What To Do After Strength Training Benchmarks Reached?

Greetings TR community!

There’s lots of existing information on the TR platform about the benefits of strength training, and I’ve really appreciated TR’s strength training benchmarks/calculator to help me set some gym-related goals.

But what do we do once we’ve acheieved these goals? The TR benchmarks page says “past these requirements, we don’t see the benefit of added strength outweighing the penalty of added body mass and excess time spent training strength over endurance.” Makes sense… don’t want my beach bod getting in the way of my ability to move my legs in circles!

So, after meeting these goals, should we stay there? Does this mean we should aim for 1-2 days a week in the gym strictly for maintenance purposes, lifting no more than these goals suggest? Let’s assume someone is already meeting off-the-bike conditioning objectives, such as core work 2-3x week and mobility/yoga/stretching 3-4x/week.

Just looking for some direction and/or suggestions! Thanks in advance!

Dan

I think goal is to maintain the strength gains while reducing/minimising the fatigue from strength training and therefore the impact on your bike training. I typically do this by continuing to lift 2x most weeks (maybe 1x on a big race week) but reducing the number of sets and number of exercises, especially exercises which fatigue the big cycling muscles. E.g. when trying to make strength gains I might do 3 sets of both deadlifts and squats in a session. When in maintenance I’ll switch to 1-2 sets and do deadlifts or squats but not both.

Listen to the latest 10-minute tips on the Empirical Cycling podcast.

It’s more like a full-length podcast rather than 10 mins (bonus), so I didn’t get to the end on my easy ride yesterday, but some very brief notes I typed over the handlebars…

Maintenance:
6-7/10 RPE
5-10 reps x 2 sets (my assumption: per lift-type, so perhaps 4 ‘heavy-ish’ sets instead of say 10 and at 70-80% of weight during the strength phase)
Add some technique-focussed single leg stuff
1x p/w (2 if fresh)

That was my take-away, but please correct me if I misinterpreted any of that.

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Once you reach your strength goals just cut back to 2 times per week lifting for maintenance. You may also be able to cut down the number of sets/reps of a particular exercise you were doing. A lot of this depends on your age as well because the older you are the faster your strength will decrease if you don’t keep it in the workout rotation.

Thanks for the input! I listened to the Empirical Cycling Podcast episode, as well as one of their earlier episodes (#14) on sets and reps… pro and cons for each range. Those dudes are a bit distractible, but seem to have a wealth of knowledge. Admittedly, the episode left with me with a few more questions than answers, but I am getting the overall drift of how to periodize weight training.

Yes, good summary. Not training to failure and a lower RPE sound like key aspects of the maintenance phase. And perhaps all this was just a good tease for the TR podcast… the recently released episode had a deep dives on the “interference effect” and it sounds like Chad is planning to do another deep dive in a following episode.

A follow-up question… how does the “off season” many of us are in during the fall/winter relate to weight training? I’ve recently taken a few weeks off the bike (on purpose!) and have dedicated some of the extra time to strength gains (3 sets in the 4-6 range with ~3min rest between). Is the off-season a suitable time to dedicate more time to the gym, or is this counter-productive for the recovery-based focus of time off the bike in the fall/winter?

Again, thanks for the input.

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As you’ve had 3 weeks off the bike, I’d expect you to be fully recovered from the season.

Early base phase is the ideal time to add weight lifting to cycling. Your load and bike intensity should be lower than normal as you just begin the season, and this will allow you to accommodate the strength work. For the first few weeks, the most intensity I did was 2x20 Tempo, and that was not easy!

Disclaimer: I’m a strength training novice. I dabbled last year, and only really did a proper progression for the first time this year (strength phase only, no complicated multi-phase stuff).