How to go about adding Strength and Conditioning to my weekly training schedule

I’ve been using trainerroad to help get the most out of my available training time which is relatively limited - I can manage about 4/5 days a week at roughly 7-10hrs (depending on time of year with longer weekend outdoor rides). After making initial good progress and gains in ftp - the last year or so my progression seems to have ‘topped out’ - and I feel that one of the factors for this (along with no racing at all last year due to covid) is that I dont do any strength conditioning gym work at all.

Having listened/read many podcasts/blogs I know its strongly advised to make S&C part of the cyclists training regimen but in an ideal world the main bulk of strength work should be done in off-season where load is built up and then maintained for the remaining period.

So given that I have basically missed the off season to implement this - my current trajectory is that Ive just finished SSB mid volume and just about to start the General build plan (mid volume), I’m looking some advice on how best to safely incorporate S&C into my current plan. Specific queries I have in my head are:

  1. Should I continue with Build block at all or revert to repeating another cycle of Base plan when incoroprating S&C.
  2. Mid volume seemed to suit my 4/5 sessions a week schedule - when I basically wanted to maximise ride time buy doing rides each training day (ie no S&C). Would it be more productive to drop to Low volume (3 rides) and use the other 2 slots as S&C workouts.
  3. Or if try and maintain Mid volume ride schedule could I ‘double up’ the 2 ‘easier’ sessions and do S&C on those same days, or should I try and do S&C on the 2 off/non ride days. I’m not sure which would impact recovery/adaption more if adding Training stress from weights to an easy ride therefore increasing overall TSS for that day, which might negatively impact quality of the next intense session. Or if I do the S&C session on an ‘off day’ then not getting any recovery at all.

Basically I dont want to add training load if its going to negatively impact ability to complete the prescribed plan workouts with quality and not have to abort/reduce intensity. So just wondering on best way to go about it.

For a bit of context I’m 50 this year and been racing for 3 seasons. Ive previously been competitive in another sport which required totally different physical requirements ie lot of upper body strength as well as lower - so was well used to gym work for 20 years pushing heavy weights. When I got in to cycling I soon realized that carrying all the extra upper body muscle mass was not helping my power to weight, which is why I ditched gym completely and probably havent lifted weights in 10 years.

Any advice on this is much appreciated…

Sounds like you know the answer to this one, but first you need to be really clear on your goal. Dropping to low volume and subbing strength work for riding most likely is not going to make you fast, but it would make you a better overall athlete.

My personal approach is mostly maintenance. I shoot for 20 min in the gym 3 days a week. Circuits of 4 exercises with only one leg movement in each circuit. For example, pull ups, bench press, squat and a trunk stability exercise. Basically I don’t want it to be too metabolically taxing or stressful on the legs. I want the stimulus to the legs for a neuromuscular and bone density standpoint, but I’m not in there blasting out a lot of volume in the gym. I also try not to stress about when the gym gets done. Obviously I don’t go right before a hard workout, but when you keep the volume low like this you can get away with a very flexible schedule.

I think you can progress with this approach. Especially if you haven’t been doing any sort of lifting. Just bumping up weight minimally once you hit a rep goal. Gradually move to more complex movements and variations.