• The Cycling News forum is looking to add some volunteer moderators with Red Rick's recent retirement. If you're interested in helping keep our discussions on track, send a direct message to @SHaines here on the forum, or use the Contact Us form to message the Community Team.

    In the meanwhile, please use the Report option if you see a post that doesn't fit within the forum rules.

    Thanks!

Leg strength

ttrider

BANNED
Apr 23, 2010
386
0
0
Visit site
to what extent do you need to go to the gym to work on leg muscles to increase cycling performance, i always feel like i find it hard to push the pace up from cruising speed of 22 mph up to 26-30 miles an hour whilst remaining in the sadel whilst i notice other appear not to, would anyone recomend any leg specific work outs/exercises to increase leg strength and increase power on the flat
 
Aug 3, 2009
128
1
0
Visit site
I train a lot leg press, and I think it's a very good excersise to increase your leg muscles, although I would recommend you not to max to much with it, as I got a knee problem after repeadetly maxing. Squats is also a great excersise i would recommend for you.

But I have a friend who is trying to turn pro though, and he disagree with me about training leg strenght. He told me that it's not wise to train a lot of leg strenght, because then there's more place to build up lactic acid, and it will take more time to recover from it.
 
Jul 30, 2009
1,735
0
0
Visit site
I think this is about training your lactate threshold, sustainable time at threshold and ability to deal with pain, more than about power.

I was thinking along your lines but some time spent with a time trialler who is much more experienced than me makes me think it is about pushing the limit with my existing power rather than increasing power.

So, I thought doing a fast (amateur/veteran) TT was about being able to do 26/27mph at 85% MHR (which I could not understand how i was going to do it) but I realise now that is about doing that speed at a higher MHR (which I can do) and dealing with the pain.

The same applies for long Alpine style climbs I think, I was going up aerobically and getting dropped by friends who were prepared to suffer. My power is OK, it is the suffering I was not prepared to do.

Payoff is the endorphin rush after a sustained 20-25 minutes of pain is fantastic. :D

The key trainings are the sustained 20 minutes at 85%+ MHR and 3 x 8-9 minutes at 90% MHR - the latter is particularly good, if you are fit with lots of miles in your legs you may surprise yourself at what you can do.

Another thing is I also changed how I was calculating my training zones - I had been using bog standard % of MHR but changed to % of working HR (MHR-resting HR) if you are quite fit and have a relatively low resting HR then these limits are higher in BPM and you push yourself harder.

I hope that is not a load of rubbish, I am no pro or elite rider, but your question sounds similar to what I have been through recently.
 
ttrider said:
to what extent do you need to go to the gym to work on leg muscles to increase cycling performance, i always feel like i find it hard to push the pace up from cruising speed of 22 mph up to 26-30 miles an hour whilst remaining in the sadel whilst i notice other appear not to, would anyone recomend any leg specific work outs/exercises to increase leg strength and increase power on the flat
The limiters to endurance cycling performance are aerobic metabolic ones, and not leg strength.

The forces involved in cycling are significantly sub-maximal, such that we rarely, if ever, apply such maximal forces or near maximal forces when riding a bike. Remember that maximal force (strength) can only be applied at zero velocity, which is not something that occurs when pedaling in endurance cycling events.

Note also that the average effective pedal force for both legs even when riding at 400 watts / 100rpm / 175mm cranks is equivalent to ~22kg (218 N).

Indeed exercises to increase leg strength (max force generation capacity) induce physiological changes that run counter to those required to improve sustainable power output such as:
- increased mass for no comparable increase in sustainable power,
- reduced mitochondrial density,
- increased diffusion distance for exchange of gases and key metabolites,
- reduced capillary density

In short - the best exercise for enabling one to ride a bike faster, is riding a bike with sufficient durations and intensity (level of effort) to induce the necessary adaptations.

Finally - your expectation of making speed changes of the order you are outlining are audacious, if you don't also consider means to reduce the resistance forces acting against you.

With no change to resistance forces (e.g. better aerodynamics), to increase speed by from 22mph to 26mph, requires an increase is sustainable (aerobic) power of ~ 55%, and to get to 30mph would require a more than doubling of your power output (125% increase).
 
Mar 12, 2009
553
0
0
Visit site
What Alex said.

This is a topic I have done much research on, mainly because I have to do weights and if they could help my cycling then rock on. BUT, so far the evidence is far from conclusive in the positive (and most in the negative/neutral). In short the current evidence suggests that your better off spending your time training on the bike.

Oh and if you're getting knee problems from weights, max or not, you're not doing it right.
 

ttrider

BANNED
Apr 23, 2010
386
0
0
Visit site
Yeh thank you for the advice Alex that is much appreciated
Thanks for the training details as well winterfold yeh i guess it is surprising how much harder you can sometimes push if your prepared to accept pain!
 

Green Tea

BANNED
Apr 14, 2010
136
0
0
Visit site
Lance Armstrong, Fabian Cancellara, Cadel Evans all lift. I think Vino does a bit of lifting also. There all great riders.

I read increasing strength prolongs speed endurance & max applicable force. Certainly did a hell of a lot for my power.
 

Bagster

BANNED
Jun 23, 2009
290
0
0
Visit site
Green Tea said:
Lance Armstrong, Fabian Cancellara, Cadel Evans all lift. I think Vino does a bit of lifting also. There all great riders.

I read increasing strength prolongs speed endurance & max applicable force. Certainly did a hell of a lot for my power.

I have to say that when Sarah Ulmer was training for the Athens Olympic pursuits she was doing heavy leg presses. Short distances I know, but her world record still stands
 
Jan 4, 2010
115
0
0
Visit site
Bagster said:
I have to say that when Sarah Ulmer was training for the Athens Olympic pursuits she was doing heavy leg presses. Short distances I know, but her world record still stands

There has not been any credible study to prove it one way or anouther. But there has been studies that showed it helped long distance runners and cross country skiers. As one US olympic coach put it "it would be a freaking miracle if bicycling turns out to be the only sport where lifting and being stronger does not benefit the athlete".
 
STODRR said:
There has not been any credible study to prove it one way or anouther. But there has been studies that showed it helped long distance runners and cross country skiers. As one US olympic coach put it "it would be a freaking miracle if bicycling turns out to be the only sport where lifting and being stronger does not benefit the athlete".
Was that US Olympic coach someone that actually understood cycling or physiology?

Cycling is not running or skiing, they are quite different in that regard and strength work has other potentially positive impacts for runners. I don't know about skiing, never snows where I live. :)

But even so, running is still by far the best training for running. I cannot for the life of me imagine that this fundamental principle would not also apply to XC skiing (or swimming, or rowing or any other aerobic endurance sport).

There have been multiple relevant studies on trained cyclists showing no or detrimental impacts to endurance cycling performance from performing leg strength work. There are no credible, relevant studies showing positive impacts.

There was the recent Norwegian study talking about improved economy but not improved performance AFAIK. I would want that repeated and reported in a slightly more credible journal. And there was a Danish study last year I think that suggested improved performance but when you actually pulled apart their numbers, they didn't stack up, IOW their conclusions were not supported by their own data.
 

Green Tea

BANNED
Apr 14, 2010
136
0
0
Visit site
Power = Speed x Strength.

Certainly in track sprinting & Sprint track cycling, increased strength has a positive impact.

Rowers & swimmers lift weights (Phelps/Redgrave etc).
 
Mar 12, 2009
553
0
0
Visit site
Green Tea said:
Power = Speed x Strength.

Certainly in track sprinting & Sprint track cycling, increased strength has a positive impact.

Rowers & swimmers lift weights (Phelps/Redgrave etc).

More correctly, Power=velocity x torque.

As Alex pointed out the actual forces in producing aerobic power are low. The energy systems required for these forces are delivered by the aerobic energy system, making the limiters of your performance biochemical rather than biomechanics.

Probably why so many endurance athletes in cycling look like sticks yet can produced very large sustained power outputs. There are of course exceptions.

To compare track sprinters and their use of weights to endurance cyclists is like comparing 100m runners to marathoners.

Yes, some endurance pros have been sighted, quoted, or reported as doing weights. But without the knowledge of when, how or why it would be very incorrect to draw the assumption that weights, for aerobic performance, will aid you. Pros also ride 6 hours a day, maybe this has more to do with their performance than some sketchy info on weight lifting.
 
Nov 24, 2009
1,602
0
0
Visit site
Green Tea said:
Power = Speed x Strength.

Certainly in track sprinting & Sprint track cycling, increased strength has a positive impact.

Rowers & swimmers lift weights (Phelps/Redgrave etc).

Because rowing is a combo of aerobic and anaerobic. In rowing spm (rpm) is max ever going to be 38/40 for 6-7mins in a regatta. That means each drive exerts far more force than a pedal stroke, e.g. 80-100 rpm. I think Alex said somewhere at 500 watts each leg is driving 17kgs. For rowing they will be pushing a lot more than that, therefore more strength.

And if you come back and say well if a cyclist did weights then they could push harder, you would be an idiot
 
Mar 12, 2009
553
0
0
Visit site
What works for Cancellara? Having a superior watts to CdA ratio over Wiggins?

Or does this have something to do with weights? If so explain when he does weights, the manner in which he does them, how often, and at which point in the season and your arguement may have some relevance.
 
May 6, 2010
5
0
0
Visit site
Tapeworm said:
Or does this have something to do with weights? If so explain when he does weights, the manner in which he does them, how often, and at which point in the season and your arguement may have some relevance.

Even if he can it wouldn't prove much. If we are going to work off anecdote there are far more 60kg stick men winning races than people with Cancellara's build.
 

Green Tea

BANNED
Apr 14, 2010
136
0
0
Visit site
PortableDave said:
Even if he can it wouldn't prove much. If we are going to work off anecdote there are far more 60kg stick men winning races than people with Cancellara's build.

In World Championships & Classics for instance.

When it comes to being a complete rider, I think Cancellara is up there at the very top.
 
Mar 12, 2009
553
0
0
Visit site
I don't know, he hasn't sent me this week's training program for some reason :rolleyes:

Though I would hazard it would involve a fair bit of riding on the bike each day and a fair bit specific training on the TT bike.

Oh you wanted more? Well probably lots and lots of aerobic work, and quite a decent amount of interval work in the aerobic range, just a guess. Maybe some anaerobic work too here and there.

In short, things which allow you to pedal at a good power level for a long time (eliciting things like - mitochondria, capillarisation, ability to remove metabolites etc etc)

Weights may pop up here and there, maybe for general body conditioning, but its hard to tell without the details.
 
Oct 29, 2009
1,095
0
0
Visit site
The best way to increase speed and power on a bike is to do interval training and to train at lactate threshold. With that being said, incorporating a small weight lifting regimen will increase power, but you have to do the right workouts. Most power comes from your core, so do some core training with medicine balls and stability balls, by far the most overlooked muscle group by cyclists. Also, if you want to build strength in your legs, do low weight with a lot of reps quickly; this will build strength in fast twitch muscles without increasing mass. A body builder does the opposite: high weight, low reps. That builds mass.

Remember, use weight training to supplement bike training not to replace it. If you spend more time in the gym than you do on the bike, you're kidding yourself if you think it will make you faster. Personally, I do the most weight training during the offseason. In the month prior to and during the season, I'll pop into the gym once a week or so to do core work and some quick circuit training. This keeps my core strong and body lean. To put into perspective, I'm 6'2" 155lbs (metric I think like 1.89 and 70kg give or take) with about 10-12 percent body fat.

It will also make you a healthier person with much more balanced fitness. I don't know why so many cyclists are opposed to weight lifting. It has plenty of bike related benefit...if done properly.

EDIT: Much of it also depends on genetics and body type. What works for me may not have work as well for others.
 
Jan 4, 2010
115
0
0
Visit site
Alex Simmons/RST said:
Was that US Olympic coach someone that actually understood cycling or physiology?

yes he was the US bicycling strenght and conditioning coach and an avid racer himself.

Cycling is not running or skiing, they are quite different in that regard and strength work has other potentially positive impacts for runners. I don't know about skiing, never snows where I live. :)

yes they are different, however many of the things like saying the muscles get too big or they can't transfer gases or the loose capillary density have been proven in those endurance sports not to be true.

But even so, running is still by far the best training for running. I cannot for the life of me imagine that this fundamental principle would not also apply to XC skiing (or swimming, or rowing or any other aerobic endurance sport).

I have not seen anybody say anything different

There have been multiple relevant studies on trained cyclists showing no or detrimental impacts to endurance cycling performance from performing leg strength work. There are no credible, relevant studies showing positive impacts.

I have read alot of them and I believe their only relevant in showing how not to do it. Almost all of them put the leg strength in with the normal bike riding. They did not try and blend them in a effective way in my opinion.


There was the recent Norwegian study talking about improved economy but not improved performance AFAIK. I would want that repeated and reported in a slightly more credible journal.

agreed

And there was a Danish study last year I think that suggested improved performance but when you actually pulled apart their numbers, they didn't stack up, IOW their conclusions were not supported by their own data.

Agreed,

I am also not saying it will make you faster over a 6 hr ride except maybe a couple of seconds in the final sprint. But I firmily believe it will help you get there with more reserves. If you can use less energy for Quick bursts for attacks and or sprints and we all know during races there can be quit a few of those in some races, you will able to do what is necessary easiliar without exhausting yourself and you will be stronger at the end. Will it help with a ten mile climb probally not, will it help with powering over a roller, I believe so.

In addition it could help prevent injuries allowing more time to train.

I have never heard anybody say that good core strength is not important, that is also part of strength training

Anyway I try and stay out of these threads due to most of the information is anedotal, I have my opinion and you have yours and neither has been proven incorrect as of yet.