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2013-09-27 6:55 PM


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Subject: Leg Strength for Sprint Tri
Hi all,

I am very much a beginner triathlete, will be taking part in my first sprint triathlon in april next year. I am primarily an olympic weightlifter and am looking for a sport to compete in during my offseason.

I was wondering what peoples experiences are with sprint triathlons and the amount of leg strength that is optimal for the cycling (and less so the run) portions. Currently I have a backsquat of 180kg (performed highbar bum to floor) a front squat of 140kg a deadlift of 227.5kg and a power clean of 120kg at a bodyweight of 90kg with a vertical jump of 28" and a 260cm standing long jump.

Now i know that in an ideal world a good cyclist would have infinite strength unparalleled lactic acid clearance of their leg muscles and a fantastic vo2 max but that in reality this is not possible and considering such your job is to focus on the right areas that need improving for your particular distance / discipline. So i suppose my question is, where does a 20k cycle fit into this spectrum?

Obviously track cyclists and kilo riders have leg strength to squat 220kg+ or 2.5xBW whilst tour de france riders and climbing specialists probably do very little non specific strength work and would be down at 1xBW simply because they dont need the max strength. Obviously a 20k race is going to fall somewhere inbetween here but my question is where, and also what kind of numbers good sprint triathletes (so sub 1 hour guys) are putting up for squats and deadlifts.

This is so that i can decide whether i can let my max strength slip a little, try to maintain it, or even keep trying to drive it up. I wont ever be competing at a longer race distance so this question is solely for sprint triathlons and i guess people who do 10k time trial rides etc.

Edited by avl0 2013-09-27 7:12 PM


2013-09-27 7:29 PM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: Leg Strength for Sprint Tri
Endurance cycling is not strength limited; if you have enough strength to walk up stairs, you have enough strength to push the pedals hard enough to ride 20km in well under 30 minutes. What you would lack is the endurance to produce that force 90 times per minute (approximately) for that 30 minutes. If you want to prepare for a sprint distance triathlon, the first thing you should do is ride lots and then follow that up by riding lots at high intensity.

Shane

Edited by gsmacleod 2013-09-27 7:37 PM

2013-09-28 3:11 AM
in reply to: avl0

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Subject: RE: Leg Strength for Sprint Tri

I come from a weightlifting background also.  Based on my own experience over the past ten years, and to echo Shane's comments, there is very little correlation between absolute leg strength and cycling performance.  Power-to-weight ratio is important, but for most folks there is more to be gained by reducing weight rather than by increasing power.  Cycling is an aerobc endurance sport.   At the end of the day the best way to develop strength for cycling is by cycling. Specifiity is the key. 

Don't get me wrong, I still love lifting and spending time in the gym.  But I've made my most gains in triathlon performance after I eliminated most of my lifting and spent more time actually swimming, riding and running. 

Mark

2013-09-28 7:29 AM
in reply to: 0


9

Subject: RE: Leg Strength for Sprint Tri
Is it not a question of perceived exertion though? For a person that only has the strength to climb the stairs they will need a larger reserve of endurance than a person who has 2-3x that level of strength simply because for each stroke they must fire their quads/ glutes etc harder thus generate more lactic acid. This is assuming of course that the stronger person has the aerobic capacity to feed the extra leg muscle which gives them the added strength (i know that specific strength does not transfer well). Correct me if im wrong im just going off the only thing i know which is squatting perceived exertion when you drop weight ranges and assumed it would be similar the further down the weight range you went until you got to pedalling force.

My training at the moment is to do 2 sprint tris a week, the 400m swim a 10min break to get changed and then head upstairs to jump on the watt bike before running around the track for 5km (also wow, i did not expect running after cycling to be so awful, is that what they call a brick?). Im also still training for weightlfting 5x week and i expect ill switch these ratios and drop some more lifting sessions for specific run cycle and swim sessions the closer i get.

I'm aiming for a 1 hour time (the race distance is 400m indoor, 20k road with 1 medium climb, 5k run flat). My first couple of sessions on the watt bike were 38 and 36 minutes over the 20k and to hit an hour i'd need to cycle sub 30 on the road, and the 2 sprint tri sessions ive done so far i had a total elapsed of around 1:15, although thats not including transitions, does this sound like a reasonable improvement in the time I have? I'm planning on trimming down to 85kg and this should put me at 10% bf, i'd like to avoid losing muscle mass if possible because like i said this is just an offseason sport for me for the moment.

Thanks for the responses guys, I probably have a number more where it concerns what cheapish mods i can make to my bike and myself to improve aero for the road and questions on cadences and gearing but i should probably make other threads for those!

Edited by avl0 2013-09-28 7:32 AM
2013-09-28 2:20 PM
in reply to: avl0

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Subject: RE: Leg Strength for Sprint Tri
Originally posted by avl0

Is it not a question of perceived exertion though? For a person that only has the strength to climb the stairs they will need a larger reserve of endurance than a person who has 2-3x that level of strength simply because for each stroke they must fire their quads/ glutes etc harder thus generate more lactic acid. This is assuming of course that the stronger person has the aerobic capacity to feed the extra leg muscle which gives them the added strength (i know that specific strength does not transfer well). Correct me if im wrong im just going off the only thing i know which is squatting perceived exertion when you drop weight ranges and assumed it would be similar the further down the weight range you went until you got to pedalling force.


It is certainly reasonable to think that improved strength would lead to improved endurance performance but research doesn't show correlation between strength and endurance. In order to cycle at 250W (making a few assumptions) an athlete only needs to push down with 225N (about 50lbs) well below pretty much anyone's 1RM.

My training at the moment is to do 2 sprint tris a week, the 400m swim a 10min break to get changed and then head upstairs to jump on the watt bike before running around the track for 5km (also wow, i did not expect running after cycling to be so awful, is that what they call a brick?). Im also still training for weightlfting 5x week and i expect ill switch these ratios and drop some more lifting sessions for specific run cycle and swim sessions the closer i get.


This is not going to be the most effective plan - if you are looking at 2x per week each of swim, bike and run, you will be much better served to do one sport each day as opposed to doing two days with all three. There are many good plans available, including many on this site that \i would suggest looking into.

I'm aiming for a 1 hour time (the race distance is 400m indoor, 20k road with 1 medium climb, 5k run flat). My first couple of sessions on the watt bike were 38 and 36 minutes over the 20k and to hit an hour i'd need to cycle sub 30 on the road, and the 2 sprint tri sessions ive done so far i had a total elapsed of around 1:15, although thats not including transitions, does this sound like a reasonable improvement in the time I have? I'm planning on trimming down to 85kg and this should put me at 10% bf, i'd like to avoid losing muscle mass if possible because like i said this is just an offseason sport for me for the moment.


It may be a reasonable goal and it may not be; it is too early to tell but a sub one hour sprint is going to be pretty close to the pointy end of the field. While sub hour times are not unheard of in the age group field, they are the exception rather than the rule.

Thanks for the responses guys, I probably have a number more where it concerns what cheapish mods i can make to my bike and myself to improve aero for the road and questions on cadences and gearing but i should probably make other threads for those!


Good luck with your training and racing,

Shane
2013-09-29 5:27 AM
in reply to: gsmacleod

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Subject: RE: Leg Strength for Sprint Tri
Originally posted by gsmacleod

It is certainly reasonable to think that improved strength would lead to improved endurance performance but research doesn't show correlation between strength and endurance. In order to cycle at 250W (making a few assumptions) an athlete only needs to push down with 225N (about 50lbs) well below pretty much anyone's 1RM.


Sorry, messed up this calculation - it should have been 250W with 150N or 35lbs.

Shane


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