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Re-thinking Strength Training for Cycling Performance

markacmarkac Posts: 45
The strength debate is endless in this sport, and the reason we can't come to complete agreement I believe is that cyclists can't get out of the "it's an endurance sport" mode of thinking.

Below are my thoughts on this, based on both a pretty good knowledge of our sport, and a lot of physiology research in the last 6 months.

1) cycling requires both "aerobic" and "anaerobic" power (but see #3-5 for a physiologically better way to view this)--aerobic power for sustainable efforts, and anaerobic power for shorter, high-intensity efforts such as sprints and accelerations (matches!)

2) very few races are won with aerobic power--instead most are won with tactics and/or superior anaerobic capacity. Competitively superior aerobic power wins only time trials, hill-top finishes and long solo breakaways (otherwise TT champs would usually win road races, and we know that is not true)

3) what cycling really requires of the cycling muscles is sustained use of type I and type IIa muscle fibers, and under the principle of sequential motor unit recruitment, higher order fibers (type IIx/b) are periodically activiated for brief, intense efforts--it goes then, you should train your type I/IIa fibers for sustainable power, and train your IIx/b fibers for maximal power and muscular endurance

4) LT and VO2 max interval training is the exercise modality which is shown to most improve type I/IIa performance (via downconverting type IIx/b fibers into IIa fibers, and enabling higher mitochondrial function)--resulting in an increase in power and endurance at submaximal levels of exertion, at 0-100% of VO2 max.

5) Resistance training using concentric, eccentric and isometric muscle contraction, performed in the same movement pattern as that used in sport, is the optimal exercise modality for improving peak strength/power and muscular endurance of type IIx/b fibers

6) the following study corroborates the performance benefits better than anything I've read: http://bit.ly/htAOjd This shows even a non-optimal form of strength training resulted in a 7.8% improvement in 5 minute power, after a sustained submaximal effort.

Please someone tell me that this wouldn't benefit Farrar against Cav., or that Phillipe Gilbert wouldn't have won World's this year with 30 or 40 more watts for the last 13 minutes of the race!

In my view, the unequivocal, scientific truth is that resistance training should be a vital part of training for competitive cyclists, but I welcome your thoughts--pro or con.
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  • Re Point 5. I will take an awful lot of convincing that such exercise is more optimal than performing high power efforts on a bike, such as accelerations, seated sprints, standing sprints of all kinds (up hill, flat, down hill), standing starts, low speed accelerations, long efforts up to 1-min, lots of short efforts <6 seconds, everything in between and so on....

    Strength training is excellent for improving strength, but strength is of little value if those additional force abilities cannot be delivered at the joint angles and velocities in cycling. To do that you need to do work on a bike.

    Even for track sprinters, the most important training they do is on the bike.
  • markacmarkac Posts: 45
    Ok...but what if the strength training was in the EXACT same motion as that on a bicycle? Say if you attached the chain of a bike to a weight stack, and did RT for the different muscle groups in isolation? (Right side/left side/push-down/pull-up)

    A cyclist's muscles don't really know what they are being asked to do. All they know is that force is being asked for by CNS and they deliver the best they know how (which is improved via training).

    And training for peak power and local muscular endurance in human skeletal muscle is optimally accomplished via resistance training. No physiologist would argue otherwise.

    So, knowing that the act of pedaling a bicycle is is the coordinated power contribution of two different muscle groups in each leg, to maximize power wouldn't you recommend strength training? (Or more specifically, power training which involves higher velocity exercises.)
  • markac wrote:
    6) the following study corroborates the performance benefits better than anything I've read: http://bit.ly/htAOjd This shows even a non-optimal form of strength training resulted in a 7.8% improvement in 5 minute power, after a sustained submaximal effort.
    All that study shows to me is that a group who did more work, increased their power. Well, duh.

    If you say it is sub-optimal form of strength training, why did it work then? What do you consider optimal and why?

    How would it have fared against doing the sort of training on a bike which would be designed to improve 5-min maximal power?

    Finally, how about listing all studies relate to the discussion, rather than one that perhaps supports one way or another.
  • markac wrote:
    So, knowing that the act of pedaling a bicycle is is the coordinated power contribution of two different muscle groups in each leg, to maximize power wouldn't you recommend strength training? (Or more specifically, power training which involves higher velocity exercises.)
    I would recommended training on a bicycle. First and foremost. Everything else is of far reduced importance.
  • markac wrote:
    wouldn't you recommend strength training? (Or more specifically, power training which involves higher velocity exercises.)
    Which is it? You are either training for strength, or you are training to increase power. They are not the same thing*. One does not necessarily follow the other. The forces are joint angle AND velocity specific.


    * Power is the rate of doing work. Strength is maximal force capacity (which by definition occurs at zero velocity - which means no work is done).
  • markacmarkac Posts: 45
    All that study shows to me is that a group who did more work, increased their power. Well, duh.

    If you say it is sub-optimal form of strength training, why did it work then? What do you consider optimal and why?

    It was sub-optimal strength training for cycling, because they were doing squats and other RT exercises which ARE NOT exercises performed in the same muscular movement pattern or with the same joint angles or with the same extent of muscle shortening as that used in the push-down or pull-up movements used in cycling. And even though it wasn't an optimal training motion, it still had a significantly positive effect (unless you don't agree with the results). That tells us something yes?
    How would it have fared against doing the sort of training on a bike which would be designed to improve 5-min maximal power?

    We don't know, because I don't believe any studies have been performed which compare the two training modalities (it does say, however, the the E training was "normal endurance training"). In the absence of a study that directly compares the two training modalities, we do have a huge body of exercise physiology theory, which categorically states that to optimally develop maximum power, a program of resistance training must be used. Do you agree with that statement?
    Finally, how about listing all studies relate to the discussion, rather than one that perhaps supports one way or another.

    Wouldn't that fill up the hard disk on this server? :D How about if you list a study that controverts this assertion?
  • markacmarkac Posts: 45
    markac wrote:
    wouldn't you recommend strength training? (Or more specifically, power training which involves higher velocity exercises.)
    Which is it? You are either training for strength, or you are training to increase power. They are not the same thing*. One does not necessarily follow the other. The forces are joint angle AND velocity specific.


    * Power is the rate of doing work. Strength is maximal force capacity (which by definition occurs at zero velocity - which means no work is done).

    You forgot one equation...work equals force times distance. Since power is a function of work and time, and work is a function of strength (maximal or submaximal), power is a direct function of strength--and this is why physiologists treat power and strength training very similarly.
  • markac wrote:
    We don't know, because I don't believe any studies have been performed which compare the two training modalities (it does say, however, the the E training was "normal endurance training").
    Show us the whole study and perhaps we can see what "normal endurance training" means. As always I'd like to know how these things are monitored/controlled. If the riders were not using power meters for all their rides, well how can we really know what they were doing?
    markac wrote:
    In the absence of a study that directly compares the two training modalities, we do have a huge body of exercise physiology theory, which categorically states that to optimally develop maximum power, a program of resistance training must be used. Do you agree with that statement?
    Maximum power, or maximum power on a bicycle?

    I would agree if the resistance training is specific, like, say, riding a bike hard.

    And if it's maximum power on a bike, do you mean maximal sustainable aerobic power, or peak sprint power? And if the latter, do you mean for a dedicated sprinter (like for track or BMX), or an endurance rider performing a sprint at the end of a 200km road race?

    Because I know the guy that will win the roadie sprint is the one with the freshest legs and is smart and only pushes the air when it matters, not who has the best squat in the gym.

    Even for a track sprinter, peak power is not what wins you the race, it's sustainable power over 20-30 seconds, as well as of course the tremendous craft in sprinting. As well as repeatability.

    The question is what the best training for developing cycling performance?
    The answer is, cycling.

    It's not the only training one can do of course.
  • markac wrote:
    You forgot one equation...work equals force times distance. Since power is a function of work and time, and work is a function of strength (maximal or submaximal), power is a direct function of strength--and this is why physiologists treat power and strength training very similarly.
    There is no such thing as submaximal strength. Strength is, by definition, the maximal force generation capacity. It can only occur at zero velocity, by definition.
  • markacmarkac Posts: 45
    Show us the whole study and perhaps we can see what "normal endurance training" means. As always I'd like to know how these things are monitored/controlled. If the riders were not using power meters for all their rides, well how can we really know what they were doing?

    I don't have the full text of that study, but the same author wrote the following survey study about a year after the study in question was performed. http://bit.ly/ehuAj7
    Maximum power, or maximum power on a bicycle?

    Muscular power is muscular power; how it is used does not matter. How it is trained does matter. To train for optimal power, the American College of Sports Medicine categorically recommends a combination of traditional strength training and resistance training with lighter loads but higher velocities.

    To apply this concept to cycling power, you have to separate the two muscle groups that provide pedaling force, and train them in isolation in the manner recommend. I realize this is a novel concept for a motion that seems to be occurring in a continuous 360 degree motion, but in fact each rotation of the crank is 4 separate muscular movements. Training each of these movements in isolation, in accordance with the ACSM recommendation is the only way to optimally develop peak cycling power.
    I would agree if the resistance training is specific, like, say, riding a bike hard.

    Yes, ride a bike hard--but "hard" doesn't mean anything physiologically. A cycling coach doesn't tell a client to ride hard. They tell clients to do intervals at some percentage of LT/VO2 max, and to combine that with some other things (and many include strength training--on-bike and off).
    And if it's maximum power on a bike, do you mean maximal sustainable aerobic power, or peak sprint power? And if the latter, do you mean for a dedicated sprinter (like for track or BMX), or an endurance rider performing a sprint at the end of a 200km road race?

    Just maximal peak sprint power. Aerobic power is well understood in the sport I think. But a high level of peak power means more than just top sprinting speed--it also means higher local muscular endurance, higher anaerobic capacity, and higher resistance to anaerobic fatigue. This benefits every cyclist, from the protected one-day specialist, to a TTer trying to maintain speed over a small steep hill.
    Because I know the guy that will win the roadie sprint is the one with the freshest legs and is smart and only pushes the air when it matters, not who has the best squat in the gym.

    Whole heartedly agree on the racing smarts part, but putting tactics aside the biggest part of freshness at the end of a race is a higher resistance to anaerobic fatigue (as long as you don't race unwisely and do more work than you have to)
    Even for a track sprinter, peak power is not what wins you the race, it's sustainable power over 20-30 seconds, as well as of course the tremendous craft in sprinting. As well as repeatability.

    True, but again, maximum peak power is what enables sustainable power, in the form of muscular endurance--repeated contractions at a submaximal level (even though that sprint feels like maximal hell :D )
    The question is what the best training for developing cycling performance?
    The answer is, cycling.

    You are certainly free to believe this, but in the spirit of good debate, can you make some physiological arguments to support that?

    Last, yes, there is no such thing as submaximal strength, but I was just trying to make a point which included the term. Using "work" in that spot would be more appropriate.
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    markac wrote:
    Muscular power is muscular power; how it is used does not matter. How it is trained does matter. To train for optimal power, the American College of Sports Medicine categorically recommends a combination of traditional strength training and resistance training with lighter loads but higher velocities.

    To apply this concept to cycling power, you have to separate the two muscle groups that provide pedaling force, and train them in isolation in the manner recommend. I realize this is a novel concept for a motion that seems to be occurring in a continuous 360 degree motion, but in fact each rotation of the crank is 4 separate muscular movements. Training each of these movements in isolation, in accordance with the ACSM recommendation is the only way to optimally develop peak cycling power.

    That is entirely contrary to everything I've read on the subject; the received wisdom being that you have to train the entire movement, not the individual muscles. Would you care to offer evidence for your POV. As an aside, below I post a giant article from an Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Australian track team who seems to disagree with you (obv this isn't scientific, but one suspects he has an idea of what he's talking about):
    "I am currently the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Australian
    National Sprint Cycling Team and have been for about five years. I am also
    the Strength Scientist for the South Australian Sports Institute in
    Adelaide, Australia, where the National Sprint Program is based. In
    addition, for "fun", I help coach a group of developmental sprint cyclists,
    which form the core of our SA State Sprint team and half of whom are now in
    the Top 10 sprinters in Australia, which would make them National champions
    in all but a handful of countries and, when I get time, I roll around the
    track myself.

    Some points (for free):

    1. We don't keep any secrets from anyone, including the Poms, the Frogs, Ze
    Germans or the Yanks. In fact, people just generally don't believe what we
    tell them, disagree or their programs (or minds) are too set in concrete to
    change. We invite other top riders to train with us and they get faster, but
    they go home and do the same old thing. The Head Coach, support staff and I
    are happy to tell anyone and everyone what we do. We usually just don't get
    time to sit around on chat rooms or make social chit chat on E-mail, let
    alone write a book.

    What Charlie Walsh and Gary West used to do with our sprinters when they
    were the Head Coaches was state of the art at the time and they are both
    great coaches. You will not find anyone in Australian Cycling who will
    question that or say a word against what they did at the time, but times
    have changed and those methods are not quite enough to consistently hit the
    top spots now, although you can still be troublesome internationally if
    you've got natural speed. The top speeds have gone to a new level and to
    reach that level, you have to specialise your sprint riders more. I'm sure
    if Charlie and Westy were still coaching the Oz team, they wouldn't be doing
    exactly the same things they were doing ten years ago. They are too smart
    for that.

    Most of what we do is based on methods and research that have been around
    for decades but have not been applied to cycling. It has mostly been used in
    athletics and we have copied a lot from that and what the French and Germans
    have done at various times. The Brits were formerly coached by our current
    Head Track Coach, so they do a lot of similar things too. What the Dutch are
    doing now, I'm not sure, but they were mostly all speed skaters before they
    were top cyclists, so maybe there's something in that.

    2. We are constantly trying new things and changing what we do, so what we
    do this year will be different to what we did last year and so on. Australia
    is a small country and is competing with some real powerhouses in terms of
    talent pools, resources and money that we can't even dream of matching, so
    we have to be a step ahead or we're not in the race.

    3. What sprinters did 10 years ago is completely different to what most of
    the top sprinters are doing now. The critical factors that determine success
    or failure have changed. Tactics have changed and the tournament formats
    have changed. Training that would win 10 years ago is generally not as
    successful today, but every dog has his or her day and some old-school
    trainers still come out on top now and again, but it is happening less and
    less.

    4. Our philosophy is simple. Most events are speed endurance. To win you
    need to go faster for longer than the other guy or gal. Some riders are
    better at faster, some are better at longer, but they generally need a bit
    of both. To have speed endurance, first you need speed. If you can't ride
    5.0 for a flying 100m, you won't ride 10.1 for a 200m. Speed is hard to
    train and takes a long time. Endurance is easy by comparison and we just
    chuck that on at the end. To get up to speed, you need acceleration and that
    means power. Power is a combination of strength and speed. The speed part
    you get on the track, the strength you get in the gym. Low cadence power
    (0-120rpm or so) we can train in the gym too, but high cadence power
    (120-200rpm) is too fast to do in the gym and you generally need to be
    chasing a maniac on a motorbike (e.g., our Head Coach) down the bank to
    increase that. Or at least, someone faster than you to break the wind so you
    can go overspeed.

    5. Aerobic Capacity (VO2max, AT) is the base for enduros, strength is the
    base for sprinters. We do three gym sessions and two track sessions for most
    of the year. Road is just for recovery, to keep them a little bit lean and
    to keep the sprinters out of the pub and out of trouble. It is generally a
    max of 2hrs, but mostly only 1 and is very easy - talking the whole time.

    6. When strength is the focus, we don't care what numbers they pump out on
    track, just what they lift. When power or speed is the focus, we back the
    gym off (2/wk and easier sessions) so we can get the numbers we want on the
    track (3-4/wk). Generally, half the year is spent focussed on strength and
    half on power and speed (roughly - depends on competitive calendar) although
    we always train a bit of everything, it's just the proportion of each that
    changes. The strength work is not all done in one block. We cycle through
    strength, power and speed at least twice per year.

    7. Gym is generally 3-4sets of 3 max lower body strength or power lifts -
    early in the phase, two strength and one power, later, two power and one
    strength. I don't use cleans, jerks or snatches with our current riders -
    they are too technical for maximal efforts unless you have years of
    experience. We do one bilateral strength lift each session for "core"
    strength (Squat, Deadlift, Romanian Deadlift) - usually lower back is the
    limiting factor not legs and this is the only reason I use these lifts - for
    back strength in standing starts. The rest of the lifts are unilateral. How
    many feet do you push each pedal with at one time? If you train bilaterally
    you get stronger bilaterally and unilateral strength lags behind. If you
    train unilaterally, you get stronger unilaterally. It's a neural thing.

    Single-leg Press is our bread and butter. Different foot and hip positions
    for different phases of pedal stroke, standing, seated, etc. I use high
    speed video to match joint angles and velocities for each rider. We mainly
    do it ballistically for power - throw the sled as far as you can - at
    different percentages of max to match up to different muscle contraction
    velocities for different phases of the acceleration (different cadences). We
    do a lot of single-leg plyos on boxes, stairs, bunjee sleds, etc during
    speed phases. Strength and power gains are extremely specific and do not
    necessarily transfer well. When Ryan Bayley beat Sean Eadie in the
    Commonwealth Games sprint final in 2002, Sean was tripling 250kg for a
    parallel back squat and Ryan was tripling 120kg. On single-leg press, they
    were much closer (20kg) and so was the racing.

    Single-leg squats (front and back) and deadlifts usually make up the third
    exercise and are as much for pelvic stability as strength. I'm going to try
    single-leg pulls and cleans this year, but these will not be our primary
    power exercises - more of a preparation for the work before Beijing. We have
    done SL squats, deadlifts and pulls for years now and the riders are pretty

    165kg on each leg (just over 360lbs). The weakest of the girls (who just
    entered the squad this year) is 3 @ 80kg on each leg, but she only weighs
    about 50kg. Two riders have done the 165kg so far. We have riders who can do
    sets of standing hops onto 1m+ boxes. The lowest is for one of the girls and
    is a 70cm box for sets of 8 each leg.

    8. Upper body, we do two exercise per session (a push and a pull in the same
    plane of movement, different each day) in general prep and two per week in
    specific prep (both pulls) so they can keep hold of the handlebars in
    standing starts. The girls are starting to push themselves off the bike,
    their legs are so strong (around 3 @ 250kg on each leg for the girls and up
    to 350kg for the guys on SLP). Abs and core, we do two per session - one
    mainly flexion, one mainly extension. Some have rotational or lateral
    components, but not isometric holds or pilates mumbo jumbo. If their "core
    stability" is poor, they wouldn't be able to squat on one leg. Lying on the
    ground and waving your legs in the air doesn't transfer to the bike. That
    might annoy the physio's and guru's who make money out of Swiss balls and
    all that stuff, but I tried it for three years in 20 different sports and it
    didn't make any difference to performance or injury rates. They get really
    good at balancing on a ball, but there's no Olympic event for that. It
    doesn't transfer to the sport. Fix their technical problems in the actual
    technique (soapbox time is now over).

    9. A Gym session lasts about 2.5-3 hours for 6 or 7 exercises, a maximum of
    33 sets including 12 warm-ups sets, so that's about one set every six
    minutes or more on average. We don't set maximum rests, just minimums. If
    they need longer to get their heads in gear, they take it. Ryan Bayley is
    the slowest trainer in the world. Lucky he's so bloody fast, they'll pay my
    bill to sit there and talk about muscle cars and heavy metal music. Reps are
    a maximum of 6 for strength, and 4 - 15 for power (less for high percentages
    - 60-70% max, more for low percentages - 20%, or BW for plyos) Total
    contraction time for a set (not counting hang time in the air) is around
    6-8s max - phosphate energy system all the way. Minimum of 2 min rest, but
    that is never in danger. Only the phosphate energy system can deliver energy
    fast enough for maximal work and you've got about 8s max.

    10. On the track they take about 3 hours for 3 or 4 efforts including half
    hour warm-up routine - same as pre-race warm-up. Warm-up, change gears,
    roll-up, effort, roll down 20-30min rest, roll-up, effort, etc. Lot's more
    rest. Rest usually consists of sitting on their arses, paying out on each
    other, drinking Coca Cola (sponsorship please - the Coke bill is killing us)
    and the occasional chocolate cake. This is especially good when there is a
    joint sprinter/enduro training session. (Enduros don't get any cake -
    they're too paranoid about body fat). In general prep phase, the sprinters
    ride to track and gym (15-20min easy each way) and in spec prep, they drive..
    Each track effort is no longer than about 15s and usually less than 10s.
    Again, mainly phosphate system.

    11. The one thing we do that most coaches can't cop is this. If you don't
    make the target times or loads on the first effort or set, you warm down and
    go home. You aren't fresh enough to train at a level that will make you
    improve. If you do a PB, you warm down and go home. If you are on fire that
    much you can blow yourself to pieces in a couple of sets or efforts and it
    will take weeks to dig you out of the hole you put yourself in, so whatever
    it is, if you PB, you stop and come back next time. This philosophy takes
    everyone a while to accept, but it works. When we don't follow the rules, if
    we let someone pump out a series of PBs in one session, they are almost
    invariably wrecked for weeks afterwards and we never get close to quality
    training during that time. Sometimes, you can see it coming, but sometimes
    it just comes out of the blue. When it does, warm down, go home. Sometimes,
    at lower levels you can get away with it, but the better you get, the more
    capacity you have to exceed your normal limits, the more this becomes
    important. Enduros don't need to do this. Everything is submaximal.

    12. In general prep, the sprinters might do 2 x 1hr easy aerobic/coffee
    rides per week and an easier recovery ride on days off (unless the're too
    fat, then they might do 2hrs and less chocolate cake). This year, we are
    doing a total of six aerobic development rides (over Christmas - fat time).
    In spec prep, they just do the recovery rides.

    13. We generally always do track after gym. Gym in mornings (8:30am-11/12)
    track in the arvo (2:30/3pm-5:30/6pm). If the gym session is too hard, it
    will censored them for track. As I said, for about half the year, we don't
    care. For the other half, I water down the gym so the track work is 100%.
    There is some short term potentiation from doing some maximal strength or
    power efforts but the research is not clear on time frames since everyone
    does something different. This is one thing we are looking at. If we do two
    maximal power ergo tests (6s with 4-5min recovery), the second one is always
    much better. The same has been shown with some contrast-loading studies on
    squats and plyos, etc., but an equal number of studies have shown no effect..
    The time courses and stimuli are always different though, so it's hard to
    compare. I think there's something in it so if you find something that works
    for you, go with it. The exception is start sessions. We never do standing
    starts after gym. If we do, they are always censored sessions.

    14. Coming up to the major comp for the year (Worlds or Olympics), we slot
    in a speed endurance block. This involves the addition of some longer
    sustained efforts or sets of short efforts with low recovery once or twice
    per week, usually one on an ergo and one on the track. This increases the
    muscles ability to buffer hydrogen ions from the anaerobic glycolysis energy
    pathway that you have to rely on when the phosphates run out and increases
    the enzyme capacity of that pathway as well, so it can run at a higher
    level. Adaptation is relatively fast and 6-8wks will usually give a massive
    increase in this capacity.

    15. Here's the logic.
    Volume is a speed killer. It doesn't matter what you do, if you do a lot, it
    will make you slower. The protein in your muscles (myosin heavy chain
    isoforms for those who know their molecular biology) will change to a
    slower, more endurance friendly type if you do too much volume. This is
    individually variable, but two sessions every day of anything will make you
    slower as will lots of aerobic work. You might still be fast for an enduro,
    but in sprinter terms, you're still slow.

    Going slow makes you slow. If you want to be able to go faster, then going
    at less than maximal speed generally won't do it. If it does, then you
    weren't operating at 100% before. That's OK. Most people can't switch
    everything on. You have to practice it. It takes years to reach your 100%
    level even without any actual physiological improvement. Most sprint events
    require sustained power output at cadences over 160rpm. If you don't
    practice this, you won't get good at it. Most people will spend all their
    bickies just getting up to 160rpm on a decent gear, so to train maximally at
    that level, you have to get up to 160rpm without using up your phosphate
    stores. That's where the motor bike comes in. Use the slipstream to get up
    to max speed or over and then spend your bickies. That way you work
    maximally at maximal speed. You have to train your nervous system to
    coordinate your muscular contractions at that speed.

    Same in the gym. If all you do is slow, heavy. You get STRONG and SLOW. You
    need to do most of your work at race speeds using submaximal loads but at
    high speeds. If you can't do single-leg stuff, then Olympic pulling
    movements are your next best option, but unloaded plyos are more important
    for higher cadences. You don't need to be able to clean or snatch or jerk.
    The pull phase from the floor to full hip and knee extension is where the
    gains come from. What happens after that doesn't matter. You can throw the
    bar out of the window and the gains will be the same. I would only recommend
    this on your last rep as most gym owners get quite irate about their
    equipment being heaved out into the street, as do passing pedestrians. The
    overspeed work will come as you try to get away.

    Use your maximum capacities at the maximum rate and in as specific a way as
    possible to transfer to the bike. I can outlift all our top riders in the
    gym and out-power them on the ergo, but I'm not in the race on the track. I
    can't put my power through the bike into the track. I'm just not technically
    as good as they are. Ryan Bayley may look like a monkey humping a tennis
    ball when he sprints but most of his power is getting onto the track.

    ....

    Weight training for enduros - the same strategies apply but maximal strength
    and power are less critical. All endurance riding, even the bunch sprint at
    the end, is really submaximal. A little bit of gym regularly helps to
    maintain the structural integrity of the body, prevent imbalances and
    prepare you for crashes, but the real gains come on the road. Racing is the
    best training. All our best track enduros race on the road in Europe. They
    come together for camps to touch up their track skills, but all of that was
    learnt as juniors and in domestic track racing on the way up. For strength
    endurance on the bike, ride up hills in the saddle on bigger gears. That was
    the only strength work out team pursuit did for the last three years and
    they won everything there was to win with a bucket load of world records to
    boot. Incidentally, they are also the fastest starters."
  • markacmarkac Posts: 45
    That is entirely contrary to everything I've read on the subject; the received wisdom being that you have to train the entire movement, not the individual muscles. Would you care to offer evidence for your POV. As an aside, below I post a giant article from an Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Australian track team who seems to disagree with you (obv this isn't scientific, but one suspects he has an idea of what he's talking about)

    I'm not sure why you think that coach's comments controvert what I'm saying. He clearly advocates gym/resistance training, and specifically mentions a single-leg press as their "bread and butter". What I will say about the single leg press, however, is that although close to replicating the cycling motion (for just the push-down segment), it differs significantly in one way: with a leg press you have a fixed object to hold your back in a static position. This violates the principle of specificity, as on a bike you don't have that--you have to apply the counter force through your back and arms, to the handle bars. Something like attaching a bicycle chain to a weight stack would address this shortcoming.

    For sure, there are other things a cyclist has to do besides strength/power training, I'm just saying it is a necessary training modality for optimal power development.

    As for "training the entire movement", how is that supported physiologically? The push-down muscles (primarily quads and gluts) are completely separate from the pull-up muscles (hamstrings and hip flexors)--there is no physiological teaching that states these muscles need to be trained in unison (even though they are used in unison). They are separate muscle groups, and in accordance with principles of physiology need to be exercised in isolation to achieve optimal peak power development.

    Not for sustainable power--for maximal power and local muscular endurance.

    I think I've offered quite a bit of evidence, mostly in well accepted principles of physiology, but also the study and survey of studies I've given links for. There are other studies as well that support this position, as well as plenty of studies that are inconclusive (the latter of which doesn't controvert the position).

    I'm pretty convinced at this point of my position, but if you or Alex can cite anything from a mainstream physiology text, or a study that outright shows that strength training is detrimental to cycling performance, I'd like to keep talking about it--makes methinks. :D
  • a_n_ta_n_t Posts: 2,011
    Which is it? You are either training for strength, or you are training to increase power. They are not the same thing*. One does not necessarily follow the other. The forces are joint angle AND velocity specific.


    * Power is the rate of doing work. Strength is maximal force capacity (which by definition occurs at zero velocity - which means no work is done).


    I really cant understand why this concept is so hard for people to grasp!
    Manchester wheelers

    PB's
    10m 20:21 2014
    25m 53:18 20:13
    50m 1:57:12 2013
    100m Yeah right.
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    edited January 2011
    markac wrote:
    That is entirely contrary to everything I've read on the subject; the received wisdom being that you have to train the entire movement, not the individual muscles. Would you care to offer evidence for your POV. As an aside, below I post a giant article from an Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Australian track team who seems to disagree with you (obv this isn't scientific, but one suspects he has an idea of what he's talking about)

    I'm not sure why you think that coach's comments controvert what I'm saying. He clearly advocates gym/resistance training, and specifically mentions a single-leg press as their "bread and butter". What I will say about the single leg press, however, is that although close to replicating the cycling motion (for just the push-down segment), it differs significantly in one way: with a leg press you have a fixed object to hold your back in a static position. This violates the principle of specificity, as on a bike you don't have that--you have to apply the counter force through your back and arms, to the handle bars. Something like attaching a bicycle chain to a weight stack would address this shortcoming.

    For sure, there are other things a cyclist has to do besides strength/power training, I'm just saying it is a necessary training modality for optimal power development.

    As for "training the entire movement", how is that supported physiologically? The push-down muscles (primarily quads and gluts) are completely separate from the pull-up muscles (hamstrings and hip flexors)--there is no physiological teaching that states these muscles need to be trained in unison (even though they are used in unison). They are separate muscle groups, and in accordance with principles of physiology need to be exercised in isolation to achieve optimal peak power development.

    Not for sustainable power--for maximal power and local muscular endurance.

    I think I've offered quite a bit of evidence, mostly in well accepted principles of physiology, but also the study and survey of studies I've given links for. There are other studies as well that support this position, as well as plenty of studies that are inconclusive (the latter of which doesn't controvert the position).

    I'm pretty convinced at this point of my position, but if you or Alex can cite anything from a mainstream physiology text, or a study that outright shows that strength training is detrimental to cycling performance, I'd like to keep talking about it--makes methinks. :D

    The section I specifically refer to is in point 7
    Strength and power gains are extremely specific and do not
    necessarily transfer well. When Ryan Bayley beat Sean Eadie in the
    Commonwealth Games sprint final in 2002, Sean was tripling 250kg for a
    parallel back squat and Ryan was tripling 120kg. On single-leg press, they
    were much closer (20kg) and so was the racing.

    RE your closing paragraph - I don't think anyone has stated that strength training is detrimental to cycling training - if the choice is strength training vs watching reruns of Strictly whilst eating Doritos, I'm surely Alex would recommend the former.

    The interesting questions for me are:

    1. Does max strength help in road races, which inevitably require a number of "near maximal" efforts (although I accept that true max strength is never approached).
    2. If yes, how does time in the gym compare to time on the road?

    FWIW, I use weights in the winter, not because I necessarily think it's better training than doing some standing starts on a bike, but because it's warm, light and it doesn't rain in there. I just don't have the motivation to train twice a day in the dark.[/quote]
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    a_n_t wrote:
    Which is it? You are either training for strength, or you are training to increase power. They are not the same thing*. One does not necessarily follow the other. The forces are joint angle AND velocity specific.


    * Power is the rate of doing work. Strength is maximal force capacity (which by definition occurs at zero velocity - which means no work is done).


    I really cant understand why this concept is so hard for people to grasp!

    It's a terminology issue, nothing more.
  • markacmarkac Posts: 45
    The section I specifically refer to is in point 7
    Strength and power gains are extremely specific and do not
    necessarily transfer well. When Ryan Bayley beat Sean Eadie in the
    Commonwealth Games sprint final in 2002, Sean was tripling 250kg for a
    parallel back squat and Ryan was tripling 120kg. On single-leg press, they
    were much closer (20kg) and so was the racing.

    Fair enough...like you said not real scientific, you'd have to know a lot more about this situation to attempt to draw any physiological conclusions. You could surmise, however, that technique is much more critical for a squat exercise than for a leg press; and balance and core strength may play a more significant role as well. And was tactical prowess or luck involved in Ryan's win? (don't know the race specifics myself).
    RE your closing paragraph - I don't think anyone has stated that strength training is detrimental to cycling training - if the choice is strength training vs watching reruns of Strictly whilst eating Doritos, I'm surely Alex would recommend the former.

    The interesting questions for me are:

    1. Does max strength help in road races, which inevitably require a number of "near maximal" efforts (although I accept that true max strength is never approached).
    2. If yes, how does time in the gym compare to time on the road?

    The near maximal efforts are an example of local muscular endurance, which is defined as the number of submaximal contractions a muscle group can perform in a specified time. Improving maximum strength certainly improves LME, and is covered in the ACSM postion paper on progression models. And from it I quote:

    "Progression in power training entails two general loading strategies: 1) strength training and 2) use of light loads (0-60% of 1 RM for lower body exercises; 30-60% of 1 RM for upper body exercises) performed at a fast contraction velocity with 3-5 min of rest between sets for multiple sets per exercise (three to five sets). It is also recommended that emphasis be placed on multiple-joint exercises especially those involving the total body. For local muscular endurance training, it is recommended that light to moderate loads (40-60% of 1 RM) be performed for high repetitions (>15) using short rest periods (< 90 s)."

    So, I think it is clear how power training is optimally performed, but it becomes a little muddy when the exercises, such as those in a gym, are not performed in the same exact motion as executed by the muscles performing the cycling motion. I think since gym exercises innervate some of the muscle fibers used in cycling, there is some benefit, and this is fairly clear in the studies that have measured anaerobic performance after strength training.
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    There is no such thing as submaximal strength. Strength is, by definition, the maximal force generation capacity. It can only occur at zero velocity, by definition.

    Alex - I don't want to get in the way of the flow here but I know you're very keen on precise definitions - what I've read suggests that strength is measured by a 1-rep test (1RM?) rather than stationary. Even in a bike sense, that makes far more sense because strength is only really useful if it does work and I don't know of a sport for which strength is useful in an entirely stationary sense.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    P_Tucker wrote:
    a_n_t wrote:
    Which is it? You are either training for strength, or you are training to increase power. They are not the same thing*. One does not necessarily follow the other. The forces are joint angle AND velocity specific.


    * Power is the rate of doing work. Strength is maximal force capacity (which by definition occurs at zero velocity - which means no work is done).


    I really cant understand why this concept is so hard for people to grasp!

    It's a terminology issue, nothing more.

    The issue is, by Alex's definition, NOBODY trains for "strength". I can't think of a single person (you might be able to) who trains to apply a force that does no work. Even weightlifters lift the weight. That means (again by Alex's definition of strength) that EVERYBODY trains for power and the only question is how long you need to be able to apply that power for....

    I don't think that definition of strength is very helpful and the 1-rep version much more so.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • slunkerslunker Posts: 346
    I've tried to read this post but it hurts my brain!!! :oops:
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    QOTD:

    "Ryan Bayley may look like a monkey humping a tennis ball when he sprints but most of his power is getting onto the track"

    Close runner-up

    "Something like attaching a bicycle chain to a weight stack would address this shortcoming"

    Alternatively, leave the chain on the bike and ride it up a hill quickly?
  • LucanLucan Posts: 338
    This is one of the best threads I have read on this forum. It is especially good because of the attitude of the contributors - reasoned argument coupled with respect for the person presenting the alternative view.

    Thanks to all contributors and long may it continue.

    8)
    Summer: Kuota Kebel
    Winter: GT Series3
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    markac wrote:
    The near maximal efforts are an example of local muscular endurance, which is defined as the number of submaximal contractions a muscle group can perform in a specified time. Improving maximum strength certainly improves LME, and is covered in the ACSM postion paper on progression models. And from it I quote:

    "Progression in power training entails two general loading strategies: 1) strength training and 2) use of light loads (0-60% of 1 RM for lower body exercises; 30-60% of 1 RM for upper body exercises) performed at a fast contraction velocity with 3-5 min of rest between sets for multiple sets per exercise (three to five sets). It is also recommended that emphasis be placed on multiple-joint exercises especially those involving the total body. For local muscular endurance training, it is recommended that light to moderate loads (40-60% of 1 RM) be performed for high repetitions (>15) using short rest periods (< 90 s)."

    So, I think it is clear how power training is optimally performed, but it becomes a little muddy when the exercises, such as those in a gym, are not performed in the same exact motion as executed by the muscles performing the cycling motion. I think since gym exercises innervate some of the muscle fibers used in cycling, there is some benefit, and this is fairly clear in the studies that have measured anaerobic performance after strength training.

    Indeed, what you've outlined here is almost exactly what I do. How much of it transfers to the bike I don't know - but anecdotally despite a winter of weights (which I didn't do last year) my peak power as measured on the bike is 50w lower than at the end of last season, which is utterly depressing. Maybe the Doritos were the better option.

    I suspect much of the discussion around this issue is basically the definition of "strength training" - Alex and Coggan etc take it to mean effectively 1-rep max, whereas I suspect the majority of people take it to mean lifting weights in the gym of any description, even when improvement of 1-rep max is not the goal.
  • Mr DogMr Dog Posts: 643
    Many thanks to P Tucker. You could have quite easily kept your Aussie Gems under wraps.
    I come to cycling from from another sport which was slow to change. Over the last decade strength and conitioning prorams have been employed throughout athletic endevour.. why should cycling be any different? ( My Mrs coached in SIS ).
    Many thanks to both sides. A lot.. no... most goes over my head but this is the best thread in 'Training'.
    Why tidy the house when you can clean your bike?
  • I adopt a bit of a middle position in that I believe in off-bike work but think that incorporating velocity/explosiveness is crucial to making it productive.
    Best,
    Bill Black
  • incog24incog24 Posts: 549
    One thing that I think might be handy in this discussion is an estimate of peak force applied in sprinting. Hunter - Allen use quadrant analysis to argue against strength training here, but I'm not entirely sure that it's used correctly. When I look over my files in golden cheetah, Z7 power force requirements vary from 250-600 N. The modal average is probably something like 400 N.

    400 N on one leg pretty much like standing up, not difficult. However, as I'm using a powertap, the sampling rate is likely to be lower than the period of peak force, in fact that's possibly true for most power measuring devices. Therefore quadrant analysis is probably not showing actual peak force. Lets say that means that the modal force in Z7 is actually more likely 600N. That's starting to get to a reasonable amount.

    Does anyone have any figures regarding actual peak force?

    I guess the next line of thought though would be whether you're better off increasing the force applied to the pedal, or the velocity that you move it. That might spark a debate about plyometrics vs weights perhaps?
    Racing for Fluid Fin Race Team in 2012 - www.fluidfin.co.uk
  • LucanLucan Posts: 338
    I thought I was doing really well following this discussion until incog24's last post. Now I haven't a clue! :cry:
    Summer: Kuota Kebel
    Winter: GT Series3
  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    You'll probably get the data you need from a Watt bike, my gf's brother has one I'll try and get some data from him.
  • markacmarkac Posts: 45
    P_Tucker wrote:
    Indeed, what you've outlined here is almost exactly what I do. How much of it transfers to the bike I don't know - but anecdotally despite a winter of weights (which I didn't do last year) my peak power as measured on the bike is 50w lower than at the end of last season, which is utterly depressing. Maybe the Doritos were the better option.

    Well, can't really comment on why your W-peak is lower after some gym work, without knowing more about your routine, but I can make a suggestion for something you can try, in an attempt to methodically see how correct strength training affects you specifically.

    1 - do another W-peak test, but only after 48 hours of rest

    2 - do one of the workouts, ala Max Testa and Chris Carmichael (http://bit.ly/5Q2Izg or http://bit.ly/ebvgYj - mid-way down), for 4-6 weeks, 2x/week, and then do another W-peak test

    My belief in the value of strength training came from the Testa workout--improved my peak power like nothing else I've done on a bike. You should see a 4-10% improvement in W-peak within 6 weeks.
    I suspect much of the discussion around this issue is basically the definition of "strength training" - Alex and Coggan etc take it to mean effectively 1-rep max, whereas I suspect the majority of people take it to mean lifting weights in the gym of any description, even when improvement of 1-rep max is not the goal.

    We're aiming for improved peak power here, which is highly correlated with improved strength, so simple strength training will improve peak power even if you don't do the higher speed movements prescribed by the ACSM. And the closer the strength training replicates the exact cycling muscle movement pattern, joint angles, etc., the more it will specifically improve peak cycling power.

    keef66 wrote:
    Close runner-up

    "Something like attaching a bicycle chain to a weight stack would address this shortcoming"

    BTW...wasn't just a quote; I've actually done this and can testify that it feels completely different than traditional gym/weight exercises. And, according to the physiology I've studied, should be much more optimal than the Testa workout I used to do. We'll see in few weeks, I suppose, which is when it will be first tested on the road on one of the local training rides.
  • markacmarkac Posts: 45
    incog24 wrote:
    Does anyone have any figures regarding actual peak force?

    I guess the next line of thought though would be whether you're better off increasing the force applied to the pedal, or the velocity that you move it. That might spark a debate about plyometrics vs weights perhaps?

    From a physics POV measuring W instead of N shouldn't matter. W just takes into account the distance that the force moves the object and time, so W and N are perfectly correlated in this application.

    As for plyometrics vs weights, the former is really just one of many modes of resistance training, whereas all forms of resistance training uses weights (or simulated weight such as that with hydraulic resistance machines). I think plyometrics can be viewed as an extreme form of the faster movements recommended by ACSM for peak power development.
  • incog24 wrote:
    Does anyone have any figures regarding actual peak force?
    Single leg peak force is typically approximately double the two leg average effective pedal force. The peak doesn't last long though. Plenty of studies showing pedal force, e.g. this chart from data by Kautz:

    kautz.png
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