Timing of strength training sessions

This seems like a question that must have been answered definitively by now but I searched around and didn’t find what I was looking for. If your searching skills are better than mine, feel free to just point me to where the answers lie.

So my TR program (currently SSBLV1, to be followed by SSBLV2, SPBLV, Gravity LV, rinse and repeat) has me doing structured trainer workouts M, W, & F. I tend to ride outdoors on Saturday mornings (not very hard rides - more social in nature with a lot of stops) and I usually just rest and have family time on Sundays.

I’d like to incorporate some strength sessions (nothing crazy - 30ish minutes of basic movements; push, pull, hinge, squat, core) a couple or 3 times a week but I’m not sure about the best approach that would work for me. I’m not going to be able to work out twice a day as often suggested (work and family obligations) but I can get up and get after it in the garage as early as I’d like (nobody misses you before 7am…) My basic options are to do the strength work before the 1 hr trainer workouts on Mon & Wed (which would allow me to sleep a little more on Tue & Thu) or I could do them on Tue & Thu mornings.

What are the feelings about the pros and cons of each and is one a clear winner?

This partly depends how well you recover currently and how hard your strength training is. That will dictate whether you need the 2 full rest days or not.

If youre doing strength and bike on the same day, Chad and Nate recommend doing the bike workout first. No point compromising your bike training because youre sore from lifting

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When you say before the 1 hr. trainer workouts, do you mean immediately before? As in, finish lifting and hop on the trainer? IMO, that would be the worst option. Lift in the morning and ride in the PM would be better, but I would reverse the order so that riding comes before lifting. Is lifting on Saturday an option? If so, you might consider doing that after your easy social ride. The second strength training session could go on Tuesday morning. Then, Thursday and Sunday are still rest days.

As far as a clear winner, there isn’t one. It all comes down to which activity is your priority and how well your body handles it. Start easy with the lifting and let your body adapt. I’ve had some “bad times” riding hard in the morning and then trying to do heavy deadlifts later the same day.

its because strength and endurance adaptations can interfere with each other. For best results doing same day cycling/strength, do cycling in the morning and strength in the evening.

As for the science behind it, this paper: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4213370/ was mentioned by Coach Chad on a podcast a year or two ago. It was also mentioned this weekend on the Empirical Cycling feed:

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@dchapman5678 - yes I mean immediately before the TR workouts if I were to do them Mon & Wed; I’d get up 30 minutes earlier and lift before riding the trainer.

I could try to get some lifting done Saturday morning but I often go out Friday nights and we usually ride early AM so I don’t know how realistic that is for me.

If your riding is priority don’t do anything that hinders your performance.

Personally I space my workouts over the week. I train legs short but heavy (3x5) the day after the weekend, some light work (12-15 reps rest pause) on Wednesday and very minimal on Friday if at all. (but riding isn’t that much of a priority for me. It’s just fun)

I might do some intervals on Tuesday (although since I started strength training again after the lockdown those went off the schedule. so an easy recovery ride instead)
An easy ride on Thursday
A hard short ride (max 1 hour) on Saturday
and a long ride on Sunday (100 - 150K)

Also I have to time my triceps work as well. When I do DB triceps extensions I get severe DOMS for a few days (due to the stretch at the bottom), so I can only do them on Mondays. Any further in the week and I will suffer in the weekend when I need them to hold onto my handlebars…

@bbarrera - thank you for that!

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In that case, I’d probably experiment with lifting on Tuesday & Thursday mornings and see how it goes. If downhill or enduro are your primary disciplines, it might make some sense to give lifting a little more priority than you otherwise might.

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@Will_Unwin - to be honest, neither one of them are a huge priority; I ride MTBs for fun with friends and train w. TR to make those rides easier. I also do an occasional Zwift race, but those are just for fun to mix things up. I strength train to stay strong enough for everyday life and to reduce the severity of injuries when I fall off my bike.

I would describe my riding as ‘enduro’ as much as anything; I tend to ride with purpose on climbs, but not like an XC race. Then just ride as quickly as my inner sense of self preservation will allow on the way down.

I wouldn’t worry too much about it then. Just do it whenever allows you to do it consistently.

I do my strength training immediately after I do a TR workout. I change my shoes and dive right in. Is it optimal? Probably not. But I can feel the benefits of the weight training and it doesn’t interfere with my TR workouts so I’m choosing to not let great be the enemy of good. It also saves a shower by doing them both together rather than AM/PM, :wink:

YMMV

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^ this if you simply can’t separate the workouts. Not optimal but better than nothing.

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I like this approach. It would allow me to get more sleep on Monday and Wednesday nights after training if I don’t have to get up early Tuesday & Thursday to work out. It also gets me 48 hours (well, maybe 46.5) between workouts. Saving a shower and another set of dirty clothes is just icing on the cake.

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If you lift before riding the trainer, the biochemical signalling from lifting that leads to increases in strength and hypertrophy will be completely blocked by the biochemical signalling from endurance exercise. The gap between lifting and riding (in that order) needs to be in excess of 18 hr.

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The exception being shorter, low intensity rides on the bike or trainer. From the paper:

All good to do an easy 30 minute endurance ride to warmup, and then lift.

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The meaningful cellular signaling from endurance training lasts a few hours at best. The signaling from strength training last from hours to days. If you do the endurance training then wait 6 hours there is little evidence a strength training session would have any impact with regard to the adaptation signalling. Exactly how hard you can go and thus how much stimulus will be impacted but that is less of a big deal.

I do squats/deads mon afternoon with TR v02ish work in the morning.
Running intervals tue morning and upper body lifting afternoon.
wed off.
heavy deads/pause squats thur afternoon, TR workout morning.
Friday easy run in the morning and heavy upper body lift in the afternoon
Sat long ride
Sun long run

As long as I can keep the alcohol in check on Friday nights this all lets me just keep ahead of recovery but I have not figured out a good way to fit in ramp tests. I can do intervals monday after the long run but the mental side of going deep on the test after that is harder. Next block, I think I will try it on thursday somehow.

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There seems to be a lot of evidence to support TR workouts in the morning and then listing in the afternoon, followed by a day off. Unfortunately, 2-a-days aren’t going to fit into my schedule. So what I’m left with is to lift immediately after a TR session (not really sure how motivated I’ll be to move weights around after an hour on the trainer though) or, lift on Tue & Thu (my TR sessions are Mon, Wed, Fri w. Fri being a 90min session.

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That’s bunk. I will fully agree that there are better ways if you want optimal gains. To say increases in strength will be “completely blocked” is far-fetched. My deadlift is up 160lbs this year and I haven’t touched a weight other than immediately after my TR workouts. Maybe I’m just lucky and am about to hit the lottery in addition to my gains, or perhaps you are being hyperbolic for effect.

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and

Given that I’d suggest lifting on Monday and trying that out for a month. The basic philosophy is to make your hard days hard. Assuming Monday you are at freshest, do both TR and lift on Monday. Keep doing the rest of the week as you have been.

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I’m quoting from the paper linked by bberra. Anyone who starts out lifting will see gains immediately due to better neuromuscular signalling. In the study quoted, the subjects that lifted right after endurance exercise plateaued regarding strength gains compared to those that spaced it out. Kudos for the gain in deadlift. We are not machines, so you certainly could be an outlier. In my view, this whole training thing is an effort of optimization for each of us, we are an experiment with one subject.