Effects of Increased Muscle Strength and Muscle Mass on Endurance-Cycling Performance

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Despite early and ongoing debate among athletes, coaches, and sport scientists, it is likely that resistance training for endurance cyclists can be tolerated, promotes desired adaptations that support training, and can directly improve performance. Lower-body heavy strength training performed in addition to endurance-cycling training can improve both short- and long-term endurance performance. Strength-maintenance training is essential to retain strength gains during the competition season. Competitive female cyclists with greater lower-body lean mass (LBLM) tend to have ~4–9% higher maximum mean power per kg LBLM over 1 s to 10 min. Such relationships enable optimal body composition to be modeled. Resistance training off the bike may be particularly useful for modifying LBLM, whereas more cycling-specific training strategies like eccentric cycling and single-leg cycling with a counterweight have not been thoughtfully investigated in well-trained cyclists. Potential mechanisms for improved endurance include postponed activation of less efficient type II muscle fibers, conversion of type IIX fibers into more fatigue-resistant IIa fibers, and increased muscle mass and rate of force development.

Mujika is with the Dept of Physiology, University of the Basque Country, Leioa, Basque Country, and the School of Kinesiology and Health Research Center, Finis Terrae University, Santiago, Chile. Rønnestad is with the Section for Sport Science, Lillehammer University College, Lillehammer, Norway. Martin is with Physiology, Australian Inst of Sport, Canberra, ACT, Australia.

Address author correspondence to Iñigo Mujika at inigo.mujika@inigomujika.com.
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