Optimizing Gym Workouts in Cycling Training Schedule: Seeking Advice for Tahoe Trail MTB 100K Prep

Hi everyone,

I’m seeking advice on my workout schedule for preparing for the Tahoe Trail MTB 100K race this summer. Currently, I’m in the Base 3 phase of training and incorporating gym workouts into my routine. I have some questions regarding when to schedule these gym sessions, particularly exercises like squats, deadlifts, box jumps, and weighted lunges, which require significant recovery time.

My current schedule includes 3 hard workout days, 2 endurance (recovery) days, and 2 rest days. I’ve found it challenging to figure out the best days to incorporate gym workouts. I’ve noticed that I can’t perform heavy gym workouts on the same day as sweet spot or threshold sessions due to recovery needs. If I consider using rest days for gym workouts, how can I ensure adequate recovery? Additionally, scheduling gym workouts on endurance days before a sweet spot session seems challenging because of the fatigue from the previous day’s gym session.

@Jonathan need your help))

I’ve attached a screenshot of my calendar for reference. I’d greatly appreciate any insights or best practices you can share based on your experience.

Thank you very much!

As a former gym rat… you’re going to have to determine what is most important to you. If it’s training for the Tahoe Trail I’d do smaller gym routines which take less recovery, and I’d probably do it on the same day as your Threshold day (as seen in your screenshot), and then perhaps lessen the time on the day after. That way you have a full rest day after that before you hit V02. Doing heavy weights on your rest day makes that not a rest day. Your body can only do so many stress cycles without rest.


What’s more important, getting faster on the bike, or the strength training?

Assuming you’re prioritizing Tahoe Trail and getting faster, you’d be better off scaling way back your leg lifting to where it does not interfere with any of your bike workouts. And, you’d also be better off by taking that lifting time and putting it into more endurance volume on the bike.

I personally do light squats and deadlifts right after a hard interval workout - like still in my bibs and cycling clothing right after. And, it’s low weight 5/10 effort, full range of motion. And there are times I don’t even do that.


Of course, I’m working on getting faster!

I just don’t feel like I have enough power to handle 100 kilometers with 8,500 feet of elevation within 8 hours. If you look at my FTP history it feels like this FTP level is not enough to handle 100k that’s why I’m considering gym sessions to increase my strength.

Thank you for your advice about squats and deadlifts right after a hard interval workout!

It has other benefits, but strength training won’t impact your FTP in most cases. Some recent discussion here:

If you want to raise your FTP, prioritize your bike workouts, and make sure you don’t impact them with your strength work.


Gotta periodize. As workload on the bike goes up, workload in the gym has to go down.

If you try to catch two rabbits they both get away.


Thanks for the advice!


What I would do…

  • One REALLY long ride at least once every 1-2 weeks.
  • Focus of your “workout days” should be long extended tempo rides. VO2 is secondary (3-5 min reps)
  • 30-30’s at your “punch” pace for those steep climbs
  • Weights… light and high reps twice a week as supplementary, not the focus.
  • As much volume as you have time for.

Hopefully you understand now that muscular endurance on the bike has almost nothing to do with the gym. On climbing rides your muscular endurance and W/kg are better indicators in how long it will take. I’ve done some road rides around Tahoe that were 100 miles and >8000 feet of climbing in 8 hours. That is possible at just below 3W/kg if you don’t fade on the climbs, which in training only requires being able to do long 1-3 hours of tempo / sweet spot rides. And of course eating enough carbs on the bike and staying hydrated. No gym work required.


Sorry but I see not point in light weight high rep.

You are already cycling. That is very light weight and very high rep.

Go for very high weight, very low rep. Maximal strength. Like 5 reps maximum per set. Will be much more beneficial for your body as well, and likely will actually help your max power output.


You are riding a 100k marathon event… what does max weight & bulking up do for you?

While I wouldn’t be doing it either, max weight low reps is strength not size, and keeping reps low also (theoretically) limits fatigue. Hypertrophy (size) is actually more geared towards middle-high amounts of reps and a sufficient number of sets per muscle group per week.

I personally do low weight, 10 reps for squats and deadlifts. 5/10 RPE. But will frequently skip depending on how demanding my bike schedule is. I am not looking to progress strength, I do it to keep my back, shoulders, core, and all sorts of other small muscles happy and in check, and it helps with range of motion too. And, it does allow slow progression of strength over time. Just have to bump it up slowly and know when to back off.

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This tells me everything about your lack of knowledge of anything gym related.


And to counter… Tells me your lack of knowledge of long endurance events.

I commented on gym training, I said nothing about long endurance events.

If you think doing light weight high rep in the gym when you already do that on the bike will have any benefits for your cycling, you didn’t counter anything.

Just own up to not knowing about this topic. Would it be the end of the world? I mean you implicitly already did by not responding to the gym work topic anymore and likely having read the explanation as to why you are wrong by the other user, and instead just tried to shift the focus of the conversation.

To be clear my original reply to you was a sincere question (“what does max strength do for you”). Not sure why you came back with guns blazing… but the thread is on preparing for the Tahoe Trail 100k, which was the purpose of my reply.

I am not a weight lifter, nor an expert on weight lifting, so I will give you that. I did not mention only lifting with legs, but was speaking in general as part of a MTB marathon program (the point of the thread). As you are probably aware, the upper body is engaged in MTB as well and should also be a part of the strength program. I stand by my statement that a high rep, lower weight would be beneficial for a marathon program. This will help you build endurance and strength that will help you resist fatigue from the impact of MTB. But this is secondary to the endurance needed to get to the finish line.

I have done plenty of marathons at a high level. I have been coaching long distance and endurance events for about 25 years. I have never had a coach or myself assign heavy/Olympic lifting as part of a marathon program. Because you know… specificity. But hey, this is just what I would do.


Anyone who has ever looked into gym training for 5 minutes knows that to train strength you go high weight low reps and for hypertrophy you go medium reps and medium weights. One may argue about going to failure or not, how many sets a week, which exercises activate target muscles the most, etc., sure, but this is a certainty. You not knowing that means you have no idea what you are talking about and yet decided to give advice to someone on this topic and then decided to challenge someone on the topic from a standpoint of ignorance. That is why I “came back with guns blazing”. If you read back my initial reply to you was polite, I even said sorry for disagreeing with you. You then coming back with “what does max weight & bulking up do for you?” is why I then replied that in the second replied.

Low weight high rep will not give you more ‘endurance’ benefits than spending time in the saddle and training the muscles doing your actual activity.

And lifting heavy is just better, period.

I’m over sixty and lifting for speed/power, not heavy. Working out 3 times a week, putting on muscle, gaining strength, and no interference with cycling. As you age, speed goes first, strength next, and endurance last. A great 1 hour intro of Strong Endurance Express course is here: StrongFirst: Training Center and click the View The Lesson button to start.

And yes, I share your view about avoiding low weight high rep.

Did I say this was not the case?

Kinda rude.

I think we agree here? I said in my initial post that any weight training was “supplemental and not the focus.”

Well this is where we disagree. Since I don’t know anything I texted a buddy who played professional football and currently is a strength coach for NFL players. I asked him what kind of strength training I should do for a 100k MTB bike race with over 8k of climbing. If you want specifics I can DM you… but it did not include “lifting heavy.”

But I’ve done this long enough to know there are many roads that lead to Rome. I am sure heavy lifting works for you, and that’s great. But there’s a reason you don’t see the top cyclists lifting like NFL players.

But I’m done here with your snide remarks. For the most part I think my responses in this forum are positive and supportive, even when disagreeing. I encourage you to do the same. Best of luck to you.


Yes…“what does max weight & bulking up do for you?” this means you did, and you don’t even realize it. Or just pretend that you didn’t because you didn’t say the exact words.

It’s kinda rude to pretend to know about something and in doing so give poor advice to someone.

I am sure you did and I am sure you phrasing the question that way did not bias your hypothetical buddy’s response. Additionally, you asked this hypothetical person only after we had the argument, so you saying you disagree because of him is nonsense - as has your entire line of argumentation been. At this point it’s just embarrassing.

You don’t see the top cyclists lifting like you described either…

Are they positive? I was very friendly in my initial reply to you and your reply was all but, plus coming from a place of ignorance you still have fully admitted to.