Adaptations to training in endurance cyclists: implications for performance

Sports Med. 2001;31(7):511-20. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200131070-00006.


Our present scientific knowledge of the effects of specific training interventions undertaken by professional cyclists on selected adaptive responses in skeletal muscle and their consequences for improving endurance performance is limited: sport scientists have found it difficult to persuade elite cyclists to experiment with their training regimens and access to muscle and blood samples from these athletes is sparse. Owing to the lack of scientific study we present a theoretical model of some of the major training-induced adaptations in skeletal muscle that are likely to determine performance capacity in elite cyclists. The model includes, but is not limited to, skeletal muscle morphology, acid-base status and fuel supply. A working premise is that the training-induced changes in skeletal muscle resulting from the high-volume, high-intensity training undertaken by elite cyclists is at least partially responsible for the observed improvements in performance. Using experimental data we provide evidence to support the model.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*