Seeking examples: Strength training for best year?

I’m looking for examples of athletes who used strength training in the off-season and had their best year ever.

Best year can be defined as:

  1. Largest FTP gains
  2. Best race results

I’d ask that any answers come from those who had been structured training for a minimum of 3-4 years prior to their “best” year, mainly because I want to filter out those outlier gains that we all had when we were new to structured training.

I’m about to come off a 3 week rest period, and start my off-season/base work. I’ve been plateaued for the last couple years at +/- 300FTP … this last year I trained a lot, and only had a few weeks here or there of inconsistency, and I arrived at my “A” event at about the same 300FTP I was at the year before.

I came to endurance training late (at about 43 y.o.) and really didn’t start training with purpose until I was 45. I’m 48 currently, and will be 49 next summer, I train between 8-12 hours a week – and I still feel I can achieve an FTP of 320 - 330 if I get it right. I don’t want to have another “wasted” year.

I keep toying around with the AI plan builder, but I never seem to get a configuration that seems quite right for me. I want to add strength training now through January, but am unsure how to do it for maximum payoff later. I’m also a little limited by equipment.

At a 300FTP, I can hang at the pointy end of my races (my preferred events are gravel & road in the 30 - 70mile range) and I am consistently in the top 10 of my age group, and in smaller races I’m on or near the podium. Just from experience, I think a higher FTP with a very good TTE pushes me from hanging with the front, to being able to dictate terms.

I believe I raced the Barry Roubaix (gravel, punchy - 36miles) in Oct '21 at about a 310FTP – although I don’t know for certain because we didn’t want to do an assessment leading up to the race, and I went straight into the off-season after that race. All my metrics and workouts were FLYING leading up to it. It was the only time I’ve felt fitness was not a limiter to my performance. I was pushed, but never dropped. That is the reason for the focus on the magical ~320+FTP number :slight_smile:

I know there are a ton of topics like this on the board, and apologies for any redundancy – thanks in advance for any examples and input.

1 Like

What is your w/kg @300wFTP?

~4w/kg … depends on my weight, but I’m right around it.

1 Like

Last year was my first year adding weights to base season. I first tried the Fascat strength program and found it too complicated. Within 12 weeks there are 4 phases, things are always changing, and even individual workouts sometimes had too much going on. Then I tried a 12 week strength + cycling plan off Training Peaks from Dylan Johnson. It’s simple and easy to follow. I plan to do it again this year.

Kind of followed the Fascat cycling structure the rest of the year and hit several all time PRs in August from 18 secs to 18 min, so I thought it was a good year overall. 4th year of structured bike training, maxed at around 3.8 w/kg (285 FTP).


I’m similar age to you. 6 years on TR so a decent history of structured training.

I took strength training much more seriously through winter and spring last year than I ever have while training for cycling. Worked with an S&C coach who specialises in cyclists. Was more consistent with my lifting than I have been in years, hitting 2-3 sessions/week almost without fail, then keeping up 1-2 maintenance sessions through most of the race season. Hit or exceeded all of Chad’s lifting targets for a sprinter (and I’m not a sprinter…). It was followed by my best season of race results.

But I also saw no meaningful gain in FTP or any other power number under an hour. So really hard to say how much if any impact the strength training had on race results. I think it did help with TTE, recovery and my resilience generally - I’ve had fewer niggles than normal. I certainly feel better both on and off the bike. I’m leaner, though at similar weight. Just hard to pinpoint any direct cause and effect from the strength work to getting better results. I’d put them more down to racing smarter and reading races better. But I will absolutely be following a similar strength training approach in the next year. I figure at a minimum then it’s good for my health if not my cycling, and maybe at my age it’s more about hanging on to the watts I’ve already got than finding more gains and I’m pretty sure that strength training is a key factor in slowing down fitness losses from getting older.


I tried to do FasCat last year as well … between Omicron/gym issues and the complexity of it I never really got going. I agree… too complicated.

Dylan’s is squat, dead lift & some single leg supplements with fairly consistent sets & reps. The cognitive load is low.


Agree. I definitely feel better overall when I strength train … but if I limit my strength training to pull-ups/push ups/planks/dips/etc., I feel similarly healthy.

I probably should have further qualified my strength training to squats/deadlifts and the like. The kind of stuff that really limits the amount of watts you’re able to push on a bike.

Thanks for the input, though!

1 Like

I’m doing the FasCat 10-week strength training plan again this year. I’ve greatly simplified it, though, by just doing the lower body exercises. I’d rather spend any extra time working on base aerobic fitness by adding Z2 instead of the “Nino Secret Workout” or the other parts of the program (I do upper body lifting regularly in a “maintenance” fashion). I’m probably not getting as much out of it as I could but, for me as a non-competitive non-racer, it’s good enough.

Sorry part of this does not fit @batwood14 criteria for examples, but I don’t completely get how you and @batwood14 found the fascat resistance too complicated. Maybe I’m too much of a geek with a spreadsheet, I did that plan during summer 2020 and then 9 months of sprint oriented training before giving up the idea I could make my sprint hit 1500W… maybe those coaches that said it was a 2 year process to train as a sprinter were right :joy: either that or I needed a time machine to go back to my 40s.

In pursuit of more volume, and for those seeking a less complicated plan, this past year I’ve focused on doing the 4 movements here:

Pretty simple. Thats one possibly relevant example for you @batwood14 and I don’t know what your training composition exactly looked like with Steve Neal but suspect there was a lot of endurance and long tempo.

While it feels like I get a small boost of endurance from the strength, the real gains seem to be coming from slowly pushing up volume as I’m closing in on averaging 8 hours/week for the entire year. When I get tired and need a break its time for some cutting back a bit on volume and doing sprintintervals to keep some of the top-end warm. Power numbers are nearly back to my best year ever (2017) which was my 2nd year training at 55 y.o. Last two years its been consistency, slowly increasing volume, and not letting fitness drop much during breaks (I take 3 or 4 small breaks a year). Its feeling like 2023 I’m setup to exceed 2017 with only slightly more volume, mostly by training consistently and smarter.


well I’m an example of why you don’t strength train. Increased my 1RM deadlift from 405 to 495lbs in a month and put on 5lbs of lean mass. But my FTP stayed the same, so I got that going for me.


But you might have better potential for future gains?

For maximal strength and bone density sure, but I don’t think they translate well to cycling in my case. I put on too much weight when I lift, at 5’11” and 235lbs, I need to lose weight even if it’s muscle.

No example, sorry. But I think that if you only measure success in FTP, strength training will not help you . FTP is a measure of aerobic power, and added muscle mass will do little to shift it. (Maybe unless strength is a real limiter, and you start falling apart in longer efforts.)

If you look at race results, and say you can make it to the end in the front group, but then lose out - yes I’d think extra power and working on your sprint will help.


Strength training will absolutely make you a healthier, more resilient athletic human, and it’s a great way to manipulate body composition. It definitely helps with RPE. I hit this gym 3-5 times /week because I enjoy it, but in my experience the largest gains in FTP have come from loads of base and dedicated V02 blocks, especially once I got in the vicinity of 4w/kg. One of the tricks is translating strength gains to the bike, which I think the Training Peaks routines do quite well. It need not be complicated though.


I’ve just started in the gym again after not going since before Covid shut UK gyms. I think I need to go back as a/ I’m 54 (and bone density will be an issue) b/ I only weigh 61kg and gym work seems to have no effect on my weight from my experience in the past. c/ I fancy some winter variety away from just bashing out TR workouts and a bit of running. How it will translate to changes in FTP we will see. Currently it’s set at 270W on TR so 4.4W/kg although I did 270W for a 30 mile road bike TT a couple of weeks back for 75mins so it may be a touch higher than that, but not enough to warrant changing it. I’m going to follow the Dylan Johnson advice of hitting the gym hard with Hex bar deadlifts, squats, leg press (mostly single) and a variety of upper body work 2x week and get ALL my intensity from this until xmas (so Zone 2 and a bit of tempo on the bike). Then cut back the intensity as I add some o/u and SS work. Even if my FTP doesn’t change it will relieve the boredom and hopefully make me a more generally resilient athlete (well my best impersonation of an athlete) :laughing:

1 Like

Strength training is always going to be hard to correlate directly to improvements…IME, those that add it to their training regimen also adjust their overall training program (more volume, more structure, etc), so it becomes almost impossible to link improvements to strength training.

That said, it will likely make you a better athlete overall and is good for your general health. But whether it will make you a better cyclist is pretty subjective.


I feel better all around doing strength training year round. I’m almost 40 and the benefits of strength training outweigh not doing it.

I actually wrote my own strength program that coincides with each phase of a TrainerRoad training plan. So far it hasn’t been a detriment to my training.

My TTE right now is the best it’s ever been, is it from strength or focusing on the energy systems, who knows. If it wasn’t for bikes I’d be a meat head gym guy lol.

Personally I think almost all cut/paste cycling strength programs are geared towards slighter build stereotypical endurance athlete body types. There’s a solid amount of hypertrophy built into programs for cycling that are there to build fiber size and to some extent density. So out of the blocks this may be a mistake for athletes with high typeII composition and/or backgrounds in strength.

But I think the real mistake comes in the lack of powerlifting type of rep counts and then conversion of strength into speed/recruitment. I, personally, feel as though as soon as you have a good strength base build the reps should drop precipitously for lower body work. 3-5 reps max/5+ sets with max rest (4-5min) in between. The goal should be increasing strength imo at this stage and not size, which almost anything in the 10+ rep range will likely do.

But then, again just my personal opinion, its important to work at speed. The velocity of a pedal stroke is not slow. Moving lighter weights in the squat and leg press movement pattern at speed should come next with a slow eccentric contractions–the lowering phase in this case–.

Then/ and/or in conjunction, plyometrics should be added in. I think they work well in the low rep high weight phase as an interstitial to sets, but also as a dedicated phase in preseason and as maintenance. I may be an outlier here, but I think they are as important as weight training.

YMMV, but just my $.02.

1 Like

Agree completely @professore. Neuromuscular connection, strength, and explosivity are where it’s at for most cyclists. A good foundation is paramount though so it’s good to cycle through different phases and rep ranges depending on training blocks, goals, etc.

1 Like