Gym work - when are you strong enough?

32years, 70kg (155lbs), aiFTP 356 (real about 340?), riding for 10 years, history of strength training before riding. Goal is to ride faster.

It’s off-season and I’ve had 9 weeks of a bit more strength focus than usual, been focusing on squats and deadlift. I’ve done 2 gym sessions a week, that has meant a slightly reduced cycling volume and markedly less intensity on the bike.

This week I maxed my lifts to see if I’ve made progress, 1x160kg (352lbs) deadlift, 1x125kg (275lbs) squat. Yay, a bit stronger in both! Now I’m questioning the value of keeping up my gym work, it seems enough and more according to Trainerroad’s benchmarks.

My questions are:

  1. Should I keep up the focused gym work for a while longer?
  2. Should I reduce the weights and move to less taxing exercises and go into maintenance already?
  3. Should I do something else with my two gym sessions? Yoga? More riding?
  4. This being the internet, YOU probably know exactly what I should do; please tell me.

Suggestions on an alternative gym plan that does not focus on the big lifts? Suggestions on a yoga plan? I think I know how to lift heavier, but the rest is a bit outside my area.


I’almost idetical as you (just a bit older) and last year I did 10w of lifting but when I started with base I had to reduce the lifting but i was still doing 5x3 for one month and when I introdouce treshold work I stopped lifting and doing just functional gym (nino style 20-30min of 40/20)

1 Like

Firstly, big kudos on those lifts.
Back when I was able to push weight like that, I was much heavier, and now that I am able to push watts like you, I have properly embraced the “cyclist’s physique”.

Regarding your point:
I do not have the data, but every pro cyclist nowadays does weightlifting throughout their career. Regardless of whether they can squat 50kg or 200kg.
Continuing progressive overload on squats, while focusing on a possible weak point with accessory work will likely suffice.
Overloading on strengths will continue to benefit you just like continuing to overload on intervals. Even if it just helps to maintain what you have now.
I‘d say the exception would be, if you feel you become too muscular (heavy), for riding in the steep mountains.

1 Like

Trainer work - when are you fast enough?

It is. Question without an answer, a journey without an end.

1 Like

You’re already strong enough. Focus on squats and dead’s is good. Keep lifting twice a week. You don’t want your lifting to interfere with your cycling if you want to get faster, so no more 1 rep max lifts and make sure your sets/reps are such that you are fresh for your bike workouts.

Agree with the above, although if I was as strong as the OP (!!!) I’d probably drop one lifting session in favour of bumping up volume on the bike if getting faster was the aim.

Having said that, as you’re around 5wkg, not sure my thoughts are worth that much. :joy: All gains are likely to be marginal at that level as well, obvs.


You can reduce your volume significantly and still retain strength

My numbers are well below yours, and i consider myself ‘strong enough’. But I’m enjoying the progress in the gym so I’m still working to increase (might change my mind when i hit build phase on the bike!)

Much less fit on the bike (4.5) but similar strength levels here.

I think the general point here is that, unless you’re a sprinter, you’ve probably passed the point of transferrable gains (potentially a while ago).

  1. will more strength make you faster? Not as much as more riding

  2. can you maintain your strength levels throughout the season? Yes, just drop volume massively.

  3. are there other things you could do off the bike to be a fitter / healthier person? Yes, probably - everyone should do yoga, but unless you have a real biomechanical issue it won’t make you faster as much as more riding

Tldr if your only goal is being faster you know the answer already

If your goal is to be a healthy human probably do yoga, but not at the expense of more riding

If you enjoy being strong and are happy that it is costing you speed then keep up the good work, maybe try and see if you can do a single leg work cycle and see if that improves your riding (I found single leg work helps enormously but also fatigues me for the bike a lot more).

No wrong answers

Whats is Nino’s style strength training? Link?

I combine few exercises from Ninos yt videos. Have Gym Timer app on my phone and doing 25-30 rounds of 40s work with following 20s of “rest” (balancing on ball or BOSU)

Here is my gym setup

Here is the Gym Timer setup:

Here are some videos:

1 Like

Have you considered following the typical S&C periodization model and doing a power phase? If your strength is maxing out, and you don’t have races to work around, it seems something you could do before going totally yoga maintenance mode.

Keep the lifts for a few more weeks, but cut weights to 30-50% and focus on speed of movement, and maybe add in some plyometrics? (and maybe get a session with a trainer/coach if you haven’t done this stuff before).

just bear in mind, with the numbers you have offered, you are both strong and aerobically very fit. the absolute stresses on your body are high when you work hard, so you will have to be on point with rest, nutrition etc. working to become even better, i would say the load is exponential. just tread carefully!

General answer.

2x week is loading phase.
1x week is maintenance.

When your lifting essentially plateaus, or sees very minor increases, switch to maintenance. If cycling is your priority.

It is my experience that two heavy lifting sessions per week and many hours of structured riding is generally too difficult to fully recover from. Particularly, for amateurs with full time jobs. Even professional cyclists drop to 1x strength sessions in season.

Some push it out to one session every 14 days. I personally think that a single full body session should always be included, for any cyclist.

Cycling alone is not ideal for all round health.

This single full body resistance session will go a long way to keeping you injury free and a far more robust athlete.


I agree, once/week full body session. At Age 68, my lifts fall between all rounder and sprinter on Coach Chad’s Chart. I do one body weight core session and one total body lifting session/week. In the past, I’ve done it on its own day, and zone 2 the next day as my legs recover from squats or deadlift. I’m going to try it after a 1 hr zone 2 session this winter.

1 Like

Thanks for your replies. I’m slightly saddened by the lack of dogmatism though. I wanted to hear the extreme ends :).

As for what I’ll do, this be my plan:

  1. Reduce gym intensity to allow for more bike intensity. Going to aim for 2x6 @ 90kg squats and 120kg deads each session. 2 reps is low enough to not cause to much fatigue I hope. Might even reduce the weights more, but there’s a vanity aspect to consider.

Edit: might do even less, 1 day with above and 1/2 day with other stuff.

  1. Reduce gym frequency to allow for longer cycling sessions, probably will end up at 1.5/week.

  2. More stretching and boring accessory work at the gym.

  3. Switch training times so that cycling in the morning and gym in the afternoon.

Good ideas and well taken on.

There is probably still time (assuming European seasons) for you to put a 4-6week power cycle into your lifting, and this is because you are too early in the season for too much bike intensity.

But I would advise against all these wanky ‘do a backflip holding a kettlebell onto a wobble board’ things you see pros doing for youtube. Just switch your squat to an explosive squat - box squats would be an easy and safe way to do it, and your deadlift to a power or Olympic clean (if you have the technique to do this).

Similar actually good power production exercises would be single leg or double leg broad jumps - hop off box onto floor and immediately explode). Keep this low rep high rest - 33 or 53.

The other option would be to do a single leg cycle (reverse lunges, single leg press, Bulgarians etc).

When you go into maintainable - think about it like a taper - so focus on the total number of repssets for your legs. So 62 Vs 3*3, limit leg accessory work.

Stretching is proven to be mostly a waste of time, but mobility work (different ) is good. I personally think that yoga hits all of the prehab/accessory/mobility needs anyone might have.

and if you don’t, maybe some of the suggestions in this post.

1 Like

I posted this somewhere before a couple years ago … but I developed my own baseline for on the bike strength that other seemed to appreciate. This really doesn’t include lower body stuff, but I thought I’d post it here.

They are as follows:

** Be able to do 50 push-ups without stopping
** Be able to hold a plank for 2 minutes without resting
** Be able to do 15 overhand pull-ups without stopping (10 is probably fine, though)
** Be able to sit straight-legged and touch your toes and hold for 3 seconds

I don’t lift with heavy weights for my lower body any longer (squats, deadlifts) and do mostly kettle-bell workouts and explosive lunges. I don’t have a base-line for those … but I will tell everyone to approach walking lunges with care – the strain on our underutilized glutes and hamstrings is extreme without adequate build up.

When? Never? There is always a bigger hill, a stronger wind, stranger weather.

I would think building more upper body helps the core survive biking?