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Balancing Your Riding & Strength Training Schedule

Derek Teel on April 18th, 2023

As a cyclist, your strength training program should be dictated by the time you spend on-the-bike.  This means that your riding discipline, volume, frequency, and intensity all determine what’s ideal for you to do off-the-bike.  So what’s a great fit for you?  Let’s use the Goldilocks Principle to get a starting point.

*the length of time given on the X Axis is 1 Week.

The Goldilocks Principle highlights Super Compensation, which is how your body responds to a strength training stimulus.  Immediately after a training session your performance will drop due to fatigue.  Once you begin to recover, your body will adapt to the type of training you did.  Your performance level will surpass that of the initial session after about 3 days to its peak on the 4th or 5th day.  Once peaked, you'll start experiencing a "negative adaptation" that will drop back to your "fitness baseline" by the 7th day.  These are the results you get from strength training 1 time per week (maintenance, not really gaining or losing).  That means that in order to benefit from the gains of strength training, you need to do at least 2 sessions per week with 48-72 hours between each strength session.  Your goal is to do each one somewhere along the Super Compensation Curve.  

"If I do more than the minimum, will I get better results?"  This depends on your total riding volume and your ability to recover.  Doing more than 2 strength training sessions per week can work well for those who ride 3 days or less per week (4-6 hours total).  *If your primary goal is substantial muscle gain, a 3rd session is actually recommended.  If you ride 4 or more days per week, then more than 2 sessions will likely conflict with your ride quality due to compounding fatigue.

“What if I'm including low cadence intervals on-the-bike for strength?  This is a great question because these are commonly referred to as “strength workouts” in endurance communities.  Although those efforts will likely make you stronger on the bike, the adaptation from them is primarily metabolic (increasing cardiac output, mitochondria, glycogen storage capacity, etc).  Strength training adaptations are more muscular and skeletal (breaking down & repairing tissue, activating dormant muscles, reducing compensations, increasing bone density, etc.).  In short, one cannot replace the other.

As your Coach, my suggestion is to NOT STRESS about "perfect timelines", because your ability to recover is not fixed.  The science will get you in the ballpark, but your execution of consistent training will direct you toward your ideal schedule.  Every Dialed Health Program and Workout is designed to get you as close to “just right” as possible from Day 1.

Why Strength Train To Begin With?

How Strength Training Improves Cycling - Explained Simply

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