Find out why traditional strength training is in many cases detrimental to the development of strength with endurance cyclists and how we resolve this.

Question: How come world champion cyclists like Anna Mears and Chris Hoy etc smash out leg presses?

David Heatley:

That is a very important question to ask and something that I could spend a good hour talking about.

The key take always are these:

There is a big difference between the everyday cyclist and a world champion cyclist and the training they should be doing.

Both Anna Mears and Chris Hoy have a team of strength and conditioning coaches working with them to ensure that the leg press exercises they are doing are balanced out with core exercises to ensure that there is no in-balance or weakness in the core.

I have personally seen Anna Mears strength and conditioning program, talked to her strength and conditioning coach and seen the leg press that she uses at SAIS. I can assure you that the leg press exercise she does and the machine she does it on is not the same exercise and machine that you would perform in the gym. The exercise and machine have both been heavily modified to target a specific requirement in her training.

Thinking that a specific exercise that a world champion sprinter is doing will apply equally to the everyday cyclist is also a very dangerous assumption. Just like the assumption that the same seat height, cadence training and intervals done by for track cyclist will translate well and help improve an endurance cyclist either on the road or the track. I see it all the time. People assuming what’s good for one sporting discipline is good for another.

Both Anna Mears and Chris Hoy have a strength and conditioning program that is specifically designed to produce explosive power. This power does not translate well into cyclists training for endurance events including road racing, crit racing and recreational events. You’ll find that the strength and conditioning programs used by sprinters and that of endurance track and road cyclist are different programs.