Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The strength/resistance training thing

There were some posts over at the mtbr forums that sort of irked me. Like this or this where people say stuff like this:
Especially for cyclists who really do not need to explore the limits of their one rep (or three, or six, etc.) max.


It's not because they disagree with my (some might say holier than thou) training principles, but more so because they are just blanket statements made w/o a whole lot of thought. Typical of the forum world where one must constantly filter. One can never take any one forum post on it's own merit but must compare it to many others.

There is continual debate over the periodized strength training program for cyclists compared to just doing strength/power development only on the bicycle. Of course I don't know the right answer but of course I've got my opinion. There's some basic physiology principles that 'probably' are hard to refute.

-The amount of force that can be created is based on
a.muscle size
b.muscle composition
c.the number of muscle fibers recruited by the nervous system
d.strength gains are specific to the speed at which the muscle is trained.

(d) is why in the end strength/power work must eventually transition to in the saddle with things like
-sprints
-leadout intervals
-muscle endurance intervals (low cadence/high resistance)
-stomp intervals
-single speeding

So I'm not debating whether one has to do the work on the bike. That to me is a given. But the debate is over doing hypertrophy, strength, and then some power in the gym with significantly higher resistances than can be created on the bike.

The way I look at it is that before you get to (d) the on-bike work, you've got X amount of strength in the legs with which to work with to make cycling specific strength/power. By going to the gym and following a cycling specific periodized strength training program as outlined in the Morris book or here BEFORE you start the on the bike work will give you an X that is much higher than if you didn't.

With limited time for training, during much of the gym work (hypetrophy mainly), my aerobic is being compromised cause I'm not doing anything aerobic. But I've found that within 3 or so week of riding my basic aerobic level comes back pretty quick. And then I've got enough foundation to start doing the hard SMSP and MSP intervals.

3 Comments:

At 1:19 PM, Blogger Keith said...

I tend to agree with you. In principle, I like the Morris method of attempting to translate gains in the weight room to gains on the bike.

I remember in this year's TdF watching Alexander Vinokourov during a sprint finish and seeing just how big his legs were. I guess I'd be surprised if he got that way only by riding.

 
At 5:46 PM, Blogger mags said...

I think you make some good points. I believe in strength training in the period leading up to the season. To me, the gains are obvious and most riders/coaches/teams that I've spoken with and encountered seem to agree. There are some notable exceptions, but for the most part -it's great. Now, I will say this, ignoring building your aerobic capacity for 3 weeks or more is not really ideal. Unless we are talking about 3 weeks of rest after a long season, you shouldn't have that long of a gap in "engine building". I do understand the time constraint though and I'm sure that makes it more difficult.

Mags
http://roadrace1.blogspot.com/

 
At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm right there with you, Ashwine. It's anecdotal, but my biggest gains ever made were in the first full year following Morris plan principles. Coming out the weight work I saw a significant increase in sustainable power. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-40 watt jump relative to 3 minute intervals. Wattage for my sprint increased by apx 100. I had a good spring that year. My opinion is that there are a lot of scenarios by which to skin a cat... the Morris plan offers a very time efficient option. All that said, I do believe there is significant opportunity for burn out, especially for those relatively new to racing. Also, I've found that (for me) a solid base really helps with consistency throughout the season. Morris seems to de-emphasize this base work to some degree in favor of high intensity work. But like I said, on the whole I've found his approach to be both effective and time efficient. Best of luck this coming season... I have a feeling you're going to have a solid year.

-Clay H.

 

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