Hi Frank & Jackson,
I have tried to ask this question previously but I have now nailed the exact question I have been wishing to ask.
Can you explain the physiological reasons why you don’t do resistance training (aka leg weights) for the remainder of the entire season once you have completed the 10 week strength phase. Secondly, what physiological harm / performance damage are you doing if someone 'tops up/ their strength (lets say once per week) post 10 week strength phase?
I’m neither a coach nor a physiologist, but let me take a swing at this.
Part of the answer comes down to the time-crunched situation that most of us are in. If you have a fixed amount of time per week to train, often that time is best used on the bike. Most people simply need to ride more to get better. A half-hearted “tuneup” resistance program will impact your ability to put out solid efforts on your high end interval days due to muscle soreness. If you’ve tried doing intervals after a strength day you will quickly realize this!
Having said that, there are certain scenarios in which resistance training can be used to achieve racing objectives. There is a wonderful podcast that the FastLabs guys did a with Dr. Sebastian Weber (Episode 73) discussing the concept of VLAmax. At a basic level (again, I’m not a physio) VLAmax measures the rate of lactate production in your muscle fibers. A high VLAmax corresponds to strong performance in sprinting or other short, explosive efforts, whereas a low VLAmax corresponds to strong performances in longer steady efforts like time trials. It’s a two sided coin; you can’t be the best time trialist you can be while also being the best sprinter you can be. For events that demand explosive efforts such as criteriums or cyclocross, a high VLAmax is beneficial. One way to increase that metric is with explosive resistance movements such as plyometrics and gym training with heavy weights, and avoidance of long, steady, low cadence riding. In that podcast, they give the example of Peter Sagan’s seasonal periodization, which does include gym work to tune up for the Tour after the longer spring classics season.
Now if you look at some of the Fascat training plans for CX or criteriums, you will see plyometrics! Those plyo sessions are programmed to complement on the bike intervals. Most likely they do not include heavy gym work because it can take a toll on your subsequent bike work for amateurs, but at a theoretical level it can work.
Of critical importance, and mentioned kind of in passing during the podcast, is that the influence that changes in VLAmax during a season has on your performance is dependent on your VO2max; the higher your VO2max is the more you can change VLAmax! Which is why it is so crucial to commit to building that big giant base using sweet spot training, as advocated by the Fascat coaches, and riding as much as you possibly can!
How’s that for an answer, @FRANK?