Olympic Lifting for Strength

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I think the 5x5 Strongman might be too much weight volume in terms of RPE. You need to ramp up over 4 weeks, deload, then reset.

I’m killing myself on it at the moment :smiley: With Olympic Build MV and 3x10km running.

Day 1: a.m. vo2max interval bike, p.m. aerobic 10km run
Day 2: a.m. 5x5
X3 then rest day

How many calories a day are you eating?!

That gap days / active recovery, and two days off are the only way I get away with what I do.

The track guys do 4x a week, then stuff like cadence drills, sprint starts, etc on the bike, and maybe an easy long ride on Sunday.

For me, I see it as the gym work builds strength, corrects imbalances, and makes me more resilient, and the TR bike work helps with my aerobic side and muscle endurance.

To paraphrase Erin Carson on S&C, “my job is to make coaches look good. Coaches look bad when their athletes keeping getting injured”.

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I’m eating something every 1-2hrs, not gaining weight (fat or muscle) but I am stronger than last time around.

By the way I would not recommend this, it was an experiment. I had intended to do my strength block without bike or run in Nov/Dec last year but life/Zwift happened. My fuzzy logic was to do a strength build so I might as well do a Build block with it as I’d just done a Base plan. After starting I realised almost every session was over threshold, and now I’m at the limits of my strength, I’m not fully recovered 36hrs after lifting.

Yeah I could see that.

I’m in at out the gym in 40 minutes, including warming up, setting up, breaking everything down, and some bs’ing mixed in. You don’t need a ton if volume, but that doesn’t mean light weight.

If my prescribed RPE is high for a lift, it’s usually a 3x3 and that’s it, and usually it’s only one really heavy lift, and usually just 1 day a week, sometimes 2. Rest is how I posted in my first post above

The competitive oly lifters in the gym are there a lot longer, but that’s their sport, so it makes sense. They’re use to the handful of the cyclists coming in and doing these quick workouts, which some are odd looking (kneeling banded hip thrusts?!) :laughing:

I have had some success the other way around. With moderate weights, 65-75% body weight I’ve performed better in vo2 interval session or ramp test about 4 hours later.

Ultimately it’s very hard to forecast without trying these things though, and many other factors play; the rest of the training week for example.

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Yes, in season I did 3x5 2/week (squats at 70% bodyweight) last year for most of the year and that was fine. I only had to pull back and skipped a few sessions during sustained power build mid volume, as that plan was destroying me on its own.

Next week I’m shifting to 3x5 only once per week and seeing if I can continue to raise the load through the season at least for a while.

For sure. It takes some experimenting. I’ve been lifting on and off since I was 16, so more than half my life. Most of that was grappling based lifting, but I got into road cycling after being a big BMX’er growing up.

I found it is really important that my W and Sunday rides are real Z1 and Z2 rides. If I make the Sunday ride hard, It screws up the following week recovery wise. I know for me, I have three hard days a week in the bank. Anymore, and I start coming unglued.

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I think weight gain is important to bring up, especially in the offseason. I know some riders who carry 15lbs more in the offseason than their competition weight. It is no different than most sports where your training / walking around weight is higher than your competition weight.

I’m not saying to get fat, but it’s important to be consuming at least as many calories as you burn and ideally more to get stronger. As the aerobic volume increases towards your event, then the weight comes off but the strength is still there.

I’m a little frustrated by all the w/kg posts I see. I think it matters in competition, but it is not something you should be worried about 4 months out from your events. I think Zwift has forced people to focus on this at the wrong time of the year and I think TR has by accident as watts is really the only metric we have to compare our TR performances, and w/kg is how we compare against each other on here.

As a friend told me, no one gets stronger while trying to maintain a six pack.


There’s quite a bit of conflating powerlifting (squat, deadlift, bench, +variations) and weightlifting (clean & jerk, snatch, +variations) in this thread. You didn’t mention your level of skill with the olympic lifts, but that also makes a big difference for incorporating it into your training plan. Most of us who dabble in weightlifting simply don’t have the skill to stress our muscles in the same way that we easily can with powerlifting.

Given the different skill requirements, it’s actually probably easier to incorporate the olympic lifts into your TR plan without overdoing it. They’re also dramatically more time efficient, as each lift is basically hitting every major muscle group. For specific plans, I’d look to “Olympic Weightlifting” from Greg Everett or “Weightlifting Programming” from Bob Takano. Just be careful about the squat volume.

The 3x a week approach outlined by hoffman900 looks pretty good (hard days hard, easy days easy). I personally have never been able to do double days during the week, so I have tried both Ride - Ride - Weights and Ride - Weights - Ride for the T-W-Th mid-week block. Neither one stood out as clearly better than the other.

@menglish6 You are right about the mixing of Oly and Powerlifting. I am doing powerlifting right now but would actually prefer to switch and I agree that given the skill requirement Oly might be easier to implement given the lower weights

I was very comfortable with the lifts 2 years ago with Squat at 1.9x BW, Snatch at 1x BW and C+J 1.33x BW (all at 75KG), but not sure anymore how I’ll do. My programming was always through crossfit so I didn’t know where to look for Oly specific. I’ll go look at those 2 sources you mentioned for plans.

I think I am ok with doing ride am, lift pm but I have already seen it drop my FTP 4% on my most recent ramp test. I’m still thinking this is temporary and will eventually go back. But I am worried about the impact on doing such leg dominant exercises.

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As a general rule I tend to lower the volume to ~60% of “Base” or “Offseason”, but keep the intensity (how close to failure on a given set) roughly the same on my weightlifting (or powerlifting) when I’m more focused on cycling. My understanding is that this is the best way to maintain strength gains.

…and yes, maintenance in strength is likely all we can hope for if we want to progress the cycling side of the equation (unless you’re in your teens / early 20s or have never lifted before).

edit: If you’re seeing a drop in FTP…dial back the number of sets of quad dominant weights you’re doing…and get into the mindset that you’re really looking to titrate the minimum effective dose of weights which maintain your strength.

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I’m looking to learn the clean, start with hang clean and build etc.

The tricky bit to my mind is how do you know you are maintaining your strength?

So far the results seem positive and I’m able to lift more than last year, even if the scales don’t indicate any gain in muscle mass.

Too much of a learning curve to do it right.
Now that I’m cycling I focus more on core stability, bodyweight and plyo

Similar to how you might know you are maintaining bike fitness. Just watch for a disconnect between your expected RPE for a given effort. If you can usually squat 200x5 without much problem but that starts to become a struggle then you’re strength is probably dropping. Obviously you have to take into account your fatigue and all that stuff. You may also want to see a decrease in strength when you are in the heat of the race season because you want to be focusing on the bike so the strength at that point would be less maintenance and more limiting your losses.

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As @menglish6 mentioned, it could be quad exercises that are gassing you out.

As I outlined above, if you want to be bike strong, it’ll be something like 2-3x a week.


  1. Oly or Power lift. 3 x 3 for a high RPE (like 7-9), 3x5 for something around a RPE of 5-6.
  2. Unilateral plyo works / unilateral lifts (single leg weighted hip thrust) - reps in the 3x 5-10 range / a Oly or powerlift but a lower RPE than the first round, probably no more than 3 x 5. Band work like kneeling hip thrusts might be 1 x 100-200, breaking it up however works for you.
  3. Bilateral plyo work or low impact single leg work (single leg good morning, single leg RDL, etc) 3-4x5-10
  4. non glute / core / leg accessory. This lets you be a little vain, but something like body weight rows, barbell shoulder presses, or pullups. 3x5-10

And that’s about it. You don’t need a ton of volume. Focus on the hams, glutes, and lower back / core. As menitoned, cycling is quad dominate and most cyclists are imbalanced in this regard (weak glutes). The TR work alone hits the quads pretty hard. If you can strengthen the glues / hams / core, it’ll take more load off you glutes and spread it out. This will show itself in less nagging pain, more power, and some improved muscle endurance since your quad is sharing some of the load.

Bike fit plays a big role too. I’m lucky enough to work with Chris Soden at Ivan O’Gorman on that, and his fit work helped me realize more muscular endurance and being able to engage more of the leg / glute and less of just the quad.

For maintenance work, I just hold my RPE “10” or 1 rep max weight steady, instead of trying to increase it, which dictates the weights for everything else.

If you have the money, and want to see what Sepp Kuss did before he left for Europe, Erin Carson has this plan: Strength Training for Cycling Vol. 1 - ECFIT Not a ton of Oly / Power lifts (some good band and lower weight work), but some great tissue release and mobility exercises.

Found this from Greg Everett and might give it a try. It is quad dominant but looks like the weight would be low enough and most importantly for me it would be fun and get me in the gym.

Masters Program

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Give it a try and see how you feel. I’d recommend changing your TR workouts to sub- Tempo work (active recovery, etc) for the week and eat a ton. See how you feel after that. If I take a break from lifting, I give myself two weeks of “deload” TR type plans + lifting before starting base type work, just to prime my body for the load.

Diet is going to play a big role if you’re doing both, especially that program. I think it’s a lot, but maybe you’ll find you can customize it to accomplish your goals.

No one is paying me to do this, I’m actually paying quite a bit to do this sport, so do what you find fun and what you like.

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@Dialed_Health if you got that olympic program I’m all ears and lactic acid…just subscribed to your site to get first crack at it.