Strength training without compromising TR workouts

Hello to the wonderful people of the TR forum, I am after a little advice…

I’ve been balancing gym work with Sweet spot base and some outdoor rides over the summer and made some really nice progress (started TR in April). However, Squats and Deadlifts in the gym destroy my legs for about 4 days (no matter what I do) timing the gym with the correct follow-up TR workout was crucial. I’ve now started Sustained Power Build and it really is a step up and my ‘dead’ legs are holding my workouts back.

I’m planning just to do upper body in the gym and let TR smash the legs. @Nate_Pearson has discussed this on the podcast recently and I believe discussed exercises “to join it up”? So my question I guess is what exercises should I do (other than the obvious upper body stuff) to prevent injury and make sure that the gym and TR workouts combine to keep me injury free and functioning as a healthy human should.

Thanks in advance!!!


I know your pain. :fist:t2:

I would do some streching/yoga things and some squats with body weight.

  • while doing some stretching and yoga you do some good isometric work whithout heavy weight. But you will see some improvements and as a bonus you stabilize your joints. Aaand you train some of those deep muscles eg at your spine you cannot train in an isolated way as you can do with your biceps. Its a really good all round approach: getting much healthier and fitter. Pay one get two. Haaa…sounds that good? :wink:
    (If you dont be familiar with your movements and dont have any Yoga experience I would start very gently and take some “Youtube Classes”. If you know your body very well eg from years of doing free weights and which motion adresses which muscle you know by just looking at the videos what feeling and motion should be achieved.)

  • Just do four sets of 6-8 squats. Deep. In perfect motion. Here is a good tutorial. And if you are advanced you can move to pistol sqats. I know, more weight more power. But if your training is not good on the bike, what do you want to do with you power?

A really good source and comunity are the BWE and the flexibility and the overcominggravity subreddits.

I personally dont do any weighted exercise for my legs cause I cant to the TR workouts as I should.


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I have the similar doubt over here. I want to do a strength training again this winter (because I know it benefit me a lot last year) but this season I want to combine it with the TR program for the first time, and I am a bit unsure where to squeeze it, and maybe the question which TR planned training to skip…

In any way the destroyed legs for 4 days is not a way to go, for a cyclist. I have read somewhere that you should do a strength work in a way that you should feel it the next day, but that you still are able to train. So, maybe you over do it a bit?

Thanks for your input, my legs feels bad even if I literally just squat the bar. Tried all sorts over previous years to no avail. Before doing TR it wasn’t much of a problem but now I want to get faster on a bike I don’t feel I can afford to wait for my legs to come around before doing a bike workout.

I noticed the same thing so I canceled my gym membership and now I just do bodyweight stuff at home.


I try and avoid smashing my quads but hamsting and glutes I do train. Overall it leaves quite a few muscle groups that can be worked on:

Pushing - bench, dips, pushups
Pulling - pullup, rows
Hip Movements - stiff legged deadlift. I try and keep this all hamstring and lower back.
Quad Dominiant - I avoid mostly due to impacting TR workouts. But some light split legged Bulgarian squats are nice.

Perhaps I dont ustalise my hamstrings and glutes enough when cycling! :slight_smile:


Careful with bar dips, you over extend your shoulders, my experience they’ll never be right again. It’s been 20 years since I’ve overextended my left shoulder and there is some movements I can’t do on the left. Constantly stretching and trying to strengthen it. I do front raises and side raises for shoulders. When I ride long periods, my left should is the first to go over everything including the bum. When I go to the gym and watch people over extend, go really deep on the dips, I’m just thinking “just wait, you’ll push it too far and then bam…”

Last pre-season I lived through the same pain for a month. The fix: I drastically upped my protein intake. Within days my legs felt soooo much better.

My plan this pre-season:
SSB + weights on the SAME day (thanks @chad !). I used to do alternating bike/weight days but, like you, found my legs to be completely shot. Weights in the morning, bike in the evening. It’s still tough but doable (edit: I do all my TR workouts at 100% but the final result is ~98-99% TSS).

However, unlike you, I plan on stopping heavy weights after completing the Base plans. I’ll then move into things like isometrics/body weight/core exercises, yoga, etc. I’ll save my legs for the bike.


Pretty sure a lot of riders are in the same boat. Rock solid quads, flabby glutes. After year of ignoring my butt I’m trying very consciously this season to engage my booty with every pedalstroke. Watch out, Beyoncé. :rofl:


I just have read this:
Strength training? It’s all individual In Seiler’s experience with elite endurance athletes, the benefit of strength training is really down to individual responses and needs. He tells the story of one extremely elite athlete who simply could not respond to strength training, consistently spending days sore and becoming worse overall with strength training.


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Though the first few…maybe even up to the first 5-6 workouts…had me walking like a Sr Citizen, I had a really good experience with plyometric-style jumps last winter. Combined with various core exercises, I was able to put together a session of almost 90min in length. Jumps were all 100% max effort and had approx 6-10sec between. Roughly 10-12 sets, with 6 repetitions of 6 exercises per set. Took me between 1:15 to 1:30 if done correctly with sufficient rest.

Benefits: I’m an XCO MTB racer - these types of explosive efforts are a huge help with the short, repeated efforts of MTB racing. Additionally, after the first few sessions, these efforts didnt toast my legs and I was able to ride trainer or outside opwithout huge reductions in performance. Lastly, I found these types of efforts to help with overall muscular endurance.

Drawbacks: initially, a few days DOMS but after the first handful of sessions, this diminished.

I play to tweak this slightly for this winter season, switching to traditional deadlifts and squats but will not be doing max weight, low reps like some of the literature out there suggests. No matter how you do these sessions, no matter how much yoga or stretching you do, you are 100% going to toast your legs every time. Your recovery period may dismiss over the winter but it’s not reasonable to expect to do a high quality trainer workout within a few days of this type of lifting session

My thoughts,

Lower the weight and reps. Start way easier than you think is productive and slowly build up.

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Here’s what I do, I don’t know if it’s optimal.

Alternate between push and pull days. I don’t do legs since that would interfere with my cycling. I like to do weights right after lifting. I know I might mess up mtor and ampk signaling but a scientist told me you can have different amounts in different muscles.

I do only 2 sets of each exercise. I’ve read somewhere else that 2 sets is almost as good as 3, but there’s less recovery. I generally lift to 8 reps then up the weight.

DB Bench
Dips (weighted once you can do 8)
Landmine press
DB overhead dumbbell extensions (1 db, 2 hands)
Lateral Raises
Neck strengthening (we have this neck chain thingy, I think it helps for cycling)

Pull ups (I just keep doing short sets of like 4-5 with different grips until I really feel a pump, so more than 2 sets, probably 6+ sets)
Rack pulls
Stick-ups (I think this helps for long days isn’t he saddle)
Some type of bicep
Grip work

I’ll also do deadlifts during the pull days but I’m having problems balancing those with cycling. I also do some ab work with our GHD machine.

So all in all it’s not that much work. I think that’s key, don’t do too much.


Thanks Nate

How good is this forum!!!


I am not a strength coach, or even strong (FTP 210W, deadlift 100kg x5, squat 85kg x5), but my approach has not been to skip leg day in the gym; rather, to do submaximal work and periodize my emphasis on strength vs. endurance. I think I’ve written on the Facebook group about this, but I feel like 5/3/1 approach (doing almost all your work at 65-80% of your 1RM) helps me feel reasonably good the day after I work legs.

So when I finish my next race and go into offseason, I plan on lifting 3 times per week, following the “5/3/1 for beginners” program, which has decent volume and lots of accessory work:

When I start back into sweet spot base training next year, I’ll drop down to twice a week.
Monday: overhead press and squat 3x5 at 65-85%, 5x5 at 65%; plus unilateral + core accessories (renegade rows, hanging leg raises)
Thursday: bench press and deadlift, 3x5 at 65-85%, 5x5 at 65%, plus unilateral + core accessories (single leg deadlift, curl)

When I get into build phase and my focus moves to FTP, then I’ll drop the latter 5x5 - so generally doing 3 sets of 5, always well below my 1RM. The week of any race I’ll keep lifting, but drop the weight down to like 40% of 1RM. Just enough to keep going through the motions and fend off the DOMS I get if I take off more than a few days from lifting.

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Some light DOM’s make my pedal stroke ‘feelsgoodman’. I do find hamstring DOM’s to raise my awareness during the ‘pull’ of the stroke.

RPE at any given power goes out the window because, well, the only thing I feel is everything.

That said my focus tends to be upper & core related with very low volume & intensity if I do decide to touch legs. I was always fond of a walking lunge but now my adductors literally burst into flames at the mere thought of them.

Having come from a powerlifting background knocking on the door of a 600KG total @87kg my weights now are laughable :sweat_smile:

I’ve found it to be a bit of give & take. You don’t want to hinder your performance but equally neither do you want to sabotage recovery by going HAM on the weights during a low cycling TSS week.

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Has anyone tried out r/bodyweightfitnes Recommended Routine?

I´m a totally newbie to strenght training, and do not want to join a gym (time crunched cyclist!) but rather train at my paincave. I think it can serve me well…

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My 2-cents, and the protocol I will be using this year is weight training 2x per week on riding/training days.

If my calendar calls for a high intensity workout, I will do the lifting after the trainer. If the plan calls for an endurance ride, I will do the lifting before the workout – so rest days are true rest days.

Last year I lifted 2x a week on days I didn’t ride. The combination of not being able to ride on lifting days, and then not being able to handle on-bike workouts with any intensity the day after lifting caused me to be in a year long FTP plateau. On the plus side – I feel great and looked better than I had in years.

I lift for whole body health, the mirror/vanity, concerns about bone density (I’m 44) and injury prevention. I’m not necessarily looking for it to make me faster on the bike, I’m just trying to make sure it doesn’t limit the quality of my on-bike time. Maybe that’s a quixotic pursuit . . . we’ll see.

One other non-scientific tip: pick only one or MAYBE two lower body workouts that tax glutes/hamstrings as much as possible. Walking power lunges and deadlifts are my go-to moves. Don’t do 4-5 different lower body workouts as you would if your were truly “lifting”.

I used to only play sports where weight training was necessary and helped you…football/basketball. I struggle with the idea that strength training is a detriment in this sport. At the end of the day, I would sacrifice ~10 watts of FTP to look good/feel good if necessary . . . but I keep trying to convince myself that I can find the balance and don’t need to sacrifice.

Last thing of note, my “lifting” routine is only 45 minutes in length, and includes a bunch of push-up variations, bar dips, pull-ups with multiple grips, core work and then then the aforementioned 1-2 leg lifts. I have bad endurance genetics (sigh), but I have really good strength genetics and this is enough for me to add the upper-body strength/definition I want. I don’t need to get under a bar to achieve that. I recognize that others might be different.

Good luck everyone.


Just another data point / set of ideas:

I do a ~3 month block in the fall where I focus on strength training.

  • First three weeks are Starting Strength (3x5 bench, squat, deadlift and press distributed across 3 days a week). Weights start very low and progress 5-10lb per session. This really helps me ease back into strength training without crippling DOMS.
  • Remainder of the block is generally a 5/3/1 variant. One of the key points being to push for a PR ~3-4 weeks, and adjust percentages accordingly.
  • Trainer sessions are mostly Z2 or SS work (often done via a 23 mile round trip commute), with some short vo2max work thrown in (e.g. Baird -3)…definitely easier than an actual SSB plan.

During actual TR plans (i.e. SSBI-II and Build), I switch to strength maintenance by doing a variant of “Even Easier Strength” (from Dan John).

  • 2-3 times per week, depending on how hard the training plan is.
  • Try to do the strength workouts on the same days as the trainer workouts, but after the trainer rides (trying to avoid the interference effect cardio has on strength gains if done after lifting).
  • Workouts are very simple and fast, 30 minutes tops. 3x5 @ 65-70% hex bar deadlifts (great combination of squat and deadlift, with a bit more deadlift than squat. Extremely efficient for getting all of your muscle groups.) and 4x5 @ 65-70% of a pressing movement (I tend to rotate between bench, dumbbell incline and overhead press). On the weekends I’ll throw in 3 sets of pull ups too.

Some context on me…I’m 40, with no real bike racing in the plans. I enjoy getting faster on the bike, but I also enjoy powerlifting…so I too am pursuing possibly quixotic dual goals. I’ve only been doing this approach for a bit over a year or so. I’ve seen about a 15% gain in FTP over that period so it hasn’t caused me to plateau yet (granted that peak is only 3.4 w/kg).


I’m doing a kind of. It’s great, it’s cheap, it’s outside and you can feel and see great progessions.

BUT don’t do that fitness poser thing: “Look at me. I’m hanging here doing some pullups with a range of motion (ROM) of 20cm and fast and thousands of it.”

Do the full ROM. Do it properly. And if you do the frist progression four weeks, it’s ok. It builds strength more than mass. And thats cool in two ways:
as a cyclist you want a strong body with the least amount of weight added by muscle mass. And second: you want to beat these fitnessposer as a lean guy. Nothings better than a dumb looking poser. :smiley:

Best regards,