The importance of building or, at least, maintaining lean muscle, is now becoming more readily accepted by the world media and public at large. Maintaining lean muscle is now recognised as being the greatest predictor of longevity in humans and in women especially, the benefits are pretty substantial. Age-related muscle atrophy or wastage (Sarcopinia, to give it’s medical term), occurs gradually once past the age of 30 in women and men. It’s onset is nearly always accompanied by a gradual lack of strength and power, a greater potential for obesity, an increased risk of Osteopenia (the precursor to Osteoporosis), poor posture, and other medical conditions. For women, onset of menopause greatly increases the negative effects of muscle wastage due to the rapid decline in the hormone estrogen.
Many of the above conditions are usually accepted as being an inevitable consequence of ageing, but most can be reduced or at least delayed with regular strength training.
For cyclists, the benefits of building muscle are numerous. Development of greater power transfer into the pedals through lower body and core strength training, for example. Greater muscular endurance for longer-duration cycling events can also be realised through regular weight lifting. Studies have also shown that road cyclists can suffer from osteopenia due to the reduction of impact loading into the bones. Off-road cyclists appear not to suffer to a similar extent due to the rough terrain creating more impact and shock-loading. Regular strength training in it’s various protocols, can help strengthen bones and surrounding joints. It’s also true that the stronger you are, the less the risk of injury in an accident, or at least, the chances of recovery are greatly increased.
I have been Victoria’s strength coach for the last three years. She shares the same views as me and believes that regular strength training can really improve cycling performance and overall health in the general population.
Neil Thompson Strength & Fitness