Resistance or Endurance Training?

17 Aug

Training for track cyclists (or road cyclists for that matter) fall into 2 types: Resistance training (RT) and Endurance Training (ET). Resistance training has two different, broader meaning that refers to any training that uses a resistance to the force of muscular contraction (better termed strength training), and elastic or hydraulic resistance, which refers to a specific type of strength training that uses elastic or hydraulic tension to provide this resistance. Endurance training is the deliberate act of exercising to increase stamina and endurance. Exercises for endurance tends to be aerobic in nature versus anaerobic movements. Aerobic exercise develops slow twitch muscles. Performing these exercises strengthens and elongates the muscles for preparation of extended periods of use.

Highly trained cyclists may be hesitant to incorporate resistance training (RT) with their endurance training (ET) because of the mixed data regarding concurrent RT and ET (CT). A study was published last February 2010 by Yamamoto LM in the Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association as to the effect of resistance training on the performance of cyclists. This was however limited to road cycling performance but the data was utilized to help road cyclists crossing over to the track and vice versa.

The purpose of this review was to search the scientific body of literature for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of CT on road cycling performance for highly trained cyclists. Key words (including cycling and strength training) were used to search relevant databases through September 2009 for literature related to CT.

Randomized controlled trials were included if they scored > or =5 on the Physiotherapy Evidence Database scale. Five studies met the inclusion criteria: highly trained road cyclists (>7 h.wk or > 150 km.wk, with at least 6 months of training), outcome measure was cycling performance (time trial or time to exhaustion), and RT performed off-bike.

Two of the 5 studies found no improvement in performance with CT, but these studies added RT on top of the athletes’ existing ET. The 3 studies with improved cycling performance replaced a portion of the athletes’ ET with RT, and 2 of the 3 studies included high-intensity explosive-type resistance exercises.

The research then concluded that despite the limited research on CT for highly trained cyclists, it is likely that replacing a portion of a cyclist’s ET with RT will result in improved time trial performance and maximal power.

As for its applications, based on our experience, road cyclists were given endurance training with very little resistance training or none at all. Whereas track cyclists receive more resistance training plus endurance training.

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