Off bike Strength VS On Bike Strength - Legs

Hi All,

Wondering …and i thought it would be interesting to see everyone’s anecdotal numbers …

I often wonder, how do these pros smash out 400+ watts from bread-stick legs (mean that endearingly …these guys are phenoms!!!) for 20+ minutes …and how does/would that ‘on bike’ power transfer to say, a barbell squat (front or back) …a leg press or a trap bar dead lift etc etc …

Got me thinking - I wonder what the relationship would/might be between FTP and, say, a 2 rep max (2RM) on Barbell Squat, a Leg Press and a Trap Bar Dead lift? -

Thoughts on this ? I think it would be interesting to see the numbers and any correlation there may be ??


FTP and any 2RM weighted leg exercise are very different types of exercise. If you take your example of 400W for 20 minutes, think about how many ‘reps’ you’re doing: 20 x 90 (rpm) = 1800. Each ‘rep’ is much less force than even a fairly light squat, you’re using a complete different energy system (aerobic vs ATP-CP) so there would be almost no carry-over.

Pros with high FTPs could probably squat more than untrained people with no background in any type of fitness. But also the average gym-goer could likely out squat any pro that doesn’t specifically work on weight training.

If you wanted to compare between pros, or even casual/amateur cyclists, you would likely see more variation from their gym routines than you would from their FTP, so I think it would be impossible to find any correlation.

My thoughts… all based on relative strength - lift as proportion of body weight, ftp in watts per kilo

  • It would be best to compare to single leg press as this isolates the leg.

  • Their legs aren’t that thin really. Bread stick compared to folk that like lifting weights but not compared to the general population.

  • They would have decent one rep max on the leg press, and it would vary a lot between different types of rider. Sprinters much higher than climbers.

  • Between elite road riders there would unlikely be a correlation with ftp in watts per kilo. Sprinters tend to have lower ftp, and higher max strength.

  • There probably will be a positive correlation amongst amateur riders. Stronger legs do help you go faster, including for longer efforts. And cycling more does make your legs stronger.

  • Not that much of a correlation, though, because your aerobic system matters loads too, so it’s quite possible to have a higher ftp despite weaker legs, eg because your heart and lungs are stronger.