In a recent systematic review it was suggested that replacing a component of endurance cycling training with resistance training is beneficial in increasing maximal power output and TT speed in elite cyclists. We may not be elite but maybe this is something we should consider while putting in the K’s zooming around Centennial Park.A systematic review is considered the most reliable form of evidence in physiotherapy research. However it is quite a specific topic so there were only 5 studies available for the researchers to analyze.
Here is the science: years of intensive endurance training induces neuromuscular adaptions that increase muscle fiber recruitment and spread their power production over a larger area of active muscle during pedaling, therefore years of intensive endurance training makes our body more efficient.
Similarly, resistance training leads to neuromuscular adaptations such as improved motor unit recruitment and sychronisation and improved force development rate. This means that with resistance training our muscles become more well co-ordinated and therefore also more efficient.
So the idea is rather than putting in the hours in the saddle you could get the same benefits from 30 minutes resistance training. This is useful information for us as Sydney is not known for being a cycling friendly city. Can we get the same benefit from resistance training without risking our lives?
Best of all 3/5 trials showed improvements when resistance training replaced endurance training. However this study is based on elite cyclists who pretty much live on their bikes so it was thought that the addition of more exercise resistance or otherwise increased the work load on an already tiring body too much to be of any benefit. For more social cyclists (and we all know social is the most competitive grade!!) I would suggest the addition of some resistance exercises into your usual routine.
The resistance exercises suggested are high intensity explosive type exercises. How’s your squat jump??
Furthermore for you Sydney-siders concerned with increasing your body mass and therefore hindering your climbing capacity, science also suggests that well designed resistance training programs can cause the re-education of type 1 muscle fibers (which are our endurance muscle fibers) and connective tissue. So resistance exercises actually help.
Food for thought! Dare I say, maybe we should be spending a bit more time off our bikes??
The effects of resistance training on road cycling performance among highly trained cyclists: A Systematic Review
Journal of strength and conditioning research. Yamamoto, L.M., Klau, J.F., Casa, D.J., Kraemer, W.J, Armstrong, L.E., Maresh, C,M. 2010 (2): 560-566