Weight training and FTP

Weight training makes life, including riding a bike, more fun. Tossing the kids in the air, having core strength for proper form when riding to avoid back pain and other niggles, not to mention the associated rate of higher fat and calorie burn etc etc… there’s no reason not to weight train in my opinion.

I lift heavy kettlebells 2 to 3 times a week, my fitness has never been better.


Well, I despise lifting weights and refuse to do it. The end.

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What strongfirst book do you recommend to look at first? Googling I see people recommending “Program Minimum”.

(I do have a copy of Simple and Sinister. It’s very wordy. :slight_smile: )

I have clicked on a lot of the links you’ve posted in the last year and I do have a couple bells which I do simple stuff with. I just haven’t yet committed to finding a plan I can just do on a schedule.

If you want expert instruction then local instructor or this course: StrongFirst: Training Center

I used a collection of YouTube videos, for example here is the warmup I use:

I’m already technically proficient at hardstyle swings and deadlifts, but here are some from that $149 online course plus another:

you really need to be technically proficient at those two foundation moves. My Turkish GetUp sucks, but after getting good at 10 hardstyle swings on the minute, I’ve been very successful with Plan 015 from the Quick & The Dead book:

Watch that video. Heavy weight, explosive moves, negative swings. I really enjoyed reading the science behind Q&D plans (reads like a simple version of Empirical Cycling biochem podcast discussion), therefore my recommendation is buying the Quick & The Dead book.

Everyone is different in terms of weight, here is my current routine:

~10 minute warmup, superset these:

Prying Kettlebell Goblet Squat
Set 1: 16 kg × 5
Set 2: 16 kg × 5
Set 3: 16 kg × 5

Glute Bridge
Set 1: 5 reps
Set 2: 5 reps
Set 3: 5 reps

Halo (Kettlebell)
Set 1: 6.8 kg × 5
Set 2: 6.8 kg × 5
Set 3: 6.8 kg × 5

Then Plan 015, every 90-sec for 30 minutes:

Kettlebell Swing 24 kg × 10
Push Up 10 reps

Thats a total of 10 sets. I typically add some work after, sumo deadlifts, 1/4 TGU, farmers carry, etc. Total workout of 40-60 minutes, every Mon/Wed/Fri. Step loading as discussed in the video above, I’ve gone from 16kg to 20kg to 24kg in 3 months, feels like I’ll bump it to 28kg in another month or two (unfortunately I only have 3 bells, so time for an adjustable competition bell). Pushups started at 6, then 8, now 10. All perfect technique, and always focusing on technique + breathing. Still slowly working on 1 handed swings, and cheat cleans.

Once you’ve nailed hardstyle technique I’ve found that to be a really simple and effective program for general physical preparation (GPP), or conditioning, along the same lines as doing a lot of endurance riding on the bike. After ~3 more months of this I’ll probably go back to Simple&Sinister and see if I can alternate between 2 handed (32kg) and 1 handed (16???) swings.

Hope that helps.


“negative swings” are actually called overspeed eccentrics in The Quick And The Dead - here is a snippet:

reading that should impress that technique is really important. I’m currently swinging a 24kg (2 handed) and slowly increasing my overspeed eccentrics just like I did with the 16kg and 20kg bells before the 24kg.

the book’s claim is that kettlebell swing overspeed eccentrics induce metabolic events that result in mitochondrial biogenesis in fast fibers. Doesn’t matter if the book’s biochem hypothesis is correct or not, all I know is that I’m getting better on and off the bike.

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And this worth a read

on why you want to practice and excel at hardstyle kettlebell swings with overspeed eccentrics.


Below is a link to a 16 week leg strength training study from Denmark in which the subjects were U23 national team cyclists (i.e. highly trained and genetically gifted). One group performed endurance training only (E), the other performed endurance training and leg strength training (SE). There is a great deal of analysis, discussion, and theory in the paper and it is worth a read, but here are some highlights:

  1. Both groups improved 5 minute performance by 3-4%. Only the SE group improved mean power during a 45 minute time trial effort (8% increase). Sounds like an increase in FTP?

  2. Muscle biopsies showed a large increase in type 2a muscle fiber area and a decrease in type 2x area.

  3. The author brings up other studies showing increased endurance performance from combining leg strength and endurance training and, in conjunction with his study, concludes that optimal strength training requires both heavy weight AND high volume (10-12 reps). My comment: starting with the heaviest weight you can for 3 sets of 4 reps and increasing to 5 sets of 4 reps over a few weeks (i.e. neurological training first to increase fast twitch fiber recruitment then to increase efficiency), then increasing to 15 reps over 4-6 months with that same weight (i.e. increasing the fatigue resistance of fast twitch 2a fibers, increasing the force production of slow twitch fibers, and doing so as you move ATP generation from phosphocreatine metabolism to glycolytic metabolism) is a highly effective way to combine heavy weight and high reps.

Could just as easily be just an increase in TTE, couldn’t it?

35 minutes at FTP followed by 10 mins pedalling squares at tempo vs 45 minutes at FTP, say.

Does the “Endurance training only” mean they did just Z2? If so it’s pretty pointless study.

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I would assume that elite, national team riders know how to pace for a 45 minute time trial, but let’s stipulate they blew it and slowed precipitously in the last 10 mins. That means 35 minutes at a significantly higher power than the initial test effort 16 weeks earlier - I’d take it. Whether we label improvement as FTP increase, TTE increase, increased power at OBLA, or anything else, if strength training results in a significant increase in power during a highly aerobic effort, that works for me. Another tool in the training tool box.

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If endurance only means only Z2, and as far as I can tell that’s what it means, why is the study pointless? The point of the study wasn’t to compare strength training with, say, threshold or VO2 efforts (which presumably would, after 16 weeks, bump your power over a 45 minute effort), it was to determine whether strength training can be structured in a manner that does what the study determined it does. A good coach knows that you don’t do ONLY Z2 52 weeks a year, and you don’t do threshold or VO2 efforts 52 weeks a year, you incorporate periodization and variability. Strength training is a training tool that can increase aerobic pedaling power while you are also doing lots of Z2 and it has its place when you aren’t doing threshold/VO2 training (e.g. fall/winter).

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I’m not arguing that strength training doesn’t help. It’s pointless because they were national level cyclists, if you make them do 16 weeks of just Z2 they will lose a lot of their top end power.

If they continued to train normally and added strength training the results would be interesting.

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Totally. :sunglasses:

If it works, you don’t necessarily need to pick apart why it works. Just enjoy the results.