TGIF FasCats! I wanted to post our 10 week weight lifting overview here for every to read.
I have noticed quite a few questions lately which are all answered in the plan’s documentation that is now posted here, below. If you have any questions after reading this, please use this thread to discuss and learn. Have a great weekend, everyone!
This Resistance Program is designed for endurance cyclists and focuses on three multi-joint cycling specific exercises: the squat, leg press, and the leg curl. Anything more (including upper body exercises) is not specific to the biomechanics of cycling.
Equipment: For the squat we recommend getting help with your lifting technique from a trainer. Use a traditional squat rack or a Smith machine for the exercise. A ‘sled’ works well for the leg press and a Nautilus-style leg curl works very well.
Routine: For all phases of the program, warm-up for approximately 30 minutes by spinning in Zone 2. Either get out on the bike just prior to going to the gym (or ride there) or hop on a spin bike at the gym.
Perform the three lifts in this order: 1) squat, 2) leg press, and 3) hamstring curl. During each lift, keep the range of motion specific to cycling. Never bend your knees more than you would on the bike. That usually is 100 degrees for all pedal strokes. When you perform the squat, lower the weight down until your knees are bent 100 degrees (just above a right angle) and then perform the upward motion of the lift. (Many research groups have looked into the effects of different “squat depths”, FasCat recommends using a conservative and safe depth and staying away from extreme versions of the squat.) Follow the same approach for the leg press—lower the weight down to 100 degrees and back up. For the leg curl, bring the weight completely up to your back and gluteus muscles.
If you experience any back or knee pain stop lifting and let your coach and physical therapist know immediately before you move onto the next workout.
In between each separate lift, we recommend working on your core strength. A single set of ~25 sit-ups and a single set of ~15 back extensions would be a good goal.
After you have finished lifting, spend up to 30 minutes riding in Zone 2. Spin with a cadence above 90 rpms to keep your legs nice and supple. This post-lift spinning will also help alleviate muscle soreness.
Your 10 week weight lifting plan has 4 Phases:
Phase 1: Adaptation (3 weeks):
The goal of this phase is to develop proper lifting technique, acclimatize your legs to heavy weights and minimize muscle soreness during later phases. You will do 9 total adaptation workouts in the initial three weeks of the Resistance Program: Monday - Wednesday & Friday. During the Adaptation Phase perform 4 sets of 8 repetitions each. For your first workout, lift only the bar for the squat, 1 45lb plate each side for the leg press, and less than 30 lbs for the hamstring curl. Focus on your lifting technique. Work with a trainer for feedback on the proper motion of the lift. Establish safe lifting techniques before moving onto heavier loads.
After your initial workout, gradually begin to increase your resistance (weight). For instance, start by lifting 5 lbs on the squat. With each set increase the weight by 5 lbs. Then with each subsequent workout start out with more weight than the previous workout. Make it challenging, but not so difficult that your form falters or you can’t finish the 4 sets. If you are getting too sore, back off. Testing your limits during the Adaptation Phase workouts will help you accurately set your 1RM. This will also prepare your legs for lifting heavy weights and minimize muscle soreness during the hypertrophy phase.
Setting your 1 RM:
After 3 weeks of the adaptation phase, you’ll determine your 1 resistance maximum (1RM) for each exercise. This number will determine the amount of weight you lift for the hypertrophy, strength and power phases of the Program. Your 1RM for each exercise is the maximum amount of weight you can lift once. Start off with the squat and perform a warm-up of 6 repetitions of a weight that was moderately easy in your previous 3 weeks of lifting. After the warm-up, select a weight that you believe you can barely lift once. If you succeed in that lift increase the weight by a small amount and try again until you fail. Take adequate rest between each attempt and limit yourself to 3 attempts. Estimate after that. Record the amount of your last successful lift and that is your “1 RM”. Don’t hurt yourself! Determine your 1 RM for the leg press and leg curl in the same manner you did for the squat, including the warm up set.
Enter your 1 RM for each lift into the resistance program worksheet to calculate how much to lift for each rep of each set of each phase. We recommend printing the sheet out and taking it to the weight room with you on a clipboard.
Phase 2: Hypertrophy (2 weeks):
The goal of this 2-week phase is to build muscle. This is the most difficult, strenuous phase of the entire program. Muscle soreness is to be expected. Try spinning for 30 minutes before and after the lifting to alleviate soreness. During this phase you will lift 4 days per week: 2 days ON 2 days OFF format. Each workout will entail 6 sets of 10-12 reps per set. See resistance program spreadsheet for sets, reps and weights for each lift. Note the distinction between “heavy” and “light” days.
Phase 3: Strength (2 weeks):
The name of the game during the Strength Phase is higher loads and less reps. It should be a piece of cake after the hypertrophy phase. 2 days per week and 4 sets of variable reps. See resistance program spreadsheet for sets, reps and weights for each lift. Make a note that the first 3 strength workouts labeled 1 - 3 are different than those labeled 4 – 6, for a total of 2 weeks.
Phase 4: Power (3 weeks):
Very fast, explosive lifts are the name of the game during the power phase. The power phase brings your entire resistance program together with speed specificity. The purpose of the final Power phase is to utilize low resistances and high speed lifts to transfer the strength gained during the Hypertrophy and Strength phases in a speed specific manner to strength that increases cycling performance.
The Jump Squat: Lower the squat in a controlled normal manner and then explode upward in a way that is so fast that you jump off the ground. When performed properly you jump off the ground. Like this https://youtu.be/2NRHYu_3mwA
Important - stand back up, reposition yourself and your feet underneath your shoulders after each jump.
The jump squat is an advanced lift to be given a great deal of respect. Again, any back or knee pain: stop and let your coach or PT know.
Apply the same concept as the jump squat to the leg press and the leg curl without the jumping but with the same rapid “explosive-ness” to the upward motion of the lift. 2 days per week and 4 sets of varying reps. See resistance program spreadsheet for sets, reps and weights for each lift.
Your Resistance Program also focuses on-the-bike workouts including Muscle Tension Intervals (MTi’s), Sprint Intervals, and Standing Start Intervals. Muscle Tension Intervals MTi’s load your legs with forces similar to those you will encounter in the weight room. These intervals are several minute, seated, big-gear, low-cadence efforts. Please read our training tip for more info and continue reading the bullet points below:
• These intervals are best done on a stationary trainer with the resistance set to HIGH
• For smartTrainer users do not use ERG mode or Zwift - go old school and set the resistance HIGH
• Choose a big gear that is hard to push between a cadence of 40-60 rpm’s, 53 x ___
• This is more of a muscular workout than an aerobic workout. It is not a wattage-based workout. However, if your effort is too hard you will dilute the strength-building effects and transform the workout into a threshold-type exercise. Keep watts in the Zone 3/Sweet Spot.
• Work on pushing with your quads and pulling with your hamstrings—pedal “circles”.
• It is imperative for you to let your coach know if this workout aggravates your knees!
Sprint Intervals stimulate your nervous system and are essentially in making your weight lifting cycling specific. You are transferring the strength from the gym onto your bike. Very important. The intensity is just below an all-out sprint and similar to a really fast lead-out. Although these workouts don’t look challenging on paper, they are quite taxing at the muscular level especially due to the brief recovery periods.
• These intervals are best performed on a stationary trainer or on a flat road free of cars, stop signs, intersections, etc.
• Start each interval from a rolling start of around 60 rpms
• At the start accelerate as hard as you can (Full GAS !!) to a high cadence of 110 rpms
• Choose a gear that is hard but one that allows you to hit the cadence of 110 rpms in the final ⅓ of the interval
• Remain seated for the duration of the interval to recruit more muscle groups aka your glutes
• Use your power meter to perform the intervals down to the second
Don’t be surprised if your last sprint in the set isn’t as powerful or fast as your first sprint. It is desirable to go to failure each set. In other words, your first sprint will be awesome, the second will be pretty good, and by the fourth you will not produce near the sprint as your first. This way you stimulate your fast twitch muscle fibers to become more aerobic while still having an explosive ability. The end result equals a powerful fiber capable of great endurance.
Standing Start Intervals
On days after the gym workouts, we will continue to transfer the strength gained in the gym on to the bike with Standing Start Intervals. These efforts are very similar to the sprint intervals except that you will start the effort from a track stand (0 rpms) and will take a longer rest period between efforts (1:6 work to rest ratio, i.e. 15 secs ON = 90 secs OFF). Standing Start Intervals will help your peak power outputs and give you the ability to respond to attacks, launch counter attacks, and generally be fast.
• These intervals are best performed on a stationary trainer or flat wide open roads with no traffic, stop signs, lights, etc.
• Start each sprint from a track stand, a dead stop or slow roll
• Accelerate as hard as possible (Full GAS !!) to a cadence b/w 120-140rpms
• Choose a gear that is challenging at the start but one that allows you to hit a cadence of 120- 140rpms by the end of the interval
• Like the sprint intervals above, remain seated (contrary to the name) for the entire interval
• The recovery time in-between intervals (a work to rest ratio of 1:6) is increased to allow for a greater “all out” sprint