Dr. Cheung webinar

@ThermalDoc did a great Workshop recently discussing strength work performance impacts in cycling. It left me with a couple follow up questions:

  1. For the first study, the subjects in both groups roughly followed a polarized training format. For the strength training group, did the strength work count as part of the high intensity (Z3) component? And what did the high intensity work look like in both groups?
  2. The second study seemed focused on short efforts, not the longer big gear efforts that we have seen discussed here on the forum and in podcasts. Would those longer efforts also fall into the on-bike strength category, and if so do you expect to see similar results in terms of economy? Maybe @trevor has thoughts here?
  3. You made a point to distinguish the discussion in the webinar from plyometric work. Which begs the question: where does plyo fit in to this?
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Hey @SteveHerman, I’ll let @ThermalDoc answer most of these questions since I’m not as familiar with the studies. But I will give an answer to the question you tagged me on.

We discussed this briefly in our episode on big gear training but actually had to cut a lot of it out. The term “big gear” training is used for anything that involves pushing a low cadence. However, short (more sprint-like) efforts in a big gear and longer efforts (at least 5 minutes) in a big gear actually have very different adaptations and should probably be separated (i.e. have different terms to refer to them.)

Very short sprint-like big gear work is much more like weight training. It maximally recruits muscle fibers, particularly your IIa and IIx fibers.

Long big gear work is different. Even though we think of it as “strength training on the bike,” imagine going into the weight room and doing bicep curls where you perform 30 repeats per minute for 20 minutes. You’d have to use a very light weight. No one would do that. Big gear work for long durations actually mostly hits the type I slow twitch fibers with maybe some IIa.

From what I’ve read, the jury is still out over whether it produces any sort of hypertrophy beyond what you’d get from normal training, but it does have big neuromuscular gains.

Guess, I’ll also add a quick thought to question 3. Plyometrics is designed almost entirely to produce a VERY forceful and damaging eccentric contraction. Any big gear work on the bike has no real eccentric component and while there is an eccentric load in more traditional strength training it does not compare to what plyometrics is designed to produce.

I think there is a real benefit to some of that very forceful eccentric training. As long as you don’t injure yourself during the workout (which is a big danger in plyometrics) the adaptations make you far more injury resistant. It’s something I would do in the base or off-season but not during the season. I’ve seen studies showing you need upwards of 8-9 days to be back to full race strength after a hard plyos session.