General question about weight training benefits

Hi all,

I am new to weight training this year and have general questions about how long the benefits last. Mostly just my own curiosity about this stuff…

  • If we build muscle and train it to be stronger, how long do those gains last?
  • Does muscle mass/strength fall over the year, especially without maintenance lifting? (Not looking for an excuse to lift more, btw)
  • Should we expect FTP to drop off over the course of a long season?
  • Next winter, when I do the weights plan again, will I be starting from “zero” - i.e., start Adaptation phase with the 45lb bar, again, or should I start higher? I saw in the program notes that sprinters need at least two years of the plan to realize gains, but I am not - nor ever will be a sprinter. Looking at longer gravel events, primarily.

Just finished week one of hypertrophy, and I’m amazed how much easier the Friday workout felt than the Monday workout. These are tough workouts, but I’m feeling optimistic about the payoff!

Thanks for all you do, FasCat Team.

Interesting questions!

-Detraining to strength training begins to happen after about 3-4 weeks of ceasing strength training. However, the fall-off is gradual, and it’s likely that some of the workouts on the bike, especially explosive workouts like sprints, work as maintenance. My unscientific coach’s opinion is that if explosive (sprint) power is maintained, we’re doing things right.

Strength is also specific, so when you cease doing an activity like a squat, you’ll get worse at it. How much that matters to a cyclist is another question.

Finally, when you re-start strength training, your ‘strength’ will increase very rapidly back to previous levels, which is a sign that at some level, some of the adaptations from previous strength training hung around, whereas other adaptations come and go quickly.

The same thing exists with endurance training (just over a shorter timeline), that’s why after a week off you’ll feel pretty terrible on the bike, but after 7-10 days training you might be basically back to normal.

-Above answer probably answered the strength portion of your second question: yes, especially some specific aspects of strength, but hopefully not the things that make you faster on the bike.

Muscle mass may or may not drop over the course of the season: this is due to a mix of training habits, diet, and to an extent, genetics (see Andre Greipel’s legs vs Nairo Quintana’s legs even after a 3-week tour).

Also, a lot of athletes mistakenly think muscle mass drops: during weight training you’re often walking around with a ‘pump,’ not to mention full glycogen stores, which makes muscles look bigger. When you lose this pump, and have more days where muscle glycogen stores are depleted, you can mistakenly think that a loss of muscle mass has occurred.

-That’s a pretty ‘it depends’ question. If your last A race of the season is in early August, but you decide to continue racing until early October, then yes, you may notice you’re off-form and running on fumes by the end of the year.

Also, if you peak for a hilly road race or a TT in May, and then you peak again for a block of crit racing in August or 'cross season in the fall, then your FTP may be slightly lower for your second peak, just because of the training necessary to be sharp for criterium racing or cyclocross.

But in general, if your FTP just steadily drops throughout the season, you did something wrong.

-You may start from zero in the adaptation phase (nice to avoid the brutal soreness that comes from starting too hard in the gym), but you’ll advance very quickly to your previous strength level.


Excellent reply above. Piggybacking off the post here…

I’m in the Power phase of weightlifting now in my 30-some odd week weight and sweet spot plan. I’m not a lover of the gym but always feel better when doing it. What recommendations do FasCat coaches give about in season maintenance lifting. As a 48 yo I feel that I need to keep the muscle mass (yes I see your reply above, thank you, helpful) and bone density benefits going.

My thinking is to keep a 1-2 day per week squat/leg press/leg curl routine at something like the power phase going during base and build, dropping it for 6-8 weeks during peak phases before A races.

Thoughts? Thanks so much.