Post 'off bike' form

Hello! I thought I would share this here - as I thought it pretty interesting. Particularly in light of the recent podcast on off-season - and taking time off the bike.

I’ve just had 5 weeks off the bike (a combination of needing time off + a long awaited post covid holiday to see family). During off-bike time, I ran 5 days a week (very slowly and not very far - with the dog) and was strict in maintaining my strength training (3x a week - with body weight, bands and kettle bells). I’ve put on a couple of kilos - but nothing dramatic (race weight usually 50kg). I always have time off the bike once a year (but usually 2-3 weeks - not 5!).

After a couple of light weeks, just getting the legs turning I’ve done a few days of testing to see where I am at.

20 second fixed gear standing start power - 552w (year best 532w)
1 minute power - 419w (year best 392w)
5 minute power - 269w (year best 275w)
15 minute power - 224w (year best 240w)

I’ve been surprised to be honest - and really happy that I’ve kept going with the strength training!

Just thought I’d leave this here and see if anyone else has any thoughts/ experiences of strength training and/ or post off bike form.



Is that all from freshness or do you think it’s the strength training?

Related: Does Strength Training Make You Faster? workshop from Dr. Stephen Cheung.

@Dave - I’m pretty confident it’s consistency of strength training. I’ve done quite a bit over the years, but never committed to it throughout the season. After digging a bit deeper into it, I decided to try this year. I certainly feel better for it on and off the bike… and seeing gains too

@Carolynsgaskell, great topic! I’ve had similar experiences over the years when I include strength work and reduce on-bike work. There are some nice gains. It has been hard to maintain the same level or consistency of strength work through the entire season, but agree that consistency is so helpful. Particularly in masters athletes. There’s a local masters roadie here in Boulder I’ve worked with on and off for probably 6-7 years now and some of his best seasons were when we were able to find a balance between his strength work and bike work.

I would agree, I’ve had similar experiences with the benefits of strength training. This past year is the first time I have continued with strength training throughout the season. I was only doing one 30 minute session a week during race season, but after my final race at the end of July I backed off volume of riding quite a bit and did one extra strength session a week. Through August and into September I was hitting new power pb’s on a regular basis.

Since having 10 day off completely a few weeks ago I’ve not done any big efforts so not really sure where I m now. Feeling better from doing regular strength sessions though and looking forward to a productive off-season.

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Hi @Carolynsgaskell, sounds like a congratulations are in order first! Sounds like you’ve found a good off-season routine and it’s working for you.

What I noticed is that the shorter/anaerobic durations improved while the longer, more aerobic efforts saw a small decline. That’s consistent with taking time off and including some strength training work. There’s a rule that “all training causes a conversion from fast twitch to slow twitch.” This is why track riders and strength athletes include a lot of rest time before competing. The combination of rest and consistent strength training has built your anaerobic strength while you’ve seem an albeit small decrease in your aerobic fitness.

Seems like a good place to be going into your base season!

Interesting you say that @trevor. Following my shift in balance towards strength with a bit less riding from end of July I hit all time pb’s in a zwift race on the 9th August for longer efforts:

1hr 26mins race
NP 297W
20 mins pb of 313W
1 hour pb of 293W

But then in September I started hitting 2021 bests in shorter efforts that are very much my weakness:

1 minute 460W
5 secs 928W

With an event next Spring featuring a number of short steep 1 to 5 minute climbs I’m very much looking to improve anerobic strength. Hopefully without impacting my aerobic capacity…

At the moment I’m just looking to focus on strength work combined with low intensity rides for the next month or so. The question I keep asking myself is how long can/should I restrict myself to zone 1 (3 zone model) without risk loosing my relative aerobic strength?

Thanks @Ryan and @trevor. I’m definitely moving towards the less is more approach. As I get older, I have really noticed the need for greater recovery - and better balance in my training.

For context, I’ve been strength training with Menachem Brodie, after hearing him on one of your podcasts. I’ve really connected with the approach and - the gains I’ve made are noticeable on and off the bike - and I’ve not been lifting heavy weights - just 8/12/16 kg kettle bells and body weight and resistance band work.


Very nice to see your residuals are still pretty solid, and even improved on the very short stuff. That’s great.

My only experience is from this season when I started strength training last October and started my “season” in February. I lifted 2-3x per week from Oct to Feb, and did nothing but a 3-4 60-90 min endurance and tempo rides on the trainer in-between, looking back, a handful of 15/15 type sprint workouts, but nothing concerted. When I kicked my season off in February I did a 60 min TTE assessment that netted 327w for 45min. Which I was blown away by, considering I hadn’t really put in any effort training on the bike and focused primarily on strength training.

I have no idea of strength training results in increases in threshold power, but anecdotally I am a firm believer that it helps with muscular endurance, economy, and aerobic conditioning. I’m also willing to wager that if muscle is added, there might be improvements to threshold. Now, the art is trying to balance 1x per week day of strength IN SEASON.

To follow-up on the strength training when we put the bike down for a while, here are some exercises that I enjoy doing in the off-season, and bring that into the base builds over the winter/spring. In my experience, similar to others like @anthonylane, 2-3 days per week seems like a perfect frequency to realize gains while still leaving time to dedicate to the bike.

Initial weeks:
Very similar to your approach @Carolynsgaskell. Heavy weights aren’t a requirement. You can do a lot with bodyweight and resistance bands. Here are some of my go-to exercises. When I do these I focus heavily on balance and moving with as much quality as possible. That helps to shift the focus from worrying about lifting heavy to just moving well.

→ Single leg squat (or use a slide lunge to work on form and balance first)
→ Side plank (Check out Menachem Brodie’s description in Episode 69)
→ RDL (See Jess Elliot describe this one with Chris demonstrating)
→ Pushups
Indo Board

What’s the rationale for these exercises? I do these following a couple of my early morning rides on the trainer, so they are all easy exercises to do in the same space at home, they don’t require a lot of equipment, and quite honestly they are just fun movements that I know I’ll be consistent with. The lower body movements allow me to focus on developing balance and strength with good form. I am just a fan of the single leg squat and always have been because it’s easy to track your progress by evaluating your form and your depth that you can achieve, along with the number of repetitions. The RDL I really like because it allows me to work on hip control and being very active with that area of the body. As a mountain bike racer, I can’t say enough about how much hip control helps you on the bike. Being able to execute that RDL movement effectively allows you to actively control the bike in all trail situations.

For the upper body, the side plank has always been a favorite of mine. Initially I’ll start with a basic side plank as outlined in the link above, but over time or when I’m feeling like spicing things up, I’ll take a small dumbbell and press it up with my free arm toward the ceiling, rotate that hand down and pass it lightly under my lower armpit, and then return to the starting position. It’s quite challenging and helps me think about keeping the body controlled when rotating (think about turning and looking behind you while on the bike and trying to hold a straight line). The pushups are one of those things I’ve never been particularly strong at, so this is mainly a way to take that classic exercise, pair it with a good plank position, and try to add to the amount of reps I can do.

The Indo Board is a fun tool that is basically an oval piece of wood with a grippy top that you put on a cylinder and try to balance. I’ll do some squats, or some squat holds, try to move back and forth without losing balance, or rotate 90 degrees and try to work on fore/aft balance too. Depends on the day. Overall, these couple exercises take no more than 30 minutes and are an easy way to gradually add volume to the body before doing any classic “gym” work.

Once these initial weeks are covered and I get through some of the inevitable muscle soreness, then I’ll aim for minimally 2 days at the gym where I can access additional equipment. The goal here is to start building strength and increasing the amount I can lift. Some of those key exercises for me include:

→ Squat
→ Hip Bridge (or this variation on leg curls)
→ Dead lift
→ Rows
→ Snow angel

The lower body exercises are simply focused on improving strength, so I’ll work with heavier weights and reduce the number of repetitions. In some cases I’ll do pyramids where I work over 5-6 sets and peak with a progressively higher weight over time. The focus on form remains throughout.

In terms of upper body work, I’ll do some kind of row exercise (whether that’s a dumbbell, machine, TRX, etc.) and don’t have much of a preference in terms of how it’s done, just that I find a movement I can do safely and enjoy.

The snow angel movement is one I really like as I spend more time on the bike. You basically lie on the ground or stand with your back and arms/hands against a wall (imagine your a big magnet and you’re stuck to that surface). From there you slide your arms overhead (you’ll look kind of like a swimmer diving into the water at the top) and back to the starting position. As a cyclist I don’t have the best upper body mobility, so this is a challenging exercise. It feels good to do, and is a great reminder that I need to treat the spine and upper body well and keep good posture when moving on and off the bike.


Just chiming in here because I found your little n=1 case study on the physiological impact of taking some time off super relevant. Your results do not surprise me, to be honest. I saw the same thing with elite speedskaters during their very early season training camps on the ice. For short bouts in that 15-60s range, they were FLYING! I would think, “wow, where are they going to go from here once we start doing some HIT sessions?” The answer was that they did not improve as much as I thought they would, but they were probably more fit to handle the multiple races of Weekly world cup weekends. They just had really fresh legs and had stayed active with some basic strength work and alternative aerobic work, just like you. But, the aerobic capacity does take a hit with the layoff. No worries though…