Strength training for cycling has many benefits proven out by various studies. It will 1.) Improve cycling endurance 2.) Raise your lactate threshold(LT) 3.) Increase total amount of force applied to the pedals 4.) Increase ride to exhaustion period 5.) Protects against injury 6.) Rebalance body strength. If any of those terms went over your head go ahead and read on and I will explain in detail what they are and how strength training will improve that area of cycling.
Research has shown that strength training for cycling shows positive gains in endurance performance without any change in you VO2max. VO2max, by the way, is how much oxygen your body can consume at maximum exertion, this is also known as aerobic power and maximal oxygen consumption. You may wonder how can your endurance increase without increasing you aerobic power. The probable cause of this is because during a ride you will begin to use more slow-twitch muscles(muscles used for endurance) instead of the fast-twitch muscles(muscles used for power with low aerobic power). You are using more of the muscles that have a higher aerobic power while your overall aerobic power remains the same. Also fast-twitch muscles fatigue faster than slow-twitch muscle thus increasing your cycling endurance.
Lactate Threshold (LT)
Strength training for cycling will raise your LT. You may be wondering what does lactate threshold(LT) even mean. When your muscle begin to ever themselves they produce lactate acid and that is then flushed away by your body at a certain rate. Your LT is the point at which your body is producing more lactate acid than can be flushed away. At that point you will have entered into your anaerobic power, which is exercise without the help of oxygen. Strength training for cycling will cause you to use more slow-twitch muscles than fast-twitch muscles. This means less lactate acid is being produced; raising the point at which your body becomes anaerobic.
Strength training for cycling will increase your ride to exhaustion period. This is how long you can ride at any given intensity before you succumb to exhaustion. The improvements in this field show a positive change of about 10 to 33 percent. The results are most distinct in new riders and don’t affect the more experienced rider so dramatically.
Cycling Injury Protection
This is a big worry for almost all cyclists, whether you just do it for exercise or if you are a professional cyclist you want to avoid injuries in whatever way you can. The weakest part of your muscle is where they connect to the tendon. This is the point at which most muscle tears occur. With strength training it increases the load capacity of these muscle-tendon unions. This safeguards you against injuries during sudden change in power such as when accelerating quickly or sprinting.
Rebalance Body Strength
Strength training for cycling will rebalance your body’s overall strength. These imbalances could be the big nasty ones such as having a strong lower body and a weak upper body. It can also affect the smaller differences such as the two muscle that oppose each other on the same joint. An example of this is you bicep and triceps both acting on your elbow. This will also reduce injury.
With such a broad range of improvements it is almost guaranteed that strength training for cycling will make you a better cyclist. If you are a competitive racer just a few percentage points to any of these fields could mean the difference between winning or losing. If you just cycle for the benefits realize that strength training will only increase and broaden those benefits.