Personal tools
You are here: Home Members carl Carl's Blog Archive 2012 August 20 Strong enough?
Document Actions

Strong enough?

by Carl Brewer last modified 2012-08-20 19:16

How strong is strong enough?

There's a lot of contention about just how strong you need to be to be a successful track sprinter.  Numbers are thrown around by various institutes, talking about twice bodyweight for squats (presumably meaning power-lifting legal, raw) as an example.

Here's my take on it.

You can't be too strong, which is to say, you can't be strong enough, but you can do too much strength training.  What does this mean?

If it's taking too much time to recover from a gym strength session, which it will once you start pushing seriously heavy weights, such that it has a negative impact on your on the bike training, you're doing too much strength training in the gym. You're probably as strong as you can be without starting to specialize in strength sports like powerlifting or strongman competitions etc.  For many of us, this happens at around two to two and a half times bodyweight for squats, or anything up to about a 250kg squat 1RM for men, for women, around 150kg.

Zatsiorsky and Kraemer, in Science and Practice of Strength Training, 2nd ed, talk about the notion of time available for force development, and use the term Explosive Strength Deficit (ESD).  This is essentially referring to how much force you can apply in a limited time.  For example, they state that a shot put athlete who can benchpress around 220kg (~110kg/arm), can only apply around 60kg of force to their throw because it happens too quickly for them to use all their available strength, and that increasing bench press past a threshold doesn't significantly increase the force able to be applied.  This is a different beast to our track sprint cycling though.  We have the luxury of being able to control, to an extent, the time we have available to apply force.  A shot put athlete, as they try to throw further, has to throw faster, reducing the time they have available.

We can put on a bigger gear, if we're strong enough to push it, to go faster and keep the time available constant, or even increase it, for a given speed.  This is why you'll see riders like Shane Perkins and Anna Meares pushing big gears, while "weaker" riders like Vicky Pendleton, Theo Boss and the like will push smaller gears, faster.  We can optimise our cadence with gear selection to take advantage of our strength, if we have it, by pushing big gears, or our explosive strength, by pushing smaller gears.

Powered by Plone CMS, the Open Source Content Management System

This site conforms to the following standards: