Started heavy lifting + no cycling fitness: Help!

Long story short. (Well not that short)
Age: 47 / 70kg / 181cm

2020 - best form 4.8 wkg, genuine 315-325 FTP, racing hill climbs etc (65-66kg)
2021 - lost mojo, just rode for fun (including buying gravel bike), hours down, training load well down
2022 - moved house August, ride time massively compromised all year, no set days riding, a mess, bike time lowest for 8 years, a continual decline.

Now: FTP roughly 265-275 but wouldn’t bet my life on it.

Decided I don’t need to be stick thin anymore so got myself a home setup to focus on weight training. Last 6 weeks I have been doing the 5x5 StrongLifts programme, not missed a session, progressing nicely, (squat: 60kg, bench: 55kg, OHP: 37.5kg) but the fatigue has been building to the point now where turning the pedals feels impossible. So……

I’d like to somehow find a way of keeping the lifting heavy enough to progress but I really want to get my cycling back on track, have some big events in 2023 that I want my form back for!!

Looking to sign back upto TR as ideally I think 2 sessions on the turbo and then 1 outdoor ride of about 2-3 hours for the next 2-3 months would get me in a good place. It’s the combination of weights and cycling I need help planning. My previous form has been off 7-8 hours.

Sorry to ramble on, but I’m getting to the point now where it’s crunch time.

Thank you.

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Crunch it!!!

Consider switching to 3x5 rather 5x5. You’ll still make essentially the same progress as a “novice” for a number of months and recover better most likely. Cycle in the morning and lift in the evening the same day. The day after lifting should be nothing but easy…


3x5 is interesting, that could be worth a go and a way to balance the two.

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Reduce the amount of days lifting weights. I’d plan 2 rest days a week minimum, 2 days cycling and 3 days lifting. Check out “reverse pyramid training” starting your first set with your max load. This is contrary to stronglifts but always left me feeling fresh. Haven’t lifted weights in 3 years myself but am going back to it as I’ve lost insane amounts of strength only cycling.

I am also on the same path, i never come close to 5W/kg but was 4 W/kg last year and suddenly decided to lift a little. I am doing higher repetitions (15-20 x 3 sets) similar to weights you mentioned. I switched to polarized plan and to be honest enjoying the benefits of strength training. I was recently removing my 42 kg roof box alone and moving it to my garden all alone, hahah.
My current FTP is 286W at 77 kg. I am planning to switch to traditional base until Feb and continue with lifting volume there. Feb onwards i will increase the intensity but reduce the volume and maybe go more functional lifting for cycling. I am also planning to switch to SSMV plan then. I have no idea to be honest what i am doing but sounds logical :slight_smile:
Polarized plan makes things bearable but i feel really bored on 2:45 h endurance rides and hard to find such a free slot with 2 kids and demanding job. I feel like i am on the edge of burnout sometimes.

Some other metrics:
Garmin measured Vo2 max went down from 63 to 57
RHR: dropped ~10%
Feeling much more stable on the bike but sustained efforts looks scarier.

I tried doing Strong Lifts 5x5 and TR simultaneously last Spring. It didn’t work and I had to cut way back on riding because I wanted to prioritize lifting. If I could do it again I’d do TR and 5x5 until I felt any sort of fatigue (where I think you’re at now) then switch to Madcow 2x a week. Madcow uses ramped sets and fewer weight increases which is likely more sustainable. Well, I hope it’s more sustainable because that’s what I’m trying now:)

If you look through some of the other strength threads, the general consensus is it is very difficult to do heavy strength work and do intervals on the bike. You need to prioritize one or the other.

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It’s hard, but for me I find it difficult to nail my rides if I’m lifting at 100% effort, which I also know is a big part of the 5x5 program. I find I can balance it better if I’m squatting and deadlifting at 80%, but still give it 100% on the other lifts.

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Some great replies, it’s great to hear other’s experiences, I totally underestimated the fatigue the lifting would bring.

That’s roughly what I did. My first serious foray into lifting was with stronglifts 5x5 and I felt like I kept flirting with injury (or in an instance or two, actually getting injured). Later instances with starting strength (which is 3x5 squat, bench/ohp (alternating), and 1x5 deadlift) seemed more manageable and has gotten me in the vicinity of coach chad’s strength training benchmarks for sprinters. Planning on backing it off to 2x per week at some point in the future so I can ride / swim / etc more.

Personally I’ve found polarized training to fit better with it. The fatigue isn’t as noticeable for longer z2 rides and for vo2 sessions it’s less of an issue that my legs start hurting sooner than they probably would’ve otherwise.

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Check out Greg Nuckols 3x a week squat program. It uses daily undulating periodization (DUP ) instead of linear progression.
So you do different rep ranges through the week instead of going heavy all the time. It’s supposed to improve recovery.

Been giving this some thought.

I was thinking of either going to a 3x5 on the squat so still the normal 3 days or skipping one days squat (still doing the other exercises).

This may be a trial and error type of scenario I guess and see how less reps or less days feels.

Seems like this is a weekly thread in the off season, i posted about it (starting strength) and someone else posted after me. Go check them out for more answers ideas. Stronglifts has more “volume” than starting strength (since its 5x5 vs 3x5) but imagine how much stronger your squat is going to be after that.
I would only pair this type of program with some base, easy, cycling. Higher intensity efforts are going to suffer on the bike due to the load you’re putting on your muscles.

I’m still undecided whether i’ll go for Stronglifts or Starting strength but im keeping an eye on all these threads :slight_smile: and wish you the best of success

Six weeks isn’t very long, and compound lifts are very fatiguing not just muscularly but on the CNS (especially on the CNS). Separating intensity on the bike from lifting will help, but it’ll take a lot longer before you don’t find power lifting exhausting.

But the thing is…there can only be one top priority. You can’t prioritize getting stronger and also getting back to top cycling form.

This is what I am finding out. I think if I had come into lifting on the back of solid cycling volume and form I could have backed off the cycling to a maintenance period. The problem is I need to get the cycling back on track as it’s fast falling off a cliff after a long period of decline.

I’ll just have to see how to combine the two in a way that helps develop my strength but allows me to get the volume and consistency up on the bike.

Thought it worthwhile providing a quick update.

Last week I switched to 3x5 and also kept the weight the same all week rather upping the KG each workout. I did actually do 5x5 OHP on Wednesday and 5x5 bench on Friday. I’m between that I did 75 minutes zone 2 Tuesday, same on Thursday. Saturday was a rest day, Sunday I did 60 minutes z2/tempo.

I certainly felt fresher all week and raring to go again today with the weights. My plan is to increase the cycling volume slightly Tuesday and Thursday with a longer 2-3 hour ride on Saturday or Sunday, that’ll be z2 pace.

Thanks for the 3x5 suggestion :+1::+1:, will see how this week goes.

I read this article on weight training affecting endurance improvement while browsing through the Forum post about z2 training making you faster.
Also Joe Friel’s book Fast after 50 has some usefu info about incorporating weight training into your schedule.
I would cut back the reps/sessions if you want to improve your cycling.
Or you could stick with your presesnt schedule during the Winter ,then back off the weight training when you stsrt building towards your 2023 races

In my head I see me keeping a solid lifting programme until Feb / March as that will have been a good 6 months which should have had many of the results I was hoping for. Mainly having a body that is much more robust, stronger and aesthetically improved.

During that time, as I become more consistent, the bike legs will come back to a point where I have a platform to kick on. 2 x 90 minute high quality sessions in the week and hopefully a regular 2-4 hour weekend ride will be pretty effective I hope. This also gives me one full days rest and likely nearer 36 hours.

In the past I have been a low volume high intensity type of rider, but as I get older it’s balancing that better that should pay dividends.

I’m also 47, been lifting for a couple of years. Never been anywhere near your FTP numbers though…

I started 5x5, but yes it soon gets pretty exhausting and it jeopardised my bike workouts, but that was during build, rather than base.

Anyway, I now try to progress squats 3x3, 5x3, 3x5, 5x5, recovery week, add 5kg and start again at 3x3. Much slower progress, but progress nonetheless (on 2 days a week gym)

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“Much slower progress”

That’s the thing isn’t it, I’m fine with this! And in all seriousness I think slower is likely better.

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