Weight training for cyclists

Hi! I’ve heard that as bike season approaches, you should slow down on weight training - on lower body like lunges and squats - thoughts??

@mpatton it depends. If you have been doing strength consistently during the winter months, you might not need to adjust much because you have built the ability to perform and recover from combining cycling and strength. In that case you’d just do a “taper” for events much in a way you’d do for cycling, taking intensity down but not stopping altogether.

In my strength training I do a 3 week build with a 4th week “deload”. The deload week is not a drop in weights I’m lifting, but rather a drop in reps.

What kind of strength training have you been doing (heavy vs. light weights; few vs. many reps); how many days/week; and for how long?


That makes sense…I do high reps with low weight 2x a week and have been for several months now.

Right, I would just keep at it, otherwise you will lose everything you built up until this point. Just out of curiosity @mpatton what made you decide to do lower weights/high reps vs. heavy weights/fewer reps?

I do that because heavy weights hurt my knees… and then I get set back on everything while my knees recover.

@mpatton got it. Hope you’ve had the chance to look further into why you have knee pain, as strength can also help.


@Coach_Theia I am finally prepared to add strength training into my schedule! Do you have a particular set of exercises that you’d recommend for people who don’t want to go to a gym? We have a lot of weights at home, no bench but many dumbbells, a bar, etc. I am far more interested in starting with exercises that work a larger number of muscle groups rather than isolated exercises (and am guessing this is how you approach your training anyway). I do have some books to pull things from: Core Advantage, Foundation, Gravel!, and Roar for example. Am thinking of investing in a kettle bell for home use. Sorry if this is already covered in another thread, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed and not on the computer much!


Hi @hollybw other than the plyos and core, I don’t have a strength circuit that I prescribe as I am not qualified to do so. Weight training needs to be progressive and tailored to be safe and effective. In addition, doing a circuit without expert guidance increases the risk of working certain muscles but not others that are part of the same “chain”, which can lead to imbalances and injuries.

I can however recommend the following books:

Also, keep in mind that it’s better to lift heavy, for several reasons, including bone density, lean mass maintenance and development, and (as explained in the post below) for bike performance as well:

Low weight and high reps is the equivalent of endurance training, which we already do on the bike. But that is also an option if you have medical issues or injuries like @mpatton.

Lastly, some women believe heavy lifting will make them bulky, which is not true (this is a great read):

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I was a runner and played soccer in my youth, knees took a beating!

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@Coach_Theia, I haven’t listened to this yet, but, how heavy is heavy? I try lifting weights with the dumbbells but I can’t do more than 10/12 pounds currently. I’d love for my arms to bulk like when I was younger.

@gosimrr these are articles not podcasts :slight_smile:

Lifting heavy starts with about 80% of the max weight you can lift for about 6-10 reps (usually 6-8 reps lower body and 8-10 reps upper body). Then it increases from there until you lift max for all reps. You’d usually start with dumbells and kettlebells . and then transition to barbells and machines. Of course everyone will be different on how much weight they can do/start with. I am at 145 lbs on deadlifts (4x6 reps), 135 lbs on RDLs (both legs and barbell; started as single-legs with dumbells), 150 lbs on bridge lifts. For upper body I am anywhere between 33-55lbs right now depending on the muscle group.

Some stuff I do without weights, such as push ups, box jumps (single legged up, land on both), and TRX pikes.

@Coach_Theia yes. When I went to listen to these today I realized I couldn’t :rofl:. I’ll read them this weekend. And thank you for clarifying. I don’t know that I’d do much lifting with the barbell as I dint have a spotter. But that’s way down the road. I’m going to keep at current program and revisit with the trainer in 6 weeks for more.

And that makes sense, @Gossimrr! Form before load as they say!! I am glad you are doing strength and focusing on that posterior chain, I am sure you will see a positive impact soon!!!

Here is a great podcast from my Strength and Conditioning Coach- it gives a broad view of weight training for endurance athletes:

And this one (also with Jess) is about preventing cycling injuries:


For those weight training (“lifting heavy sh*t”), what are you doing, now that most gyms are closed? :confused:

:sob: @adm0629 I am so sad about the gym closing.

The only heavy s**t I have is dumbells (up to 30 lbs) and an adjustable kettlebell, all of which are nowhere near the 150 lbs I was doing with barbells… So I have requested a quote for a barbell, rack, and plates, but if I can afford that, it won’t get here for a few weeks.

For now, my strength coach will design a program using what I have available - in addition to the stuff I mentioned above, I also have TRX, step/bench, and loop bands. I’m curious to see what she comes up with. For upper body I am set with what I have, as I have a ways to go there, but the lower body and posterior chain is where I need heavier stuff.


If you know of any good one-on-one classes in Chicago for lifting “heavy sh*t” let me know! I briefly went to a gym called “HardPressed” where they would do 30 minutes of intense lift to failure workouts. Since they were one on one they were ridiculously expensive so I stopped when I felt like I wasn’t making any progress and I also gained a ton of weight (overestimated the calorie burn from those intense 30 minutes most likely). Then I think they went out of business or changed their name. Anyway - - it was all weight machines and not much free weights or barbells (there was one barbell exercise but not for squats). I would be more interested in free weights…even if it was someone at a commercial gym, I would entertain a gym membership and buying classes to be able to do it if you know of any names.

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If you are in need of a kettlebell and have some loose plates this works very well. I’ve even used sand filled plates. I did wrap the threads with cloth hockey tape. Not sure where it is at the moment but I think I’m going to search the basement and take it outside.



@reservoircat I am not familiar with any in Chicago, unfortunately. Because I wanted someone who understands the endurance athlete and our needs/challenges, I went straight to my current coach. Yes, it’s easy to overestimate the additional caloric need for strength, the key component for recovery is little additional protein, however.

Strength training does help with fat loss and building muscle.

I know a number of cyclists in the area that go to Morning Bird and Primal, but I am not familiar with their programs. But see also this announcement!

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