Forum home Road cycling forum Training, fitness and health

Increasing leg strength

1246712

Posts

  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 8,640
    Perhaps some people (Dennis included) are getting confused by other people saying you don't need 'strong legs' to get up big hills.

    For me - the steeper the hill, the more strength comes into it. In hills of over 20% for instance - when I can't just sit and spin, but have to get out of the saddle and mash out each pedal stroke, it certainly feels like strong legs is getting me up it and not my cardiovascular system.


    Not everyone can sit and spin up hills - and so stronger legs would seem to come into play more for them. Nevertheless, overall I am in agreement with those that advocate improving sustainable power via cycling more and not by lifting weights in the gym.
  • neilo23neilo23 Posts: 783
    Pokerface wrote:
    Perhaps some people (Dennis included) are getting confused by other people saying you don't need 'strong legs' to get up big hills.

    For me - the steeper the hill, the more strength comes into it. In hills of over 20% for instance - when I can't just sit and spin, but have to get out of the saddle and mash out each pedal stroke, it certainly feels like strong legs is getting me up it and not my cardiovascular system.


    Not everyone can sit and spin up hills - and so stronger legs would seem to come into play more for them. Nevertheless, overall I am in agreement with those that advocate improving sustainable power via cycling more and not by lifting weights in the gym.

    That makes sense to me.

    My theory is that a certain level of strength has to be attained in order to be able to provide the power, as well as having adequate cardio capabilities.

    Ullrich used to train for the Tour by riding the Pyrenean mountains in the large chain ring. I don't think anyone could argue that that requires not just power and a fantastic level of fitness, but also strength. Someone who had never cycled would probably not have the strength to push the peddles round once in that kind of gear ratio.
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,496
    Ok, I'm defeated. You all know all about what's going on and I'm ready to follow your advise to the letter. I want to be an "endurance athlete" instead of one who actually competes and tries to win races. How do I avoid getting strong? I mean, if I ride a lot
    won't I get a little bit stronger? Seems like I would and I sure want to avoid anything like that. That's whats got me confused. How do I do any OTHER kind of exercise(to break up the cycling a bit) without getting any benefit from it? Or do I simply avoid any other form of exercize? And what about stretching? Obviously it's sort of exercise, but I doubt I'd get stronger from it. And what about nutrition and rest? If all that really counts is riding then why bother with either? I await your training plans for me. :? :?
  • Brommers76Brommers76 Posts: 234
    When I start to die on a climb I am

    A - Running out of strength

    Or

    B - Cannot supply enough oxygen to my muscles to prevent a lactic build up

    I would go for b every time and guarantee that if aerobic conditioning remained constant along with weight then if my max squat went from 80 to 90kg I would die at the same point.

    do people agree?
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,496
    Brommers76 wrote:
    When I start to die on a climb I am

    A - Running out of strength

    Or

    B - Cannot supply enough oxygen to my muscles to prevent a lactic build up

    I would go for b every time and guarantee that if aerobic conditioning remained constant along with weight then if my max squat went from 80 to 90kg I would die at the same point.

    do people agree?


    Is there really a difference. If you're out of gas, then you're out of gas.
  • mattshropsmattshrops Posts: 1,158
    i think a lot of the confusion with this issue revolves around the word strength.
    if you see a rider flying up a hill youre likely to say something like "he/shes strong" . really its just a word and once you get into the technicalities proves to be the wrong one(thanks alex for the good explanation)
    Lets face it if you train all winter riding 4 days per week- or riding 4 days per week plus 2 days weights ,well it aint gonna do you any harm is it?. But if your goal is purely improvement in cycling ability then you'd do better to do 6 days on the bike.no?
    Death or Glory- Just another Story
  • mattshropsmattshrops Posts: 1,158
    dennisn wrote:
    Brommers76 wrote:
    When I start to die on a climb I am

    A - Running out of strength

    Or

    B - Cannot supply enough oxygen to my muscles to prevent a lactic build up

    I would go for b every time and guarantee that if aerobic conditioning remained constant along with weight then if my max squat went from 80 to 90kg I would die at the same point.

    do people agree?



    Is there really a difference. If you're out of gas, then you're out of gas.

    the difference is why? and what can you do to stop it happening
    Death or Glory- Just another Story
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,496
    mattshrops wrote:
    Lets face it if you train all winter riding 4 days per week- or riding 4 days per week plus 2 days weights ,well it aint gonna do you any harm is it?. But if your goal is purely improvement in cycling ability then you'd do better to do 6 days on the bike.no?

    Not sure you can make a blanket statement like that. I know a few triathletes who don't ride all that often and yet they are faster than some cyclists who ride daily. Can you explain???? Surely the swimming and running are hindering their abilities on the bike????
    After all, all you need to do is ride, or so say more than a few people. Is it possible that they are stronger because they do other excercises? Hmmmmmmm
  • dennisn wrote:
    mattshrops wrote:
    Lets face it if you train all winter riding 4 days per week- or riding 4 days per week plus 2 days weights ,well it aint gonna do you any harm is it?. But if your goal is purely improvement in cycling ability then you'd do better to do 6 days on the bike.no?

    Not sure you can make a blanket statement like that. I know a few triathletes who don't ride all that often and yet they are faster than some cyclists who ride daily. Can you explain???? Surely the swimming and running are hindering their abilities on the bike????
    After all, all you need to do is ride, or so say more than a few people. Is it possible that they are stronger because they do other excercises? Hmmmmmmm
    Because they might simply be a better athlete to start with.
  • The lay use of the term "strength", when really we mean "power", confuses people into thinking strength is their limiter (even on steep climbs), when in fact it isn't.

    You are limited by the power you can sustainable produce. If your sustainable power (for the expectation duration) and mass means that you go real slow on a steep climb, then the only reason you can't spin at a reasonable cadence is gearing choice, not a strength limitation.
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    neilo23 wrote:
    That makes sense to me.

    My theory is that a certain level of strength has to be attained in order to be able to provide the power, as well as having adequate cardio capabilities.

    Ullrich used to train for the Tour by riding the Pyrenean mountains in the large chain ring. I don't think anyone could argue that that requires not just power and a fantastic level of fitness, but also strength. Someone who had never cycled would probably not have the strength to push the peddles round once in that kind of gear ratio.

    Your theories are worthless. Actual scientists have determined the answer, and it is that, assuming you have the strength required to walk upstairs, then you have the strength required to ride up Alpe d'Huez in 40 minutes. Whether you have the aerobic fitness or not is a different matter.

    RE your Ullrich nonsense - lets assume he was riding at 70rpm at 460w - I can tell you that his average effective pedal force would be about 400N (or at least thats my AEPF at 460w and 70rpm, as evidenced by a powertap file from a race I did on Sunday). In the same race, I did one pedal stroke at over 1000N (horribly overgeared sprinting out of a corner). I am not particularly strong, and I'm certainly not 2.5 times stronger than the average bloke. And I'm sure I could get much higher than that if I was actually trying to achieve a maximal AEPF i.e. by shoving it in the 53x11 and doing standing start sprints.

    In summary, most people would be able to ride at Ullrichs pace for 5 seconds - very few indeed could do it for 20 minutes plus. So you're wrong. Now stop making stuff up, and listen to people like Alex who know what they're talking about,
  • freehubfreehub Posts: 4,258
    I find walking up stairs very hard, it's horrible, I always need to catch my breath at the top and if I was riding the previous day when get to the top my legs go into a fiery oblivion.


    One thing that does confuse me is strength must play some sort of part? I mean, I heard some riders have gone up Rosedale Chimney (33%) in the big ring, I don't think I could actually turn the pedals on that in the big ring, literally.
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,589
    freehub wrote:
    I mean, I heard some riders have gone up Rosedale Chimney (33%) in the big ring, I don't think I could actually turn the pedals on that in the big ring, literally.
    .
    Imagine you are doing a track start, i.e. sitting in the saddle with supported bike, on a 33% hill. If you can even begin to turn the pedals in a given gear, then you are strong enough.

    If you can turn the pedals at a given speed, then you have enough power.

    If you can keep turning the pedals at that speed, then you have enough stamina.

    These are all separate things, and can all be trained for separately. But I do suspect that you can't train any of them in complete isolation, you will always impact the others as well. For example, as an 18yo rugby player and rock climber I had pretty strong legs and could easily do single knee dips (crouch right down on one leg then stand up again, while holding the other off the ground in front): for a long time I didn't have the strength to do it, but after getting into cycling again in my 40s I found that after a while I could. So just by cycling, which we all agree is not strength training (well, most of us :wink:), I definitely did build up absolute strength.
  • P_Tucker wrote:
    Your theories are worthless. Actual scientists have determined the answer, and it is that, assuming you have the strength required to walk upstairs, then you have the strength required to ride up Alpe d'Huez in 40 minutes. Whether you have the aerobic fitness or not is a different matter.

    RE your Ullrich nonsense - lets assume he was riding at 70rpm at 460w - I can tell you that his average effective pedal force would be about 400N (or at least thats my AEPF at 460w and 70rpm, as evidenced by a powertap file from a race I did on Sunday). In the same race, I did one pedal stroke at over 1000N (horribly overgeared sprinting out of a corner). I am not particularly strong, and I'm certainly not 2.5 times stronger than the average bloke. And I'm sure I could get much higher than that if I was actually trying to achieve a maximal AEPF i.e. by shoving it in the 53x11 and doing standing start sprints.

    In summary, most people would be able to ride at Ullrichs pace for 5 seconds - very few indeed could do it for 20 minutes plus. So you're wrong. Now stop making stuff up, and listen to people like Alex who know what they're talking about,

    So did you re-proof the stupid suit, or get a whole new one (to accomodate your new moobs)?
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,496
    I simply don't buy the idea that nothing helps you but riding. It all counts. If it doesn't then please explain to me why Michael Phelps, Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, to name a few, have had a fair share of success in their chosen sports yet pumped iron. These are people who win things, not so called "endurance athletes" who apparently have neither the will nor the desire to do what is required to win something, so they just spend all their time riding, never improving, and calling themselves "endurance athletes". Cool sounding name but not much else. It all counts. Every second counts. If you can add a little strength / power / whatever to your body by doing whatever then you have helped yourself.
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    dennisn wrote:
    I simply don't buy the idea that nothing helps you but riding. It all counts. If it doesn't then please explain to me why Michael Phelps, Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, to name a few, have had a fair share of success in their chosen sports yet pumped iron. These are people who win things, not so called "endurance athletes" who apparently have neither the will nor the desire to do what is required to win something, so they just spend all their time riding, never improving, and calling themselves "endurance athletes". Cool sounding name but not much else. It all counts. Every second counts. If you can add a little strength / power / whatever to your body by doing whatever then you have helped yourself.

    Yeah, I think we all know you've made up your mind. The important thing is that it doesn't matter what you believe or how strongly you believe it - you're still wrong.

    Out of interest, do you believe in god?
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    The Smythe wrote:
    So did you re-proof the stupid suit, or get a whole new one (to accomodate your new moobs)?

    New one. Its so supportive.
  • stfc1stfc1 Posts: 505
    P_Tucker wrote:
    listen to people like Alex who know what they're talking about,

    Best advice in this thread. Anyone here assuming they know better than Alex is deluded.
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,496
    P_Tucker wrote:
    dennisn wrote:
    I simply don't buy the idea that nothing helps you but riding. It all counts. If it doesn't then please explain to me why Michael Phelps, Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, to name a few, have had a fair share of success in their chosen sports yet pumped iron. These are people who win things, not so called "endurance athletes" who apparently have neither the will nor the desire to do what is required to win something, so they just spend all their time riding, never improving, and calling themselves "endurance athletes". Cool sounding name but not much else. It all counts. Every second counts. If you can add a little strength / power / whatever to your body by doing whatever then you have helped yourself.

    Yeah, I think we all know you've made up your mind. The important thing is that it doesn't matter what you believe or how strongly you believe it - you're still wrong.

    Out of interest, do you believe in god?

    So come on, why do bunches of world class athletes use weight training? If you can't answer that much then I'm guessing that you're an "endurance athlete". You know, the ones who are incapable, can't, don't want to, and just plain don't have it in them to do what's required to win races, so they ride and call themselves "endurance athletes".
    Here's an idea. If you really must call yourself something, to feed your ego, why not give "extreme athlete" or "adventure athlete" a try also. They seem to be very IN these days.
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    dennisn wrote:
    So come on, why do bunches of world class athletes use weight training? If you can't answer that much then I'm guessing that you're an "endurance athlete". You know, the ones who are incapable, can't, don't want to, and just plain don't have it in them to do what's required to win races, so they ride and call themselves "endurance athletes".
    Here's an idea. If you really must call yourself something, to feed your ego, why not give "extreme athlete" or "adventure athlete" a try also. They seem to be very IN these days.

    Dunno. Why do "bunches" of world class athletes use compression socks? Holographic wristbands? Kiss a gold cross hanging from their necks before time trials?

    Of course, lots of world class athletes don't use strength training. So, lets summarise the situation:

    - some cyclists do strength training and are really good
    - some cyclists don't do strength training and are really good
    - some cyclists do strength training and are rubbish
    - some cyclists don't do strength training and are rubbish

    Okay, can a qualified statistician tell me what we can infer from the above?

    Also, lets repeat the same exercise as above, except replace "do strength training" with "watch X-Factor". Are you really telling me that watching X-Factor makes you a better cyclist?

    BTW, your ad-hom attack isn't going to get you anywhere. I reckon I have more leg strength than anyone who finished in the top 10 of the Tour this year, and I'm an absolutely useless cyclist. Which proves my point, not yours.
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,496
    P_Tucker wrote:
    dennisn wrote:
    So come on, why do bunches of world class athletes use weight training?

    Dunno.

    Thanks for being honest.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,005
    P_Tucker wrote:
    - some cyclists do strength training and are really good
    - some cyclists don't do strength training and are really good
    - some cyclists do strength training and are rubbish
    - some cyclists don't do strength training and are rubbish

    Okay, can a qualified statistician tell me what we can infer from the above?

    All a statistician can infer from the above is that there isn't a 100% correlation between strength training and riding ability. It certainly doesn't imply that strength training won't help.

    Note - before you get all bilious with me, I freely admit to not having any knowledge of the benefits of different types of training. I'm merely commenting that your comment above in no way proves your point. I hope your technical arguments re strength training are more considered :lol:
    Faster than a tent.......
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    dennisn wrote:
    P_Tucker wrote:
    dennisn wrote:
    So come on, why do bunches of world class athletes use weight training?

    Dunno.

    Thanks for being honest.

    No problem. Of course, iI'd say its better to admit that you don't know something and find out the answer, rather than doggedly holding onto something which is demonstrably wrong. Is it really bliss?
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    edited August 2011
    Rolf F wrote:
    All a statistician can infer from the above is that there isn't a 100% correlation between strength training and riding ability. It certainly doesn't imply that strength training won't help.

    Note - before you get all bilious with me, I freely admit to not having any knowledge of the benefits of different types of training. I'm merely commenting that your comment above in no way proves your point. I hope your technical arguments re strength training are more considered :lol:

    My point was simply that "a few elite cyclists do strength training" doesn't imply "strength training helps cycling performance". In no way do I think it implies the reverse - I was merely rebutting dennis's daft argument.

    As you doubtlessly know, all a statistician can infer from my post is precisely f**k all - which was of course my point.
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,496
    P_Tucker wrote:
    Rolf F wrote:
    All a statistician can infer from the above is that there isn't a 100% correlation between strength training and riding ability. It certainly doesn't imply that strength training won't help.

    Note - before you get all bilious with me, I freely admit to not having any knowledge of the benefits of different types of training. I'm merely commenting that your comment above in no way proves your point. I hope your technical arguments re strength training are more considered :lol:

    My point was simply that "a few elite cyclists do strength training" doesn't imply "strength training helps cycling performance". In no way do I think it implies the reverse - I was merely rebutting dennis's daft argument.

    OK, I'll agree that strength training won't help the "endurance cyclist". Nothing will HELP them improve beyond a certain point because they don't have the desire to do so or the ability to do so or a good idea of how to do so. In short they won't / can't do ALL that is required of them, personally, to become a better rider. So whatever they do won't be enough to get them out of the the mindset that all they want to do is DO rides and races and anyone can DO a race or ride. Can't tell you how many people I've heard say they want to DO the Ironman or something along those lines. These people won't improve no matter how much or hard they ride. There is simply more to being a competitve rider than riding. They can however DO all kinds of events with pretty much the same results each time. Getting better though takes a a whole lot more.
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    dennisn wrote:
    P_Tucker wrote:
    Rolf F wrote:
    All a statistician can infer from the above is that there isn't a 100% correlation between strength training and riding ability. It certainly doesn't imply that strength training won't help.

    Note - before you get all bilious with me, I freely admit to not having any knowledge of the benefits of different types of training. I'm merely commenting that your comment above in no way proves your point. I hope your technical arguments re strength training are more considered :lol:

    My point was simply that "a few elite cyclists do strength training" doesn't imply "strength training helps cycling performance". In no way do I think it implies the reverse - I was merely rebutting dennis's daft argument.

    OK, I'll agree that strength training won't help the "endurance cyclist".

    Thanks for conceding defeat. I must admit, you almost beat me with experience.

    *performs victory dance*
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    *continues victory dance; increases "hip thrust quotient"*
  • dennisn wrote:
    I simply don't buy the idea that nothing helps you but riding. It all counts. If it doesn't then please explain to me why Michael Phelps, Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, to name a few, have had a fair share of success in their chosen sports yet pumped iron. These are people who win things, not so called "endurance athletes" who apparently have neither the will nor the desire to do what is required to win something, so they just spend all their time riding, never improving, and calling themselves "endurance athletes". Cool sounding name but not much else. It all counts. Every second counts. If you can add a little strength / power / whatever to your body by doing whatever then you have helped yourself.
    Anecdotes are not evidence. There are just as many (most likely more in fact) that have been successful without doing strength work. Indeed we coach a current world elite track champion. Never touches weights. Take that anecdote for what it's worth (not much - just like all the others).

    Lance had to cut out the weights and lose body mass to come back to cycling. His big weight work was mostly after he retired and for vanity reasons (which is pretty normal and legitimate).

    No one is saying people should not go to a gym and move some weights about. It all depends on what your goals are.

    But there is not one single exercise in the gym that is more effective at improving your power output on a bike (and that includes sprinting through to endurance) than training that's done on a bike.

    And we need to distinguish between doing weights and strength work. They are not the same thing.
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,496
    dennisn wrote:
    I simply don't buy the idea that nothing helps you but riding. It all counts. If it doesn't then please explain to me why Michael Phelps, Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, to name a few, have had a fair share of success in their chosen sports yet pumped iron. These are people who win things, not so called "endurance athletes" who apparently have neither the will nor the desire to do what is required to win something, so they just spend all their time riding, never improving, and calling themselves "endurance athletes". Cool sounding name but not much else. It all counts. Every second counts. If you can add a little strength / power / whatever to your body by doing whatever then you have helped yourself.
    Anecdotes are not evidence. There are just as many (most likely more in fact) that have been successful without doing strength work. Indeed we coach a current world elite track champion. Never touches weights. Take that anecdote for what it's worth (not much - just like all the others).

    Lance had to cut out the weights and lose body mass to come back to cycling. His big weight work was mostly after he retired and for vanity reasons (which is pretty normal and legitimate).

    No one is saying people should not go to a gym and move some weights about. It all depends on what your goals are.

    But there is not one single exercise in the gym that is more effective at improving your power output on a bike (and that includes sprinting through to endurance) than training that's done on a bike.

    And we need to distinguish between doing weights and strength work. They are not the same thing.

    Sorry, don't buy it. Upper level and world class athletes will do whatever it takes to gain an edge. Whether that involves weights, stretching, hypnosis, divorce, seeing a shrink,
    diet, or any of a thousand other things, they are usually inclined to do it. Every little bit of help counts. The possibilty of something helping a paticular person, whatever it may be,
    is not to be overlooked and no one can say for certain that something is no good for someone else. You or I or anyone can't possibly know how another persons body will react to weight training. You make too much of a blanket statement.
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 8,640
    Denis - DO you realise that an 'endurance cyclist' is any cyclist that cycles/races over distances greater than 1KM?

    The cyclists that race at the 1KM distance or shorter are track sprinters.


    So YOU are an endurance cyclist.


    SOME weight training will probably benefit SOME endurance cyclists (let's just call them cyclists from here on out). But once you've reached a basic level of fitness, the greatest gains are going to come from riding your bike.

    You'll gain more by dedicating your training time to riding and not to pumping iron in the gym. As Alex will tell you - if you have the time and want to get into the gym to do some weights, if for nothing else than to change your training a bit - he wouldn't discourage you. But there's no scientific evidence to show that it will actually help you.
Sign In or Register to comment.