Last week, we had talked about cardio-vascular development but in the muscular point of view, what are the impact of the training for a young cyclist?
We know that the power of the cyclist is the product of the "strength" of the legs by the cadence. In fact, two qualities that, beyond the energetic aspect, require an optimization of the nervous functioning.
It is known that muscle strength will not come from muscular hypertrophy before puberty because testosterone levels and growth factors are very low.
If the development of the number and size of myofibrils (structuring unit of the muscle) is gradually being put in place, other aspects intervene in the general strength development, and more particularly on the bike.
- An increase of the motor units number recruited for maximum contraction, probably by optimizing nerve impulses.
- A more efficient teamwork between Motor Units allowing the use of an adapted number of fibers to the effort when we push on the pedal. The help of the closest muscles allows a better coactivation.
- A better teamwork with the antogonist muscles for maximum relaxation on their part or a slight control of the joints for the precision of the gesture.
- An ability to use stretching reflexes more and more marked: a stretched muscle contracts in reaction and generates a great strength (it is the myotatic reflex).
Ultimately, whatever the age of the cyclist, we can improve the ability to contract his muscles strong and fast. We will not use the same pathways:
- Before puberty, we optimize what exists in the body of the young athlete,
- After puberty, we build new things (more muscle for example) and we optimize the functioning.
We might think that before puberty, the degree of optimization of muscular functioning is limited while it is extremely malleable: imagine that we begin with children in a complete physical dependence situation to a stage of very advanced gestural control in a few years.
Ultimately, the young cyclist can progress in many areas if we take into account his age!
(1) UM is the association of a motor neuron and its associated muscle fibers.