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Does endurance weight lifting help?

Old 11-26-23, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes
<snip>
I was looking for a more fundamental discussion versus an empirical result concluded from tests. A very basic understanding of the fundamental manner in which we produce energy might be more revealing.

<snip>
I think the issue is that the bolded is still poorly understood. It's insanely complicated. I've tried to read papers about that but I think one would need a PHD in human specific organic chem and be up to date on all the latest research to understand them. Degrees in the mathematics of biology are sought after. So we fall back on empirics perhaps better to say, one has a hypothesis, one experiments, one develops a theory based on experimental results. The problem is trying to eliminate the randomizing produced by the variation in individual biology, which obviously varies quite a bit.

But yeah, I strength train for two reasons: to prevent injuries and to increase endurance. A side benefit was sprinting performance, which was fun but had no practical application for endurance cycling other than the usual beating up on other riders. IME very few endurance cyclists strength train, though the ones who do get results, Peter Sagan for one. Not too many riders are open about their training, and why should they be? Sagan used to have a video up with high rep heavy squats, etc., but it's been taken down, maybe an issue with his team. Now all that I find is him doing callisthenic type work and stretching Boring to most people. We're in nutcase territory here.
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Old 11-27-23, 08:51 AM
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I think it is incredibly hard to prove the benefit of strength training to cycling endurance on an individual level. I just do strength training for more general all-round fitness and mobility. If it happens to benefit my cycling endurance then that's a bonus. But I can't really prove whether it helps or not. Anecdotally speaking, I did less strength training last winter and my cycling endurance over the summer was slightly down on the previous year. But I also significantly reduced my cycling volume, so it is far from clear. Just too many variables.

I'm currently reading Peter Attia's book "Outlive" and one thing he cautions about is being too specific in our sport training. He uses his own past obsession with cycling TTs as an example. He said that he became a TT monster, but pedalling his bike in a rigid TT position for 40 mins was pretty much ALL he could do!

Looking at the bigger picture, it is clear enough from the science that strength training is of great benefit (maybe even essential in our later years) to our general functionality in daily life and therefore we should just get on with it! I certainly feel better when I get into a good strength training routine and I have no reason to think it is in any way detrimental to cycling endurance. At least not at the level I do it - mainly bodyweight and light weight training 2 or 3 times per week.

I also do a LOT of climbing, both on road and especially indoors. Often on very steep grades and I think this really does benefit my cycling endurance. But then the events I measure my endurance against are primarily centuries involving 3-4000+ metres of climbing. So I guess there is a fair degree of specificity of training there.
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Old 11-27-23, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
I think it is incredibly hard to prove the benefit of strength training to cycling endurance on an individual level. I just do strength training for more general all-round fitness and mobility. If it happens to benefit my cycling endurance then that's a bonus. But I can't really prove whether it helps or not. Anecdotally speaking, I did less strength training last winter and my cycling endurance over the summer was slightly down on the previous year. But I also significantly reduced my cycling volume, so it is far from clear. Just too many variables.

I'm currently reading Peter Attia's book "Outlive" and one thing he cautions about is being too specific in our sport training. He uses his own past obsession with cycling TTs as an example. He said that he became a TT monster, but pedalling his bike in a rigid TT position for 40 mins was pretty much ALL he could do!

Looking at the bigger picture, it is clear enough from the science that strength training is of great benefit (maybe even essential in our later years) to our general functionality in daily life and therefore we should just get on with it! I certainly feel better when I get into a good strength training routine and I have no reason to think it is in any way detrimental to cycling endurance. At least not at the level I do it - mainly bodyweight and light weight training 2 or 3 times per week.

I also do a LOT of climbing, both on road and especially indoors. Often on very steep grades and I think this really does benefit my cycling endurance. But then the events I measure my endurance against are primarily centuries involving 3-4000+ metres of climbing. So I guess there is a fair degree of specificity of training there.
Pete, your post is very well done. Word.
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Old 12-09-23, 05:37 PM
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One more post on this subject from me. I read the endurance lifting studies and put them into practice for the past few weeks. My wife and I have been doing 2 gym workouts/week, one focusing on pulling, the other on pushing, but not exclusively, for instance for legs one day of dumbbell deadlifts and the other barbell squats and leg sled. We're doing one set of 30-40 to exhaustion as described in a study. We find a weight for a particular lift with which we can just barely do about 30 reps and then use that same weight each week until we can do 40, then raise the weight the next week. It took a couple weeks of experimenting to find just the right weight for each lift. We are getting results in the weight room much more quickly than I expected. Whether or not we'll see those results on the bike remains to be seen. It's been raining most days here and we haven't been out. Also my computer's been on the blink and I've been going nuts trying to get it back to work, what a time sink. On the good side, this is quicker than 3 sets of 10 or 12, which my wife appreciates.
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Old 12-12-23, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by neverquit
So I’ve been doing strength building workouts at the gym since July. I focus on lower body, and do squats, using several different machines and free weights, so that I target all the muscles. Also do calf raises, and hamstring curls. I do 4 sets of 9-11 reps. I do calf raises until I can’t raise my heels high enough. I do this twice a week with a two day rest. At the beginning of October I started doing the same workouts but using an endurance plan where I use about half the weight and do 25 or so reps. I’ve read where this will help with endurance.

So while I think this sounds logical, that is, you buildup muscle strength, then do endurance lifting to help you on the long rides, I just can’t find any data to support this idea. Can you guys tell me if this makes sense, or what should I be doing.



Thanks

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FWIW, strength training has been shown to increase endurance cycling performance, from brief efforts of seconds through to longer efforts around an hour and potentially longer. However, for the most part you want to be lifting as heavy as you can go for these effects rather too many reps. Ultimately, you should arrive at building to something such as 4 or 5 sets of 3 reps at >90% of 1RM

This should be worked up to for both male and female athletes as well as younger (eg 20s) and older athletes (eg 50s). Not only will this have a positive effect on performance, it is possible it will have a positive effect on health (e.g. reversal of osteoporosis)
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Old 12-12-23, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Ric Stern
FWIW, strength training has been shown to increase endurance cycling performance, from brief efforts of seconds through to longer efforts around an hour and potentially longer. However, for the most part you want to be lifting as heavy as you can go for these effects rather too many reps. Ultimately, you should arrive at building to something such as 4 or 5 sets of 3 reps at >90% of 1RM
"Lift heavy for biggest gains" seems to be the consensus for endurance athletes, but the studies to support that are hard to find. Most studies tend to test only heavy weights, so there's not much to compare.

On the other hand, there are a few studies that compare different weight/reps, and they suggest medium weight/high reps produce superior endurance gains.
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Old 12-12-23, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Ric Stern
FWIW, strength training has been shown to increase endurance cycling performance, from brief efforts of seconds through to longer efforts around an hour and potentially longer. However, for the most part you want to be lifting as heavy as you can go for these effects rather too many reps. Ultimately, you should arrive at building to something such as 4 or 5 sets of 3 reps at >90% of 1RM

This should be worked up to for both male and female athletes as well as younger (eg 20s) and older athletes (eg 50s). Not only will this have a positive effect on performance, it is possible it will have a positive effect on health (e.g. reversal of osteoporosis)
Hi Ric:

It is great to have an actual coach show up in training and nutrition with experience and credentials. Like most everyone else, I just ride these things.

My question is: how do you recommend testing to determine ones 1RM. Is there a warmup protocol leading to a 1MR?
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Old 12-13-23, 03:43 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
"Lift heavy for biggest gains" seems to be the consensus for endurance athletes, but the studies to support that are hard to find. Most studies tend to test only heavy weights, so there's not much to compare.

On the other hand, there are a few studies that compare different weight/reps, and they suggest medium weight/high reps produce superior endurance gains.
the studies i can see (e.g. by Ronnestaad) all suggest lifting heavy. This also follows first principles that you want to be getting stronger. Additionally, if you're old (like me!) whether male or female lifting heavy is important for health benefits as well
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Old 12-13-23, 03:47 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
"Lift heavy for biggest gains" seems to be the consensus for endurance athletes, but the studies to support that are hard to find. Most studies tend to test only heavy weights, so there's not much to compare.

On the other hand, there are a few studies that compare different weight/reps, and they suggest medium weight/high reps produce superior endurance gains.
Originally Posted by Hermes
Hi Ric:

It is great to have an actual coach show up in training and nutrition with experience and credentials. Like most everyone else, I just ride these things.

My question is: how do you recommend testing to determine ones 1RM. Is there a warmup protocol leading to a 1MR?
Thanks. Personally, i feel it's better that you progress 'gently' and given i have no idea where you are in your strength training it's difficult to suggest. So, when i started my strength training 2 years i started gently. I didn't even bother testing my 1RM until i'd been doing things for maybe a year or just under. Until that point i progressed steadily and went by feel (and given that i'd not strength trained previously - other than a very brief spell 40 years ago - it all felt heavy).
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Old 12-13-23, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Ric Stern
Thanks. Personally, i feel it's better that you progress 'gently' and given i have no idea where you are in your strength training it's difficult to suggest. So, when i started my strength training 2 years i started gently. I didn't even bother testing my 1RM until i'd been doing things for maybe a year or just under. Until that point i progressed steadily and went by feel (and given that i'd not strength trained previously - other than a very brief spell 40 years ago - it all felt heavy).
I have been strength training consistently since 1975. Jack La Lane European health spa. My wife and I had to go on separate days. Men and women could not work out together. Ha.

I find the 1RM tricky. What I use, which was suggested by one of the trainers at my gym, is: pick a weight that I can do six reps with and feel like I could just do three more. That will put the weight at approximately 85% 1RM. If I want to lower the reps and go heavier, then I add weight.

I am in my 7th decade and my weight training is about the same as when I was younger with a couple of exceptions due to joint / other issues. However, for me lifting heavier is better as long as I do not injure myself. Heavy lifting is beneficial but has more chance of injury. If I am going to lift heavier or go for a 1RM type of lift, then I use a spotter / trainer to assist and check my form.

Typically, power lifters use a protocol when they are going for a 1RM type of lift. I start with the bar and a small amount of weight and use it to warm up and then start adding weight reducing the reps. I think it is important to have warmup / muscle activation prior to attempting a 1RM. If I am doing legs/back, I start with a bike warmup and then band walking for activation followed by a warmup using the weights. Then I start working on strength. If I am doing heavier weights, I use more rest between sets. So workouts take a lot of time.

I have tried different protocols over the years to strength train. From more reps and sets to more weight less reps with more rest. I think it is good to vary the workout and change it up. It is all good. The main point is find a routine or set of routines that will keep one in the gym year after year. It is a long game. I am not a coach but an engineer/finance guy. I just lift these things. YMMV
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Old 12-13-23, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Ric Stern
the studies i can see (e.g. by Ronnestaad) all suggest lifting heavy. This also follows first principles that you want to be getting stronger.
Yeah, the studies that examine a single heavy lifting protocol tend to come to one conclusion: heavy lifting produces endurance gains. Great. But they don't investigate if heavy lifting is optimal.

I have found one paper (Stone et al, Strength/Endurance Effects From Three Resistance Training Protocols With Women, 1994) that studied three different lifting protocols, and it found low resistance/high repetition protocol produced the biggest endurance gains:

Protocol : endurance gains
high resistance / low reps : 84.3%
medium resistance / low reps : 80.1%
low resistance / high reps : 137.4%

That's the only paper I can find that compares different protocols directly. I'm left to speculate that the strength research folks have a "more strength good" bias.

Edit: OK, I found another paper that compares different strength training protocols on college men doing bench press (Anderson & Kearney 1982).

Protocol : Maximum Strength Gains
high resistance / low rep : +20%
medium resistance / medium rep : +8%
low resistance / high rep : +5%

Protocol : Absolute Endurance Gains
high resistance / low rep : +24%
medium resistance / medium rep : +39%
low resistance / high rep : +41%

As in the study with women, above, low resistance / high rep produced greater endurance gains. From the paper:

"[Considering] the results of the analyses of changes in relative endurance reveals that the high resistance-low repetition protocol was significantly inferior to the two higher repetition programs. This finding supports the assertion that low weight, high repetition exercises produce the quality of endurance."
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Old 12-13-23, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
Yeah, the studies that examine a single heavy lifting protocol tend to come to one conclusion: heavy lifting produces endurance gains. Great. But they don't investigate if heavy lifting is optimal.

I have found one paper (Stone et al, Strength/Endurance Effects From Three Resistance Training Protocols With Women, 1994) that studied three different lifting protocols, and it found low resistance/high repetition protocol produced the biggest endurance gains:

Protocol : endurance gains
high resistance / low reps : 84.3%
medium resistance / low reps : 80.1%
low resistance / high reps : 137.4%

That's the only paper I can find that compares different protocols directly. I'm left to speculate that the strength research folks have a "more strength good" bias.

Edit: OK, I found another paper that compares different strength training protocols on college men doing bench press (Anderson & Kearney 1982).

Protocol : Maximum Strength Gains
high resistance / low rep : +20%
medium resistance / medium rep : +8%
low resistance / high rep : +5%

Protocol : Absolute Endurance Gains
high resistance / low rep : +24%
medium resistance / medium rep : +39%
low resistance / high rep : +41%

As in the study with women, above, low resistance / high rep produced greater endurance gains. From the paper:

"[Considering] the results of the analyses of changes in relative endurance reveals that the high resistance-low repetition protocol was significantly inferior to the two higher repetition programs. This finding supports the assertion that low weight, high repetition exercises produce the quality of endurance."
you're citing research on untrained women.

If you search for experts in the field of women's endurance training you'll find that they state that you need to lift heavy. the same is true for males. these are researchers who work in this area.
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Old 12-13-23, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Ric Stern
you're citing research on untrained women.
Untrained women and men. Quite common in exercise physiology studies.

Originally Posted by Ric Stern
If you search for experts in the field of women's endurance training you'll find that they state that you need to lift heavy. the same is true for males. these are researchers who work in this area.
I sure wish those experts could point to studies to back up their "heavy lifting is optimal for endurance" claims. If those studies exists, they are quite hard to find. The few studies I have found say those claims are wrong.

I tend to discount expert opinions, unless they can bring the data.
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Old 12-13-23, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
Untrained women and men. Quite common in exercise physiology studies.



I sure wish those experts could point to studies to back up their "heavy lifting is optimal for endurance" claims. If those studies exists, they are quite hard to find. The few studies I have found say those claims are wrong.

I tend to discount expert opinions, unless they can bring the data.
Interesting, so on the one hand you want data, but on the other you don't want to listen to people that perform such research, which seems somewhat confusing?

Anyway, we already know that heavy strength training has greatest effects on e.g. strength, and musculo-tendinous stiffness, etc. i can't off the top of my head think of any research that compares low weight to heavy weight (or high reps to low reps) and it's effect on endurance performance. you'd have to do a literature search on such. We also already know that heavy strength work has greatest effects on an ageing population as this increases hormonal response and shear forces help reduce e.g. osteoporosis, reverses sarcopenia, and keeps neurological function working correctly. and the evidence shows that heavy strength work increases cycling and running performance (i just can't think of any research off the top of my head that compares low weight/high reps with high weight/low reps. i'll have a think, in the meantime i'll be lifting heavy to increase my health and performance - which has happened with high weight/low reps and not with low weight/high reps - albeit i realise that this is just anecdote).
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Old 12-13-23, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Ric Stern
Interesting, so on the one hand you want data, but on the other you don't want to listen to people that perform such research, which seems somewhat confusing?
Not confusing to me. So called "experts" may hold opinions not based on data, and they may perform research that confirm their biases.

No expert is worthy of their title if they can't back up their opinions with objective data. In my opinion
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Old 12-14-23, 01:23 AM
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not sure what you want (other than a specific study comparing different strength training protocols on cycling performance) when evidence from other research shows that one protocol provides benefits and first principles disagrees with the other protocol, along with other research showing showing the other protocol isn't that effective in certain aspects. all the key researchers in this specific domain are using heavy weight protocols for a reason. additionally, all high level coaches are using these protocols too (they are often ahead of the research because they don't have to provide data in the same way, so lead the way for scientists to back up or dispute their claims). Ignoring the coaches, the researchers in this area have all gone with heavy they're not experts in inverted commas they're the research scientists. Anyway, it's really up to you what training you do. No one is forcing you to lift heavy. I'll see if i can find research looking at what you specifically want in my files, i don't have time to do an actual lit review (unless you want to pay me to do such research!).
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Old 12-14-23, 12:19 PM
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The question this thread poses is if there is value to “endurance resistance exercise”. Aka “lower weight, higher reps”.

The research is sparse, but the few studies that exist suggest that heavy lifting produces the most strength gains, while low to moderate lifting with high reps produces the most endurance gains.

When thinking about principles like specificity, that’s sort of an expected result. Heavy and short for strength, low and long for endurance. “Well, duh”.
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Old 12-14-23, 01:26 PM
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For the last 15 years of training and racing, I have used 3rd party coaches 90% of the time. The latest coach has the best credentials, most experience and track record. He is also the most expensive. I have found coaches on the leading edge of published research. The research, IMO, tries to "justify" the results and sometimes it does and sometimes it does not. Training and nutrition protocols and race strategies are constantly evolving. IMO, my current training and nutrition is state of the art and as good as any UCI pro team.

I find the small studies interesting but meh. I suppose using a coach supports my worldview and my strengths. What I am really good at is setting a goal, hiring a coach with a track record and successful clients and then using my discipline / perseverance (strengths) to ruthlessly stick to the prescribed program.

For me, these discussions are interesting and it is fun to kick ideas around and try to help others.
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Old 12-14-23, 02:24 PM
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One of the criticisms against the studies comparing high and low load resistance training is that they were using untrained subjects, making their findings moot for well-trained athletes.

Well, I did find this one small study of well-trained men (Schoenfeld et al 2015), and it reported changes in muscle endurance. The low-load group's endurance increased by 16.6%, while the high-load group's endurance decreased by 1.2%.

These results are similar to the ones found with untrained subjects.
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Old 12-15-23, 01:51 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
The question this thread poses is if there is value to “endurance resistance exercise”. Aka “lower weight, higher reps”.

The research is sparse, but the few studies that exist suggest that heavy lifting produces the most strength gains, while low to moderate lifting with high reps produces the most endurance gains.

When thinking about principles like specificity, that’s sort of an expected result. Heavy and short for strength, low and long for endurance. “Well, duh”.
As you mentioned the evidence is sparse on this, which is true. Accordingly, you can't say either way (that high reps or low reps are *better* for increasing cycling performance). However, there has been a reasonable amount of work done on assessing heavy strength training (i.e., low reps), and so the evidence when comparing the cycling only, to cycling and heavy strength training can be seen. These data show that heavy strength training (down in the 3 to 5 rep range) has a positive effect on both short and long term power. Similar evidence exists for running (I haven't checked other sports). Not only does the heavy strength training have an effect on muscle cross sectional area and lean body mass, as well as endogenous hormones and neural adaptations, it also has a positive effect on pedalling style leading to some of the endurance gains.

There is specific evidence within endurance sport that heavy strength training has a positive effect on cycling and running (most likely other sports too, but i haven't checked these data) on short and long term power production. Authors such as Ronnestaad, Millet, and Mujika have published in this area. Again, all you can say is that we don't know if high rep/lighter weight training would be better, worse or no change in comparison to doing the athletes normal sport.

Furthermore, there is evidence that heavy lifting has a positive effect on health in older people (and i'll bet that the majority of people reading this forum are 40 or older) with effects such as positive changes in bone health, endocrine function, and neurological functioning. That's not to say that lighter work may not also do this but larger changes are associated with heavier, or more work has been done on heavier (which leads me to think - albeit i'm prepared to accept i'm wrong - that a priori researchers already have a good idea of what may be better).
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Old 12-15-23, 02:01 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
One of the criticisms against the studies comparing high and low load resistance training is that they were using untrained subjects, making their findings moot for well-trained athletes.

Well, I did find this one small study of well-trained men (Schoenfeld et al 2015), and it reported changes in muscle endurance. The low-load group's endurance increased by 16.6%, while the high-load group's endurance decreased by 1.2%.

These results are similar to the ones found with untrained subjects.
Except in this study no work was done for either group on endurance training, so that confounds things as it does with the other paper you cited, as well as the fact it was on untrained women. Therefore, you simply can't hypothesise that low weight high rep training is more beneficial for endurance activities when the people are doing those endurance activities (which they weren't). The endurance of these subjects in these two papers was assessed by doing the same weight training for more reps.

What you need to do is recruit about 30 reasonable cyclists and assign them to one of 3 groups randomly, 1) cycling only, 2) cycling and low weight/high rep, 3) cycling and high weight/low rep and at the same time try to control their diet and overall training loads and ascertain who has the best improvements. Then write the research up and publish. Until that point (and of course that may only tell us how things occur for that level of cyclist) we can say that cycling and low reps/high strength appears to offer the best outcomes for (E)CP
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Old 12-15-23, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Ric Stern
What you need to do is recruit about 30 reasonable cyclists and assign them to one of 3 groups randomly, 1) cycling only, 2) cycling and low weight/high rep, 3) cycling and high weight/low rep and at the same time try to control their diet and overall training loads and ascertain who has the best improvements. Then write the research up and publish. Until that point (and of course that may only tell us how things occur for that level of cyclist) we can say that cycling and low reps/high strength appears to offer the best outcomes for (E)CP
Even that is too strong a statement, as you can't associate high-load/low reps (HLLR) with "best outcomes" when there are no cycling specific studies comparing other strength protocols. It's more reasonable to say there may be some marginal performance gains from strength training.

When it comes to performance, the existing studies are not conclusive. About the only confident conclusions one can make is that HLLR training improves maximal strength (another "yeah duh" result), and that it increases fatigue resistance. Results for improving FTP, VO2max power, economy are unclear.
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Old 12-15-23, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
Even that is too strong a statement, as you can't associate high-load/low reps (HLLR) with "best outcomes" when there are no cycling specific studies comparing other strength protocols. It's more reasonable to say there may be some marginal performance gains from strength training.

When it comes to performance, the existing studies are not conclusive. About the only confident conclusions one can make is that HLLR training improves maximal strength (another "yeah duh" result), and that it increases fatigue resistance. Results for improving FTP, VO2max power, economy are unclear.
i'm not sure what you mean, there are multiple studies showing increased cycling performance from high strength/low reps for pedalling biomechanics, economy, and various power durations
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Old 12-15-23, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Ric Stern
i'm not sure what you mean, there are multiple studies showing increased cycling performance from high strength/low reps for pedalling biomechanics, economy, and various power durations
For every study that find a marginal gain of some measure from strength training, there is another study that shows no gain. In other words, unclear.

Just one example (Philander 2015):

"Contrary to our hypothesis, the results demonstrate that concurrent [strength] training does not enhance muscle aerobic capacity and endurance performance in cyclists."

From (Rønnestad 2014):

VO2max: "There is little evidence that strength training should be the primary training mode to improve VO2max, and only a trivial effect of concurrent strength and endurance training on VO2max compared to endurance training alone in trained cyclists."

Economy: "[D]ivergent findings are evident on whether performing heavy strength training together with ordinary endurance training improves cycling economy."

Lactate threshold (running): "Since the majority of studies reported improved running economy in response to a period of concurrent strength and endurance training in endurance-trained individuals, it would be reasonable to expect an improvement in the exercise velocity or intensity associated with the lactate threshold...However, the endurance training literature comprises equivocal findings."

Endurance: "The traditional way of measuring cycling performance is time trialing lasting between 30 and 60 min. However, the effects of strength training are contradictory with studies variously showing either improvements or a trivial effect...Not all studies, however, have reported that concurrent training results in superior endurance performance, especially in males"

Not the ringing endorsement of strength training for endurance cyclists.
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Old 12-15-23, 03:27 PM
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In the Philander paper that used lighter weight/higher reps....

In the review paper it clearly states that there is a positive effect on cycling and running performance with heavy strength work and heavy strength work and explosive training, respectively. you're correct that the review paper says no increase in VO2max. Yet, further research by Ronnestaad and colleagues shows an increase in VO2max (and/or VO2max power).

You're correct that earlier research didn't show any benefit on ECP.
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