Keeping It Equal: Strength Training For Cyclists 35+
Recent research is pointing to positive benefits from strength training, particularly for riders 35 years and up, where the effects are much greater than in younger riders. While the benefits that have been observed are not to be dismissed, it should be noted that VO2 max is not affected, so while adding strength training is likely to have positive benefits it should not be a substitute for adequate aerobic training.
Page two has more on the exact ways strength training can benefit you: It appears that the benefits are two-fold, being in both improvement in force exerted on the pedals, and a greatly reduced incident of injury – with some evidence suggesting that this could be by up to 50%.
The strength benefits are shown to narrow the gap between younger cyclists and those from an older generation:
For competitive cyclists and those looking for ways to improve performance and reduce injury risk, it is a very valuable form of cross-training.
Research evidence also suggests that older cyclists are likely to benefit more than those in their physical prime. Furthermore, strength training is becoming more and more important in the treatment and rehabilitation of muscle and tendon injuries such as tendinopathy, often in favour of stretching and flexibility exercises. It has been shown to help re-strengthen damaged tissues while decreasing the likelihood of a recurrence of the injury.
One study in particular showed some very promising results. Louis et al. (2011) studied the effect of three weeks of strength training on cycling efficiency on two groups — young athletes and masters-age athletes.
The study states: “In masters, the strength training induced an enhancement in maximal and endurance torque production and cycling efficiency, thus reducing age-related differences in performance recorded before training… These results suggest that strength training added to endurance training might be a complementary strategy to preserve functional capacity and performance with ageing.”
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