Off season strength advice

Hi all

I am new to structured training and plan to start my off season at the start of October and do around 8 weeks of strength work, possibly complimented by a low volume plan. (To be followed in Dec by SSB plan)

The issue I have is I’ve never done strength training before (not been in gym for 10years!), and thus am quite apprehensive about doing weights and mainly of reducing my cycling volume (I usually ride unstructured but consistent volume all year round, so this will be a big drop in usual on the bike volume for 8 weeks).

I have read a few of the forums on this topic, but am mainly looking for general advice In this area (for such a strength newbie) and whether my plan to undertake strength training is a good one to make me stronger in the bike next season?

Many thanks

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Great resource with most the info you should need.


Thanks. Good video. Sounds like the answer is : yes it’s worth doing 8+ weeks of strength training.

Feels like I’ll be best placed to speak to a trainer in the early sessions to help with form on squats and deadlifts also having never done them.

Any other tips greatly appreciated.


That’s a very good idea. Squat and deadlift form can be very hard to get right. Most personal trainers offer single sessions where you can just get an hour for $50 or so. I’ve done that just to have them review deadlift form before.

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A 5x5 plan might work for you, Ive used one since last October and Im also a newbie to lifting.



I really like Dylan Johnson videos, however Frank Overton of FasCat has even better coverage of resistance training in two podcasts starting with this one:

and then a podcast walking you thru each week of the 10-week plan, you literally could do the plan just listening to this podcast:

But I think you are better off buying the plan with the discount code. I’m currently on week 7 and have added 2.5 inches to my thighs (quads and hamstrings), in my late fifties. The plan works and its cycling specific. I’ve had knee issues in the past and already feel more durable. I’ve been building up to this (hip hinging and body weight squats) since January, and a year ago I couldn’t squat with weight. How times have changed… really happy with results of the plan and you can find here: and if cyclocross is your thing they have a 24 week off-season plan specific to cross.

Not everyone has access to a gym these days, and a new home based plan is suppose to launch in September. In my own case I replaced barbell squats with goblet squats, barbell deadlifts with two kettlebells, and leg press replaced with dumbbell step-ups. I’m also doing kettlebell swings. An added benefit is those replacements are less technical versus barbell versions, and in my own mind that means they are better suited for anyone new to resistance training. However you still need to be focused on form!! Get a qualified trainer to help, don’t injure yourself!


Thanks. I actually already own the plan and have listened to all FASCAT podcasts. Purchased it when 50% discount back in Father’s Day.

I may follow it but even the MV looks quite intense so may remove 1 session a week. My plan is to join gym soon and aim to do 8 weeks of the plan.

I may give the plan to a personal trainer and get them to provide me expertise o form for first 2 sessions.

From what I can see there are no deadlifts in these plans - is that right?

Good to hear it’s working for you.

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The plan has leg curls for hamstring, and with the gym closed I substituted kettlebell deadlift to work the hamstrings.


They’ll let you change levels for free if you want to go to the basic version.

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Is the FasCat plan able to be modified to be able to use resistance bands? I’d like to find a plan to implement, but do not want to buy any new equipment. I do not mind spending some $$ on a plan to follow and have read good things about the fascat plans.

Depending on your leg strength, I think it might be challenging without having a good way to increase weight. The plan is built around 1 rep max, and it is possible to get creative with weights (gallon milk filled with water, sandbags, etc).

A few links for alternative exercises:

There are a good number of articles out there on alternatives, those are just a quick few.

Thanks. Will need to look elsewhere then.

My understanding is that a FasCat home plan is coming in about a month. Keep in mind the off-season is targeting increases in muscle mass and strength. I have a small collection of dumbbells and kettlebells, with a little creativity have been able target same/similar improvements in leg size and strength.

To be clear, FasCat has a maintenance plan integrated into their cycling plans. That plan has a lot of bodyweight along with some simple accessories.


Strength training is designed to focus on very specific muscle groups. Hence, technique is critical. In that regard it is like swimming, golf, gymnastics, etc; that careful precise ‘form’ will bring significant benefits to performance. Body weight alone will enable this, ie, no gym weights.

As just one example most athletes don’t do a Squat properly, and as a consequence, they actually exercise the wrong muscle groups and hence lack the benefits. This applies to many of the weight orientated Gyms.

There is also much discussion about the use of increasing weight vs increasing reps? Not dissimilar to the discussion here about Sweet Spot vs Traditional Periodisation, using higher volume low intensity.

The latter has implications for the type of cycling you intend to do. All out sprinters (in any sport) need large explosive muscles, and heavy weights help, endurance athletes, don’t want that muscle mass, so lower weights and higher reps are appropriate.

Regarding the squat, here is an easy test, that relies only on body weight:
Face a wall with arms crossed across your chest, feet just wide of your shoulder width, toes slightly pointing out; now squat looking directly at the wall, move closer to the wall, and repeat. Continue getting a little closer to the wall, see how close you can get, your target is your toes touching the wall, but if you get to about 100mm with your nose just touching the wall, you are doing very much better than most.

The point with this test, is that to do it, you need to have minimal ankle movement, ie, your shins stay fairly upright, and the main rotation is the knees and hips, with an upright torso. Most will not have the musculature to do this without falling backwards even with all their weight and concentration on their heals. Hence, body weight alone will develop that musculature, ie, develop that strength.

The Squat is a vertical exercise. The Romanian Dead Lift, (RDL) is a horizontal exercise. I mention this as many think they are doing a squat when they do their version of a RDL. In the RDL although the knee joint is slightly relaxed (not locked) there is virtually no knee rotation, unlike the Squat the main rotation in in the ankle and hips, the butt moves back as the hips rotate to allow the shoulders to lower, as the torso rises the butt moves forward - great for the lower back, ie, holding an aero position. Test: stand with your back to a wall, see how far you get away ie, progress, from the wall, as you push your butt back to touch the wall.

Good luck with that, didn’t work for me. Maintenance? Absolutely no question that body weight can be used to maintain for a period of time measured in months.

Eccentric vs Concentric strength training:
In Strength training a count of 1-2-3-4 is an oft used rule of thumb. The concentric movement is done to the count of ‘1’, and the eccentric rotation 2-3-4. By concentric I’m referring to typical contracting muscle action which shows the muscle bulging, as in the the classic strong man bicep pose. The eccentric movement is what many consider the relaxation phase.

The explosive movement comes from developing the fast concentric rotation, ie, good for sprinters. However, these days, it is firmly considered that the most benefit comes from the controlled eccentric rotation.

Muscles work only by contraction. The concentric action tries to maximise the number of 000’s of minute muscle components to trigger instantly. If one just relaxes then the brain tries to switch off as many of those minute components as fast as is safe to do so. But as an exercise, we endeavour to control the switching off process, to delay it, thus working the muscle components. It is the slow controlled eccentric that leads to the strength gains, particularly for endurance athletes.

Once again, how you do your strength training really matters.

I think you are missing my point. First and foremost is your technique, your ‘form’. Learning that using weights, more often than not leads to poor form, often injury, and reduced benefit.

Once one can do say 50 body weight squats of excellent form, can you do a single legged squat, eg, pistol squat?

Incidentally, how good are you at the two tests?

You missed my point :slight_smile: let me introduce @old_but_not_dead_yet as a debate partner, perhaps the two of you can explain it for the rest of us :slightly_smiling_face:

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Here’s a plan that looks like it covers what you’re after:

I just bought the book Cycling Anatomy by Dr Shannon Sovndal which covers all things strength and fitness

But what does this test tell you about your squat other than you can do it with vertical shins? How does that indicate good form?