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

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Dec;110(6):1269-82. doi: 10.1007/s00421-010-1622-4. Epub 2010 Aug 27.


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.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Seasons*
  • Thigh / anatomy & histology