Strength Training Question

I am increasing my volume of cycling this base season and it is increasingly hard to schedule strength training.

Recommendations from Fast Talk experts suggest separating aerobic training and strength training by at least six hours as the cellular signalling is different enough that doing them closer together may limit adaptations.

Is this relevant to any/all forms of weight training?

It makes sense not to do leg strength and cycling close together, but what about upper body, core, and stabilizer work done in close proximity to cycling? Can I not finish a base ride then do a 1/2 hour of push/pull/planks without messing up the adaptations?

@ryan do you ever do upper body work right after a ride?


It all comes down to what you can do vs. what’s optimal. Doing a quick 20min session after a ride (even legs) is better than not doing it all. Don’t feel you have to do some epic 1hr session to gain benefits or have to separate the strength and endurance. Recent studies have shown doing both improves muscle growth.

Erin Carson from ECFit recommended a quick session after rides and I tried it for a while and enjoyed doing it (I find that it makes me feel… More energetic after). It’s also an additional incentive to keep my intensity correct during my long rides… Because if I go too hard then I either can’t do strength afterwards or will suffer if I do.

Just make sure you fuel through the end of your ride if you plan to do strength after, or you won’t have the reserves to push yourself.

Of note: recently I’ve been playing with strength before easy or LSD, and it makes it feel like doing a longer ride… ?calcineurin pathway?

The only thing that really feels like I need time between is a high intensity session and strength. Doing both back to back just can’t happen

I agree with you @smashsquatch that getting something done is better than avoiding strength work because the timing isn’t optimal. Consistency will beat perfection. My question really is aimed at the physiology. Does upper body strength work somehow mess up aerobic adaptations to a cycling session when done back-to-back?

Recent studies suggest doing different muscles groups back to back improve gains:

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You can also combine strength with cardio. We call that intervals :wink:
But seriously, there is no circuit breaker switch in your body. There is a complex mix of muscle fibers, energy flows and chemistry.

It is more time efficient to combine the two because you have to do only 1 warm-up session. The research as to whether one cancels the effect of the other is not that consistent.
Just make sure that you do your cardio really easy, to have sufficient energy (glycogen) left to fuel your moment of strength.

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There has been mention of strength and aerobic endurance training effectively cancelling each other out due to different cellular signalling. . I personally don’t like strength work on an easy (aka recovery/rest) day. I’m talking about doing upper body strength after a 2 hour aerobic base ride when I can’t do it later the same day due to work.

If your goal is to look like a body builder while also improving endurance then doing the strength + cardio back to back isn’t ideal. If your goal is to improve hormones, get stronger, increase bon density, then give it a go. Your N+1 might just work, it did for me.

I’m looking to excel at a 6 day MTB stage race which will require a strong upper body and core. I also enjoy being strong for ski touring, hockey, alpine climbing, and XS skiing. Appearance is not the primary goal. I’ve sure learned a lot from this resource about how to schedule training. I still find it challenging to balance 12-15hr training per week with full time work and a busy family life.

@robertehall1 not sure if I have posted this somewhere on the forum and working if my phone.

I have had great success combining endurance and endurance tempo rides with strength training

Create a few different circuits keeping them fairly simple depending on your level of strength training abilities.

And example might be

20m endurance bike
10m circuit 5 per side reverse sliding lunge / 8 per side alternating piston press in bosu in bridge position / 5 per side bird dog dumbbell row

20m endurance bike
10m circuit 8 goblet squat / 5 per side plank with dumbbell push pull / 8 tall kneeling curl to press with dumbbells

Do for two or 3 hours

Keep all strength below 85% max heart rate


I did the haute route Alps for the first time this year (500mi, 66k’ over 7 days). Before that I’ve never done more than a 6hr one day event. So a similar boat (minus some obvious differences). Since I also wanted to stay strong for triathlon while training for that, I did a lot of strength work and I found that doing it directly before/after a session was the only way for me to fit it. I made it all 7 days without any back pain (which I wasn’t expecting) and after returning to the pool after could still maintain speed (even if not over distance)

For MTB strength you probably don’t have to do to much focus on direct upper body strength but could instead gain what you need through core work that requires upper body strength:

  • Bird Dogs
  • TRX or Stability ball plank rotations/rollouts/pike/side crunch
  • Windmill plank/bear plank
  • Finish with anti-lateral flexion/Anti-rotation press

I like this approach. Similar to “hip runs” from running rewired. Basically just do strength that encourages good form on the bike and use it as your intensity while doing bike tempo to build the mind/muscle connection of what you just did with the weights!

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Great exercises…mine was a very small list, more of an idea.

Not much upper body strength? Some of these stage races have 20-25m downhill sections, it isn’t always about the strength of the upper body but the connection to the lower body through the core.

Static leg stabilization, hip hinge ( a lot ), steering control at very high speed when tired (day 4, 5, 6)

I will say the best way to prepare for downhill is to downhill (or ride moto or enduro moto) - specific strength and body control.

However, when people don’t have access to long hills to descend or don’t ride moto in prep for races I have found that my athletes show up ready when I incorporate this type of training.

The first race of the year they do in the US, after NO training outside and trails not open, they race very well and always feel prepared, legs, low back, and upper body. They never feel left out on downhill sections, and can focus on racing not wishing they were better prepared.

I feel the reason it works is because of the back and forth nature of the on-bike to strength over time, I have no proof but I think lactate shuttle from upper to lower body (like in cross country skiing) is playing a role in their much better overall fitness.

@robertehall1, great question and lots of great answers. I’ve been away over Thanksgiving so fell a little behind, but here’s my take. I’m not aware of any interruptions in training adaptations doing an upper body workout right after a ride. Similar to some of the other recommendations, one piece of it is time (i.e., you either do it then or risk missing the session all together). The other part is that it seems like most of what you’re doing is pretty straightforward with some core work and push/pull exercises. If you’re not doing very heavy weights, I don’t see any reason to expect that type of session to impede your aerobic gains. Like I said, lots of great feedback so far! I don’t have a whole lot more to add other than based on experience, that seems like a session that can be easily combined with your base ride.

I think you’ll find most of what you’re asking here:

To quote: “ Concurrent aerobic and strength training is recom- mended to improve physical fitness and health; however, the compatibility of these two distinct training modes remains unclear.
In this meta-analysis, we report that concurrent training does not interfere with adaptations in maximal strength and muscle hypertrophy, regardless of the type of aero- bic training (cycling vs. running), frequency of concur- rent training (> 5 vs. < 5 weekly sessions), training status (untrained vs. active), mean age (< 40 vs. > 40 years), and training modality (same session vs. same day vs. dif- ferent day training).
However, concurrent training may attenuate gains in explosive strength, which is exacerbated when aerobic and strength training are performed within the same training session”