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Gym training for cycle racing

Jun 15, 2009
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The winter approaches and it will become unsafe to ride on dark roads on ice and snow, so, are there any books out there on the subject of cycling-specific training using the usual complement of weight and dynamic machines such as are found in the normal leisure (!) centre gymnasium. Spinning should be dealt with seperately.
 
Mar 12, 2009
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There are lots of books, Amazon has heaps listed. But, as has been discussed in this forum, weights will not improve your performance as an endurance cyclist. It will help with a whole heap of other things, maybe help your 5 sec max power but if you are trying to keep your aerobic fitness for cycling going over winter the best thing you can do is ride a bike. Aerobically. I recommend trainers like the Tacx Fortius, Computrainer etc, keeps boredom at bay and gives power no less.
 
Jun 9, 2009
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I disagree with those who claim weight training in the winter will not improve the performance of the endurance cyclist.

It is true that weight training will not increase lactate threshhold or VO2 max. Weight training will, however, improve the max wattage a rider can produce. By improving max wattage, a rider can ride at a lower percentage of his max wattage at a given speed. This is a benefit.

Most cyclists lose weight throughout the season with some of that weight being muscle. The winter is a time to restore musculature. This process can be sped up through weight training.

I recommend the use of the leg press rather than the squat. The leg press limits axial loading, thus reducing the risk of injury during exercise. Leg extension, hamstring curls, and calf raises are good complimentary exercises.

Weight training will have the effect of making the muscles larger, thus heavier. Time trialists, sprinters, and flatlanders will receive more benefit from weight training than pure climbers for this reason.

The winter is a good time for cadence drills on the rollers to improve pedaling efficiency, weight training to improve gross power output, and long slow rides on the weekends to improve long-slow-distance endurance.

Power + efficiency + endurance = improved performance.
 
Jul 11, 2009
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David Suro said:
I recommend the use of the leg press rather than the squat. The leg press limits axial loading, thus reducing the risk of injury during exercise. Leg extension, hamstring curls, and calf raises are good complimentary exercises.

I disagree: the squat requires your entire body to balance itself, increasing your balance and muscle coordination. With squats you will train more than just your quads and when done correctly, there is no more chance of injury than doing leg presses.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Weight Training

I concur with David. A structured Resistance training course will definitely increase wattage. I also believe that while doing squats is probably a "bit" more effective, the leg press is is infinitely safer and, I think, will allow you to lift heavier weights and increase muscle mass better than squats. Better than squats are dumbbell lunges. A lot less risk to your back.
.02 cents
 
Mar 12, 2009
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Like I said weight training will do much for you. The one thing it won't do is increase your FTP. 5 sec max power whether very high or low has zero impact on your ability to perform aerobically. I can think of many, many cyclists who have exceptional power output but are built like a stick (wiggings is a great example!) Muscle size has nothing to do with FTP.

The only thing that will really improve your fitness ( and we'll take fitness to mean sustained power) is actually cycling. I am yet to see the study that proves that weight training will improve FTP. Sprinters if course will benefit, so if you are trying to improve your flying 200m times then knock yourself
out.

However I am always open to new things. If anyone has any studies proving me wrong I would be happy to read them.

And if you insist on doing weights squat is king. Any weight training can cause injury if not done properly. The squat has too many benifits to pass up on.
 
Nov 1, 2009
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There are more than a few studies that have proven weight training can improve your cycling performance, of course there are also studies that prove the opposite. Here are a couple for the former.

Hickson et al. (1988), found that 10 weeks of a three-times-a-week strength training did not change the VO2max of moderately-trained runners and cyclists. But a short-term (4-8 minutes) endurance test was improved by 12% for both running and cycling, while long-term endurance improved from 70 to 85 minutes for cycling. Marcinik et al. (1991) showed that strength training had positive effects of endurance cycling capacity. Eighteen males performed 12 weeks of strength training three times a week. The strength training consisted of 8-12 repetitions of upper body exercise (bench press, push-ups, lat pull-downs, arm curls) and 15-20 repetitions on lower body exercises (knee extensions, hip flexion's, parallel squats) with a 30-second rest between exercises. The strength training program had no effect on the subjects VO2max. However, 1 RM for knee extension and hip flexion improved by 30% and 52% respectively. More important, cycle time to exhaustion at 75% of VO2max improved a massive 33% from 26.3 minutes before strength training to 35.1 minutes after training. The conclusion: "strength training improves cycle endurance performance independently of changes in VO2max... and that this improvement appears to be related to increase in leg strength."

I don't think anyone will suggest that wieght training can substitute for time spent in the saddle, but used wisely in my opinion there is more than enough evidence to suggest that it can be beneficial to the average competitor.
Some pro's do it, some don't. Most at the top wouldn't tell you of the specifics of their training unless they are flogging something so it can be hard to believe. (Lance and Chris Carmichael have to collaborated in order to move a few products)
As a personal trainer and long time cyclist I have used weight training and trained both runners and cyclists with some success. You have to make it as specific as you can as far sets, reps, rest and timing goes, but it certainly has some merit IMO.
Also, a leg press is for a begginer or someone with limited mobility, a squat is a far more effective exercise as it requires stability and coordination. You can advance that further with a one leg body wieght squat in high reps.
As for Leg extension, hamstring curls, and calf raises?? They are what I call fluffy isolated exercises. Use box jumps or spilt lunge supersets to effectively tap out the muscle after your main leg exercise. These will not only improve your strength and all important power, they also require stability and coordination which will serve to improve your technical ability.

2 more cents for you.

Cheers
Matt
 
Oct 27, 2009
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Good topic. I used to lift weights before I got into cycling. Was 230 pounds (how many stones is that?) while lifting then got down to 170 when cycling. Weights increase the flexibility and allow riders to maintain better body posture when riding. Neck and elbow soreness seemed to go away while WT'ing. Also seems to help push bigger gears while riding--certainly an advantage when climbing!
Now, if I would only lift more than short-circuit and default to the trainer...:)
 
Jun 9, 2009
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The debate of Squat vs. Leg Press has been going on for decades.

Both exercises combine hip extension with knee extension, thus working the glutes, quads, and hams.

The leg press does not require the athlete to work on balance, coordination, abdominal (core), or low back (core) strength. Squats do.

So, there are benefits to each exercise. Core body strength may be the limiting factor when determining how much weight to squat during a workout. If this is the case, then the hip and knee extensors are not being optimally conditioned.

If an athlete focuses on using the leg press without adding exercises to develop core strength, then there is an aspect of fitness that is being neglected.

It was posted above that the squat is every bit as safe as the leg press if the exerces are performed properly. I agree with this. However, in over 25 years of spending time in weight rooms I have seen a small handful of people actually doing the squat correctly. It is my experience that the squat is respinsoble for more injuries to the knees and low back than any other exercise.

For that reason, I recommend using the leg rpess in addition to specific core strengthening exercises.
 
Matt888 said:
There are more than a few studies that have proven weight training can improve your cycling performance, of course there are also studies that prove the opposite. Here are a couple for the former.

Hickson et al. (1988), found that 10 weeks of a three-times-a-week strength training did not change the VO2max of moderately-trained runners and cyclists. But a short-term (4-8 minutes) endurance test was improved by 12% for both running and cycling, while long-term endurance improved from 70 to 85 minutes for cycling. Marcinik et al. (1991) showed that strength training had positive effects of endurance cycling capacity. Eighteen males performed 12 weeks of strength training three times a week. The strength training consisted of 8-12 repetitions of upper body exercise (bench press, push-ups, lat pull-downs, arm curls) and 15-20 repetitions on lower body exercises (knee extensions, hip flexion's, parallel squats) with a 30-second rest between exercises. The strength training program had no effect on the subjects VO2max. However, 1 RM for knee extension and hip flexion improved by 30% and 52% respectively. More important, cycle time to exhaustion at 75% of VO2max improved a massive 33% from 26.3 minutes before strength training to 35.1 minutes after training. The conclusion: "strength training improves cycle endurance performance independently of changes in VO2max... and that this improvement appears to be related to increase in leg strength."

I don't think anyone will suggest that wieght training can substitute for time spent in the saddle, but used wisely in my opinion there is more than enough evidence to suggest that it can be beneficial to the average competitor.
<snip>

2 more cents for you.
Here's a few more cents then:

The first study you quote demonstrated that such work was only on benefit for efforts requiring fast twitch fibre recruitment but not to ECP (endurance cycling performance). The increased time to exhaustion is more likely due to the fact that the resistance group had a greater overall training load than the control group. Well duh.

The second study was conducted on untrained individuals, and just about any training will improve performance in an untrained individual. The outcomes are not relevant for trained cyclists.

Neither of these studies demonstrate weights improve ECP in trained cyclists.


I'm for doing training that is specifically going to aid cycling performance. The type and nature of events that you are targeting will dictate whether specific strength work done with weights makes sense or not.

For example, I would have some riders focussed on track TT & sprint do weights. Even then the nature of the weights performed and balance with bike training needs to be considered. Many such riders are actually better off not doing weights at and focussing their sprint work on the bike. Lots of very strong but slow track riders.

The physiological adaptations induced by real strength/weights work run counter to those required to improve ECP. e.g. it add mass for no gain in aerobic power output, increases diffusion distance for exchange of key metabolites and gases at the cellular level, reduces mitochondrial volume and does not stimulate capillary growth/density, i.e. runs counter to all things necessary to improve sustainable power.

There is a low correlation between strength, speed and endurance.

By all means do weights for other reasons but a claim they aid ECP doesn't stack up.

Nevertheless, some exercise is better than none, as was demonstrated in the 2nd study quoted.

For those that can't ride, then anything that engages a large muscle mass in an aerobically meaningful manner is preferred. Walking, jogging, running, stairs, elliptical machine (my pick), rowing machines X-C skiing etc etc
 
David Suro said:
Weight training will, however, improve the max wattage a rider can produce. By improving max wattage, a rider can ride at a lower percentage of his max wattage at a given speed. This is a benefit.
No it's not.

There is no correlation between peak (sprint) power and sustainable aerobic power.

The forces involved in ECP (endurance cycling performance) are quite low, indeed nearly an order of magnitude lower than our peak force generation ability, to the extent that our peak force generation ability (strength) is not a limiter to ECP. Increasing our peak force ability does not lift our sustainable aerobic power, which is driven by aerobic metabolism.

A Quadrant Analysis of a power meter file will provide ample evidence for this.

As an example, the Average Effective Pedal Force for a rider at 300 watts with a cadence of 90 rpm on 175mm cranks is a whopping 18.6kg. If you can stand up out of your chair, or walk up stairs, you are already plenty strong enough.
 
Sep 10, 2009
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I wish people would stop quoting from scientific studies when coming up with arguments either for or against weight training in cycling.

More often than not, especially with something as complex as the interaction between training and performance and changes in the way the body works and performs science cannot find a conclusive answer, which means that science is more often than not not looking in the right place.

Perhaps for pro's or cyclists with a high training age you can forego weight training, but for beginners and intermediates it is essential in helping them develop more overall strength.

Establishing a foundation of functional strength is essential, and most people simply do not have that. Cycling already creates far too many muscular imbalances as it is, no sense in exacerbating this even more.

I think any coach that immediately discounts weight training in general is doing his athletes a huge disservice. Coaching is both art and science, and there are far too many examples of athletes reaping huge benefits from functional strength training to discount it's potential effectiveness.

Incorporating more functional exercises that involve prime movers is the way to go - isolating muscles groups does nothing but worsen imbalances, and are the leftovers of the type of body building weight exercises that far too many trainers and centers still spit out and espouse.

As far as the whole leg press vs squat argument, whichever best suits that particular athletes needs is the best - period.
 
Mar 12, 2009
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I wish people would stop quoting how much doing weights improves their power...

As I said, lots of reasons to do weights. Improving their power is not one of them. As most of us live "normal" lives and have to lift pot plants (Brad McGee reference there), and pick up the kids etc, weight training is great. Just don't expect your 16km TT times to come down because of it. You do weight training for the sake of weight training. Not for cycling, important difference.
 
Jun 15, 2009
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Well, thanks for all your interest in my original post but none of you have answered the question, which was, are there any books out there on the subject? I certainly did not wish the post to get hi-jacked by those argueing among themselves about the merits of leg pressing v squatting, but that is how it goes on this Forum, it appears. So, one more time, what about the books?

Mike Cross
 
ethnik said:
I wish people would stop quoting from scientific studies when coming up with arguments either for or against weight training in cycling.
Heaven forbid that one might actually base advice on evidence based coaching principles rather than a belief based approach.

This is a cycling training forum. Not a general lifestyle/wellbeing forum. Hence advice is generally targeted at the former, rather than the latter.