Age and Muscle Loss
The sad truth is, that as you move into middle age, you will also likely be prone to loss of muscle mass. Ever felt like youstruggle to respond to repeated, high power bursts on flat terrain, or sprinting? It’s not such a big issue on long steep climbs, where sustainable power to weight matters, but that’s no help if you are off the back before you even get to the hills. When the race goes into the gutter you need raw horsepower, and muscle mass will help.
Unfortunately, like a lot of concepts in sports science, the evidence about how best to include weight training can be contradictory and complicated. That’s partly due to variation amongst individuals. There is good evidence that differences in gene expression can mean people respond differently to any training stimulus – including muscle development. In the last couple of years, various companies have offered DNA kits for testing how you might best approach personalised training, but so far it appears these kits don’t have good efficacy (more info on DNA testing). DNA testing might be something to keep an eye on in if the results can be improved though.
Luckily, there are some aspects of the application of weight training to cycling that do have good a good body of evidence, and apply well to most people – most of the time.
Some good rules of thumb to start:
- Make gym workouts fast and easy. 20 minutes – in and out. Just Get. It. Done.
- 2 – 3 workouts per week
- Lift as heavy as possible (safely) 8-10 Reps.
- Try incorporating the gym session with your bike workout. Finish the ride at the gym maybe and workout while you are warm.
- Good movements to start with: Hamstring Curls, Leg Press, Calf Raise, Leg Extension, Squat
- Ingest about 30 grams of protein immediately post workout. See our previous article on post workout recovery (or this Men’s Health article for a little more info)
The best evidence is that you can maintain strength workouts both before and during the season. You don’t need to taper off or periodise. Just ease off a few days from High Priority Events