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J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Jan;26(1):158-66. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318218dd94.

Strength training affects tendon cross-sectional area and freely chosen cadence differently in noncyclists and well-trained cyclists.

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Lillehammer University College, Lillehammer, Norway.


The effects of strength training on freely chosen cadence and physiological responses in cyclists and recreationally active individuals were investigated. Well-trained cyclists were assigned to either usual endurance training combined with strength training (C-ES; n = 11) or usual endurance training only (C-E; n = 9). Recreationally active individuals (R-S; n = 7) performed the same strength training as C-ES did (4 lower body exercises, 3 × 4-10 repetition maximum [RM], twice a week for 12 weeks). The R-S and C-ES increased 1RM to a similar extent after 4 and 12 weeks (p < 0.01), whereas 1RM remained unchanged in C-E. Only R-S increased patellar tendon cross-sectional area (CSA; 7 ± 1%, p < 0.001). After 4 weeks, R-S reduced freely chosen cadence, oxygen consumption, heart rate, rating of perceived exertion, and blood lactate concentration during cycling at 125 W. These responses remained reduced throughout the intervention period (p < 0.05). No significant changes were observed in these physiological variables in C-ES and C-E. In conclusion, freely chosen cadence during submaximal cycling was reduced in recreationally active individuals after a period of strength training but was not reduced in well-trained cyclists. The reduced freely chosen cadence may be associated with the observed increase in patellar tendon CSA through a morphological-sensory-motor interaction. A practical application is that heavy strength training can reduce freely chosen cadence during submaximal cycling and thereby improve cycling economy in recreationally active individuals, whereas other mechanisms should account for improved performance after strength training in well-trained cyclists.

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