Weight Lifting to boost cycling power?

One of the most common questions I have been asked by clients and perspective clients is: “Will lifting make me more powerful?” Amateur cyclists see videos of pros ripping squats and read overly generalized articles in training magazines and are worried they might be slacking on a critical component of their training.

So here’s my answer, Yes… lifting can make you more powerful, but you probably shouldn’t do it.

To start off, what is meant by the term “lifting”? In this context “lifting” refers to heavily weighted squats and/or deadlifts. These exercises strengthen knee and hip extensors, the same muscle groups used to turn the pedals. So why shouldn’t the average amateur cyclist lift? Having stronger cycling muscles sounds great right?

My coaching philosophy for amateur athletes is to maximize return on investment. Simply stated, amateur athletes only have so much time and effort to invest, so maximizing meaningful gains is important. Heavy lifting is predominantly anaerobic/neuromuscular (think max sprint on the bike). Most amateur cyclists are simply better off investing their training in increasing their aerobic capability, after all, maximal sustained aerobic power output (think FTP) is the single greatest predictor of cycling performance for any event aside from track sprinting.

Maximal aerobic power threshold is relatively under-developed in most of the athletes that come to me. This shouldn’t be surprising, especially when you consider that American youth sports predominately focus on short anaerobic bursts.

In conclusion, all of the above is not true for every amateur athlete. If an athlete with particularly low anaerobic capability is targeting an event that has a high anaerobic demand. Lifting may be a good investment of that athlete’s time and effort. That is why it is important to work with a coach who focuses on maximizing ROI and building the rider to excel at the demands of their event.

FINAL IMPORTANT POINT, I am not at all suggesting to stay out of the gym as an amateur cyclist. The main objectives of an armature’s gym workouts should be to strengthen: core, upper body, and knee/hip flexor muscles - to balance overuse of knee/hip extensors.

-Luke Hubbard, Coach/Owner at Superior Athletic Consulting LLC

Do you know your training zones?

Most will answer yes. Most athletes have performed some flavor of a threshold test, and calculated their zones by percentages of their functional threshold. Unfortunately zones set as a percent of threshold are based on a bell-curve of athlete data, meaning the estimated zones are only accurate for about 68% of athletes. What’s worse is that many athletes approximate their threshold as 95% of a maximal 20 minute effort, which is also just an estimate.

At Superior Athletic Consulting, the Human Performance Model in WKO5 is used to determine zones and build individualized workouts. The model is accurate for every athlete when fed good data.

 

-Luke Hubbard, Coach/Owner at Superior Athletic Consulting LLC

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