Training for triathlon or simply want to get faster on the bike? My first question would be - Are you resistance training ?
Resistance training not only makes you stronger , increasing your force ratio, therefore power and speed but it helps to prevent injury by strengthening your ligaments and tendons and improving bone density - none of which cycling does.
It does this by making your muscles recruit more muscle fibres, more quickly and therefore efficiently using less oxygen while keeping the same pace - effectively enabling you to cycle faster using the same energy - dropping the group !
If you are afraid of carrying excess muscle - this is not going to happen - endurance sports lead to sarcopenia or muscle loss so the implementation of resistance training simply means you hang onto what muscle mass you may currently have - improving your strength ( muscle mass decreases at the age of 30 on an annual basis )
Strength equates to power on the bike - If maximum power is increased ( through regular resistance training ) then your training zone becomes more comfortable - I promise you your fastest average speed will increase !!
Cycling operates in one single plane of motion therefore stabilising muscles , hip flexors and core can be weak - the only way to activate these is to train them separately. Correcting imbalances and helping to prevent injuries , overtraining and over use .
The hormonal response to strength training is different to endurance sports ( cycling ) - strength training increases testosterone which is beneficial in building muscle and decreasing body fat .
The goal of weight training is not necessary to build muscle but rather to train the body to recruit more muscle fibres which leads to increases in overall strength
The bottom line is if you simply focus on aerobic training with no inclusion of resistance training then the result will be a decrease in hormonal response to exercise, affecting reproduction, libido , recovery and energy levels and your overall atheltic appearance .
There are countless papers to back this evidence up .
To summarise :
Strength Trainng improves lactate threshold and therefore endurance performance
Regardless of how good your cardio system is - strength training will improve your performance
Weight training will not increase muscle mass and body weight specifically but it will improve your cycling economy - therefore making you expend less energy at the same speed. You consume less oxygen while cycling at the same pace
You will have more power in your legs to drop the group.
How to implement resistance training into your over all training :
Do 1-3 sessions a week
15-45 minutes per session ( remember to warm up and stretch afterwards )
2 to 5 sets of between 4- 10 repetitions using around 65-85 % of 1RM ( the amount of weight you could lift for just 1 repetition
Include plyometrics ( as long as you have good form )
Focus on full body moves , power lifts and plyometrics
You can also target weak areas and opposing or weak muscle groups ( as discussed above )
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