Adjusting strength training to avoid DOMS

Saw there was a previous thread on this but it was 6 years ago, have been trying to incorporate strength training into my training this year and have gone mostly weekly since the new year, have maybe missed a week or 2. Would like to eventually work up to 2 days of strength training per week.
My issue is I’ve been giving myself bad DOMs each time that last ~3 days afterwards and interfere with the cycling workouts. Obviously I need to reign it in but not sure how, should I decrease the weight (intensity) or volume (number of reps/sets).
Would it be better to decrease one compared to the other to find that level that might still be giving me gains but not messing up my cycling workouts in the following days?

Is there any research that would suggest maximizing weight vs volume for best effect?

On the plus side, I seem to have corrected a right leg instability that I was having that was causing a valgus knee collapse during my pedal stroke which I felt was related to a weak medial glute.

1 Like

For me I start low weight and one set for all exercises I’m doing where I’m at risk of DOMS impacting me.

Then, I work up with low weight to full number of sets until that isn’t giving me any soreness or isn’t impacting me. And, if I’m adding a second day of the week, I add that in after I’m at full number of sets.

After I’m able to complete those, then I play around with starting to increase weight.

Some people are just real prone to DOMS (me too) and you have to work up slowly even though it’s way below what you can do from a strength perspective.


So what I did was Squats 2x8, Smith machine step back lunges 2x10, Deadlifts 2x10 and hip abduction machine 2x10.

Had some upper body stuff in there too. Wondering if I should keep the amount of sets and reps the same and just drop the weight on the exercises and then maybe slowly increase reps until I’m doing like 16 or something before dropping reps and increasing the weight again?

I would maybe try reducing weight/volume/time, but doing multiple sessions per week. Personally, I’ve always found DOMS to go away with more frequency, and get way worse with less frequent and/or sporadic training.


Would like to work up to this but find it tough to find time to do a 90 min ride and make it to the gym after a work day without interfering with sleep.

Ideal would be to do one day a week in the gym, one day a week working out with home weights (lighter session midweek).

Go back to 1x8, 1x10, 1x10, 1x10 at a lower weight to start. When I start doing squats - I do them with about 1/3 the weight that I “could” start with.

Once you can do that routine, then go to 2 sets at the lower weight.

At least that’s how I’d do it.

1 Like

Yeah that’s tough. How many days are you riding?

5 days on, 2 days off. Pushing the volume this year to get past a bit of a plateau I’ve hit at 4w/kg

This is probably controversial, but if it were me I would lift on my 2 off days keeping it light and low volume.

Edit: I also primarily race enduro, so I pretty much have to be in on the weights all year.

Generally, weights aren’t going to help you with FTP, and could very well hurt you if not managed correctly, except if there’s a very specific reason (like your imbalance - which is a maybe)

If you want to break your plateau, stop lifting legs, and use that extra effort / time to add endurance volume.

(Edit - there’s a benefit to overall health and injury prevention, so I say chop the weight and sets and work up. But you shouldn’t let it compromise your bike workouts or your volume if FTP is the goal)

1 Like

Lighter weights at home twice a week sounds ideal both in terms of time efficiency and reducing DOMS. Can build a lot of strength with fairly minimal equipment, especially as cyclists where strength isn’t the primary goal anyway.

I ride 5 days and lift 2 days. As my bike training intensity has increased recently, I’ve felt like my legs haven’t recovered well when going into my next training session. I’m always sore. I read on here that I should try to do my strength sessions within 12 hours of a bike workouts. Starting next week, I’m going to move my strength training to the same day as my bike workouts so my 2 rest days are really rest days. We’ll see how it works.

1 Like

Exactly what I’ve been doing so far this year. Once a week. Upper body only for maintenance.

The extra volume is definitely moving the needle.


once a week isnt’ enough lifting…you never get used to it. can you do 3 30 min sessions per week? something like that is where my head is at. when you lift long enough you really shouldn’t get DOMS except for really hard days or some sort of new lift / routing.

also i don’t think DOMS should affect your cycling. just blast through it. it’s not an injury or anything.

Depends what your goal is. Once you’re past newbie gains you won’t progress (similar to cycling) but it’s enough to maintain and prevent regression, prevent muscle imbalances, etc. from cropping up.

Sorry, this one’s just plain wrong… You can work through a little mild soreness, and spin endurance rides fine, but it sure as hell impacts intensity and interval work.

Again, it comes down to what your goal is. If your goal is getting faster on the bike (not talking sprints and anaerobic though), you’re better off doing the bare minimum from a weight lifting perspective to maintain and prevent injury, and focusing on your bike workouts.

Plenty of discussion here lately how strength is almost never a limiter for FTP gains…

  1. To avoid DOMS lift consistently, week after week, month after month, ideally the same muscle group twice each week.

  2. Lift first, ride second. No matter how much time you wait after riding, your legs will be too tired to do the work that strength training requires. You aren’t doing intervals so you will be able to ride, you’ll be fine, whether endurance, tempo, or SS. My current program has me crushing legs at the gym on Tuesday and Saturday and, rather than ride outside, I jump on the trainer and ride for 1.5 hours which includes a 30 minute 90%/SS effort. Yeah, the quads hurt, big-time, but if you concentrate you can do it. If I were trying to do VO2 intervals that’d be a different story and I would certainly fail the workout - SS or tempo you can do.

1 Like

Probably worthwhile to note that people tend to talk about strength training as though it’s one thing, but the effects of it can vary drastically if you know what you’re doing (I know what I’m doing, been doing it for 40 years). Sets of 3 or 4 reps with max weight for that rep range (neuromuscular, ATP-CP energy system) will have very different impact than sets of 15 with max weight for that rep range (glycolytic energy system).

1 Like

Or you periodize radically

Off-season + base: lifting 2 or 2.5 times a week and riding as many endurance miles as you can reasonably do, at whatever intensity DOMS permits. Maybe one sweetspot workout per week for about 30 to 45 minutes TiZ for muscular endurance.

The other 9 months of the year: maintenance at most for legs. Maintenance for upper body and core.

That’s my plan anyway. We’ll see how it goes.


Very much depends on what your goal is, and what type of workout you’re doing. And I want to make sure people see these caveats:

I personally am not going to degrade the quality of any of my harder interval workouts by lifting first. Endurance or Z2 day, sure, to the extent that I’m prioritizing it or including it in my overall
routine based on some of the other things talked about here. I’ve done some hard as hell tempo and Sweet Spot workouts that I would absolutely not lift before either. So those depend.

But, “in season” the goal for me is to never have lifting adversely impact the quality or quantity of my bike workouts. But, right now I’m very much prioritizing on bike fitness, to overall, general strength and fitness.


Depends on ride. I lift on my easy days after riding, which are typically just an hour or so of Z2 first thing in the morning to get the blood pumping. No different than going on a walk. I like to warm up the legs before doing any leg work and a little Z2 work on the bike is perfect.

As far as managing DOMS, consistency is key for me. During the season, I’m not increasing the weight and I’m not adding new movements. 3-4 sets of 5 at a manageable weight. Squats and deadlifts and some kettle bell work (swings, lunges) is all I do for legs during the season. I try for 2 per week, but make sure I get at least 1 session in. If I miss a week, I’ll experience mild DOMS after the next session. Miss 2 weeks and I’ll get DOMS pretty bad even if I reduce the weight.