TrainerRoad’s Ask a Cycling Coach podcast is dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. It gives you the chance to get answers to your cycling and triathlon training questions with USAC certified coaches Chad Timmerman, Jonathan Lee and special guests. Check out a couple questions we answered in our latest episode.

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How do I choose the right road training plan?

Some road racers who participate in one road event are likely to participate in another – which is great! However, picking the right training plan can be tricky.

Many aspects that go into an effective road-racing training plan overlap from one type of event to the next. Therefore, you’re unlikely to miss out on any fitness gains by following one and not the other. As a rule of thumb, follow the training plan for your main event.

Take the following example: a cyclist who’s primarily a Crit racer, but also participates in typical, rolling road races as well. Since TrainerRoad offers structured training plans for both events, this rider should stick with Crit plans. Again, Road Racing includes a lot of overlap between disciplines.

If a rider is preparing for multiple events, they can also create a “hybrid plan” of their own by substituting one session for the other. All TrainerRoad plans are flexible, so swapping one Crit workout for a Rolling Road Race workout is completely fine (in the case mentioned above). Specialized plans are obviously specific to each event, as they should be — but specialized plans can still prepare you for other races within the discipline.

To hear the coaches’ advice on this topic, listen at 28:52. 

How do I incorporate weight training as a cyclist?

Weight training is an incredibly popular topic in the world of cycling lately, and rightfully so. If you’re going to incorporate strength training into your routine, now is the time of year to do it. Many athletes break strength training for cyclists into three categories: torque intervals, bodyweight exercises and weightlifting.

Torque intervals are probably the least effective of these three. The gains are minimal, and little carries over to your actual race performance. If you’re looking for improvements in raw strength, your work should be done in the gym.

Bodyweight exercises are better than torque intervals. As the name implies, they make your body stronger which in turn helps you as a cyclist However, bodyweight exercises do little to increase your maximum power — the primary benefit to strength training for cyclists.

When it really comes down to it, weight training is the best way to build maximum power off the bike. As your maximum power increases, you’re able to output more power on the bike and in turn, become a faster cyclist.

A great way to work weight training into your fitness routine is during the Base phase. It’s the most forgiving time of training, and as a result you’ll be less exhausted and have more energy to train on and off the bike. Here’s how you can periodize your strength training in accordance to your Base training.

During the first 4-6 weeks of your Base phase: Your main goal is familiarizing your body, muscles, joints and connective tissue with the weightlifting process. Train 2-3 times per week, lifting light weight in 2-3 sets of high reps (between 15-20). This stage is crucial to preparing your body for the training to come.

In the middle of your Base phase: Your goal is to start getting stronger. Train 2-3 times per week, lifting heavier weights in 2-3 sets of medium reps (between 10-15). This phase primes your body for the heavy lifting to come.

For the last 4-6 weeks of your Base phase: You begin increasing your maximum strength. Train 2-3 times per week, lifting heavy weights in 2-3 sets of low repts (between 4-6). This is the phase of your base training that you’ve been waiting for.

A few things to keep in mind: First off, it’s difficult to do endurance training and weight training at the same time. If possible, do your endurance training on the bike early in the morning and your strength training later in the day, or even late at night. If you can strength train on your rest days, that’s even better. However, this is often easier said than done.

The last element to keep in mind is maintenance. After months of hard work, it only takes a little bit of high-intensity, low-rep strength training each week and you’re strength gains are there to stay.

To hear the coaches’ advice on this topic, listen at 54:38. 

Additional Notes

We answered a lot of questions in this week’s Ask a Cycling Coach podcast. You can learn more about these topics with our resources below:

If you have a question that you’d like to ask Coach Chad, submit your question here. We’ll do our best to answer them on the next episode of the Ask a Cycling Coach podcast.