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Strength Training Does Not Improve Cycling

Many competitive endurance athletes lift weights to make themselves stronger. A recent study from Australia shows that they may not be improving their performances.

Cycling is a power sport. The strongest legs push hardest on the pedals to make the bike move faster. Competitive cyclists train by pedaling for hours. You train for competition by taking a hard workout, feeling sore on the next day and then training at a reduced intensity until the muscle soreness disappears. Pushing heavy weights damages the muscles much more than riding long distances. Cyclists who push heavy weights with their legs take longer to recover and cannot ride as many fast miles.

Training is specific. The best way to become strong for cycling is to ride very fast. The harder you push on the pedals, the stronger you become for pushing on the pedals. Competitive cyclists should ride very fast in short bursts called intervals once or twice a week. Lifting weights with your legs does not make you as strong for cycling as pedaling very fast.

Bishop D et al. The effects of strength training on endurance performance and muscle characteristics. Me Sci Sports Exerc. 1999(June);31(6):886-891

Checked 8/31/08

May 12th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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