. The dark blue curved line therefore represents this person's maximal power of 833 W, which occurs when the product of AEPF and CPV is maximal. For this athlete, this is at a CPV of ~1.75 m/s, or around 120 rpm. As discussed elsewhere, it can be seen from inspection of this plot that even when time trialing at 300 W and 80 rpm (CPV=1.4 m/s), this individual uses only about one-fourth of their maximal AEPF, i.e., their strength. Indeed, even when sprinting at maximal power, AEPF is still only 50-60% of maximum - in other words, strength per se is not limiting, even during sprinting. This fact, in and of itself, implies that strength training would have limited effect on cycling performance.

But what of the effects of increasing strength on power output? Couldn't this still increase maximal power, even if absolute strength is not limiting? Indeed, this would be true if the increase in strength were entirely due to hypertrophy, and nothing else changed. This is illustrated by the dashed line, which represents the effects of increasing maximal AEPF (i.e., strength) by 25%. This percentage increase was chosen because it is typical of that achieved when already moderately-active individuals take up resistance training for several months, e.g., as a cyclist might do during their off-season. (Maximal CPV was assumed not to change, since this is really an intrinsic characteristic of the muscles, and if anything might be expected to decrease, not increase, with resistance training/hypertrophy.) As shown by the light blue line, this increase in maximal AEPF, and therefore in AEPF at every velocity greater than zero, would theoretically result in a corresponding increase in maximal power to 1041 W.

So if increasing strength can at least in theory increase power, then why do studies show that this does not happen, even when untrained individuals are studied and it is maximal/short-term, not submaximal/sustained, power that is measured? The reason is that a very large percentage of the increase in strength that occurs with resistance training is due to neurological adaptations, not due to muscle hypertrophy. Furthermore, these neurological adaptations are highly specific to the joint angles and velocities used in training. For example, with a proper resistance training program untrained subjects may increase their 1 repetition-maximum (i.e., the maximum amount of weight they can lift one time) during knee extension by almost 2-fold, but their strength (i.e., force at zero velocity) increases much less, i.e., by only 15-20%. The force generated at higher velocities increase little if at all, such that maximal power is actually unchanged. In effect, the neurological adaptations to weight lifting - which do not transfer to other exercise modes - alter or distort the force-velocity relationship, elevating force at low velocities but not higher velocities. Conversely, studies of individuals performing endurance training (cycling) have shown that maximal force increases at the velocities typically encountered when pedaling, but not at lower velocities.

So what's the bottom line? It is this: maximal power is generated when large muscles contract simultaneously, forcefully, and quickly. Weight training is an excellent way of increasing strength, because not only does it lead to an increase in muscle size, but also to improvements in synchronicity (simultaneous activation of multiple motor units) and activation (therefore more force from the same muscle). In fact, these neural adaptations are the primary mechanism leading to increases in strength, at least over the short (and even intermediate) term - but since they do not transfer to other modes of exercise, only the hypertrophic response has a beneficial effect on cycling power..

Specificity, specificity, specificity....
 

dhk2

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Aug 8, 2006
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So, what is it about cycling that confuses some people into thinking "strength" equates to sustained aerobic power on the bike? Perhaps it's the fact that that inexperienced cyclists often try to push big gears at a low cadence, so it occurs to them first that more muscle is what it takes to ride faster/longer.

Imagine the response a cyclist would get if they went to a weightlifting website and recommended cycling as a way to get stronger and lift bigger weights :)
 

choffman

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Apr 30, 2010
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I would suggest NOT doing high reps in the weight room. You can do lightweight reps while pedaling big gears. Stick with moderate to heavy weights. Yes, you will have to work up to heavier weights, but you will get a better workout. After you are done with the weight room, you should be walking out with a tired limp.

Don't forget to work hard on your abs and mid to lower back (core strength).
 

Felt_Rider

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Oct 24, 2004
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dhk2 said:
So, what is it about cycling that confuses some people into thinking "strength" equates to sustained aerobic power on the bike? Perhaps it's the fact that that inexperienced cyclists often try to push big gears at a low cadence, so it occurs to them first that more muscle is what it takes to ride faster/longer.

Imagine the response a cyclist would get if they went to a weightlifting website and recommended cycling as a way to get stronger and lift bigger weights :)

You are dead on correct about that statement. :)
Cardio to a lifter is typically a taboo thing, but is sometimes a necessary evil because it is about the most efficient way to make a weight class or to lean out for some. Some lifters can make weight class by using a low carb diet, but typically cardio has to be done to get to the goal. However, most consider it a bad thing and for me I was considered a "hard gainer" in those days so the only energy I used was to lift and the rest of the day spent lounging, eating or napping to save calories.
 

fergie

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Apr 10, 2004
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Love the references to Chris Hoy. Hoy has stated that he would prefer smaller legs and that his "thoughts" on weights are that they are only beneficial for the first few pedal strokes of a starting effort. It must also be noted that for all of Hoys strength he is 90lb behind the Worlds strongest woman in the same 90kg weight group for the squat. Fortunately Hoy knows that pedalling a massive gear faster than the other guy is what keeps him winning World Titles and this is where the bulk of his training is focused.
 

Enriss

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Sep 14, 2009
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fergie said:
It must also be noted that for all of Hoys strength he is 90lb behind the Worlds strongest woman in the same 90kg weight group for the squat.
Didn't we have this discussion before, and we recognized that the woman was competing in full gear, while Hoy doesn't use a belt, and that the difference between the men's raw and world records hover around a ratio of 4 to about 5 or 6?
Should we mention this time that regardless of Hoy's standing in the rankings of world's strongest men, that a 500 lb raw squat is pretty big?
Hoy wishing he had smaller legs doesn't mean he wishes he had a smaller squat, and wishing for a smaller squat doesn't mean he wishes his squat was under 200 lbs, or even 300 lbs.
 

fergie

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Enriss said:
Didn't we have this discussion before, and we recognized that the woman was competing in full gear, while Hoy doesn't use a belt, and that the difference between the men's raw and world records hover around a ratio of 4 to about 5 or 6?
Should we mention this time that regardless of Hoy's standing in the rankings of world's strongest men, that a 500 lb raw squat is pretty big?
Hoy wishing he had smaller legs doesn't mean he wishes he had a smaller squat, and wishing for a smaller squat doesn't mean he wishes his squat was under 200 lbs, or even 300 lbs.

Which according to a local World Powerlifting Champion makes a 30-50lb difference and that we are talking about a woman. The Brits acknowledge that 500lb squat is pretty average. If you think a big squat total is what it takes to win sprints it shows you have much to learn about sprinting.
 

Enriss

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Sep 14, 2009
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If you think my argument is that a 500 lb squat will win races for you, you have a lot to learn about my argument. I think cyclists have something to gain from being stronger than your average Joe, especially track cyclists.
 

fergie

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Enriss said:
If you think my argument is that a 500 lb squat will win races for you, you have a lot to learn about my argument. I think cyclists have something to gain from being stronger than your average Joe, especially track cyclists.

Lot of thinking going on round here but not a lot of concrete evidence. Cherry picking rider examples is not a great way to develop a training philosophy!
 

jstnice

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Apr 18, 2010
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Some form of strength training will help to overcome the muscle imbalances that occur from such an activity.