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Old 05-19-2007, 04:46 AM   #1
Paul Kayley
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Default Resistance training and aerobic performance

What are your thoughts on the relevance of resistance training to aerobic sports performance?

Have you experienced complimentary benefits? If yes, why do you think improved strength increases aerobic performance?
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Old 05-19-2007, 08:41 AM   #2
Robb Wolf
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Hey Paul!!

Our endurance oriented clients certainly have benefited from both strength training (SQT, DL, Press) and from some smart CF style mixed modal training.

It seem like the stronger the person is the faster they run or bike...swimming has not shown as linear a correlation.

The literature indicates better inter and intra muscular coordination (strength training) benefits all of these endurance activities. If one can fuel a given movement with say stronger, better coordinated type 1 fibers this will be more efficient than relying on more fatigable type 2A's. Makes sense.

If someone were say....racing road bikes in Europe for a portion of the year the months leading up to race preparation might include some dedicated strength work 2-3x per week for the big movements...perhaps some metabolic conditioning. Once the season is rolling one need only hit those big lifts (sqt, dl, press, pull) 1x/7-10 days in something like an 8x3 or 10x2 format to maintain ~90% of peak strength. That should involve a minimal time investment with good return and no degradation of recovery ability.
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Old 05-19-2007, 09:52 AM   #3
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More strength output per pedal, foot, etc....equals more overall power...more overall speed...etc....

aka your sustainable race pace is now higher....than before with less strenght....that and more power to accelerate when you need it in a race...breakaway speed....

Even intervals can increase your aerobic strength due to the higher output....
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Old 05-19-2007, 11:56 AM   #4
Paul Kayley
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Morning Robb. Great to have somewhere new and different to discuss stuff. The website looks great.

IME, apart from the obvious injury prevention benefits, strength training is definately of benefit to some aerobic and endurance activities, especially in cycling for example, where peripheral performance limitation is more likely due to the restricted muscle mass involved in an enclosed range of motion. However, trying to explain the physiological reasons for this has for some time eluded me.

A rather simplistic but nontheless potentially valid reasoning - "The answer could be efficiency, could simply be the fact that if you increase near max strength, any submaximal force output requires less muscle fiber. That is, if you need 100 lbs of force to generate a certain wattage and your max is 100, you're working at 100% of your maximum. If your max is 200 lbs, that same 100 lbs of force is only 50% of maximum." This however does not take into account the significance of the anaerobic systems upon strength, nor the almost insignificant impact of the anaerobic systems upon maximal aerobic capacity or lactate threshold.

I believe that weights is likely to be far more beneficial to athletes whose limiter is not central VO2max but peripheral fatigue, due to a low LT resulting from a restricted range of endurance trained fibres. An individual with a high % of ST fibres, either from being genetically gifted or via long-term training and altered gene-expression, is more able to easily recruit more fibres due to their lower innervation threshold. The workload is therefore better distributed resulting in a lower respiration rate per cell, resulting in better fuel economy and a higher OBLA threshold.

It may be that weight training improves/increases muscle fibre recruitability and coordination of innervation, leading to a wider and more organised fibre 'team-effort'. Also, could it not be possible that neural adaptations lead to improved intermediate muscle fibre innervation thresholds... that is, for less percieved effort these fibres can be recruited resulting in their more frequent use during sport specific training. In effect, intermediate fibres' innervation thresholds are reduced to near ST innervation charateristics. Which in turn, during aerobic actvities, results in them becoming more aerobic and endurance trained, raising the LT, and in turn increasing time to exhaustion and functional power output.

Have you ever come across any research pertaining to the effects of resistance/strength training upon innervation thresholds of different muscle fibre types? I believe that the following is suggesting that they reduce... I have read the study a few times, but I'm still not 100% sure that this is their point? Perhaps they're suggesting that less innervation occurs for the same force output as a result of improved motor unit coordination follwing resistance training?

The sites of neural adaptation induced by resistance training in humans
Timothy J. Carroll, Stephan Riek and Richard G. Carson


Although it has long been supposed that resistance training causes adaptive changes in the CNS, the sites and nature of these adaptations have not previously been identified. In order to determine whether the neural adaptations to resistance training occur to a greater extent at cortical or subcortical sites in the CNS, we compared the effects of resistance training on the electromyographic (EMG) responses to transcranial magnetic (TMS) and electrical (TES) stimulation. Motor evoked potentials (MEPs) were recorded from the first dorsal interosseous muscle of 16 individuals before and after 4 weeks of resistance training for the index finger abductors (n = 8), or training involving finger abduction-adduction without external resistance (n = 8). TMS was delivered at rest at intensities from 5 % below the passive threshold to the maximal output of the stimulator. TMS and TES were also delivered at the active threshold intensity while the participants exerted torques ranging from 5 to 60 % of their maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) torque. The average latency of MEPs elicited by TES was significantly shorter than that of TMS MEPs (TES latency = 21.5 1.4 ms; TMS latency = 23.4 1.4 ms; P < 0.05), which indicates that the site of activation differed between the two forms of stimulation. Training resulted in a significant increase in MVC torque for the resistance-training group, but not the control group. There were no statistically significant changes in the corticospinal properties measured at rest for either group. For the active trials involving both TMS and TES, however, the slope of the relationship between MEP size and the torque exerted was significantly lower after training for the resistance-training group (P < 0.05). Thus, for a specific level of muscle activity, the magnitude of the EMG responses to both forms of transcranial stimulation were smaller following resistance training. These results suggest that resistance training changes the functional properties of spinal cord circuitry in humans, but does not substantially affect the organisation of the motor cortex.

(BTW dont buy that book I recommended as I've sent you my copy.)
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Old 05-19-2007, 12:20 PM   #5
Derek Simonds
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Nice post Paul!

I will have to reread it a couple of times to pick up all the details. I think that your 100% analogy and what MOD said I can definitely attest to. My 5K run time is steadily going down ever since I have started a consistent strength program.

My bike training has been much easier also.

Robb, interesting thought on the swimming. This year my swim training has been easier to get into. I think that it is a result of several things. Pull Ups and Jumping Pull Ups have increased my lat strength and my lat strength endurance. Doing the mass gain plan I have done a lot of pressing which has really strengthened my shoulders. Used to be early in the year my shoulders would be the most sore from swimming. And the final key is that interval work has really increased my ability to perform at or near LT for short periods of time across all activities.
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Old 05-19-2007, 12:41 PM   #6
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Having my mountain bike *cough* turn into a single speed (if you call the derailer snapping off a good thing...and then rigging it to one speed till I buy a new bike) was one the best things to do for increasing my power stroke while biking....some hills still suck but I am able to crank out some serious speed now...suck factor is high....result factor is great... great for training but obviously not something I would use during a race.
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Old 05-19-2007, 01:14 PM   #7
Neal Winkler
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Quote:
nor the almost insignificant impact of the anaerobic systems' impact upon maximal aerobic capacity or lactate threshold.
The anaeribic sysytem has little impact on maximal aerobic capacity and lactate threshold? I couldn't disagree more. Working in the anaerobic system, specifically the glycolic pathway, imporoves both VO2max and lactate threshold. That's what every study on HIIT shows.

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I believe that weights is likely to be far more beneficial to athletes whose limiter is not central VO2max
Assuming that VO2max is a performance limiter. I havn't done much research in this area but the power running site has a lot to say about this subject. If you havn't gone through this site, you'd be silly not to.

http://www.powerrunning.com

Quote:
It may be that weight training improves/increases muscle fibre recruitability and coordination of innervation, leading to a wider and more organised fibre 'team-effort'... In effect, intermediate fibres' innervation thresholds are reduced to near ST innervation charateristics. Which in turn, during aerobic actvities, results in them becoming more aerobic and endurance trained...
If I get what you're saying here, your assertion is that strength training decreases the amount of intensity that is required to activate higher threshold motor units, and thus cause the higher threshold motor units to perform aerobic work thus changing their fiber characteristics. But, that is the opposite of what happens. For example, if I get stronger, say, improve my squat from 100lbs. to 400lbs., doing a squat at 100lbs. when my max is 100lbs. will require immediate recruitment of my type IIB, whereas doing 100lbs when my max is 400lbs may only require my ST fibers unless I try and move the weight at maximal velocity.

So, on the contrary, increasing strength increases the level of intensity that is required for higher threshold motor units to get activated.

Furthermore, let's remember that what energy system we are using (and thus what motor units will be recruited) is first determined by the intensity, then the duration, of the activity. So, why would the body call upon the less fatigue resistant higher threshold motor units to do aerobic work if it didn't have to? The reason higher threshold motor units get called upon to do aerobic work is because the type 1's become fatigued. That's when repeated exposures to the aerobic stimulus begin to change their fiber characteristics.

You would have to be saying that strength training first causes you to become worse at aerobic activity (from calling upon less fatigue resistance type II fibers to do aerobic work) and only after subsequent training makes you better. But I think you'll find that strength training never makes someone worse at aerobic activity before it makes it better.
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Old 07-15-2009, 11:49 PM   #8
Ben Reynolds
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Kayley View Post
What are your thoughts on the relevance of resistance training to aerobic sports performance?

Have you experienced complimentary benefits? If yes, why do you think improved strength increases aerobic performance?
Ideally, training should incorporate both resistance and strength based movements just to make the body more adaptable to varying stimuli. I believe strength helps endurance to the extent that muscular fatigue takes longer to set in.

When I only trained burpees they were brutal. By incorporating ring dips, L-sit pullups, and pistols alongside my routine, muscular fatigue set in later and I could handle longer sets before reaching the anaerobic threshold. Just those three exercises filled in the gaps for me.
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Old 08-07-2009, 07:00 PM   #9
Tom Rawls
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Do any of the elite cyclists do strength training? Or do they let their climbs develop the strength they need?

Clearly, their sport demands that they limit upper body mass. No one wants to carry extra weight up the Alps. So that has some implications for their training and diet. And I expect their legs are largely slow-twitch.

I am skeptical of Robb's assertion that strength training 2-3 times per week would be valuable to road cyclists. But I'm also quick to admit, damned if I know for sure.

Stephen Seiler's site discusses the use of strength training for rowers (power/endurance athletes). It also goes into their muscle-fiber composition. He concludes that lifting is only marginally useful for endurance athletes who clearly also need to be strong, and he also notes that Olympic rowers are slow-twitch freaks. That's probably a genetic gift, in part, and a result of adaptations from many two-a-day sessions lasting 90-120 minutes. Seiler's stuff hasn't been changed for several years, so I don't know whether recent studies would lead him to refine his thinking about strength training.

Fritz Hagerman, exercise physiologist who has worked with Olympic rowers, has noted that some elite rowers pump heroic amounts of blood through their systems, thereby powering their aerobic engines. Other rowers are uncommonly efficient at extracting oxygen from the blood that is pumped. So two different physiological mechanisms--big pump or better utilization--result in elite endurance performance in a shell. Is is reasonable to think that cyclists would also fall into one or the other of those categories? (Along with having clever doctors and pharmacists.)

I never know whether the VO2 max conversation is useful. VO2 max is genetically limited (so I've read), and it doesn't take that much specific training to reach that limit (so I've read). You want to do some VO2 specific training, because this will allow your "lactate threshold" training to occur at faster paces, but overdo the VO2 stuff, and you'll fry yourself and not be able to do the important distance training that prepares you for longer races.

Of course, if your goal is something other than being an emaciated freak, then by all means lift, but I'm not sure you'll be improving your cycling performance.

One other piece of evidence suggesting strength training is irrelevant to cyclists: the physique of Michael Rasmussen, who was leading last year's TdF before being DQ'd

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Old 08-13-2009, 03:38 PM   #10
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We can't look at Tour riders only. That would be like compairing Ultra Runners to 100m sprinters.
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