European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 108, Issue 5, pp 965–975 | Cite as

Effect of heavy strength training on thigh muscle cross-sectional area, performance determinants, and performance in well-trained cyclists

  • Bent R. RønnestadEmail author
  • Ernst Albin Hansen
  • Truls Raastad
Original Article


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of heavy strength training on thigh muscle cross-sectional area (CSA), determinants of cycling performance, and cycling performance in well-trained cyclists. Twenty well-trained cyclists were assigned to either usual endurance training combined with heavy strength training [E + S; n = 11 (♂ = 11)] or to usual endurance training only [E; n = 9 (♂ = 7, ♀ = 2)]. The strength training performed by E + S consisted of four lower body exercises [3 × 4–10 repetition maximum (RM)], which were performed twice a week for 12 weeks. Thigh muscle CSA, maximal force in isometric half squat, power output in 30 s Wingate test, maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), power output at 2 mmol l−1 blood lactate concentration ([la]), and performance, as mean power production, in a 40-min all-out trial were measured before and after the intervention. E + S increased thigh muscle CSA, maximal isometric force, and peak power in the Wingate test more than E. Power output at 2 mmol l−1 [la] and mean power output in the 40-min all-out trial were improved in E + S (P < 0.05). For E, only performance in the 40-min all-out trial tended to improve (P = 0.057). The two groups showed similar increases in VO2max (P < 0.05). In conclusion, adding strength training to usual endurance training improved determinants of cycling performance as well as performance in well-trained cyclists. Of particular note is that the added strength training increased thigh muscle CSA without causing an increase in body mass.


Aerobic power output Peak power output Concurrent training Weight training Endurance performance 



The authors express their thanks to the participants for their time and effort.

Conflict of interest statement

There is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bent R. Rønnestad
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ernst Albin Hansen
    • 2
  • Truls Raastad
    • 2
  1. 1.Lillehammer University CollegeLillehammerNorway
  2. 2.Norwegian School of Sport SciencesOsloNorway

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