Balance between Cycling and Required Functional Fitness

Background: I’ve been cycling for six months and I have the goal of being a competitive cyclist mainly focused on road races and crits. In the past 6 months I’ve done several road races, crits and Gran Fondos and I’ve made significant gains in my FTP. Most importantly - I love to compete and the vibe I get from racing bikes is incredible.

My question is how to properly balance my cycling training with other physical requirements that I have?

My career is one that requires me to be strong, powerful, fast and have good endurance (jack of all trades). In the past 15 years, I’ve consistently trained to maintain a high level of functional fitness across all modalities. My normal training regime (pre-cycling) was 5 days of high intensity functional fitness focusing on Olympic lifts and fast, explosive movements and ESD (energy systems development) such that I could clean and jerk 275 pounds then run a 32 minute 5 mile immediately after. Given the requirement, the general goal was to be as strong as possible without gaining too much mass because that comes at the detriment of endurance activities. Generally I would conduct the lift in the morning at 6am, go about my work day, and then I execute my ESD in the afternoon before going home.

In the past 6 months, I have substituted cycling for my ESD and I have not yet felt as if I am getting close to over-training.

All this being said, I want to maximize my cycling gains. I come from a hyper competitive sports and work background so I want to do everything properly to increase my abilities as much as I can on the bike – fully acknowledging that I cannot sacrifice my other functional fitness requirements due to the importance of what they facilitate.

I just started Sweet Spot Base Mid Volume 1. Is there anything that I should adjust or change from the standard plan to ensure that I benefit from it as much as possible given the other physical requirements that I have?

For frame of reference, I’m 33 years old, 5’9, 174 lbs, 8% body fat via DEXA scan, 237 FTP currently (pumped to jack that thing wayyyy up).

The crux of your problem is balancing these two things. If you are able, or willing, to sacrifice your functional fitness it will raise the ceiling on your cycling potential. If you are not then you will have a limit imposed by this.

You’re very much in the honeymoon phase with cycling right now - so I think it is good that you aren’t fully abandoning your preexisting fitness goals. I would strongly encourage you to revisit the decisions you make about training in six months, and again regularly after that as your priorities may well change.

All that said - I think the general timing plan you have makes a lot of sense. You want to do your non-cycling training as far from the cycling as possible. If you have a very hard interval session on the bike I would say do that early in the day when you are fresh and then do your lifting late in the day. On days when you have easier or less important intervals you could swap the order and thus come into the bike work in a more fatigued state.

The only other piece of advice I’d give you would be to adhere to the rest days. A day off in the training plan should, if possible, be a day off of all exercise.

I don’t think there’s too much to change in the plans as long as you can handle the training volume in addition to your non-cycling workouts. Once you’ve gotten a bit deeper into cycling definitely take some time to revisit your priorities - you’re in the easy gains portion of your cycling career right now - when the gains start getting harder you’ll be able to squeeze a lot more out of your body if you drop other activities but there’s no reason to make that decision now

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On hard days, do endurance activities in morning and strength training in afternoon.

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Having myself previously done CrossFit for 9+ years and having a career that has many of your same requirements, I understand where you’re coming from. I could deadlift 450, snatch 190 (body weight), clean and jerk 250, and run whatever I desired. I was very well rounded and strong. What I came to realize (42 now) is that even though I was strong and well rounded, I never truly needed that kind of power and strength in my career or in life. It’s fun being strong and fast and watching your power numbers go up, but realistically it far exceeds any demand in life (outside of a professional athlete, ie: football).

Fast forward years later when I picked up cycling (April 2017). I now weigh 175, FTP 265 and have been doing TR since June 2018. If you want to truly excel at cycling you’re likely going to have to let some of that unneeded strength go. Not only is that extra muscle mass slowing you down (depends on what kind of cycling you do), but your strength training is likely to affect your performance on the bike. There are ways to work around this though.

You can still stay functionally fit and be a great cyclist, you’ll just need to shift your thinking a bit.

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Thanks for your advice and thoughts. All points are well received, especially the notion of putting as much time in between my functional fitness and cycling as possible.

I fully acknowledge that the two physical requirements are divergent. I know that I carry extra muscle that is not directly helping me on the bike, so I guess I hope to learn of any ways that I can do as much as I can to improve without having to simply cut the extra muscle and therefore my other fitness requirements.


This is why I suggested re-evaluating this every 6-12 months. If you ever decide to seriously pursue competitive cycling the balance you’re currently seeking will likely be something you have to sacrifice.

For the time being, and honestly for most cyclists, what you’re doing is by far the better option - you’ll be healthier and stronger overall, just a slightly slower cyclist.

Thanks MI-XC. I understand that it is a bit of crux and I acknowledge that I can’t always have my cake and eat it too!

Finding the balance between it is important, and something that I strive for. I appreciate the feedback.

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Yeah that seems about right, in terms of the re-evaluation of goals and the means to accomplish them.

I appreciate your thoughts and feedback.

For now I’d continue your path and work through the Base > Build > Specialty plans and try to do your strength after your rides/workouts. If you’re failing rides/workouts and/or not recovering, you’ll then know you’ll need to adjust. Good luck and go crush it!

Yeah that is the plan to do Base > Build > Specialty. As of now I’m thinking of Short Power Build for the Build Phase and then Criterium for Specialty.