Tag Archives: cycling

Strength Training Improves Performance in Endurance Athletes

Journal of Sports Physiology & Performance Article Response :

Weight training for endurance sports remains controversial in spite of a significant body of research that clearly shows its benefits. Many endurance coaches and athletes still believe that weight training will not aide performance in long distance efforts with most of the argument stemming around energy management and the belief that weight training programs leave athletes too fatigued to be able to complete their workouts. At Phase IV we disagree. Our observation is that the most successful coaches in the world find that weight training, when conducted in accordance with sound scientific principles, actually allow athletes to perform much more work in training throughout the season. If coaches would simply allow for the increased time needed to recover from gym workouts in the early season, they will have athletes who can train harder and remain injury free later in the season, when it counts most. These coaches have learned that any training time lost due to recovery from strength work is well worth it. Once athletes adapt to the rigors of weight training their ability to perform work is elevated and they suffer less injury.

The following study expressly describes how resistance training in the gym actually enhances aerobic performance, using cycling as the tested example. Researchers found that cyclists were able to become more efficient at pedaling by adding strength training targeted at the muscles used in the cycling rotation. While endurance training alone does increase performance, supplementing with weight training results in larger gains than endurance training alone.

Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2012 Dec;7(4):313-21.  Cyclists’ improvement of pedaling efficacy and performance after heavy strength training.  Hansen EA, Rønnestad BR, Vegge G, Raastad T.


The authors tested whether heavy strength training, including hip-flexion exercise, would reduce the extent of the phase in the crank revolution where negative or retarding crank torque occurs. Negative torque normally occurs in the upstroke phase when the leg is lifted by flexing the hip. Eighteen well-trained cyclists either performed 12 wk of heavy strength training in addition to their usual endurance training (E+S; n = 10) or merely continued their usual endurance training during the intervention period (E; n = 8). The strength training consisted of 4 lower body exercises (3 � 4-10 repetition maximum) performed twice a week. E+S enhanced cycling performance by 7%, which was more than in E (P = .02). Performance was determined as average power output in a 5-min all-out trial performed subsequent to 185 min of submaximal cycling. The performance enhancement, which has been reported previously, was here shown to be accompanied by improved pedaling efficacy during the all-out cycling. Thus, E+S shortened the phase where negative crank torque occurs by ~16°, corresponding to ~14%, which was more than in E (P = .002). In conclusion, adding heavy strength training to usual endurance training in well-trained cyclists improves pedaling efficacy during 5-min all-out cycling performed after 185 min of cycling.


Ready to add resistance training into your exercise program? Phase IV’s expert staff of Physical Therapists and Exercise Physiologists  are ready to help you achieve your goals quickly and injury-free! Call 310.582.8212 today for a free Sports Performance Consultation!