Olympic Lifting for Strength

So I’ve decided to hit the weights again after a 2 year hiatus. I’ve been doing starting strength and liking that but my favourite lifting remains olympic style lifts (squats, cleans, snatches and their variants)

Has anyone here ever done olymlic weightlifting programs as a compliment to their TR workouts to be used as strength. If so, what did you do?

I’m not looking to break any records and Cycling remains the priority. I’d be lifting 2 or 3 times a week and always found those exercises are what get me excited about going to the gym.


I lift 3x a week at a USA Weightlifting team gym and coached by someone who does some track racers who also go the gym. Here is part of what I wrote in another thread:

The track racers lift 4x a week where I only do 3x, as I am looking more for crit power and short 10 mile TT power. I do feel very strong and painfree on the bike.

Here is what a week may look like for me:

Back squat 3 x 5 (lower RPE)
a) One legged hip thrust 3 x 10
b) Banded hip thrust 3 x 20
One legged RDL 3 x 10

Banded rack pulls 3 x 5 (RPE varies)
Pause back squat 3 x 5 (RPE varies)
Plyo box jumps 3 x 10

Back squat 3x5 (RPE varies)
Single leg box squat 3x5
Single leg good morning 3x10
Shoulder press: 3 x 10

The recipe is usually pretty similar and changes every 4 weeks. Start with an Olympic lift (back squat, snatch, deadlift, clean, rack pull (not technically a oly lift, but you get the idea, etc.), then throw in some work like hip thrusts (barbell, banded (if I do banded alone and not in a superset, I’ll do like 1x200 breaking it up however)), single leg box squats, single leg box jumps, etc. then finish with a bi-lateral plyo exercise (you want to be fresher for a single leg) like box jumps, vertical jumps, etc. or something like a single leg RDL, single leg good morning, etc.

IMO: cycling is very quad dominate, so it’s easy to be over dominate in them. I never do quad exercises like front squats, it’s all ham, glute, and core focused. Most cyclists are weak in the glutes anyway and isolating the quads are going to create imbalances as well as cause you struggle to complete your bike workouts.

Also rotate in some shoulder presses and upper back work from time to time. The goal with them isn’t to be massive but to be strong. You want some muscle on your shoulders for the inevitable crashes as well.


FYI I recently saw an announcement by DialedHealth.com of a forthcoming olympic lifting program. I don’t think it’s out yet but you could send Derek a DM on Instagram (@dialedhealth) and see what he has in mind. I’ve used his workouts and programs to support my main activity (cycling). He does a terrific job developing strength programs in the context of endurance training – enough to make progress, but not enough to compromise your bike training.

I’m curious to what he has to say. I’ve looked at his plans and they’re a lot more Plyo, TRX, etc type focuses as opposed to an olympic lifting style.

I’m a big fan of Erin Carson though. She co-owns Boulder RallySport / EC Fit and does a lot of strength and conditioning with high level IronMan/Woman, Triathlon (household names in both) and GT type cyclists, including Sepp Kuss until he left to live in Europe. Even though I do strength training with another coach at an Olympic lift facility, I use her videos for stretching and joint / muscle maintenance / mobility work. This was a good interview to get behind her training philosophy Spotify

I would love to see her as a guest as she’s done a few podcast interviews, presents really well, and her clients read like a who’s who. @Jonathan @Nate_Pearson

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I think he might be on the forum…so you might actually get a direct answer here.


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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.