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Maximal Strength Training Improves Cycling Economy in Competitive Cyclists

Sunde, Arnstein1; Støren, Øyvind1,2; Bjerkaas, Marius1; Larsen, Morten H1; Hoff, Jan2,3; Helgerud, Jan2,4

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: August 2010 - Volume 24 - Issue 8 - pp 2157-2165
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181aeb16a
Original Research

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 (V̇o2max), work efficiency in cycling at 70% V̇o2max, and time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic power. Responses in 1 repetition maximum (1RM) and rate of force development (RFD) in half-squats, V̇o2max, 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 V̇o2max 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.

1Department of Sport and Outdoor Life Studies, Telemark University College, Bø, Norway; 2Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway; 3Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, St. Olavs University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway; and 4Hokksund Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Hokksund, Norway

Address correspondence to Arnstein Sunde,

© 2010 National Strength and Conditioning Association