Saturday, February 13, 2010

Restistance Training--Good or Bad?

Resistance Training for cycling probably has just as many opinions on its usefulness as does slow endurance base building miles.  What's your opinion?  If you do resistance train, what type of exercises do you perform?

Many cyclist have frowned on hitting the gym for years.  Most of the fear I believe come from a notion that lifting weights is not specific enough to produce positive results on the bike and that they may gain too much muscle weight in which would effect performance during the season.  After all cycling is a game of power to weight ratios and you don't want to be muscle bound:


Is there a happy medium?  Are there certain rules that endurance athletes should follow?
I have developed a cycling resistance training program over the last year.  I refer to it as a Cycling Improvement Program.  Although the majority of the resistance/strength training occurs during the off-season, the program does have aspects of gym training during the race season.  The program focused on a periodized concept of getting riders ready for the racing season without over training on the bike.  We focused on the following:
  • Movement
  • Balance
  • Strength
  • Power
  • Muscular Endurance
  • Aerobic and anaerobic endurance
The riders who have been part of this program have noticed substantial improvements on the way they feel.  I guess we will see in a few weeks how that translates to racing.

Last week I received my publication of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.  In the latest issue there was an article titled The Effects of Resistance Training on Road Cycling Performance Among Highly Trained Cyclist: A Systematic Review.

This systematic review took past original research and reviewed them to see if they could come up with a consensus or at least a starting point for more research.  Here is what they discovered:

  • Research in which riders simply added resistance training to their programs on top of their cycling training saw no improvements
  • Research in which resistance training replaced a cycling workout saw at least a 7% increase in power and a significant increase in time trial time and one-hour test distances.
  • Resistance programs that focused on fast movements such as plyometrics had more of an effect on improving performance than did those programs which focused on slow movements like the back squat.
Although there is not that much research out on this particular aspect of cycling training, the results so far has led me to believe that I am on the right track.

Again, we will see what happens come race time. 

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