Transitioning out of full time cycling to cycling plus gym

As the title says I am looking to transition out of cycling training only to a mix of cycling and gym work. I want a more well rounded approach my health and fitness given my age. I’m 45yo and have, in recent history, been doing ~12hrs/week cycling only. Usually 2 interval sessions per week, the rest zone 2. I made it an FTP of 270W and 4.0W/kg which I’m pretty happy with.

4 weeks ago started adding strength training (twice per week) into the mix while riding ~10hrs/week with 1 interval session. I’m really enjoying it and feel it is providing huge benefit to my overall health. I forgot how much I liked lifting. However I can tell the 10hrs/week will be unsustainable in the long term, especially when I plan to go to 2 interval sessions per week. Obviously I need to drop some of the riding.

I have several injuries that prevent me from doing specifically heavy bench, deadlift, squat, and back extensions and calf raises. Please don’t tell me my form is no good, armchair critics have given me this bs before. I have a lot of experience with lifting from my younger years. What happened was four years ago I was deliberatly hit by a car at speed which left me with some life long biomechanical and structural problems.

The gym program is:
Leg press (heavy)
Barbell hip thrust (heavy)
Chest press (high reps)
Bulgarian split squats (high reps)
Chest supported rows (high reps)
Unilateral leg extensions (high reps)
Unilateral leg curls (high reps)

This has given me significant benefits including sleep, general body feel and a decent body recomposition in just 4 weeks. My Zone 2 and 3 riding has gotten much easier too - it seems power at lower zones comes very easy now.

My current program looks like this:
Monday AM - 1h30m Intervals
Monday PM - Gym
Tuesday AM - 1h Z1 ride
Wednesday AM - 2h30m Z2 ride
Thursday AM - Gym
Friday AM - 1h30m Z2
Saturday - 4h Z2 low

I’d like to hear from those around my age who take a mixed training approach as I am looking to do. What is sustainable and working for you, particulary volume, weekly structure, the struggles with recovery etc. I understand we are all different but it would be good to have a conversation where we might be able to pick up some tips on making things work.

I would like to transition to lifting three times a week and riding at least 4 times a week. I would also probably need to go to one really high quality cycling interval session per week.


I’ve had success in the past with the low volume TR plans, plus one extra day of Z2 and lifting twice a week. I will be doing the same again from January. In terms of structure, I was able to lift on the plan’s off days, but it very much depends on your ability to recover well.


This is an interesting topic for me. I just got into cycling a year ago and have kept adding volume all year, letting weights take a back seat. I went from a decent split routine, lifting four times a week last year, to just one day of maintenance lifting the past half year. One goal for me in the coming year is to try to get back up to at least two strength sessions per week.

If you can’t go heavy on the bench, can you bench with dumbbells? I prefer dumbbells on bench if not going heavy. Also, what about overhead press and either chins or lat pulldowns? And dips.

For lower body, not sure if your injuries prevent this, but I really like glute-ham raises. Based on the exercises you listed, it seems you may need to avoid putting too much load on your back. One other option is a belt squat, if your gym has one. Another thing you might consider to mix things up is some rucking.

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Looks fine
Don’t lift too heavy, and increase in small increments
Unless you’re using a 3 zone model, that z1 ride has no value

Also read this:

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The upper body pressing (bench, OHP) is limited by a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery. The tendons were completely detached in the whole shoulder and unfortunately has never been anywhere near as strong. As soon as I hit a pathetic 40kg it seems to be the hard limit imposed by the previously injured side.

Squatting with a belt had crossed my mind. I may give this a shot. Thanks for the input.

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Agree in terms of aerobic benefit however I do find that this helps get the joints moving after a hard day and actually relieves soreness. When 100% riding I never did Z1 rides, instead I just took the day off for full rest. I may actually be better served by just going for a walk for an hour.

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Move - yes, but low Z2 at least. On bike or foot.

You mention hard day and soreness, so I would rethink how hard you go in the gym. Heavy, yes. DOMS, no.

Check out the strength training thread for more details.

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The progression model I use right now with the goal of hypertrophy is to keep the weight and sets the same, but progress the reps to within 1-2 reps in reserve. When target reps are hit for all sets then up the weight.

The DOMS was lasting a long time in the first week for two of starting but now is over quite quickly. I do expect some soreness but it’s not to the point where I need to walk down stairs backwards or moan and groan when I squat down or anything.

I think I’ll take on your advice re: Z1 ride and make it a low Z2 ride.

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At 63 and wanting/needing to lift and ride I’ve given up on trying to fit into a traditional 7 day schedule. I now use an 8 day schedule that has some flexibility if my buddies want to ride cause it’s nice enough to fat bike or gravel

Day 1 - some level of intensity ride normally 60 min
Day 2 - 45-60 min of strength work
Day 3 - Z2 Endurance ride 90 min or more
Day 4 - Recovery/Mobility
Day 5 - 60-90 min sweet spot ride
Day 6 - 45-60 min strength
Day 7 - Z2 Endurance ride 90 min or more
Day 8 Recovery/Mobility

I may add a swim day after the Z2 days and slide the recovery day, making it a 10 day schedule. I’m recovering from some skin cancer treatment and can’t get in the pool for another week or two


Sage Canaday (ultra runner) works on a 10 day cycle. If I wasn’t subject to the 7 day grind I’d certainly abandon the 7 day training cycle too.

this is very smart! Lifting is so beneficial to cycling!

My heavies are: squats, deadlifts, overhead press, and bench,
Then two-four secondary and tertiary lifts per session.

Anything over 10 reps makes me more fatigued than I want in order to be able to ride later.

If I were you, I’d look to get 2 recovery days a week, and lift on a ride day! This helps with sustainability.

I do 3x a week lifting if the riding volume is lowered, but have found that 2 lifts a week is working well for my goals.

best of luck!



I’ve never much like strength training. I think the standing around recovery between sets always drove me bonkers.

So I’ve always gravitated towards more “functional” strength training type workouts and often compound movement type stuff.

I will often do circuit type strength workouts where I pick a handful of exercises and do x many rounds. Other times I will do more traditional style but I’m not typically doing like a super heavy deadlift where I need to rest 3 minutes between.

Generally I do strength training 2 times a week with each session being 20-40 minutes. Sometimes an extra core session gets thrown in during the week.

At 51, I’m just trying to keep up some strength with a program that I know I’ll do. And that involves changing it up. As long as I’m hitting most muscle groups and know I’m pushing myself each session I feel like that’s enough for me.

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