Effects of resistance training on endurance capacity and muscle fiber composition in young top-level cyclists


Corresponding author: Per Aagaard, PhD, Institute of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230, Odense, Denmark. Tel: +45 6550 3876, Fax: +45 6550 3480, E-mail: paagaard@health.sdu.dk


Equivocal findings exist on the effect of concurrent strength (S) and endurance (E) training on endurance performance and muscle morphology. Further, the influence of concurrent SE training on muscle fiber-type composition, vascularization and endurance capacity remains unknown in top-level endurance athletes. The present study examined the effect of 16 weeks of concurrent SE training on maximal muscle strength (MVC), contractile rate of force development (RFD), muscle fiber morphology and composition, capillarization, aerobic power (VO2max), cycling economy (CE) and long/short-term endurance capacity in young elite competitive cyclists (n=14). MVC and RFD increased 12–20% with SE (P<0.01) but not E. VO2max remained unchanged. CE improved in E to reach values seen in SE. Short-term (5-min) endurance performance increased (3–4%) after SE and E (P<0.05), whereas 45-min endurance capacity increased (8%) with SE only (P<0.05). Type IIA fiber proportions increased and type IIX proportions decreased after SE training (P<0.05) with no change in E. Muscle fiber area and capillarization remained unchanged. In conclusion, concurrent strength/endurance training in young elite competitive cyclists led to an improved 45-min time-trial endurance capacity that was accompanied by an increased proportion of type IIA muscle fibers and gains in MVC and RFD, while capillarization remained unaffected.