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In-season strength maintenance training increases well-trained cyclists’ performance

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Abstract

We investigated the effects of strength maintenance training on thigh muscle cross-sectional area (CSA), leg strength, determinants of cycling performance, and cycling performance. Well-trained cyclists completed either (1) usual endurance training supplemented with heavy strength training twice a week during a 12-week preparatory period followed by strength maintenance training once a week during the first 13 weeks of a competition period (E + S; n = 6 [♂ = 6]), or (2) usual endurance training during the whole intervention period (E; n = 6 [♂ = 5, ♀ = 1]). Following the preparatory period, E + S increased thigh muscle CSA and 1RM (p < 0.05), while no changes were observed in E. Both groups increased maximal oxygen consumption and mean power output in the 40-min all-out trial (p < 0.05). At 13 weeks into the competition period, E + S had preserved the increase in CSA and strength from the preparatory period. From the beginning of the preparatory period to 13 weeks into the competition period, E + S increased peak power output in the Wingate test, power output at 2 mmol l−1 [la], maximal aerobic power output (W max), and mean power output in the 40-min all-out trial (p < 0.05). The relative improvements in the last two measurements were larger than in E (p < 0.05). For E, W max and power output at 2 mmol l−1 [la] remained unchanged. In conclusion, in well-trained cyclists, strength maintenance training in a competition period preserved increases in thigh muscle CSA and leg strength attained in a preceding preparatory period and further improved cycling performance determinants and performance.

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Acknowledgments

The authors express their thanks to the participants for their time and effort. No founding was received for this work.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Bent R. Rønnestad.

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Communicated by William Kraemer.

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Rønnestad, B.R., Hansen, E.A. & Raastad, T. In-season strength maintenance training increases well-trained cyclists’ performance. Eur J Appl Physiol 110, 1269–1282 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-010-1622-4

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