I haven’t read the whole thread but I wanted to add my two cents. Before I was a cyclist, I had an extensive background in strength training focusing on compound lifts for over 15 years. I have started strength training again and have been consistently lifting since August 2022.
Yes - you can be strong and fast. Before I caught COVID, I was 4.6w/kg, 67kg, squat 95kg, OHP 45kg and deadlift 130kg. I do not consider those current lifts a ceiling of any sort. I can still go further. Prior maxes (which I don’t consider relevant anymore) were 140kg, 80kg, 190kg respectively at 78kg.
Again, yes - you can be strong and fast, however, in my opinion, you cannot develop max strength and develop ‘peak fitness’ at the same time. I define ‘peak fitness’ as a period after you have developed, in TR terminology, speciality fitness. At some point, attaining maximum strength will interfere with attaining peak fitness. The hardest part of the process for both (or with anything for that matter) is achieving new levels above your previous homeostasis. Your energy has to be directed at achieving maximum strength or peak fitness. You can’t do both at the same time.
I have achieved a good level of strength (for an amateur road cyclist) because I specialised in strength training for a large part of my life and all my energy was directed at it. I also attained a decent level of aerobic fitness because I specialised in cycling training without any strength training. Now that I have picked up strength training again, the weight on the bar is increasing daily only because I had an existing base of strength prior it was just dormant. I am only coming back to my previous levels of strength and that’s why it comes back so fast. Coach Chad Timmerman explained this very well in one of the podcasts about dormant nuclei after non-use. It is sometimes called ‘old man strength’. Don’t let anyone fool you when they say, yes, I am piling on weight on the bar and improving my threshold power at the same time - chances are, that person had an existing level of strength or aerobic fitness or both or are complete newbies in both and are experiencing those newbie gains that expire relatively quickly.
So the key takeaway is - yes, you can be strong and fast but you cannot achieve a maximum in both types of physical condition at the same time when you have not achieved that level of adaptation as yet in either one. You must pick one and sacrifice the other OR you can be have below average development in both. You cannot achieve a 200kg squat having not been there before and aim for a threshold of 5w/kg (only being currently 3.5w/kg) all in the same week or month or maybe even year! Achieving true new maximums and a new level of homeostasis is extremely draining. Same can be said for peak specialty cycling fitness.
So, for you, I would endorse your latest approach in doing weights and supplementing that with Z2 riding. Popular theory says that Z2 is actually very beneficial (you can’t help but think that it is just confirming scientifically that long slow distance actually works). Your aerobic fitness will actually help you in your strength training.
- Periodise your training in a thoughtful manner. You can have focused weightlifting blocks with minimal cycling and focused cycling blocks with maintenance weights just like the pros. Track cyclists do this quite often I believe.
- Some say that you should lift weights after you do your cycling session. In my opinion and in my experience this is ill advised. I would actually lift first and then cycle after. This is because your chances of getting injured via improper technique or technique breakdown is very high especially if you are already feeling fatigue or the ‘jelly legs’ sensation from your cycling session. I’ve recently injured my adductor because my knees caved in on a squat because my legs were tired from cycling earlier in the day.
Hope that helps. Sorry for the long opinionated post.