Could weight training hurt my ftp/aerobic power?

I usually lift 1-2 times per week year-round. I used to do it for injury prevention, and also power gains (I found it helped 1s-120s power, and just pushing bigger gears for longer - not very scientific but just my experience).

However since early March that has been put on hold because the gyms closed in the UK where I live. I just rode my bike and think I had some extra recovery from not lifting. I made big overall fitness and ftp increases 350w to 375w (393w for 20 minute test, and found workouts set off that new ftp doable). My 10 minute PB went from 365 to 410w too. Lovely stuff. Although my sprint has dropped a bit, from around 1400w to 1250w.

I’ve had a Vo2 max lab test two years ago and came out at 420w so think I may be approaching a genetic ceiling for my ftp. But I am hopeful there are still gains to be made given such big improvements over a short period lately (surely they’d slow down closer to potential?) and I may be able to increase vo2 max with more focused training (such as block periodisation). Moreover, I am 23 so still got some years before my best.

I’m around 72kgs but not that lean, have raced at 65kg before so think I could easily drop a few kgs and improve w/kg if I hit a plateau. Not fussed about that right now just trying to maximise fuelling workouts. Getting race weight in a year with no races seems pretty dumb imo.

Anyway, gyms have no re-opened. my question is: do I start going again? Initially I planned a good 4 week block of strength work (lifting 3-4 days a week, with just steady rides), to regain the strength I had lost before covid-19 lockdown. But I am now having second thoughts. I wonder if going back to the gym will change my muscle fiber composition, and potentially lower vo2 max (and increase glycolytic/anaerobic power). I put on muscle easily, so added weight might be a potential disadvantage (but in the UK more watts is better than a higher w/kg).

I’d like to build on or at least keep my new ftp, but at the same time being able to sprint is an excellent asset. I’m built like a sprinter, and have always been a more punchy rider, but think I have slowly changed that to more of an all rounder through training. I’d like to be good at something though; I think being an all rounder is a sure way not to win races and always fly under the radar getting top 10s.

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There’s probably a lot to unpack here.

Firstly, did you ride MORE whilst the gyms were closed? If so, it’s quite possible that you’re experiencing fitness gains simply from adding more volume. If you couple this with maybe more/the same amount of recovery because of not lifting then it’s easy to see why you might have improved.

To be fair, most threads I read on this forum focus on strength training for injury prevention, on-bike comfort and all-round health rather than specific power gains on the bike. That is to say, I think strength work is important but it doesn’t necessarily correlate directly with power, especially for longer endurance intervals.


Great Gains.
Weight training does help with core stability and some injury prevention. I am missing it too.
The slight down side is it does add additional stress in the week. So what you have seen is the less stress , better recovery coming through.
If you are enjoying the higher FTP, PB’s… I would not add the strength training in the summer season. Plan some strength training over the winter. Once a week maybe twice. Coach Chad is saying on the Podcast that he is going to add 30min workout back in to his training as he was getting Fluffy.

Coach Chad has also said the strength training isnt something you do in the off season. He said, and Nate agreed, that it’s something you need to do year round. You can, however, do more or less, depending on your on-bike volume at the time

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yeah this is my dilemma: I understand the benefits of strength training (and year round), but have seen biggest aerobic power gains when I’ve stopped doing it…

that being said having a big punch/kick would be a valuable asset in the races I’m doing

I am planning putting a weight plan in. (20-30 min) It will only be light conditioning and stability training with some Yoga Stretching. The plan is to do 2 times a week and will be Post TR workout, part of cool down and recovery. Drinking my recovery shake during the weight training to get the post recovery carbs back in that 30-40min period.

Just need to make space in the Garage LOL what do you throw out that you have kept for 10 years just in case you need it?

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If you haven’t used it for 2 years or you forgot you had it, get rid of it. What replaces it will be much better :grin:

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FWIW, I lift 2-3 times per week following a periodization plan, but I’m doing it to maintain strength, reduce injury, etc, not to put on muscle mass. Prior to COVID I was also swimming and running in addition to cycling (dreaming of a triathlon, I guess). Once COVID hit and pools closed, I shifted running to one day a week (also just for maintenance), and focused on the bike and consistently lifting. I’m pleased with the overall change in body composition, so I strongly encourage adding weight lifting back into your routine.

For me, I lift on days when there is a recovery ride (so Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). If I’m doing lifting and riding back-to-back, I lift first and then immediately get on the bike while still warm. Lifting for me is about 30 TSS (as measured by heart rate) and the recovery ride is another 20-40 TSS.

If I am doing a double, I ride in the morning and lift in the afternoon since all of my “work” rides are also in the morning, just to keep them 24 hours apart, but I suspect you could lift in the morning and do the recovery ride in the evening without too much trouble after a brief adaptation period.

Anyway, that’s a long winded way of recommending you resume lifting. There will be an adjustment period so be prepared to be sore and more tired than usual, but you’ll get used to it.

@onemanpeloton pretty much nailed it imo. Just to add, lifting, when it doesn’t interfere with recovery (so done more in an off season) is a neuromuscular tool to aid cycling and prevent injury from overuse. I really think if xxx amount of lifting was equivalent to xxx amount of riding, you’d see pro riders adopt it over riding a sh!t ton. But, they don’t. Most are maintenance and just try to keep muscular imbalances during the season to a minimum.

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but you don’t think lifting will negatively impact a cyclists physiology? my understanding is that it converts type 1 fibers to type 2 (slow twitch to fast twitch)

Like most things in life, including how you train on the bike, how you train with weights can have an impact.

Here is an oldie but goodie:

and a more recent review of the science, which shows benefits of lifting heavy with fewer reps:

From that paper’s abstract:

It is suggested that the improved endurance performance may relate to delayed activation of less efficient type II fibers, improved neuromuscular efficiency, conversion of fast-twitch type IIX fibers into more fatigue-resistant type IIA

Again, how you weight train is important.

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While the science behind weight training and its effects are a worthwhile area to explore, i think the bigger thing that gets overlooked during all of this is the stress of weight training and how it impacts (positively or negatively) your on the bike workouts.

Simply put: Does lifting detract from your abilities to hit or outperform your targets vs. if you had not lifted.

Now its hard to test this, either you lifted or you didn’t lift. But I know for me, while I can handle lifitng while training, it certainly takes SOMETHING out of me and my abilities to hit my power targets. The added stress has some dulling effect on my on the bike gains.

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New Bike it is then… Empty garage . Pain Cave… Did i say it was a double garage… With Cement mixer, wacaplate and cement, bark chips … dinning room table chairs and so much crap???

What bike Trek Madone SL7 disc … I even thought Specialized Venge Pro etap.??

Did i miss out Yoga mats and some Weights ??

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Take a look at this thread if you have a few hours to spare:

Lots of discussion about many things, but one of the thoughts is that for riders who want to lower VLaMax, that lifting can be detrimental, but if you wanted to raise it then it might be helpful.

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Yeah I agree. I could just be improving better with less overall training load/life stress.

But I was interested in the point that @Kuttermax raised. Assuming stress is managed ok, could lifting still be detrimental to some rider’s goals