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PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:04 pm 
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As weightweenies seem ask the question relatively often on weight training and studies on it's effects for cyclists, I thought this article was interesting -

http://www.drmirkin.com/fitness/weight_training_cyclists.html

A study from Cowan University in Joondalup, Australia shows that adding resistance leg weight training does not help competitive bicycle racers to race faster (1).

The cyclists were divided into two groups: one that continued their bicycling training, while the other group did the same cycling training but added a six-week undulating, periodized resistance training program (3/wk). Before and after the six-week training period, the cyclists completed a maximal graded exercise test, a 30-km dynamic cycling test with three intermittent 250-m and 1-km sprints, and a 1 repetition maximum (1RM) squat test for the assessment of lower-limb strength. The weight lifters became stronger and improved their one- repetition maximum squat, but they failed to improve any aspect of cycling. Surprisingly, their final sprint in their 1- km time trials were significantly slower than their previous times.

Cycling is a power sport. Those with the strongest legs are the fastest sprinters. Yet lifting weights made them slower sprinters. Lifting weights with their legs left them too sore to train most intensely on their more intense cycling days, and the faster you ride on your intense days in training, the faster you usually ride in races. Further studies in the future may change the way we think now, but most research show that resistance leg training with weights does not help experienced and well trained, long distance cyclists to race faster.

On the other hand, strength training may help some runners run faster. Research shows that strengthening the leg muscles of runners allows them to run faster because they stay closer to the ground and do not waste energy by bobbing up and down as much with each stride (2,3,4).

1. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, November 2009, 23(8):2280-6.
2. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2006;20(4):947-954.
3. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 2003;89:1-7.
4. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2003;17(1):60-67).


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 8:38 pm 
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Good post. Should be a surprise to no one that has researched this.

That said, I'm still going to do a weight program during the off season. Think it's good for muscle balance and core strength.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:13 am 
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Thanks for posting this.

There has been quite a bit of research in relation weight training and potential benefits to cycling. Most come up with the same thing, it doesn't really help. Some have eluded to potential gain via muscle type conversion but it is still not concrete.

The fact they looked at specific sprint performance is also of interest as this is the most attributal benefit supposedly gain from weight training.

That being said the track sprinter community would argue very strongly that weights are essential PART of track sprinting, just lifting very heavy weights won't make you a good sprinter. You have to be able to recruit what you have effectively. And hence there is a lot of work done to translate strength gains into meaningful power on the bike. The question is:- is it worth it?

If you also look at the current crop of Omnium riders, for events such as the kilo and flying 250m they are real close to the "pure" sprinters, AND they have have do the IP, scratch etc.

IIRC the current Omni World Champ didn't touch a weight for his win (though this is just an anecdote).

CoachFergie is one who would agree with the findings of this study I think!

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:59 am 
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Yes, did a case study on a female sprinter tracking ave power from max to 5, 10, 20 and 30sec. She improved at all duration's anywhere from 3-9% over a 4 week period, but the relative percentages of max power didn't change. Ie an increase in Max power didn't have an effect on 10-30sec power.

What was interesting that her performance didn't improve as much as the power did indicating that other factors were at play like tactics and motivation.

Max power on the bike would be well below the max strength or power that could be attained in the gym. SRM analysis of the events would indicate that anaerobic glycolysis is the thing that sprinters need to train. But that hurts like crazy and you impress the girls more lifting big weights than puking after performing maximal 30s efforts.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:42 am 
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I think where weight training may help is with the aging athlete to maintain lean tissue and strength. Loss of lean tissue leads to fat and less calories to maintain the base requirements. I hit the weights every winter and does it help? :noidea: I don't know but I suspect it doesn't hurt either.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 6:59 pm 
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These tests come out every now and then. Usually a small study sample. Often a flawed methodology as well. IMO really nothing beyond opinions and antidotal evidence. Cycling covers such a broad range of specific requirements and by our very biodiversity I would argue such training should be decided on an individual basis. Still general trends can by noted but should be viewed with skepticism. Looking at the legs in the Pro peloton you can see the diversity. Toothpick legs to the incredible Hulk.
Weight training itself covers a wide variety if exercises. Some can in fact reduce the effectiveness of fast twitch muscles. So the specific type of training is an issue. I personally am a fan of plyometrics, an explosive type of training that I find useful in both cycling and épée. That said I'm sure it would be useless for say a RAAM rider. Dang that diversity ;)

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 7:14 pm 
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Happy to see it's of interest to the weightweenies.

In spite of the study conclusion, like jmilliron I'll start again soon weight training for the same reasons.

For plyometrics rustychain, is that under supervision, or you do it "solo"? I think I saw Friel talking about it in the "...bible..." book and it was stated that care needed to be taken to avoid injury. Can you give some insight / first hand opinion to plyometrics?


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:08 pm 
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It's not something you should do without a good base of fitness. It is also best done when fully recovered and in moderation. I would suggest if a coach is not available the book "High Powered Plyometrics by James Radcliffe and Robert Farentinos.
Plyometrics IMO best done off season as is weight training and as part of an overall cross training program. I also suggest you read up on it a bit as it's usefulness for your specific needs. Not everyone would benefit in it's application in cycling. It has helped me however with my sprint and in cross with explosive attacks. In épée all my students do it. I also suggest a trainer for your weight program, explain your goals specifically! Many trainers are under the impression that everyone wants to be built like a massive hulk. Not so much for cyclist ;)
Again I do not think weight training is for every cyclist. IMO some will improve but for some it could be detrimental. We are a diverse breed

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:35 pm 
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Funny how some people prefer their n=1 over a sample of n= >1.

We are actually more alike than we are different. The differences are in our goals and environments. I have yet to see a cycling event (and have provided data, albeit n=1, but have seen the same in other sprint cyclist's, that increased peak power has no influence on 10-20sec power). Improvements at the faster end of the sport comes from better technique and learning to pace the efforts. If you look at the 100m splits for the flying 200m you will see that those who adopt an even pace place better.

30sec power is at around 60-70% of maximal power so for anything aerobic strength is of no consequence as you are between 30-50% for a 4000m pursuit and between 15-25% for a road race or long time trial.

The limits to cycling performance are many but strength ain't one of them.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 12:52 am 
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rusty, having taken part in Dr Abbiss' studies before (as has tapeworm), though not in this case, I find both his methodology to be sound, and his findings interesting.

He also does a fair amount of work with the AIS, and isn't a bad cyclist himself.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:51 am 
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Whilst I am nutty for sports research one thing many of these particular types of study confirm, and which Fergie confirms, is that there is no superior or substitute for training on the bike. At best they may yield a positive effect... but not as good as doing it on the bike.

There has been one study IIRC which did show an improvement to TT performance from doing a series of plyo drills like box jumps, single leg jumps etc. However they didn't compare it to "on-the-bike" explosive drills for example.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:39 am 
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Was that Paton and Hopkins? The training included on the bike high intensity intervals. Speaking to Will Hopkins his thoughts were the intervals were where performance gains came from over the jumps.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 7:18 am 
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I think that was the one Fergie though I recall (vaguely) a different study that also involved weights in the form of leg sled work along with the plyos.


Oh and just an anecdote from the aforementioned Omnium WC:-
Yeah baby new all time Power PB in today's leadout. 1082w for 24 seconds woop woop. #enduroscansprint.
UberSocial for BlackBerry • 1/09/11 16:10

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 7:33 am 
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Gains made by explosive drills on the bike will lead to faster adaption but please consider that other factors are in play. Kind of like free weights as opposed to weight machines. Stabilizing, core and balance. Further ligaments, tendons adapt faster to the stress of weight bearing training. Further we are talking about off season cross training. I believe in cross training personaly.

Max leg speed is of utmost importance to a track sprinter or BMX cyclist. Not so much in other areas of cycling. It's a big and deverse tent guys! (ever try spinning in mud and sand? Cobbles?)

Again, something you guys are not hearing, I am not saying that weight training is good for all cyclist. I'm saying that for some individuals it may be helpful as an off season cross training thing. Is that harder to believe then standing next to a bit of plastic will make you unbalanced ( referring to the "thread" in chat)? You do realize to that many looking for advise here may not be full time elite athletes? Some may have different needs? I understand your passion for your specific disciplines. I also understand that colors everyones perspective. Your seeing what your looking for on a limited area of adaption. I prefer a holistic approach most often but even more so when asked general questions like is weight training good for a cyclist.

I remember when swimming was considered an absolute no no for cyclist. It's funny how things work out.

Have a good ride, climb some hills, hit a cross bike, try some touring on a full on touring rig! BMX! Try riding a fixed in NYC! Try something you have never done before! Its good for the soul. Have fun guys :)

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:13 am 
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For those exact reasons rusty is why I am an advocate of explaining these things.

FWIW I lift, and reasonably "heavy" (squat 110kgs, DL 130kgs) not that this is much for real lifters.

And as Fergie alluded to, humans are more alike than we think. Whilst people have some anecdotal account of "weights made me a faster rider" chances are it didn't. They probably would have improved much more with correct on-the-bike-training. Hence I am not "anti-weights", I am "anti-other stuff which really doesn't help my training but pro-cyclist xxx did it in a magazine article therefore it is a valid training regime." if you want to do yoga, running, weights, swimming, pilates, zumba, whatever because you enjoy it then great. But crosstraining is really a form of detraining. If you can't do anything else due to weather, location, time, other then so be it. But doing the above will not improve your cycling. At least all the studies and experience I've had say so... so far.

But I am yet to see a study that has proven that anything improves your cycling as much as cycling. And given many here are time poor then maximising the available training time with that which yields the best results makes sense. If a study comes out proving otherwise I'll amend my stance accordingly.

As for the Hogg stuff I maintain I want to see a study and am open minded till then.

And swimming IS a no no for cyclists! Development of unessecary groups of muscles!

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Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:13 am 


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