Maximal Strength Training Improves Cycling Economy in Competitive Cyclists


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Abstract

Sunde, A, Støren, Ø, Bjerkaas, M, Larsen, MH, Hoff, J, and Helgerud, J. Maximal strength training improves cycling economy in competitive cyclists. J Strength Cond Res 24(8): 2157-2165, 2010-The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of maximal strength training on cycling economy (CE) at 70% of maximal oxygen consumption (o2max), work efficiency in cycling at 70% o2max, and time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic power. Responses in 1 repetition maximum (1RM) and rate of force development (RFD) in half-squats, o2max, CE, work efficiency, and time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic power were examined. Sixteen competitive road cyclists (12 men and 4 women) were randomly assigned into either an intervention or a control group. Thirteen (10 men and 3 women) cyclists completed the study. The intervention group (7 men and 1 woman) performed half-squats, 4 sets of 4 repetitions maximum, 3 times per week for 8 weeks, as a supplement to their normal endurance training. The control group continued their normal endurance training during the same period. The intervention manifested significant (p < 0.05) improvements in 1RM (14.2%), RFD (16.7%), CE (4.8%), work efficiency (4.7%), and time to exhaustion at pre-intervention maximal aerobic power (17.2%). No changes were found in o2max or body weight. The control group exhibited an improvement in work efficiency (1.4%), but this improvement was significantly (p < 0.05) smaller than that in the intervention group. No changes from pre- to postvalues in any of the other parameters were apparent in the control group. In conclusion, maximal strength training for 8 weeks improved CE and efficiency and increased time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic power among competitive road cyclists, without change in maximal oxygen uptake, cadence, or body weight. Based on the results from the present study, we advise cyclists to include maximal strength training in their training programs.

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