How to incorporate two 40-minute strength sessions a week into SSB or build mid-volume

Hi guys,

I would like to start doing some strength training (at home, using some kettlebells, dumbbells and body weight). The plan is to do two sessions a week (40 to 50 minutes each). Yet, I don’t know what would be the optimal way to incorporate those strength sessions into my current SSB mid-volume training calendar (later moving to build and specialty). As you know, the typical mid-volume week is 3 “difficult” workouts on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, one “moderate” workout on Sundays and one “easy” workout on Wednesdays (usually Pettit).

To get optimal results from the strength sessions and not get overtrained or have tired legs or the like, when do you think I should add the strength sessions? I usually do the bike sessions in the mornings so I was thinking to do the strength sessions in the afternoons (around 6pm or so). But on which days I should add the strength sessions? Perhaps Thursdays (so I have full recovery on Fridays, which is a rest day) and Sundays (to also recover on Mondays, which is also a rest day)?

Any tips or suggestions are more than welcomed! Thanks.

FWIW, I do my strength training the morning before my easy rides, then immediately jump on the bike for those easy spins once done lifting. Based on time constraints I will sometimes reduce the duration of the easier rides from 1:15 (Collins) or 1:00 (Pettit) to 0:45 (Carter).

Tuesday - hard bike
Wednesday - lift, easy spin
Thursday - hard bike
Friday - lift, easy spin
Saturday - hard bike
Sunday - moderate bike

If you want to bike in the mornings and lift in the afternoons, I recommend lifting on the afternoons of your hard bike days so you have full recovery, so lift Tuesday, Thursday, and/or Sunday afternoon like you said.

Finally, don’t be afraid to change it up if something isn’t working. You should determine which is more important (i.e biking or lifting) to help decide what to prioritize if/when something has to give.

Good luck!

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Doing your strength work after your bike work on Thursday and Sunday sounds completely reasonable to me but in my opinion 2x40 minutes of dumbbell, kettlebell and body weight work is far from optimal for gaining strength. On the positive side you are not going to over-train doing dumbbell and kettlebell work either so you probably don’t need to worry about that.

Thank you! This is great advice and I do like a lot your schedule with the lift-easy ride mix on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Thanks for the advice. Given what you said, I might add a couple extra minutes of strength training to get ore benefit from it.

I recommend to start by adding one session. Make it time efficient, by limiting rest between exercises and sets. Then build up to 2x as you muscles get used to the work, and you figure out how/when to fit your workouts in your schedule.

I’m not sure the logic of this statement. Unless you’re messing about with your workouts, this is fine for most cyclists.

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You can absolutely build strength with just dumbbells, kettlebells, and body weight. Considerably more than is needed for cycling.

Yes, you may not get all the benefits of “lifting heavy,” but it is still worthwhile.

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I have found good success with Tuesday, Thursday, or Sunday afternoon/night strength workouts following MV with AM rides as you described.

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Sounds like high rep low weight stuff? How taxing will these sessions be?

If its light, conditioning, fit them in wherever it suits your schedule. If these are hard sessions and youre hoping to gain strength, then you’ll want to match them with your existing hard days and space them as far apart in the day as you can.

At the end of the day, as long as you are getting quality in your bike sessions it wont really matter.

It’s been said on the podcast and this forum multiple times. I pair my strength sessions with my harder bike days (bike am strength pm), leaving easy and rest days in between to recover.

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The word ‘optimal’ was used, not ‘fine for most cyclists.’ That is the logic behind it. Sure it’s fine for most cyclists, but cyclists could get away with little or no strength training if we want to. Kettlebells and dumbbells used in a home setting are also likely too light to to build any serious strength with. If the OP has a collection of very heavy kettlebells then clearly my statement is wrong.

what if you were to flip it?

Gym AM - Trainer PM

I think this is whats going to work for me unfortunately, as I can quickly jump on and off the trainer at home…I can’t stop or rush back from the gym for a work call lol oh - I work 1pm - 10pm

FWIW, I do not agree with this. Do core work, single-leg, compound movements, work on mobility and improving your movement patterns, work in plyometrics if you want to train the explosive power, and you’ll get plenty of benefit. Lots of people who lift heavy actually have sh%t mobility and movement patterns and it comes back to haunt them. Build this up and you’ll be a better rider regardless of how much you can over-head press.

if your hard days are tempo and sweet spot (and this gets hard if you go long enough) I doubt you’d have an issue doing lifting on your easy days. And if you do, you can always change up.

But in my experience, if i’m doing for example anaerobic or vo2max intervals and am looking for a deep, quality session, i do not want to do ANYTHING hard the day before. If / when you switch to doing hard intervals, I’d do the lifting on the same day as the intervals (ride in the morning and lift in the evening). It sucks but still better, i think.

ETA: Mattias clarified and hard to disagree with him. it’s true that if you want to get as strong as possible then you would need to have heavy weights available, but there also is so, so much you can do that will improve your athleticism without lifting heavy.

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This would be the way to go in my opinion if your ultimate goal is cycling. I would think lifting pre-ride or the day before a hard ride would be detrimental to your ride/recovery.
If you are stacking them, the easy ride would also be a great way to warm your body up before you start into the more explosive movements. Of course, if you are just doing upper body stuff then perhaps the detriment would be minimal/mitigated.

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regarding the lift heavy vs. other considerations discussion, check out this video:

clearly this is “icing on the cake” and he probably spent a lot of time working on fundamentals first, but how awesome is this. This video is so lit.

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Looking at the ‘Integrating Strength Training’ article, here are Chad’s pointers:

  • Try to pair your weight training within 12 hours of your intervals & preceding a rest/easy day. Ideally, you’ll do your cycling first, but if you can’t, just know that your riding will suffer since you’re training on pre-exhausted legs.
  • Try to adhere to an on/off schedule by following hard days with easy ones.
  • Try not to block your training. It’s typically far better to train then recover, train then recover, than to train & train then recover. Blocks can be productive, but they’re risky and best left for particular times of the year, and often enough, more advanced riders.

I guess it’s personal preference but I find it easier to ride shortly after waking up compared to doing ST. I feel ‘’lubed up” for ST after a day of moving around ;p Also, cycling is my priority so that comes first.

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More info here: https://fascatcoaching.com/tips/ninos-circuit-training/ and that tips article includes same video and how to do “Nino’s circuit training.” It was integrated into the 10-week resistance training FasCat plan, I was suppose to do it this summer (my off-season) but put all my energy into combining resistance and cycling work. Just purchased a Revolution balance board and am working on not killing myself LOL, and then might slowly work on my Nino core stability skills. Should have never stopped skateboarding…

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You can buy 125lb dumbbells :man_shrugging:

I’m not suggesting you need that heavy of course, but dumbbells and kettlebells are sufficient to build strength, in particular for cyclists.