How do I return to strength training while on my plan?

I am currently following sweetspot base low volume 1 with added endurance rides. My weekly TSS is around 600 and I ride about 10-12 hours a week. My FTP is 293W (4.0w/kg). Before starting my training for this season in February, I built my strength up to those benchmarks for 2 months. I then switched to a maintenance phase by just going to the gym once a week until mid March, and that’s when all the gyms in my area closed due to COVID.

After that, I never did strength training, and 6 months later, I finally got a dumbbell and a barbell mixed set which I can use for strength training. Although I won’t be exactly hitting coach Chad’s benchmarks, but I will be close by :slight_smile: . Before starting the season, I was focusing on weights while doing some unstructured riding on the bike, but now I am following a training plan where I am hitting zones such as sweetspot and above. How do I get back into strength training while following my plan? I am pretty sure that I am going to be very sore for a while when I start weights again.

Something’s got to give is the answer. I struggle with this constantly; how do I do squats without wrecking my legs for half a week’s training rides? Nobody seems to have a great answer because there isn’t one, weight training is just more TSS in a different form, it will affect your training plan to some extent.

I think your plan of building strength then going into a maintenance phase is the best option. When you do a strength session do it on a bike training day so that your rest days are complete rest. Even though I know this, I still occasionally fall into the trap of doing a weight session on a day off. It’s very tempting, but I always regret it.

My other advice would be to keep strength sessions shorter and more frequent. Do a little bit more often, rather than a big session once a week which will drain you more.

So rate your priorities and plan accordingly.

2 Likes

I guess I might have to take some time off structured training and focus on weights. I honestly feel much better off the bike when I lift weights.

You definitely don’t need to take time off. DOMS is annoying for sure but it’s not an impediment to cycling performance. Just have to “suck it up” for the two weeks or so while your body adjusts.

3 Likes

Reading your post I make the assumption you consider the bike your primary focal point of training and the strength work is complimentary.

If you are concerned with how the strength work will impact the cycling workouts, reintegrate the strength back into your workout routine with a slow ramp rate.

The issue I think many of us have is we say we are going to “get back in the gym” and overdo it and then end up very sore and much more likely to skip a cycling workout.

But once you are in the groove of lifting, the residual soreness lessens and your workouts are much less impacted by weight training if at all. I do my weight sessions now on the same day as one of my bike sessions and at this point I don’t even notice the negative impact from the weights at all on my training.

Let’s say you do 5 exercises in the gym and 3 sets of 10 for each of the 5 exercises you perform. For me I generally use a relatively light weight for the first set, a more challenging weight for the second set and something on the third set that gets me to or close to failure.

If I wanted to slowly reintegrate weight lifting into my cycling routine, I could probably with little impact do all 5 exercises but only do 1 set of 10 for each. Yes, it would be easy but it would also signal to my body that more of this is on the way. Presuming I could do 1x10 of everything without disrupting my bike training, the next week (or next session whenever that is for you) I would go to 2x10 of the 5 exercises and see how my body reacts. By the 3rd week I think my body would be prepped and ready for more challenging weight sessions without them disrupting my bike workouts so I would return to 5 by 3x10.

Also, at some point increased strength gains are going to lose their intended benefit and you will be fine with maintaining rather than building. This is where I am. I’m basically satisfied with all of the weight/reps I can perform and while the workouts I do allow me to maintain a pretty decent level of gym fitness, I won’t be winning any strongman competitions and that’s just fine with me.

TLDR -> Start slow and light to avoid being pretty sore for the first 2 weight sessions, or more. Once you remind your body of what’s going on, the soreness should subside and your strength sessions will have minimal impact on your ability to follow the training plan.

Good luck!

I agree with much of what is said here but I have a few practical things I have found help me. My FTP is crap, but I do have some lifting background. I manage 4-5h of lifting, 4 hours of riding and 4 hours of running per week at 40 years old.

  • DOMS starts to come back if you dont lift for a bit over a week, dont skip. Seriously, just go do 1 set and give up if you have to.
  • I can still squat and dead after v02max or other hard short (~1hr) stuff but not after long sweetspot. I can run threshold the day after leg day but running and lifting legs the same day is just to much damage. It takes days to recover from.
  • Do you lifting 3-6 hours after riding, if you can, for leg days to minimize mixed signaling. Dont worry about it for upper body days.
  • I get less sore if i do 3 sets of squats and 3 sets of deads twice per week rather than 5+ sets of one or the other once per week each. The higher frequency seems to help. I change it up all the time but right now its heavy safety squat bar and 3" block pulls 1 day and lighter paused safety squat and traditional deadlifts the other.
  • I really like the safety squat bar for cycling. The way it tries to fold your upper back over translates really well to cycling core stability.
  • Do your core/ab stuff on leg day, get all the soreness done at once.
  • Cleaning your overhead pressing work from the ground is free core stability reps.
2 Likes

Hah… I couldn’t resist to go easy today. I had enough confidence that I could lift 20KGS 55 times, which I did (I had been at that level before). I then waited for more than 6 hours to prevent mixed signaling and started my over under workout. I had to bail after the 1st set as my legs were too sore for that.

I will definitely be sore for at least 2 days, so I have planned out 2 rest days in a row to deal with that.