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Strength Training On The Bike – Fact Or Fiction?

– [Chris] The jury is out as to whether on the bike strength training
does us any good or not. Over geared efforts producing more talk for the same power. – [Hank] I mean some pros swear by it and others don’t really care at all. – But should we be doing it? And is there any science to back it up. We have done the research. (light music) So what is strength training? Well there enlies the first misconception. Strength actually refers to our ability to lift a one off max effort. So for example if you went to the gym and you lifted one big
rep on the squat rack, that’ll be the maximum
strength you can exert and after that we are at best referring to strength endurance. – What we should actually
call it when we talk about on the bike strength efforts is high talk effort. Talk by definition is force generated through rotation. Basically what propels us forward. (light music) The idea behind doing high talk efforts is to increase the maximal talk we can put through the pedals Making us stronger and
more powerful rider. – There is more to it than just this. There’s also considered as one method of creating a more effective and efficient pedal stroke and it could be useful when it comes to working on your muscle recruitment patterns and also the recruitment of your
fast twitch muscle fibres although that only happens if you do these efforts
at the correct intensity. – The theory though is
when contracting muscles at a different firing rate in pattern under load. Then they will be creating different stimulus which will ultimately make the muscle adapt to become stronger. (light music) – Now we are my no means
scientists are we Hank? – Mmm no and we did forget our GCN does science class. – Yeah not ideal but luckily for us our old coach Steve Benton was able to give us a hand with all the science behind this video. – Steve is almost 23 years experience of coaching and managing elite athlete performance programmes at pro world and Olympic level. 15 years as a consultant
coach and team coach for pro cycling from world
tour to national UK level. Former team human performance coach in motorsport. Strength and conditioning coach with GB swimming and GB gymnastics and coached or managed
athlete support teams to over 40 elite level championships. So what did we learn from Steve. – Scientific evidence is mixed when it comes to proven benefits. – Yeah but in certain
context and depending on rider status it could be an effective session to include within
your training programme. All this talk. – If for example a rider is suffering from a varying degrees of personal muscular imbalances on the bike. Then it can be a great tool to bring
awareness of the issue to the rider. Ensuring they put good focus on all parts of the pedal stroke. They can really hone in a
good pedal stroke this way. – However when on the
bike, compared to squatting even just our own bodyweight the strength required
to ride up a gradient even in a big heavy gear at 45RPM is actually relatively low. It can be bad for your knees, there is enough force for that as we don’t all have good pedal and cleat set ups but there is not enough force being exerted to
increase pure strength. There is to this day, no scientific evidence showing a direct correlation between strength work and endurance performance. (light music) – But do you need to actually incorporate this session into your programme? I mean a lot of pros talk about it but is it just fashion and trend and are you doing it because the pros have incorporated into their session but does it actually feel like it works? – Psychologically it is
an easy session to do. I mean you can feel your legs burning you feel like you’re aware
of making the perfect pedal stroke every time which makes it feel like you’re
doing something worthwhile. Further to that the murky proof that it is an effective session and the fact that it’s easier to complete than other max exertion efforts does make it an easier session to do. (light music) So can we all benefit
from high talk training? Well yes and no it seems. If you are a fast sprinter type rider you want to improve your fast twitch muscle recruitment then you may well benefit from doing some short duration high talk efforts. VO2 or anaerobic power. – And also if you have recognised issues on the bike that originates from muscle imbalances or problems
with getting muscles to fire at the correct
moments in the pedal stroke. Well then this could help. – But it still isn’t that clear cut. – If you are a time trial type rider and you’ve got a good all round condition and there’s not real area that you’re lacking in during a race then you probably don’t need to include them into you programme. (light music) So is this sort of
training fact or fiction and should you be incorporating it into your training programme. – Well that depends on the individual but the general consensus here is that you don’t actually stand to benefit a huge amount from high talk sessions and you are therefore probably better off focusing your attention on other aspects of your performance. – Uh so Chris does that mean we can kind of spin up and enjoy the ride? – Well it means we don’t need to go up on the big ring anymore. – That sounds good. Anyway if you did like this video then give it a big thumbs up. – And if you want to
see more training videos click down there.

Reynold King

100 Replies to “Strength Training On The Bike – Fact Or Fiction?”

  1. How much did Bell pay you to wear this mushroom on your head? These are definitely the ugliest helmets on the market

  2. My bike strength training /conditioning is supplemented by rowing. All round muscule groups and cv worked with the benefit of being non impactive on the joints👍

  3. Careful on the knees: cartilage and tendons. You can do quite a bit of harm if you overdo the high torque stuff. And BTW where's Dr. Pooley?

  4. Kinda shocked that body weight squat is harder than "max effort" cycling. Feel so broken on MTB after a steep climb.

  5. I think any variation of riding is important, if you do the same thing every time you will plateau eventually.

  6. Ouch. I've recently started to do hi torque strength training but having just watched this video, I'm left, well, just plainly confused! 😵😞

  7. Chris in that new Bell helmet looks like Michael Winslow in Spaceballs ~

  8. I thought strength training on the bike was 6-8 pedal strokes as hard as you can push. Do 3x with 4min recovery. You absolutely know about it the next day

  9. Interesting take here , GCN CREW !!

    I incorporate numerous Strength and Endurance techniques into my training and riding

    I find that incorporating relatively long High Torque., steady seated climbing helps me with my Speed work

    I find that maintaining High Cadance , Torque Speed work ,helps me with my power and climbing capabilities

  10. You guys are missing Emma already. She would have set up an experiment to measure the measurables of Torque gains through low cadence work on the bike over an extended period of time. However, you guys did explain what torque is better than the last video on the subject which had Torque in the title but never mentioned once in the video…

  11. Can I use iPod nano generation 6 as an alternative speedometer. I've tried to put it on my stem but it won't work. Do you have any suggestions? I know this comment is not related to the content of this video but pls answer this question. I'm just a newbie.

  12. I'm not going to say that I swear by them, but I did quite a few of these sessions on the trainer over the winter, and they appear to have helped. I live in Pittsburgh and I wanted to get better at the steep climbs the area is known for. There were plenty of climbing rides that I had to cut short due to sore legs (as opposed to energy levels). I did a weekly 2 x 10min @ 60rpm (120% ftp) session and I can definitely tell the difference on the climbs, particularly the very steep ones. If nothing else, I am comfortable pedaling at lower cadences now.

  13. finally a good video which brings the facts about it….. have not done those "strenght" units for many years now, and I now why… furthermore my knees appreciate a lot not doing it …. save your time and do more vo2max, ftp ….whatever, and strenght, if wanted, go to the gym!

  14. I usually do high torque efforts only if I haven't been on the bike for a while and to prepare for a couple of hard interval sessions a few days later. Otherwise, I agree that there's not a lot of benefit with them

  15. You can't be both an endurance racer and sprinter at the same time, at least not at the highest level. But that isn't to say you can't incorporate a training regimen from one discipline to another for a bit of gains. 
    First off, you have to have the endurance to get 99% of the way through a race to put you into a position where you can sprint the last 200-500 meters to the finish line. 
    Strength training gives you the type of muscle fibers you need to power you over the finish line in a sprint, so incorporating strength training for those short sprints at the end of your rides is a necessity if you don't want to get dropped.

  16. White shoes, black socks? You guys broke an important, if not the most important rule of cycling. Incredible …

  17. Does this video have anything to do with why Matt and Dan’s old strength training sessions have been taken down? They were 2 of my favourites 😭

  18. great content, great presenters, great production but… my godness those helmets … please take them off !

  19. Mine's strength training is just go as hard or sprint as hard as i can, made my leg bigger than it was in a month, and made my cardio better. Aw man.

  20. What about the opposite? I am a bodybuilder looking to build some endurance. Are these just contradictory goals?

  21. Here is self-proven value for High Torque sessions: TRAINING FOR MOUNTAIN CLIMBS WHEN YOU LIVE ON FLAT ROADS. WHY? Assuming you don't have mountain bike gears on your bike, or a pro that can climb at 12 mph. Your cadence is going to drop and torque really goes up. You will need to build efficiency with the body to manage a cadence drop of 20 rpm's .. IT WORKS, I use this technique to train for races in the mountains. I live in the flats, but like to race in the mountains. Cheers to you all, and Happy Cycling!!

  22. That background noise is really off putting. I had just finished watching the 2015 video is base training fact or fiction and that didn't have that annoying noise.

  23. I swear by them. I'll do a 60 minute ride in a 53×15 and never get out of the saddle. I usually don't start doing these until May.

  24. As one of your previous videos at bath university showed, at low cadence you produce less lactic acid, which allows you to hold more power for longer, this is what I have found when climbing, i can not hold 300w at 85rpm but at 60rpm i can?

  25. "But is there any science behind it?" Yes, it is. And most "performance gurus" will not share the secrets if they making money by training pro teams.
    "Should you be doing it?" Depends on what exactly you doing for the strength build-up. And based on that, the results may vary drastically.
    Watch for cadence at tomorrow race in Flanders , if you want to see when the strength training makes direct benefit. (I will be not watching it due to TUE doping mafia involevement into pro-cycling, though, but I know, there will be hundreds of examples on each and every cobbled climbs)
    There are other aspects, preventive, of strength training, though it's another topic – the one that is definetely not supported by pharma that milks on sport injuries.

  26. Graeme Obree, use to do alot of big gear seated hill efforts back in the 90's and it didn't do him any harm did it ? Think you GCN presenters need to do a better constructed video where you add in seated big gear efforts into a six to eight week period then check for results.
    p.s. really don't think this video was up to old GCN standards! Sorry guys.

  27. So who needs the gym, I'll just save up for an aero bike. But seriously, I think it all adds up and makes one a better and stronger and faster rider–training for strength and endurance and just getting out there and riding against the elements in anticipation of a racing season or a big event. And strength training makes one a better worker and just a better person to have around, like for those honey-do lists and what-not.

  28. I feel the data on bicycle based strength training is fairly skewed. Road bike geometry is not well suited for recruiting the large muscles of the upper body and core. Try hill climbing and sprint efforts on a BMX bike, the lower center of gravity, rider stance, and lack of multiple speeds will make for better results.

  29. Good stuff! I'm a new cyclist and I've been focusing on getting my cadence up and am now riding in the big ring about 99% of the time to try to focus on my pedal stroke. I've noticed that while my cadence is much higher I'm not pulling up on the pedals enough or putting enough force into each stroke. Since I've been focusing on a tougher gear it's really helped me with power transfer and pedal stroke like you guys said in the video, wasn't sure if the benefits would go beyond that so thanks for the insight. I still plan on doing high cadence and tougher gear intervals to build the fundamentals but beyond that, it seems as if it doesn't provide much benefit.

  30. GCN should really keep to cycling, instead of talking about strength training, most of what was said was either completely wrong or so poorly explained it sounds wrong.

  31. Opie, I remember in another video you mentioned you didn't do weight lifting during your career. Were able to get big as a sprinter from doing these strength exercises on the bike (low cadence, high torque)? Or did you just sprint a lot, and since it is a full body effort, you were able to gain muscle mass from that?

  32. I only do high torque efforts by default. Like yesterday climbing a 17% grade and I ran out of gears. haha.

  33. I prefer keep up the cadence sometimes with heavier gear than normal but in the same cadence. Great video GCN!

  34. Since I got a new coach at the end of last year I've had a massive emphasis on big gear work and improved massively. Also I remember a video when Dan rode with Mikel Landa and he said he does lots of low cadence high torque work, so it must work for some people…

  35. I seem to from hill walking I suspect have fairly high torque values, which seems to offer me no real advantages, unless being able to pull away from the lights quickly is a sport?

  36. Too much strength on bike sometimes might be very dangerous like here – Specialized in action: 😀 How do you think – why this hiper super bike lost contact with road with front wheel? Too much power or dummy wheels …. so sick…

  37. Never 'grind' on your bike. This means don't purposely pedal slowly in a super high gear even if you don't have back or knee issues. This is how you kill your knees and back, regardless of how good your bike setup is. Take it from me. I know. I'm old, been through all sorts of ailments and injuries. Some fixable, some not. This is why you have to be very careful on what kind of advice you take.

    NOTE: Take ALL advice with a grain of salt, regardless of who it is from. Some training techniques do NOT work for some people even though they're designed by professionals because they're made for professionals. i'm not a pro. So, grinding on my bike with my already sensitive knees and sensitive back is a very bad idea…for me anyway.

  38. Interesting: All I can say is that low cadence efforts are the most effective sessions for me. Warm up, then 4×10 minutes at 60rpm at high end of threshold, with 2 minutes recovery between each effort then cool down. My 'go to' workout

  39. There is some evidence showing heavy strength training increasing endurance performance. One example is through the article 'heavy lifting for endurance athletes' that trainingpeaks wrote where they reference a meta-analysis from the journal of sports physiology and performance. Theres a few others as well all of which the general consensus is that heavy strength training will improve your performance for endurance sports.

  40. Uhh the only thing I know is I ride my Trek 3500 as a make shift Fixie bike.

    I only have at the front the Largest Gear. Except I'm able to shift at the back.

  41. I started following the AthleanX 'perfect leg workout' supersets. I think it's a great workout because:
    6rep squat really stimulates strength (I don't think low cadence is enough stimulus)… it gives you a higher overhead so cycling torque is relatively easier.
    10-12 reverse lunges are gentle on the knees and force you to focus on hip stability while exerting single leg force.
    The box walk at the end really brings the burn to the quads.

  42. I wandered down to the comments to verify before I commented myself but, THOSE HELMETS ARE HORRIBLE UGLY.

  43. Good morning from the States, can we take this concept into the velodrome now. What about torque training or over gearing for training on sprints and standing starts. Would this not be a similar concept to overload training with weights, hypertrophy? Push the heavier gearing while you're in training then dropping the gearing down for a race so you can still have the strength and the cadence? This is half of the two extremes of training that I've been taught to use, smaller gears for hire cadence neuromuscular adaptation. Then over gearing for strength adaptation. Is this still available training method for the short explosive efforts we do as sprinters? Thanks for all the new informative videos that you guys are putting forth, to me it seems that you guys have up your game and it's very much appreciated. Keep up the great work and I'll keep sharing you're channeling with Friends.

  44. The moment when you watching just the first 2 secs of the vid and you recognized immedatly that you guys where standing on the bottom of sa calobra. 😀


  46. I only ride roughly 25 miles a week- but, I hit the gym hard, for an hour, twice a week. I put the most effort through the leg press, but by doing this, I have increased my average road speed from 29 to 37 mph- On a 13.6 kg fitness bike, 35mm tires, plus a 11.3 kg backpack. I know most serious cyclists train mostly in the saddle, but I have found that literally hitting the gm is also extremely effective.

  47. Good video that answers the strength training question with a Maybe? Where's Emma??? And that motorcycle has to go. Come on GCN, you're better than this.

  48. @GCN. Forget strength training. We all want to know the secret to huge Calves? Any chance you ex pros could let us in on specific bike training sessions to target the lower limb etc.

  49. Strength training with weights has numerous positive benefits, especially as we age. Even if you don't think it'll help you on the bike it'll make you fitter all around, you'll look better, and it'll slow the aging process. There a several more benefits I could list. Do it in the gym instead of trying to do it on the bike….much better results and you don't look like a noob who doesn't know what gear to use. 🙂

  50. Look at the pro's and what they do before breakfast…. its strength, flexibility and mobility. Strenght doesnt mean you go and lift heavy weights but train the muscles that are weaker. Injury pervention…

  51. Look at the pro's and what they do before breakfast…. its strength, flexibility and mobility. Strenght doesnt mean you go and lift heavy weights but train the muscles that are weaker. Injury pervention…

  52. Whilst you guys didn't poo-poo on the bike strength completely, it is only one view, and people who feel it benefits them, as part of an all round programme both on and off the bike, should keep doing it. The semantics of referring to it as strength, a component of fitness, or strength-endurance (another component) or torque is irrelevant, it's a high load session that may well be useful for some riders. If you're going to be doing an event with lots of climbing, you'll need to train for that. Even with a compact chainset and a 30 plus cassette on the back, you may run out of gears on higher percentage climbs. It's worth doing, as a cycling and triathlon coach, I've prescribed them for years, only usually through one block of training for 4 weeks or so, in the late winter, and it seems to work. I use it in conjunction with speed sessions, where the rider performs high cadence reps, so that the combined effect is of increasing strength (i.e. force) and leg speed (i.e. velocity), which are the two factors in determining power.

  53. Hello!! Do you also make fiction short-films ?:D I have a a short film I would like to share with you 🎬; you could just look for "PLANETA ZEME STONJAUS" on YouTube or send me a message to give you the link, Thanks !!

  54. …I get the feeling this vid is super general and needs to be more in depth, along the lines of 2-3 eps likely in relation to age/cycling and-or professionalism levels.
    Is this not a situation where getting off the bike and running intervals would produce better results? (and as cyclists the impact training is of benefit to our bone density)
    I swear I remember that low cadence-high torque is more negative impacting on knees the older one is past their prime.

  55. I would do strenght training In the gym, like atleast some leg press, hack squats or real barbel squats.

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