Strength Training - Can You Really Afford to Skip it?
Updated: May 2
For those of you who know me, you have all heard me say that resistance training or “doing your exercises” actually works. A recent systematic review (yep, that’s the fancy words for a thorough scientific review of everything that is published in the peer-reviewed literature) has just overwhelmingly proved this to be the case.
A research group well known for injury prevention work in Norway* analysed the best scientific studies to date and here’s what they found:
· Strength training programmes reduced sports injuries by an average of 66%. Now that’s very significant!
· These benefits were achieved on average with 8 months of training – this isn’t a long time in the career of a sports person. The longer athletes were involved in strength training the better their results.
· The intensity of the strength training and the volume per week appear to provide the best results.
· This approach worked equally well for adolescents providing there was adequate supervision and instruction, teaching proper technique, avoidance of explosive / plyometric efforts, and longer rest periods between strength work (72hrs) when compared to adults.
· Both injury prevention and performance enhancing benefits occurred together – yet another example of how these two factors are totally linked.
How does this apply to you as a cyclist?
Simply put, I see lots of back pain in cyclists every year, esp. adolescent cyclists or those new to cycling, that is NOT caused by a poor bike fit. Often it is caused by weakness. This is where developing good all-round strength and maintaining it is crucial. It will help prevent your body from being injured, help you perform better and add variety and interest to your training. Be warned though – you need some professional help to get started, learn the techniques and movement patterns, and to choose the right mix of exercises at the right level of load. Too much load too soon will cause injury, not prevent it.
As a cyclist, can you really afford to skip strength training?
* Laueresen et al (2018): Strength training as superior, dose-dependent and safe prevention of acute and overuse sports injuries: a systematic review, qualitative analysis and meta-analysis. BJSM 52:1557.