Strength Training vs Aerobic training

Need your advice. My priorities have changed recently. I ride for fun. I don’t race. I am a dad. Cycling is simply to stay fit and to drop my mates, not and then. Just looking for insights on the most efficient way to go about it. I joined TR to be stronger cyclist. Now I want to focus putting on muscle and change body comp…yep, I want the beach dad body!!! Being a T Rex has its limits!.. I still enjoy getting on my bike and I want to maintain some aerobic fitness - hence the reason for this question.

I understand that my strength goal is at odds with my aerobic goal. Some of the strength podcasts I have listened to don’t recommend cardio beyond walking AND reading some advice on this forum, strength training secondary to cycling. I am a dad. I don’t race. Cycling is simply for fun, stay fit and to drop my mates, not and then. Just looking for insights on the most efficient way to go about it.

The other reason is long term health. Aerobic fitness doesn’t last long and requires maintenance (not saying strength doesn’t). However, muscle lasts longer. I want to be healthy for the long term.

I am looking implement 3 days of strength training p/w. 45mins - 1hr. Then on the odd days (3 days), incorporate cycling / TR workouts. This is my question…what type of workouts should I focus on and avoid - that will help me to keep some aerobic fitness but not compromise my strength too much? Should I focus on Short VO2 and Anaerobic efforts? Sprint training and endurance? Avoid Sweet spot?

Other info. Low Volume plan. 40 years old. 175 pounds.

Strength doesn’t have to come at the cost of aerobic fitness. But if your goal is to just be healthy, then strength work is the obvious choice. There are no sex-icons lining up at the tour.

I mean, once I hang up my race-every-weekend wheels, I’ll be in the gym almost as much as on the bike, cause this ish ain’t helpin the ole mirror ego.


Maybe try the polarized low volume plan 3 days a week with 1 or 2 hard workouts. The rest is endurance and then do your strength training 3 days a week. The other option would be doing the regular low volume plan but turn the Saturday ride to an endurance ride that’s 90 minutes .
For me having to much intensity in the gym and on the bike increases my chance of failed workouts. So if my goal was the same as yours I would do what I mentioned above.
Right now I lift 2 -3 days a week depending the time of year with 5 days of riding, 3 hard days 2 easy days (riding).


The strength training plans that tell you to avoid cardio are aimed at the guys who want to really pile on the muscle. No reason you can’t put on a modest amount of muscle while still doing plenty of aerobic exercise. And having a beach dad body is as much about being lean as it is about having big muscles.

If you’re already following low volume plans I’d just stick to that. They tend to include quite a bit of intensity to compensate for low volume anyway, which is a good approach with your age and goals. Just pick the plans that align with your goals. I.e. if you want to drop your mates on punchy climbs or town sign sprints then a short power build is good. If you want to be that guy who can just sit on the front of the group and put the hurt on everybody then sustained power with plenty of threshold work is the way to go. And main thing is picking a plan that you enjoy since the goal is to have fun! So if long sweetspot intervals make you lose the will to live, probably best not to do too many of them. Cross training also a good idea for general health and fun if it’s not all about cycling - can incorporate some running, MTB, indoor rowing, or if you live near water maybe some things like kayak or SUP.


This podcast was interesting, as it’s endurance training for strength-based sports people. The opposite of what we do.

Strength training doesn’t mean hitting heavy weights.


First, I think you are over thinking it. Just do what is fun since you don’t race and all. Whatever is fun will keep you motivated and fit.

There is some interference effect between strength training and aerobic conditioning but since you plan to do the different type of training on different days, you’ll have no problem. But even if you did the trainings on the same days, your biggest problem would be fatigue not the interference effect that prevents you from getting that last 5% of gains.

Six days a week is a good amount of work. I would do is do the strength training and then for the bike only do lower intensity aerobic work. If you try and do intervals 2-3 days per week on the bike plus do intensity in the gym, you’ll probably burn yourself out quickly.

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I’ve tried it.

Either 1) lift heavy, and ride easy. Or, 2) lift easy and ride hard.

Im just going into my third season with StrongLifts 5x5 (lifting heavy), and I won’t be doing a TR training plan at the same time. I will do an easy ride, run or swim on days that I don’t lift. Forget threshold and up.

In February I tried matching SL with TR Olympic Tri MV Build and I couldn’t hit the quality intervals I just couldn’t. Admittedly the plans have changed a lot since February, but the principle was proven. Lifting heavy even for 30mins takes a lot of recovery.


I dont think cycling at your level is at odds with strength training and having a ‘beach bod’. Body builders recommend the walking and only doing cardio for a cut phase leading into competition. But for normal people, you can improve both aerobic fitness and physical strength / muscle simultaneously as long as youre getting enough nutrition. Literally, just make sure you are getting enough nutrition and enough recovery and you can train however you want.

For example, look at elite rowers (aerobic athletes)… They are all ‘beach body’ aerobic athletes. Most elite cyclists are thin because they purposefully push their upper body weight downwards to increase w/kg ratio (and that upper body muscle mass is not very beneficial to performance).

When I lift, I combine it with a hard cycling day (cycling workout first, then lift) or I do it the day after a hard cycling day. I do this because I care more about optimal performance for cycling, and by combining them I can go hard then recover rather than always be slogging away (insufficient recovery - living in the ‘grey zone’). You might want to try that


Are you only able to do 1 workout per day? I’m almost two decades older and last year worked with a coach to incorporate 2x per week strength training with 5x per week cycling. The basic template was Monday off; Tuesday cycling+strength; Wed cycling; Thur cycling+strength; Friday off; Saturday cycling; Sunday cycling. On the Tue/Thur double days, to reduce interference its best to do cycling in morning. We were progressing from off-season so the cycling on double days started with endurance and sprint work, then tempo/SS, then threshold and over-threshold.


The reason competitive cyclists do not put serious time into pure strength work is because the narrow cost/benefit analysis focused on bike racing means it does not pay off - it takes time away from the bike (and/or recovery), it generates fatigue and for cycling, the strength increases that actually lead to competitive improvements don’t require a ton of time in the gym. Finally, added muscle mass, particularly upper body, messes with the almighty w/kg.

None of those concerns should be driving fitness tradeoffs for most other humans, particularly those who are getting older (35-40 and up).

Being a pure cyclist is actually not particularly healthy from a global view when compared to being a well rounded versatilely fit human. Unless you are getting paid to race, be a fit human. It won’t slow you down on the bike (for many average Joe’s, it will make them faster) and well rounded fitness will greatly improve your overall health and well being off the bike.


Checking in as someone close to your age, married with a 2 year old boy and another on the way arriving in December.

It is not easy but I’m able to do 2 or 3 CrossFit sessions per week and complete a low volume training plan. We are pretty disciplined on our diet and sleep with minimal alcohol intake, like three beers per week. Cook breakfast every morning and dinner every evening except our takeout night on Saturday. Lunches are usually left over dinner with lettuce and random vegetables in the container.

Fluctuate between 3.5 and 3.9 w/kg which seems to be plenty to complete any local event or Fondo that I want to do plus group rides. On event weeks or planned big group rides I cut back on the CrossFit. During deep winter I cut back on riding and add some CrossFit.

Not easy and could probably go a little easier but then where would the challenge be? =P


Good advice. Bought a Concept 2 for Mrs - rowing is good option for us.

Recovery is interesting. I actually find that I recover pretty quickly after strength training compared to aerobic work. I always make sure I have one to two rest days “couch” per week (depending on kids and sleep). Agreed - need top watch burn out.

My family and work situation allows me work out each day.

Monday - Strength
Tuesday - TR
Wednesday - Strength
Thursday - TR
Friday - Strength
Saturday - TR (90mins) + Golf twice a month
Sunday - Rest.

Wow…Attempting to do the same. I would be happy to maintain 3.5w/kg.

Has there been some analysis to indicate this? Every competitive cyclist I know spends time in the gym each week.

Exactly, just like you say you don’t want to go crazy with the bike riding because you aren’t racing all the time, you don’t need to go crazy with all lifting and no cardio because you won’t be competing in a powerlifting meet or a body building show. So definitely take that stuff with a grain of salt and realize who their audience is.


Nice plan. :slight_smile:


I’d switch Thursday TR to a 30-60min soft pedal (on trainer or outside) to add some rest & recovery.

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What kind of strength training are you doing? Legs, core, upper body?