I just can't find the energy blocks in my schedule for weight training

I’m of an age/experience where I train to the amount of energy I have available rather than running myself into the ground chasing targets.
This nets out as roughly a rest day after an aerobic training day in order to stay on the happy and healthy side of the tracks. This works out completely adequate for me and I’m faster training like this than if I add more days.
As for strength training, I really enjoy that too. I like the gym and I like lifting weights. However this is not something that counts as rest, and therefore does not belong on a rest day.
I’m completely flumoxed how to fit strength in. I appreciate it’s value but if I swapped out the aerobic stuff I do once or twice a week, then there’d definitely be a negative affect on my fitness to ride/run.
I’m not time poor. I could do double days etc. But energy is a destinctly finite thing (much as though we hate to admit it).
I’m considering quitting the gym as I’m growing weary of constantly trying to work out a weekly schedule that I can actually stick to. Doing just once a week would not give me enough value for money. Ideally I think you need to go three times a week to make meaningful progress. There was a month last year after I sprained my ankle where I made excellent progress because I could concentrate on consistent gym work. Since then however, aerobic sessions have taken precidence and my strength has suffered.

For health in old age, gym is at least as important if not more so than aerobic (assuming you’re doing some aerobic). You end up in the old folks home due to mobility issues (muscular weakness). I personally do a lift after a block of aerobic riding, then take a rest day after. So it’s basically 2 days off aerobic work, then back to it.
For example,
M ride
T lift
W off
R ride
F ride


Personally, if I lift legs at all, it’s right after an interval workout. And I stick to just a couple exercises - squats and deadlifts at lower, full ROM weight. It isn’t about progressing leg strength, it’s about total body fitness and not regressing.

One day a week is better than zero days a week if that’s what you have time for or can fit in. Just because you can’t do 2 doesn’t mean 1 isn’t worth it. Again, it’s not about progressing strength and building muscle though.

For upper body and core, I shoot for 2-3x a week, but I just had to convince myself I don’t need to kick my a$$ and make them extremely difficult. I will do them on a rest day because I’ve structured them to be overall not that taxing.

It’s all about priorities, and a lot of volume / energy expenditure on the bike does make it tough. You just have to choose your priority, if you want to progress on the bike, lifting becomes secondary and more maintenance, and total body injury prevention.

(46 y/o average 12-14 hours on the bike / wk)


OP, I can totally relate to the ‘energy’ side of things, i’m 50, busy at work and time crunched with family etc. which all takes it’s toll. The only difference is I ‘hate’ the gym LOL.

However, and as BCM and KWcycling have already said, I know all-round strength work is important as I age, and helps for just muscleing the bike around off-road.
I was following a home-strength routine (from Bikeradar maybe?) that has served me well, but when my energy levels are not the best, or I only have maybe 20-25 mins, i’ve condensed my routine down to maybe 2 sets of four exercises , which hit most of the muscle groups, and doesn’t leave me wrecked:

Quick warm up, 20-30 star jumps.
1st set (very little rest between exercises):
Wide arm Push ups
Shoulder bridge with leg extensions
Pistol squats
Arnold press with dumbells
2nd set: repeat.

Just find something that works, anything is better than nothing :+1:


This has been my hardest decision over the last few months too - when and where to do the strength training. I love the gym and am happy to go and spend an hour or two faffing around in there, but I have neither the time, nor the energy, to do such things now I am a busy old woman

However, strength is so critically important, so I’ve reverted, again, to training at home with some cheap limited secondhand equipment. Rather than setting myself a full workout once every 5 days, I set myself a strict time of 20-30 minutes maximum every couple of days and aim to warm up quick (or do the weights immediately following a bike workout) and then lift as heavy as possible (or do difficult bodyweight stuff) for short sets, often on a circuit or as supersets. I maximise the amount of weight I am lifting in the short window and then it’s done. Once that time is up, I stop, and eat and rest.

It’s not ideal - I’m sure if I was a pro then there would be far better ways. However, for me, with my difficult schedule and limited energy, this is at least working to make sure I am getting in strength work. I don’t do legs the day before an intense workout. Other than that, I don’t worry about it carrying over to bike fatigue - being strong is as important, if not more so, than aerobic fitness at this age.


A question for clarification. Are you saying you only ride once or twice a week or that you only ride HARD once or twice a week? If you’re only riding once or twice and you’re not time poor, it seems there should be time in there to work out. I’m not sure of your age though, so I think the answer is “it depends”. If you’re in your 50s and have unlimited time available, I would think you could do one hard ride a week, a couple easier rides (including a long one on the weekend), and still be able to fit in a few lifts without being overly tired, skipping an easy ride once in a while as needed. But if you’re in your 70s, the answer might be very different.

Some great thoughts. Thanks everybody for chipping in.
I’m 50 and prioritising running over cycling at the moment. Ran a 1.17 half marathon the other day so am in good condition. I also have worked a physical outdoor job my whole life so mobility is pretty good.
My week tends to look like this:

Mon; track night. High intensity running
Tues: knackered from track night!
Wed: steady running or riding for a couple of hours. Tempo sort of stuff.
Thurs: usually pretty tired from work by now. I often make an extra special family dinner on this night and enjoy being ‘normal’.
Fri; morning easy run or weights, chill evening to prep for Saturday.
Sat; big run/ride. Usually a good few hours. Often hilly. Am training for running ultras in the mountains, so days like this are important.
Sun; easy, chill run at dawn, then meeting friends for a bit more. Usually around 3hrs at super easy pace. Mainly about the chat, coffee and cake!

Doesn’t leave much in the tank for strength, but fills my cup with joy. There’s nothing I’d like to forgo in order to go to the gym, despite enjoying going there, and I couldn’t add much more before it all became unsustainable.

I think my only options are to swap out the Wednesday session, and/or add in a strength on a weekend afternoon. I do value that Wednesday session though. There’s a lot of benefit from tempo work.

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What are your strength training goals? For me, I find that “maintenance” lifting provides huge benefits but isn’t taxing and, therefore, feel fine doing it on a rest day. I will forego legs, though, if they have any amount of fatigue. Basically I lift to maintain strength, but not to the point of impacting my cardio workouts.

My ideal schedule looks like this (but I often have to adjust it due to travel commitments).

Mon: Ride or swim (am), lift (pm)
Tue: Ride (am)
Wed: Ride (am), lift (pm)
Thu: Swim (am)
Fri: Ride (am), lift (pm)
Sat: Ride (long)
Sun: Rest, maybe lift (pm) depending on how I feel, family obligations, etc

I would encourage you to reconsider. There are numerous studies that demonstrate the benefits of weight training, especially as we age. Have you considered setting up a home gym? Mine is quite basic but suits the needs for “maintenance” lifting - dumbbells (Bowflex 525 click weights - a wee bit expensive but huge space savers), pull up bar (really just two joist hangers and a 3/4" steel pipe), and some elastic bands I’ve picked up at various physical therapy sessions over the years.

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I don’t think I’d use a home gym. I thrive on the public gym environment. I’m lucky to have one near to me thats full of decent, hard working, people. (I was going more often in winter due to bad weather making running less appealing).

Not sure what this means, exactly, and don’t want to guess. Saying that because with my +12 years and only started getting serious at fifty four, I’m of the opinion that training/conditioning is partly about increasing the capacity to do work in the future.

Probably doesn’t matter, no need to respond as I now see you are running and I can’t relate.

Have you considered kettlebells? You just need 1 adjustable competition style bell and a small area about the size of a yoga mat. StrongFirst has some minimalist GPP programs Simple&Sinister, Quick & the Dead, and AXE. The theory is these programs are anti-glycolytic and work your two other energy systems (aerobic and PCr). I’ve been impressed with results, doing StrongFirst on Mon/Wed/Fri the same day as riding, and no interference with training. Again these are general physical preparation (GPP) and you can add other strength work. FWIW.

As a few others have said, you don’t need much in the way of weights if you’re just doing it for general health. What about the following (I bolded what I added to your schedule):

Mon; morning strength (upper) track night. High intensity running
Tues: knackered from track night!
Wed: steady running or riding for a couple of hours. Tempo sort of stuff.
Thurs: morning strength (lower) usually pretty tired from work by now. I often make an extra special family dinner on this night and enjoy being ‘normal’.
Fri; morning easy run or weights (if weights would do upper here), chill evening to prep for Saturday.
Sat; big run/ride. Usually a good few hours. Often hilly. Am training for running ultras in the mountains, so days like this are important.
Sun; easy, chill run at dawn, then meeting friends for a bit more. Usually around 3hrs at super easy pace. Mainly about the chat, coffee and cake!

If you put the lower body weight work on Thursday, you’ll have Friday to recover from that before your big day on Saturday. You could also move the Monday strength session to Sunday after your run if you have time for it that day.

Bmarum. I think this is about the best course of action. It’s a pattern I have done in the past, however the extra load does have an effect over time.

Windwarrior. I came across StrongFirst a while ago. I was impressed by their forum so is a definite contender.

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I’ve got the Kindle versions of the books. And a small collection of YouTube videos. They talk about "what the hell effects (WTHEs), here is a quote from the Quick and Dead (Q&D):

Last night I rode for the first time in 7 days, and outside it was virtually the same temp as last Tuesday. In between I only did Q&D and some hiking, a pickleball game, and some desert pool time with adult beverages. In the past that would mean last night would have been a #struggleFest, but no, I actually had no problems and saw better EF which is something that is really consistent and repeatable for me. Noticed it while riding - “why isn’t my HR higher, maybe WTHE?!” You can never know why, but I’ll take it.

Stronger by Science has a good article on this topic. The good news is that you don’t need a lot to maintain or even increase strength:

Summary[taken from the article]:

  • Taking up to a week off from training is unlikely to impact your maximal strength. Such situations can be used as a chance to rest and recover; there’s no need to worry about losing strength.

  • To maintain strength, high intensity, very low volume approaches (e.g., only a few heavy, 9-9.5 RPE singles across the training week) or significantly reduced training volumes (e.g., by 50%) can be effective strategies for at least a couple of months.

  • For a minimal effective training dose for improving maximal strength, a handful of working sets of 1-5 repetitions on the major lifts per week, using RPEs from 7.5-9.5 should be sufficient. If time allows, you could also add in a little accessory work.

-Other strategies can also be used to improve your training efficiency. Consider shorter more specific warm-ups, timing your rest periods, choosing “bang for buck” exercises, and incorporating supersets or circuits.

They talk about it in this podcast and discuss some factors like age:

Note that while it’s oriented to people with limited time it still applies if you’re “energy” constraint due to your bike training.

You can even do some kind of periodization (quarterly, yearly, etc) where you reduce your cycling volume and increase your strength training for a few weeks and then reverse it to do the minimum to maintain or to increase strength.


Thanks. A great resource.

Here’s a link to a paper co-authored by Brad Schoenfeld that may be of interest to those who have time …


The fun thing is that these routines look a lot like my regular strength training over the past years and I thought I was doing way more than minimal.

However, I’ve seen a lot of improvements on the bike, in strength, and in general health. I’m happy that by chance, I managed to see significant benefits without overtraining. I’m probably still benefiting from noob gains but I’m in much better shape than when I was only biking.

Another bit of food for thought: be open to being radical in your periodisation. Maybe a 2 or 3 month phase where you lift 2 or 3 times a week at relatively high volumes while reducing the amount of aerobic work, and then 3 or 4 months where you lift just once a week at low volumes for maintenance while shifting your focus back to running and riding.

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@Ahmad I missed your bit about periodisation skimming through. Doh. :+1:

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