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

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Mar;108(5):965-75. doi: 10.1007/s00421-009-1307-z. Epub 2009 Dec 4.


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 (male symbol = 11)] or to usual endurance training only [E; n = 9 (male symbol = 7, female symbol = 2)]. The strength training performed by E + S consisted of four lower body exercises [3 x 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 (VO(2max)), 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 VO(2max) (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.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anatomy, Cross-Sectional
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Bicycling* / physiology
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Resistance Training*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Thigh / anatomy & histology*
  • Thigh / physiology


  • Biomarkers
  • Lactic Acid