Strength Training for Cyclists

The research done to date on the effects of strength training for cyclists has brought mixed results. The study done by Ben Hurley at the University of Maryland had 10 sound men begin several exercises. They did chest presses, hip flexors, knee extensions, leg curls, push-ups, leg presses, lat pull-downs, biceps curls, standard squats, and bent-knee sit-ups for 12 weeks. Eight other healthy men served as controls. Following 12 weeks, the strength trained men had enhanced their endurance cycling at a force of 75% V02max by 33% with increased lactate threshold of 12%.

These men were untrained before the study and did not complete consistent cycling workouts during the study. The pertinence of this study on strength training for cyclists to genuine competitors is faulty at best.

Strength Training for Cyclists can cause a significant performance improvement with intelligent protocols
Strength Training for Cyclists can cause a significant performance improvement with intelligent protocols

Strength training for cyclists – Study #2

The study did by R. C. Hickson and his partners at the University of Illinois at Chicago was significantly more applicable. In that examination of strength training for cyclists, eight accomplished cyclists included three days every week of quality strength training to their training schedules over a 10-week period. The strength training was fairly basic. It concentrated on parallel squats (5 sets x 5 reps every workout), leg extensions (3 sets x 5 reps), leg curls (3 x 5), and calf raises (3 x 25), all with a fair amount of resistance. The only variable allowed in the study was to increase resistance as strength increased.

The strength training for cyclists regimen had a significantly positive effect on cycling performance. Following the 10 week program, the cyclists enhanced their ‘short-term endurance’ (their capacity to working at a high intensity for short time periods) by around 11%, and they additionally extended the measure of time they could pedal at a force of 80% V02 max from 71 to 85 minutes, about a 20% increase.

Strength training for cyclists – Study #3

On the negative side, we have research on strength training for cyclists, completed by James Home and his associates at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Seven endurance cyclists were studied. They had an average of around 200 kilometers of cycling every week. They introduced three strength training sessions into their ordinary training schedule. The training program was moderately simple. They did three sets of up to eight repetitions of leg curls, leg presses, and leg extensions. They used fairly heavy resistance.

Following six weeks, the training had created rather amazing increases (on average more than 20%). Though actual cycling performance was not enhanced. On the contrary, they were worse than before the strength training for cyclists study. 40-K race times increased from 59 to 62 minutes The study cyclists complained of feeling drained after their workouts.

Why did Hickson’s study reveal clear increases connected with strength training for cyclists, while Home’s work uncovered the converse?

Nobody knows for certain. This leaves it open to interpretation. It appears to be likely that the training completed by Hickson’s subjects enhanced endurance fibers in their muscles. This allowed them to persevere longer both amid high-force tests of perseverance and delayed endeavors at a submaximal (80% V02max) power. Its conceivable that Home’s protocols sent his competitors into the overtrained state. The perception of fatigue began not long after the start of training. The competitors demonstrated they were essentially doing an excessive amount of work.

Home’s cyclists were averaging 124 miles per week riding when they began their exercise study. Hickson’s competitors were logging significantly fewer miles. One might recommend that strength training for cyclists can deliver real advantages for low-mileage cyclists. It does a great deal less for experienced, higher mileage contenders who have developed impressive performance gains solely by riding. It likely wasn’t the strength training alone which hindered the cyclists. The aggregate sum of work they used in their weekly protocol might be to blame.

Another issue that was not kept controlled in the studies was diet and supplementation. This likewise would have a real effect. It is my own conclusion that strength training for cyclists gives favorable results when done correctly and matched with the right diet, supplements, recovery protocols, and when the load is adjusted to suit the competition and riding schedule appropriately.

A very low impact Band Strength Training Program you can do anywhere anytime

Article courtesy of guest blogging, edited to suit this format