How a muscle develop force

This is a very short description of how a muscle can develop force:

What is a motor unit
A motor unit is a functional unit that contains a single nerve and all the muscle fibres innervated by the nerve. All muscle fibres are grouped together as motor units and have an average of 150 fibres pr motor neuron.

Larger muscle cells (that will say larger square diameter) can generate more power. That is the most commonly known way to increase power, though it is not desirable for cyclists. The problem is that a large muscle mass is heavy to carry and there is a dilution of mitochondrias. Thus, an increment of maximal strength made through hypertrophy will probably not result in a better overall cycling performance.

Nervous regulation of force
Basically there are two ways to control a muscle’s force. One way is to recruit more motor unit, which will activate more motor units. You can think of this as the brain tells the muscle to use a larger percentile of the muscle’s fibres to generate power. Motor units are recruited to in order of size. Small motor units are recruited before large motor units. This is called the size principle of recruitment. The second way to regulate force production is through rate coding. It is an increment of the frequency of impulse signals to the motor unit. When a motor unit is stimulated more frequently, the twitches begin to overlap each other, which will generate a larger force.

So now we know the basic physiology behind the mechanisms used to increase the force. It is either to build larger muscle mass, make a better recruitment of motor units or fire a higher frequency of stimuli to the motor neurons.

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Interview with Serguei Gonchar

Tim Maloney from has made a very interesting interview with T-mobile´s time trialist specialist Serguei Gonchar, Ukraine. Gonchar has been one of the best time trialists in the world for the last decade.

A couple of highlights from the interview:

On being called Honchar: “Yeah! In the last few years, people got used to calling me Honchar, especially in Italy, but that is not my name. So during the Tour De France, when I was team leader for a few stages, it was even more important to get my right name out there. It was the fault of a secretary in the passport office back home in Ukraine and I have had to live with this. But finally I was able to say ‘my name is Gonchar, so call me that’.

On the Floyd Landis affair: “I really can’t say anything at this point”¦ except that I’m sorry to see a sponsor like Phonak leave the sport. They have been around for a long time and have supported cycling so it’s too bad they are leaving. Cycling is taking hits from all sides lately”¦ it’s seems like some kind of fashion trend!”

On his gear choice in time trials: “Not many other riders can [ride such big gears]”¦ I guess I have become famous for it! I don’t really know where it comes from. I’ve always ridden time trials like that since I was a young rider and have always used big gears for time trials. When I’m in the race, it doesn’t feel to me like I’m pushing a big gear, but like I’m pedaling with agility. But afterwards when I see myself on TV, it looks like I’m pedaling slow and going slow,”

Read the full interview

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How To Deal With Training Vacuum – Part Two

When training does not result in the desired and expected results, riders start to make up reasons why they have stopped improving. As I explained in the first part of ”˜How to deal with training vacuum – Part one‘ the rider is looking for someone or something to blame. But often it is not someone’s or something’s fault. Instead the rider has reached a plateau for his talent with the current amount of training. And that is a very natural progression. When you are good at something it takes longer to improve to a higher level.

Recognize when you are in a training vacuum
If you do regular tests you will notice when you have done a couple of tests with no progression. That is sign that tells you that it is time to reconsider your training situation.

Back to basics ”“ Proper training, nutrition and recovery
This is old news, but still three very essential topics. These are the basics in good cycling training and should never be forgotten.

Write a training diary
Write down every training session you do. This is a very useful tool when done correctly and seriously. It makes it easier for you (or your coach) to discover problems. Do you train intervals too often, is your amount of training as you thought it should be and when was the last time you felt that you had good legs? These questions are easy to answer if you have a training diary.

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Strength Training Might Increase Performance

Strength training is a controversial topic when we discuss optimizing of training programs for cyclists. There is no definitive answer to whether cyclists should include weight lifting in their winter training plans. There have been made several studies which have not yet proved that cyclists can benefit from strength training.

One of the biggest problems for these scientific studies is that they are done at untrained people and the study group is usually small. That makes it rather difficult to prove a significant difference between endurance training only versus endurance training combined with weight lifting.

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5 Mistakes In The Weight Lifting Gym

There are many myths about training principles in the bicycling world but there are even more in the weight lifting gym. I have seen a lot of strength training programs for cyclists on the internet, but most of them are of a very poor quality. It is obvious that many coaches are good at endurance training, but lack experience and knowledge about strength training. I have a feeling that many of these coaches do not know how the neuromuscular system works and how it adapts to the weight lifting.

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16 hours per week training program

This training program is for serious riders who already have a solid mileage. I recommend that you use a heart rate monitor or, even better, a power meter in your training. During short intervals, a heart rate monitor is worth nothing because the reactions from the cardiac system are delayed by a few minutes. This

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14 hours per week training program

Yesterday I presented a 12 hr per week training program. I will go a step further and introduce a similar program for 14hr per week. Remember that these programs are only guidelines, and it is strongly recommended to have a solid mileage before you start. I promise that I will post a beginner’s guide soon.

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Short-term sprint interval rocks

How effective can a set of short-term sprint intervals compared to regular endurance training at a comfortable pace be? It is well known that interval training can be time-saving, but in July 2006, a fascinating study was published in The Journal of Physiology. The scientists compared the outcome of low volume sprint training three times

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12 hours per week training program

This training program is designed for ambitious beginners who want to increase their level of performance. This program has two days with intervals, which are Tuesday and Thursday. Mondays and Saturdays are supposed to be light training days with an intensity of about 60% of your maximal heart rate. These light training days are made

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