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What it takes to win

Image showing athlete having measurements takenCase study: What it takes to win: establishing novel ways of training among Team GB cyclists to improve performance and enable Olympic success

Staff: Professor Glyn Howatson; Dr Kevin Thomas; Dr Stuart Goodall; Dr Kirsty Hicks

Maintaining the world-class calibre of Team GB cyclists means that the training stress required to further improve performance is difficult to achieve and can lead to injury. Northumbria’s research developed two innovative resistance-training methods that provide novel, safer ways to improve peak power output (PPO), the key determinant of sprint cycling performance. Adopted by GB Cycling ahead of Rio 2016, exemplar athletes won 4 gold and 1 silver medal as a result of the applying the research in their physical preparation programme and improved their PPO that translated to faster performance times. The use of these novel training methods contributed to medal success across multiple cycling events, helping to secure GBP25,980,427 of UK Sport’s funding for the Tokyo Olympic cycle 2017–2021. GB Cycling continues to use Northumbria’s training methods in its preparation for the Tokyo Olympics. Find out more

Underpinning research

Kordi, M., Folland, J., Stuart Goodall, Haralabidis, N., Madden-Wilkinson, T., Patel, T., Leeder, J., Barratt, P., and Glyn Howatson (2020) ‘Mechanical and morphological determinants of peak power output in elite cyclistsScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports 30(2): 227-237

Kordi, M., Stuart Goodall, Barratt, P., Rowley, N., Leeder, J., and Glyn Howatson (2017) ‘Relation between peak power output in sprint cycling and maximum voluntary isometric torque production’ Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 35: 95-99

Kordi, M., Folland, J., Stuart Goodall, Menzies, C., Patel, T., Evans, M., Kevin Thomas and Glyn Howatson (2020) ‘Cycling-specific isometric resistance training improves peak power output in elite cyclistsScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports 

Harden, M., Wolf, A., Russell, M., Kirsty Hicks, French, D. and Glyn Howatson (2018) ‘An evaluation of supramaximally loaded eccentric leg press exercisesJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research 32(10): 2708-2714

Harden, M., Wolf, A., Haff, G., Kirsty Hicks and Glyn Howatson (2019) ‘Repeatability and specificity of eccentric force output and the implications for eccentric training load prescriptionJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research 33(3): 676-683

Harden, M., Wolf, A., Evans, M., Kirsty Hicks, Kevin Thomas and Glyn Howatson (2020) ‘Four weeks of augmented eccentric loading using a novel leg press device improved leg strength in well-trained athletes and professional sprint track cyclistsPLoS ONE 15(7): e0236663


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