The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of adding heavy strength training to well-trained female cyclists' normal endurance training on cycling performance. Nineteen female cyclists were randomly assigned to 11 weeks of either normal endurance training combined with heavy strength training (E+S, n = 11) or to normal endurance training only (E, n = 8). E+S increased one repetition maximum in one-legged leg press and quadriceps muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) more than E (P < 0.05), and improved mean power output in a 40-min all-out trial, fractional utilization of VO2 max and cycling economy (P < 0.05). The proportion of type IIAX-IIX muscle fibers in m. vastus lateralis was reduced in E+S with a concomitant increase in type IIA fibers (P < 0.05). No changes occurred in E. The individual changes in performance during the 40-min all-out trial was correlated with both change in IIAX-IIX fiber proportion (r = -0.63) and change in muscle CSA (r = 0.73). In conclusion, adding heavy strength training improved cycling performance, increased fractional utilization of VO2 max , and improved cycling economy. The main mechanisms behind these improvements seemed to be increased quadriceps muscle CSA and fiber type shifts from type IIAX-IIX toward type IIA.
Keywords: Concurrent training; aerobic power; cycling performance; muscle fiber type composition; work economy.
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.