If you have been training with me, you know that I emphasize and incorporate technique into workouts: cadence, transitions, being off ERG, shifting, etc. You have also heard me say many times that power is important, but not the most important component in being a fast cyclist. It’s how you use/apply your power that matters the most. Plus, it’s not like we can continue to increase our FTPs ad infinitum.
Why is that? Well, we all know that cycling is a cardiovascular sport. So with that, we know that workouts need to be designed to help us develop our aerobic engines. In addition, cycling is a neuromuscular sport. Meaning, it’s about how our brain-muscle pathways are developed, through training, to allow us to perform all the techniques mentioned above and be more efficient. Being efficient means not wasting the power applied to the pedals. It means recruiting hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, calves, in addition to quads.
Have you ever seen a cyclist that does not seem to have any “visible” muscle be super fast? That’s the cardiovascular system and neuromuscular connections at work. Cycling discipline matters, however. A track sprinter, for example, needs added muscle power to the neuromuscular work - but their efforts are not the same and not as long as those from the endurance-centric cyclists that go the distance.
To illustrate the above, take a look at this video. There is no denying that the body builder is extremely strong. The man can put out power from 0 to 1,000 watts in just a few seconds. But he can barely survive a Zwift race.