Weightlifting and cycling

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  • Weightlifting and cycling
  • Premier Icon BlobOnAStick
    Subscriber

    One for Footflaps and the weightlifting crew!

    I joined a gym back in the summer with the express intention of building my strength back up – maybe not to the levels it once was when I was in my twenties, but to counteract the increasing difficulty I had pulling the skin off my rice pudding 🙂

    I have been determined to use plenty of compound lifts and shun isolation exercises completely. Following the thread from November I started following the 5×5 Stronglifts programme, which for strength training has proven very good indeed. Over the past 6 months I have put on about half a stone without any noticeable increase in waist or neck size, so I reckon it’s mainly muscle gain (although I realise that there may be some extra cake portions tucked away somewhere)

    The problem is, I feel that the training has very much hindered my cycling. In particular it feels as though squatting has significantly altered my leg stamina; my legs ‘pump up’ very quickly when hitting a climb – even climbing the stairs can trigger a feeling of fatigue in my quads. The effect has taken a while to build, but it is now worse than ever. I don’t seem to get it following a deadlifting session.

    Is this a phenomenon others have found? Any idea what might be the cause?

    Whilst I do enjoy lifting and the benefits of being stronger, I do not want it to detract from my cycling. I’m thinking that basing a routine similar the stronglifts one but which focuses on deadlifting instead of squatting every session would be better for me. Anyone any thoughts/advice on this?

    I suppose an extreme solution may be to just train upper-body only. There seem to be plenty in the gym that do this given the number of ‘massive shouldered-pencil legged’ fellas there are in there!

    Thanks! BOAS

    5thElefant
    Member

    The problem is, I feel that the training has very much hindered my cycling. In particular it feels as though squatting has significantly altered my leg stamina; my legs ‘pump up’ very quickly when hitting a climb – even climbing the stairs can trigger a feeling of fatigue in my quads.

    Took me about 15 years to change my legs from squatters to cyclers. If I stood up I’d pump in 10 seconds and that was me done…

    All about fast / slow twitch muscle dominance.

    Premier Icon YoKaiser
    Subscriber

    I’ve been using the Stronglifts programme as a basis for quite a while now. Its hard to fully follow it in my gym as I’d be hogging the one power rack thing so have adjusted it a bit, one thing I have done is drop the squats, not totally but not every session and I change it up a bit with goblets and front. I’ve found its helped my biking markedly.

    Premier Icon MSP
    Subscriber

    5×5 is a good programme for gaining strength, but squatting 3 times a week is a lot if you are throwing some cycling in as well, your legs will be in virtually constant recovery from all that squating.

    If you have made decent gains on 5×5 in the 6 months that you have been doing it, I would just start doing all 5 exercises in one gym session per week. And do something more dynamic in another session (ie more mobility work). That would be more compatible with mainly cycling.

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
    Subscriber

    Hi I think it’s a big can of worms and it’s quite personal . I do a upper lower split in the gym now, two days a week, having changed from 4 days a week isolation . This fits very well cycle training 4 days a week , plus yoga and a rest day . I expect I’ll change again come spring . Sounds like you are listening to your body, a good thing.

    Edit: I also fit in one press ups pull ups day, same day as a smaller ride .

    Premier Icon BillOddie
    Subscriber

    Stronglifts are great for getting you strong. They aren’t necessarily transferable to the the type of loading that your body would get during cycling.

    You might want to increase/include some interval training, dumbbell circuits, barbell complexes and some more endurance workouts into the mix along with your strength work.

    2000m row for time is good fitness test. Tailpipe (google it) will also test your resolve.

    Bear in mind that Stronglifts certainly isn’t designed to improve cycling performance, so don’t expect that, though it can help.
    Have a look at this for something that will actually help, but really you need to combine strength training with on bike sessions to get the most benefit.

    http://bikemagic.com/how-to/no-more-weakly-warriors-stronger.html#xw88l7ZREa27terX.97

    I’ve found that deadlifting is far more beneficial to mtbing than squatting, as it works the same muscles that you use when out the saddle (the important bit), be it climbing or descending. This is a rough guide of the plan for enduro racing that my coach gave me. There’s also a focus on some shoulder stuff after an injury, to prevent anymore problems. This is just the strength training. This gets done 2-3 times a week, on top of the bike sessions, but the strength work isn’t done so hard that I can’t complete the on bike sessions.

    In depth warm up- mobility and getting blood flowing (pdf in that link is great)
    3×5 deadlift or back squat (I alternate, but enjoy deadlifting more)
    3×5 bench press
    3×5 barbell row
    3×5 overhead press
    Chin ups/pull ups
    Rotator cuff exercises
    Core exercises (plank variations, body saw, etc)

    Edit- There are quite a lot of similarities between Stronglifts and that to be fair, but the deadlift really is more useful than squats for mtb.

    Premier Icon BoardinBob
    Subscriber

    My sessions are thrice weekly. One day squats, one day deadlifts, one day upper body.

    I would struggle to cycle well if it was three squat sessions. I also keep the squat session away from the biking days as much as possible. Also vary the squats from week to week. Tonight was anderson squats for example which is much more explosive than normal

    Premier Icon BlobOnAStick
    Subscriber

    Guys – thanks there’s some great advice here.

    I think several statements ring true – stronglift training isn’t bike specific (I just didn’t realise how detrimental to cycling it would be for me), I am probably pushing too hard too many times per week and therefore ‘overtraining’ when riding is taken into account.

    I didn’t want to do specific strength training for cycling – it was more about being stronger for general life, but following a regime that is bike friendly is obvious when you think of it. I like getonyourbike’s workout and I think I’ll develop a 2/3 weekly workout that skips squatting (or when squatting lighten the weight and up the reps)

    Thanks all!

    scary_carey
    Member

    If you’ve made good gains with the strong lifts programme over 6 months I’d look to change your routine. Training works best when periodised.
    Use the winter / off season to build strength (as you’ve done) then as summer approaches maybe reduce your frequency to two gym workouts a week with a routine that complements cycling better than strong lifts – getonyourbikes example looks really good imo.
    I know if I do heavy squats within three days of a ride my performance on the bike suffers.
    I wouldn’t completley avoid lower body workouts, just reduce the volume, frequency and intensity – I suppose I’m saying look to maintain your gains as apposed to keep trying to lift bigger numbers.

    big yim
    Member

    Getonyourbike what sort of weights are you doing your sets with?
    I’ve gone wayyyy too far towards weightlifting and my biking has really suffered.
    Can pick up heavy things but not ride a bike for more than about 10 miles without cramp

    Premier Icon BoardinBob
    Subscriber

    what sort of weights are you doing your sets with?

    For me

    Deadlifts – 5 x 8 @ 120kg
    Squats – 5 x 8 @ 90kg
    Chest press – 5 x 8 @ 60kg

    3×5 deadlift or back squat (I alternate, but enjoy deadlifting more) 95kg deadlift, 70kg back squat
    3×5 bench press: 57.5kg
    3×5 barbell row: haven’t tried yet, recent addition and shoulder op 4 weeks ago
    3×5 overhead press: same again
    Chin ups/pull ups: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
    Rotator cuff exercises: 2×15 at 14-7kg cable pull
    Core exercises (plank variations, body saw, etc)

    I’m 77kg and 188cm/6ft 2″, to put that into perspective for the chin ups/pull ups and my build. I’m certainly not lifting heavy, by any means, but I’m built more like an XC whippet than anything else. Endurance is no problem on the bike at all. Just need to build strength and power.

    Premier Icon mcnultycop
    Subscriber

    I did Stronglifts and it was superb, I am built for lifting so got a 237.5kg dead and 202.5kg squat, but I found its either lifting (seriously)or cycling. Squatting three times a week meant my legs were permanently recovering.

    I had a few years off lifting, and coincidentally just started again this week. I’m aiming to get up to maybe 75% of where I was before, then back off to lifting 2 times a week, so I can cycle without too much drama. 5×5 would be boring without the week on week increase in weight, so I’ll make it a more intense work out, maybe supersetting deads and presses, squats and curls, etc.mto keep it interesting.

    Premier Icon mcnultycop
    Subscriber

    P.s. Arm pump is a thing of the past after lifting weights. I keep going at Antur after my mates had given up moaning about their arms and grip.

    Bagstard
    Member

    Have a look at the Candito 6 week strength program (not the linear one), far more inspiring than Stronglifts as each week is different and you only squat twice a week.

    scary_carey
    Member

    + 1 for Candito – even if you don’t follow his plan check out his form on the big lifts – he’s as good as it gets and he explains things really well. I’ve learnt quite a bit from his vids

    BruceWee
    Member

    If you don’t mind making slower progress I would take a look at Wendler’s 531.

    https://www.t-nation.com/workouts/531-how-to-build-pure-strength

    I do the ‘I’m Not Doing Jack Shit’ assistance program. Saying that, I do pull ups on the overhead press day. Also, I don’t do bench press so my weight training involves three sessions a week, each one lasting less than 30 minutes including warm ups.

    The thing that I really like is that it’s based around the idea that you should be able to do it even if you’re completely knackered. If you feel in good shape then you can do a lot more than the baseline.

    The most difficult part is accepting that you’re going to make very slow progress. However, it’s important to focus on long term goals rather than increasing every week.

    It should be possible to combine this with a lot of cycling.

    Premier Icon BoardinBob
    Subscriber

    Here’s some of my typical routines over the last few weeks. Weight will change with reps, sets and exercise variation

    wrecker
    Member

    Parts C & D of boardin bobs’ second shot would do more for your cycling than the rest of it would. I love lifting weights, being big and strong is great. But, if I were training for improvements in cycling, I’d step away from the 5-10 rep range and ratchet the intensity right up. Minimal rest between work sets, and going for work rather than tension. You should be able to do a lot with a pull up bar, oly rings and a kettlebell or two.

    Premier Icon BoardinBob
    Subscriber

    Parts C & D of boardin bobs’ second shot would do more for your cycling than the rest of it would

    Yeah my coach splits it into a big compound intro then some “gassy” stuff as he calls it

    wrecker
    Member

    Part D looks right up my alley!

    crispycross
    Member

    I hope I’m not being contrary, but I’ve got a general question on weightlifting for cycling. apart from the arm pump thing already mentioned (which is already pretty good, what are the expected benefits?

    Leg strength, yes, but how often do you run out of strength when riding? Isn’t it more common to run out of steam?
    Can weightlifting help with core strength on the bike?

    wrecker
    Member

    Depends on the type of cycling and the type of weightlifting!
    At the extremes; Hoy lifted hugely heavy weights. Froome, not so much.
    Most movement based exercise done properly will increase core strength.

    Gunz
    Member

    I’d ditch the weights entirely and try circuits, Kettlecise, Insanity etc if you’re after general conditioning that won’t hinder your cycling, promotes flexibility and helps with cardio.

    retro83
    Member

    BillOddie – Member
    Tailpipe (google it) will also test your resolve.

    Cool, cheers.

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Subscriber

    The problem is, I feel that the training has very much hindered my cycling. In particular it feels as though squatting has significantly altered my leg stamina; my legs ‘pump up’ very quickly when hitting a climb – even climbing the stairs can trigger a feeling of fatigue in my quads.

    Are you sure this isn’t just because your legs haven’t recovered sufficiently in between lifting and cycling? I find it difficult to believe the muscles in your legs would’ve “changed” in the way you describe in as little as 6 months (if it’s even possible at all?)

    Alternatively could the muscles just be tight? Have you been stretching, rollering, etc? When I started weight training I neglected stretching and acquired loads of knots in my muscles, plus often they’d feel very tight. Sorted it out with a monthly sports massage for about 6 months, now I do yoga most days & don’t have the problem.

    I’d agree that it’s difficult to do a lot of cycling & weight training at the same time. I tend to hit the weights quite hard in the winter and take it very easy when out on the bike, then in the spring/summer when I’m riding a lot harder back the weights off to a maintenance level (i.e. not really looking to make gains).

    I hope I’m not being contrary, but I’ve got a general question on weightlifting for cycling. apart from the arm pump thing already mentioned (which is already pretty good, what are the expected benefits?

    I actually started weight training entirely for it’s “secondary” benefits (posture improvement, joint strength, injury resistance, CV benefit) after looking into the whole paleo thing. The fact that it gets you strong/buff is just a nice side effect for me! Weight lifting is excellent for core strength, no question.

    BruceWee
    Member

    An interesting paper about strength training for gymnasts:

    https://www.usagym.org/pages/home/publications/technique/1996/8/strength.pdf

    I think for almost all sports (with the exception of sports where having extra bulk is an advantage) the goal of strength training should be to increase strength with the minimum size increase.

    Training with heavy weights is pretty much the only way to reduce the deficit between the how much force your muscles can potentially generate and how much they can actually generate imo.

    Premier Icon BlobOnAStick
    Subscriber

    Are you sure this isn’t just because your legs haven’t recovered sufficiently in between lifting and cycling?

    Yes, I think you may be right, although I seem to have been getting stronger quickly on the stronglift programme, building each time with no obvious issue with recovery since the last session, the impact on cycling seems to last over a week after my last session. Edit: In fact, I think it lasts longer than this – it may be that because my legs have been fatigued I’ve not done as many miles so the endurance side of my fitness has dropped away? The reason I asked the question originally is that I can’t believe that the composition of my muscles has changed fundamentally in 6 months (as you point out). I think it means the only explanation is lack of recovery.

    Macavity – thanks, I think you posted many of those articles before. The problem for me is that they are about training to improve cycling whereas (right or wrong?) I wish to train for general strength in a way that doesn’t hinder cycling.

    Premier Icon BoardinBob
    Subscriber

    Are you doing a good stretching and foam rolling routine? Helps my recovery massively

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Subscriber

    FWIW I tried Stronglifts for a few months but found the sheer volume of squats to be too much considering I cycle most days. Went back to Starting Strength (3×5 rather than 5×5) which I do 2 or 3 times a week. Don’t be afraid to have an easy week as well once in a while to give your body a break!

    Premier Icon BoardinBob
    Subscriber

    Brilliant links Macavity.

    Too many people hear weightlifting and immediately think

    Instead of

    craig24
    Member

    Which workout did you end up switching to BlobOnAStick? And has it worked for you? I’ve got the same issue with Stronglifts.

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