Endurance/Cycling Community's changes in approach to strength training in recent years?

I listening to episode 013 of the AACC podcast, and found Nate & Chad’s comments about strength training interesting compared to today.

Both stress rather strongly that cycling is so much an endurance sport that lifting weights for performance benefits is not a good use of any of your time. Nate offers GC contenders like Froome as an argument for as little muscle mass as possible. Within the past few episodes Chad mentioned Nibali breaking his hip from a minor fall as evidence for how unhealthy the specilization the undergo is, and how important it is for the rest of us to have some form of strength training. I also recall hearing in a recent episode about how strength training will increase fiber recruitment and can directly aid endurance exercise.

I don’t want to call attention to this as a “gotcha” moment or to shame anyone for developing their views. Rather, I would be happy if anyone could point out the driving forces behind a shift in opinion on strength training for cyclists and other endurance athletes, and whether this is localized or widespread shift.

I should add that I am very excited for the upcoming strength components to TrainerRoad!

I don’t see it as inconsistencies, so much as two different sides to an issue.
They talked about this today, but in relation to stairs and hiking, the lower level of fitness a person has, the more benefits you’ll see in cycling from other sports an activities, including strength training.
But once you reach a certain level of fitness, which i suppose will be different for everyone, you’ll only see race specific improvement from specific training.

And then apart from bone density, there’s also the case for strength training that it’ll help even out muscle imbalances developed through repetitive actions in sports, allowing you to train harder for longer, via reduced chance of injury.

I think Chad Nate and Jonathan are always learning, but also depending on the question and who’s asking the question, they often give answers with very different perspectives, because different situations call for different advice.


I think they’ve been pretty consistent in saying that strength training may or may not benefit different types of riders. All have been consistent with the standard “too skinny” cyclist body just isn’t ideal for life overall (playing with your kids, being resilient in a crash, etc.), and that the standard focus on not wanting to lift because you don’t want to gain weight is not really a valid rationale for the bulk of humans riding bikes.

I think Chad and Nate have come around to the idea that strength training has a place, so long as it isn’t negatively impacting performance during your key sessions. It seems like Chad’s been focusing more on strength work recently because his riding volume and racing goals aren’t as high as they once were, so his focus is more on the overall benefits of strength training, not necessarily translating to the bike. At least, that’s how I’ve interpreted the mindset shift.

Personally, leg strength isn’t my limiter right now, and I know if I started doing squats, my trainer sessions would suffer. I’m more interested in building strength endurance than anything. I think I’ll start doing some lifting, but that’ll be during a time when my trainer sessions are far less intense and I’m not making gains and working at higher power levels than ever before on the bike.

All that said, I wish I could deadlift… but it’s a no go for me for the rest of my life… sigh.


The catering of advice makes sense, its easy to imagine a phenomen (pro strength training for cyclists) if you’re always looking for it.

I have quite a bit of fun in the gym, and have been lifting regularly along with the training plans. Although I wish I had the schedule flexibility to do both in the same day that doesn’t usually work out. I don’t know how much it has helped the bike but I have always had trouble keeping weight on and the gym (and diet) solves that mostly. I have found it doable to work in deadlifts and bulgarian squats without weights negatively effecting the bike or vice versa, and will attempt to work barbell squats back in over the fall/winter.

I only started cycling last year, but I can already see a slight shift to strength training within cycling as a sport. I remember GCN doing several episodes on strength exercises for cyclists and discussed strength training with some sprinters. I also think the high profile injuries like Nibali have started to shine a light on bone density issues with pro cyclists.

That being said, I personally don’t think the enthusiast/amateur cycling community has changed at all, and I feel like it’s because of the traditional pro that looks like a greyhound. I’m only one example but I get disdainful looks from seasoned cyclists on virtually every group ride. Some of the comments I get make me feel like I’m trying to invade cycling, things like “shouldn’t you be playing rugby or football?”.

If you want to be faster on a bike you do that on a bike. If you want more general strength fitness you can achieve that in the gym.