weight training ... someone explain Charmichael to me.
From the latest issue of Cycle Sport America, in the performance section, authored by Tim Pelot, a CTS senior coach;
"A properly designed strength training program can be beneficial for the cyclist by improving neuromuscular coordination, core stability, and joint integrity in order to prevent injury. In addition, because cycling only works in one plane of motion and is not a weight bearing activity, strength training can help balance out your body and improve bone density. Finally, for some cyclists, the increase in strength can lead to an improvement in power on the bike."
Question ... why is the power gain downplayed so dramatically? "Some cyclists?" Why would only "some cyclists" benefit. My own personal experience is that I bounce between lungs and legs as the limiter during the race season. Specifically, I start the season with strong legs and weaker legs. A month later, when the lungs catch up the legs become the limiter. After a little more strength training, the legs catch the lungs and they flip again. If I were unable to bring the legs back up to speed my legs would constantly be the limiter.
Finally, I have yet to see a pic of a pro tour race winner with skinny legs (save perhaps for Rasmussen). I just don't get it.
The main benefits comes to beginning riders. For the majority of new riders, muscle-strength trails behind absolute VO2-max by a large amount. Seasoned veteran racers on the other hand will have built up their muscle-strength to 3-4x that of the beginner. However absolute VO2 doesn't improve by that much, perhaps only 2-3x. And it takes a lot longer to develop the aerobic system than muscular.
Strenth-training is downplayed is it's easy. You can do just 8-10 weeks of weight-training in the winter and 1 sprint-workout a week and your muscles will pretty much be as strong as they need to be. The vast majority of the remainder of the training will be in developing the cardiovascular system.
So the "some cyclists" who can benefit the most are new riders with less than 5-years racing experience. Those with 5+ years will use it only as maintenance to build muscles back up to the point they started the season with (since some will have been consumed during the season). Basically strength training lets you "catch up" to the vets faster in terms of strength in just 2-3 years of training rather than 5-7. However, it will still take years more to develop the heart and hungs to their level. At that point becomes a matter of "how long you can hold the speed", rather than "can you get the speed at all".