Your thoughts on strength training for the legs

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by stevegreer, Nov 24, 2009.

  1. stevegreer

    stevegreer Member

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    Just wondering about some opinions for strength training with weights for your legs. Do you think it is better to do heavy weights and low reps or low weights and high reps? For example, if you are doing leg presses, would you do 8 reps with 400 pounds or 25 reps with 200 pounds?
    All opinions are welcome!
     
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  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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  3. DancenMacabre

    DancenMacabre New Member

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    Lemme give you a little inside info @ no cost to you, a freebie - how about that??? :D:D:D:D Not long ago I was lifting weights, before I started training on my bicycle. You know what? I could do sets of free weight, bar squats with 225 pounds. Not so shabby for a non-athlete, 66kg woman. Problem is, even after 6 months of hard, strict, consistent training on the bike w/PM, my FTP, 205, aint as good as my squats were! No killer sprint either - guess slow lifting w/lotsa weight doesnt make you sprint well either. Lifting weights is hella fun, I like it a bunch so not trying to discourage you. If you wanna be stronger in the gym then lift, yeah definitely. Faster on the bike? Toss the weights and ride the bike for that one!!! :)
     
  4. velomanct

    velomanct New Member

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    Ride your bike.
     
  5. fergie

    fergie Member

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    Strength isn't a limiter in cycling. Ride the bike to develop excellent condition then work on developing power on the bike. Might have mentioned this here a few times but fitness is VERY specific.

    But some of us enjoy lifting weights so I would do what you enjoy doing. Periodisation of weight training is sets of high reps to condition the joints and learn good technique, mod reps high sets for hypertrophy to build lean muscle, then strength work dropping the reps and sets before power work where you do very few reps (1-2) and perform the exercises explosively.
     
  6. cyberlegend1994

    cyberlegend1994 Moderator

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    Cycling is more of an endurance activity than a strength activity, so if you're gonna do leg exercises, I'd be inclined to suggest low weight and high reps. Endurance will develop itself the more you ride.

    OTOH, you do need strength in order to climb, so alternating between the two might not be a bad idea.
     
  7. fergie

    fergie Member

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    "Need strength to climb hills"???

    Sorry is the 280 watts I put out on 20min climb radically different to the 280 watts I put out in a 16km TT???
     
  8. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

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    I will answer since you asked a question purely on weight training and did not relate it to cycling performance.

    Progressive overload is the key for strength training and general speaking it cycles through periodization with a planned goal.

    Your legs will adapt to the stress placed on them. Doing higher reps with lighter weight will improve strength a little and for a little while, but once your body adapts you will either have to add more reps or more weight. You may gain lean mass depending on genetics but the relationship between strength and muscular gain may not be in balance. Again really depends on a person's genetics.

    The old school of general weight training was to keep within a 10 rep range and then once that is fairly easy over a period of time you would increase weight until that becomes easy and then continue to incrementally increase.

    My personal preference was to pyramid my sets and would go as low as 4 to 6 reps at the peak of the sets and then drop down and do a few lighter sets with higher reps. Again your body will adapt to the stress placed on it, but with weight training it also becomes a mental challenge as well. For instance in the peak of my past days I could leg press over 800 lbs, but backing out of a squat rack with 500 lbs was a huge mental challenge to overcome. The reason I say that is even if you could gain substantial strength by doing high reps lower weight once you unracked the weight, whether it be bench press or squats, the large jump in weight will just about crush you mentally. By incrementally progressing over weeks of time you give both your body and your mind time to adapt and adjust to the weight. The body adapts by becoming stronger (again genetics plays a huge role) and so does the confidence (hopefully).

    So taking your example above if it were me I would do something like this pertaining to leg press if that is the weapon of choice. :)

    (if you have already warmed up with light cardio or other leg equipment you may not need as many warm up sets. Later in my lifting career I began to really appreciate more warm up sets and my legs have adapted to large volume workouts. In my peak I was doing more than 30 sets on leg day with a lot of heavy weight training)

    Set 1 light warm up 15 reps
    Set 2 add weight, light warm up 15 reps
    Set 3 add weight, light warm up 12 reps
    Set 4 add weight, warm up 8 reps
    Set 5 add weight, working set 6 reps
    Set 6 add weight, working set 4 reps
    Set 7 lower weight, working set 10 reps
    Set 8 lower weight, working set 10 reps

    Bottom line in all my years of lifting I have never witnessed anyone continue to gain strength using higher reps in the manner that you asked. Almost everyone will initially gain strength just by starting as it is the same with cycling and most types of training. The initial phase is productive to newbies, but the body adapts and progress will stall eventually (typically).

    I try to implement the following catch phrase in most things that I do.
    If you keep doing what you are doing and you will keep getting what you are getting.

    Based on that phrase I attempt to apply progressive overload whether it be weight training or cycling and my career.
     
  9. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    It all depends on what you are trying to achieve.
     
  10. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

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    200m track sprinter - heavy weights, low reps.
    Endurance cyclist - no weights, just ride your bike up hills. If you really must do leg presses, then use a weight that you can do for 5mins straight. As mentioned, road cycling is an endurance sport, and lifting a weight for a duration of 25 reps is not really going to build endurance in a cycling perspective.

    This advice may be worth less than the price you paid for it...;)
     
  11. stevegreer

    stevegreer Member

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    Thanks for all the posts!

    Dave, thanks for the link!
    DancenMacabre, I do appreciate the freebie!! Free is good!:D
    Velomanct, "ride your bike" is great advice! That's the fun part of training!
    fergie, very good advice, but you lost me when you mentioned watts...:confused:
    cyberlegend, I've always subscribed to that school of thought as well... low weights and high reps to build endurance and high weights and low reps to build strength and muscle mass.
    Felt_Rider, awesome posts! Rep for you my friend!
    jhuskey, what I'm really looking for is a good balance between strength and endurance. I'm 34 now and have been riding bikes since I was 5. I ran track when I was in high school and was a sprinter. I remember we sprinters would train a different way than the distance runners would. So I was wondering if the same held true for cycling.
    tony, wow man, leg presses for 5 minutes straight sounds painful! Great advice though!

    Once again, thanks for all the advice, and anyone else who would like to drop some lines feel free! I am always open to suggestions!
     
  12. fergie

    fergie Member

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    Watts is a measure of intensity. It was claimed that one needed strength to climb hills. There is no difference in the intensity I ride a 20min climb to how hard I ride a 16km TT (approx 24min). Hence my query.
     
  13. DancenMacabre

    DancenMacabre New Member

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    Stevegreer, so tell us what your goals are??? Then at least we can reply with something more tangible :) :) :) Like I said, weight training rocks & I love the stuff. Oftentimes I wish I could do some now but it is only gonna hurt my bike riding - doing both things at once. Probably a good chance to injure myself. Plus if you have hypertrophy of those muscles, you gain *muscle* weight. Seeing as I am now getting real, "bike rider/cyclist" lean, I dont wanna put on weight. Maybe you don't mind extra weight or maybe you do. Seems many men want extra muscle so I have no idea.

    If you still want to lift then in your shoes, I wouldn't bother trying to build endurance with weights. Like tony was saying, you won't build strength doing 25 reps. You would have to do hundreds, maybe thousands of reps - plus, you would have to do them super fast to mimic the cadence on your bike. No, cycling endurance isn't going to be something you build in the gym.

    Me? I would try those great old school lifts - my favorites they are - squat & deadlift. 1-3 reps to improve muscle coordination (aka neuromuscular), 4-6 to build strength & hypertrophy. Take hella time between sets, like 4-5 minutes. You wanna give your ATP/CP stores time to replenish. If you do not then its kinda of like not taking enough time between anaerobic intervals on your bike - they become mostly aerobic if you make the rest too short. Dont read a book between sets and get cold, but dont rush either.

    Training to failure is overrated. I used to see some people toss around weights in the gym, huffing/puffing, yelling till they dropped but while the show was entertaining/impressive, they didnt appear to get much stronger. Not that I am strong or impressive but I got progress. Is that not the goal?

    I have been reading some material that says if you can do these fast, as in explosive & olympic style, then "maybe" some of it can transfer to the bike in max power or your jump in sprints. Then again, maybe not, the ex physio's & coaches on this blog can better explain that part. Is that important to you? It would be great to try that style. Maybe my sprint would get better, then I could be a real criterium specialist. Then again I learned to lift weights slow/steady to avoid injuries so throwing big weight around for power sounds a bit sketch to me? I might also be a bit too much of a wimp to try it! :eek:
     
  14. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Is it, isn't it, maybe not, maybe it is, definitely not, of course it it, faster slower, slower faster... blah blah blah blah blah.

    Different day, different tune...

    The only thing that stays the same is the same lack of a clue.
     
  15. fergie

    fergie Member

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    Hey Frank, does your pet monkey do any other tricks?
     
  16. baker3

    baker3 New Member

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    The new training craze is a combination of hyrdo riding and oxygen therapy. If you look carefully, you can see he is also using powercranks.

    View attachment 11344
     
  17. Enriss

    Enriss New Member

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    If you're really interested in strength training, I could recommend you do a bunch of things, but I'd only be parroting Mark Rippetoe. I highly recommend his book, titled "Starting Strength", to anyone who's looking to get into weight training.
     
  18. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    You get called out again and that's all you can come up with?

    That's weaker than your commitment to keep to one training ideal per week on this forum. I don't think I've seem you bleat the same tune for more than 4 days in a row...
     
  19. fergie

    fergie Member

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    Frank, I mean does he dance?

    I mean if he can't figure out that riding a hill maximally for a duration shouldn't require any more strength than riding maximally on the flat for a similar duration then one should question the suggestion of needing strength training to ride hills.

    "DANCE MONKEY DANCE!!!"
     
  20. fergie

    fergie Member

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    While many will wait for publication in quality journal I'm sure Frank has already written a new post for his website claiming a new benefit for Gimmickcranks. (Haven't changed my tune there Swampy:p).
     
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