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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgment

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

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Correspondence to Bent R. Rønnestad.

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Communicated by Håkan Westerblad.

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Rønnestad, B.R., Hansen, E.A. & Raastad, T. Effect of heavy strength training on thigh muscle cross-sectional area, performance determinants, and performance in well-trained cyclists. Eur J Appl Physiol 108, 965–975 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-009-1307-z

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Keywords

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