Does maximal strength training improve endurance performance in highly trained cyclists: A systematic review

Steven T Ellery, Justin W L Keogh, Kelly R Sheerin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Muscle strength may play an important role in endurance road cycling events. By increasing lower body strength
and power, the anaerobic energy production and maximal levels of muscular force required during races to climb
hills, perform repeated surges in pace, or in the final sprint may improve. While strength training is often performed
by highly trained cyclists, the scientific literature supporting this practice is subject to a number of methodological
limitations and potentially confounding variables that raise doubts over the efficacy of strength training to enhance
performance in this population. The purpose of this review is therefore to identify and evaluate original research
examining the influence of strength training on road cycling endurance performance in highly trained cyclists.
Using relevant databases and keywords, nine training studies met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed. Grade
B-level evidence indicated that following performance of strength training, highly trained road cyclists can
significantly improve performance variables such as lactate power profile, oxygen cost or consumption, cycling
economy, work or exercise efficiency, as well as peak and mean power outputs during time trials lasting between
30-seconds and 4-kilometres. Grade C evidence also suggests mean and average power outputs during time trials
ranging from 40 to 60 minutes, and time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic power or 80-85% VO2max are improved.
However, the physiological mechanisms responsible for these improvements are unclear. Future research is also
necessary to determine what is the best form(s) of strength training for these athletes, and how best to incorporate
such training into their annual periodized training plan
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-102
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Sports and Exercise Science
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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