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Active Expert: Gale Bernhardt

21 Posts tagged with the cycling tag

It seems that a current thread among many cycling and triathlon discussion boards is to stop strength training because strength training does nothing to improve performance. If it doesn’t improve performance, then it is obviously a waste of time.


I pulled three studies from the medical research journal PubMed. The three studies and the conclusions are below. Additionally, I pulled a paragraph from a recent column. After you take a look at the information (be sure to make it to number 4), we’ll continue the discussion of whether or not you should give up strength training.


1. Koninckx E, et al, “Effect of isokinetic cycling versus weight training on maximal power output and endurance performance in cycling.” Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Jul;109(4):699-708. Epub 2010 Mar 7.

In conclusion, at low cadences, maximal sprint power output improved in both training groups. However, in the isokenetic training group, a disturbed pedaling technique compromises an improvement of maximal sprint power output at high cadences. (Note: this study was done on 18 “trained” cyclists.)


2. Levin GT, et al, “Effect of concurrent resistance and endurance training on physiologic and performance parameters of well-trained endurance cyclists.” J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Nov;23(8):2280-6.

In conclusion, although concurrent resistance and endurance training in well-trained cyclists enhanced 1-repetition-maximum strength, it did not improve overall cycle time trial performance and in fact was shown to reduce 1-km final cycle sprint performance compared with a control group performing their normal cycle training. (Note: this study was done on 14 well-trained male cyclists.”)


3. Bentley DJ, et al, “Correlations between peak power output, muscular strength and cycle time trial performance in triathletes.” J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1998 Sep;38(3):201-7.

CONCLUSIONS: Peak power output and WDmax (a power measure not defined in the abstract) are useful variables in assessing cycle performance in triathletes. However, the importance of muscular strength of the lower limbs may be minimal in overall cycle performance during a short course triathlon race.


4. Exercise training helps stop muscle strength and endurance from slipping away. But it seems to also do something else, maintains Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario (who also happens to be a top-ranked trail runner). Resistance exercise in particular seems to activate a muscle stem cell called a satellite cell. With the infusion of these squeaky-clean cells into the system, the mitochondria seem to rejuvenate. (The phenomenon has been called “gene shifting.”) If Tarnopolsky is right, exercise in older adults can roll back the odometer. After six months of twice weekly strength exercise training, he has shown, the biochemical, physiological and genetic signature of older muscle is “turned back” nearly 15 or 20 years. (Excerpt from “The Incredible Flying Nonagenarian”)


In just four examples, you can see the information is conflicting. Conflicting information and advice can be very frustrating. As with any self-care or self-coaching recommendations given in the media – you have to decide what to do. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to strength train:


Yes, consider supplementing your endurance training with strength training if:

  • You have an upcoming hilly event, but you live in a location where there are no hills.
  • You are an ectomorph (thin body type, small muscles, low strength) looking to improve sport performance.
  • You are an athlete over the age of 40 that has trouble keeping body strength.
  • You have had past injuries that need a strength training maintenance program.
  • Your sport performance is negatively affected by stopping a strength training program.
  • You feel your overall quality of life is positively affected over the long haul. (For example, once per week strength training can prevent some athletes from having nagging problems with knee and back pain.)


Consider eliminating strength training from your endurance sport program if:

  • You are under the age of 30.
  • You supplement your endurance sports with power or impact sports (basketball, hockey, soccer, etc.)
  • You live in a hilly location that allows you to do sport-specific strength training.
  • You are hard-pressed for time and can barely manage to get in the endurance training required to complete your goal events.
  • You have added a strength training program (one that is appropriate for endurance athletes and not body builders) in the past and found it didn’t improve your sport performance, quality of life or provide any injury prevention benefits.
1,089 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: cycling, triathlon, strength_training, endurance_sports_performance
1,660 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: cycling, tour_de_france, bicycle_tours

Today was a scheduled Estes ride because the weather was so darn nice. Estes Park is a 32 mile climb from Loveland, if we go via Devil’s Gulch Road. This route also includes some tough switchbacks. We went back via Highway 34, which is a bit shorter. For 62.83 miles there is 3787 feet of climbing – the majority of the climbing is on the trip up.


It was a good sized group today, with plenty of strong riders. Carl Ciacci (Villanova graduate and cycling team alumni - he can sprint like he was shot from a cannon) shows up with Layla, his nine-year old Jack Russell Terrier. (Apologies to Layla, as I probably spelled your name incorrectly.) His plan was to carry Layla on the ride, unless she became uncomfortable at any point. If she wasn’t having a good time, he’d take her home.


This dog was completely relaxed the entire trip. She sat comfortably in Carl’s messenger bag looking around at the other riders and putting her nose in the wind occasionally. She got a break at the Notchtop Café and a chance to stretch her legs while we snagged something to eat.


I snapped the photo below when we made a stop to try to fix Dave McClure’s broken spoke. Of course Carl is carrying Layla. Dave McClure is left of Carl and Bill Danielson is behind Dave.)


I’d guess Layla weighs some 13 to 15 pounds. If you want to make cycling harder in the off-season, carry your dog or an additional 15 pounds in a backpack.

1,817 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: cycling, ride, dog, messenger_bag, carl_ciacci

If you want a training plan (or a variety of new workouts) to help you achieve your 2010 goals, I have designed several resources to help you. Know that I wrote my first easy-to-follow training plan and subsequent first book because that is exactly what I wanted as a self-coached athlete.


Just give me a plan to follow so I can do the workouts when it fits my personal schedule and so I can make modifications to a plan to fit my personal needs.

Also know that all training plan are designs are based on the same foundation principles that help elite athletes reach their goals; then, modified to meet the needs and time constraints of non-paid athletes. The plans range from comfortably completing events to gunning for a personal record (PR) performance.


The plans are available in a couple of different formats – electronic, book and possible combinations. Depending on what you need, one format may work better than another. First, there are several plans available on Active Trainer. This format makes it easy to move workouts around and modify them to fit your personal needs. There is some device download capability and there is data analysis to help you evaluate your training accomplishments. Be sure to take a look at all of the free downloads available on that page.


Also available on the Active Network are columns and blogs to help self-coached athletes succeed.


I have written several books to help self-coached athletes succeed. Some of the individual training plans are available in the electronic format on Active Trainer referenced in a previous paragraph and in hard copy within a chapter of one of these books:


Training Plans for Multisport Athletes – A book containing 14 detailed training plans for triathlon, duathlon and X-Terra events. There are plans for sprint triathlons, Olympic triathlons, half-ironman distance triathlons and ironman-distance triathlons. In addition to shorter plans, this great training resource contains three, six-month plans and a year-long plan.


Training Plans for Cyclists - This book was written based on the large number of requests I received from road and mountain bike riders, who were familiar with Training Plans for Multisport Athletes. They too wanted a book laid out for reaching new endurance goals, maintaining foundation fitness and racing. This book contains 16 such training plans. The book is written so you can mix and match various training plans. Advice is giving within the book on how to mix and match, as well as how to modify individual plans if you are self-coached. There are ride plans for 30-, 50- and 100-mile (century rides) events. There are five touring event plans and five mountain bike plans. For the off-season, there are two foundation fitness (base training) plans. Explanations are given for Level I riders and Level II riders.

Triathlon Training Basics – This book contains four detailed training plans to help first-time triathletes prepare for a sprint triathlon or an Olympic distance triathlon. Two plans are designed for already-fit beginners and two plans are for currently-unfit beginners. There are also four plans per sport (swimming, cycling and running) for individuals wanting to train for a triathlon as a single-sport team member. The plans can be used in succession, helping you progress from a triathlon team member to a triathlete. The book contains strength training, stretching and bike fit photos to help you get started on the right track. (None of the plans are the same as those found in Training Plans for Multisport Athletes.)


Bicycling for Women – Great chapters “for women only” and five training plans to help you complete a 50-mile bike ride, a century, a 40-kilometer time trial or faster group riding, a multiday tour or improve your hill climbing skills. This book is written on the premise that women can, and do, ride fast. (None of the plans are the same as those found in Training Plans for Cyclists.)


Workouts in a Binder® – I created “Workouts in a Binder®” product and co-authored the first edition of swim workouts for triathletes, which quickly sold out four printings. These handy workout cards help athletes and coaches optimize workouts and are waterproof to prevent destruction from water, sweat and dirt. This product is so popular, the series has expanded and will continue to grow:

Workouts in a Binder® for Triathletes

Workouts in a Binder® for Swimmers, Triathletes and Coaches

Workouts in a Binder® for Indoor Cycling

Workouts in a Binder® for Runners and Triathletes


Successful training doesn’t have to break the bank.


1,030 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: cycling, triathlon, ironman, leadville_trail_100_mountain_bike_race, tri, bike_tour, 70.3, training_plans, half-ironman, sprint-triathlon, century_ride, base_training, olympic_distance, bicycle_training, triathlon_training_plan, mountain_bike_training

The Seat Leash

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Oct 21, 2009

In my ongoing series of looking back at old issues of Triathlete magazine, I found a column on this new technology called “The Seat Leash”. It provided leverage by keeping the cyclist from sliding backwards on the seat.  Apparently the Italians used a similar design at World Championships for cycling.


(February 1988)

I believe the technology was nixed because the governing body for Cycling, UCI, deemed it an unfair advantage and triathlon followed suit. Anyone with more information on that ruling?

3,783 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: cycling, triathlon, the_seat_leash

Current Events

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Jun 14, 2007

Welcome to my blog. Many of you may be familiar with my columns or training plans on the Active Network. Those tools will continue to exist.


What you will see in the blog is a variety of current-event oriented topics. That means a mix of my personal adventures, training information I find useful for the athletes I coach, answers about how to modify pre-built triathlon training plans or cycling training plans to meet personal needs, advanced-athlete topics and more.


I look forward to traveling the blog journey with you.


Gale Bernhardt

1,200 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, cycling, triathlon, gale, bernhardt
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