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As of September 2017, new Sweat Science columns are being published at www.outsideonline.com/sweatscience. Check out my bestselling new book on the science of endurance, ENDURE: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, published in February 2018 with a foreword by Malcolm Gladwell.
- Alex Hutchinson (@sweatscience)
This week’s Jockology column in the Globe and Mail looks in more detail at a study suggesting that masters cyclists get more benefit from strength training than younger athletes. (I blogged very briefly about the study back in June.)
Exercise physiologists call it the “principle of specificity”: Swimmers gotta swim, cyclists gotta cycle, runners gotta run. That’s why many endurance athletes believe that other forms of training, like lifting weights, simply waste time that could be devoted to doing more of their main sport.
Of course, as with any good rule, the most interesting discussions involve figuring out when it should be broken. It turns out that the principle of specificity may apply less rigidly to older athletes than it does to their younger counterparts, according to a new study from researchers in France. The difference: The steady loss of muscle as you age means that you get an extra boost from weight training – even in endurance sports like cycling. [READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE.]
The article is accompanied by a nice graphic from Trish McAlaster suggesting three key lower-body strengthening exercises that might benefit aging endurance athletes: