Strength training improves cycling efficiency in master endurance athletes

Abstract : The purpose of this study was to test the effect of a three-week strength training program of knee extensor muscles on cycling delta efficiency in master endurance athletes. 9 master (age: 51.5 ± 5.5 yr) and 8 young (age: 25.6 ± 5.9 yr) endurance athletes with similar training levels participated in this study. During 3 consecutive weeks, all subjects were engaged in a strength training program of the knee extensor muscles. Every week they performed 3 training sessions consisting of 10 x10 knee extensions at 70% of maximal repetition with 3min rest between in on a leg extension apparatus. Maximal voluntary contraction torque (MVC torque) and force endurance (End) were assessed before, after every completed week of training, and after the program. Delta efficiency (DE) in cycling was evaluated before and after the training period. Before the training period, MVC torque, End and DE in cycling were significantly lower in masters than in young. The strength training induced a significant improvement in MVC torque in all subjects, more pronounced in masters (+17.8% in masters vs. +5.9% in young, P<0.05). DE in cycling also significantly increased after training in masters, whereas it was only a trend in young. A significant correlation (r=0.79, P<0.01) was observed between MVC torque and DE in cycling in masters. The addition of a strength training program for the knee extensor muscles to endurance-only training induced a significant improvement in strength and cycling efficiency in master athletes. This enhancement in muscle performance alleviated all age-related differences in strength and efficiency.
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Julien Louis, Christophe Hausswirth, Christopher Easthope, Jeanick Brisswalter. Strength training improves cycling efficiency in master endurance athletes. European Journal of Applied Physiology, Springer Verlag, 2012, 112 (2), pp.631-640. ⟨10.1007/s00421-011-2013-1⟩. ⟨hal-01835230⟩

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