"In season" Masters Strength Training

I’ve read a lot about how Masters riders should be doing strength training year-round to prevent muscle mass loss.

I know by peak summer when I’m really flying I feel like the proverbial 98lb weakling off the bike. Would like to avoid that this year! (But am starting late on strength training.)

What I’m trying to figure out is how to integrate that into my cycling week. Doing a SweetSpot plan right now and will likely do another.

Do I just do lighter weight, high rep squats/planks/lunges etc until fall? And if so, how so I work those into a 5-8 hr wk Sweet Spot plan? Eg - Do strength training on light Zone 2 days, or on Monday/Friday “off days…”


We don’t recommend you do weights in season. We stick with foundation, yoga and rev work that is the training plans. Remember cycling is all about power to weight ratio so you really don’t want to be adding muscle mass. So things such as yoga are ally good with helping keeping your whole body moving. You can do these on Monday and Thursdays. Should always doing stretching.

All the strength and conditioning exercises Coach @Jake mention’s are found here and are a part of many of our plans. If they aren’t in yours don’t do them (#FtFP)

A couple of recent studies mentioned in VeloNews today suggest you should do strength training year round unless you are focused on mountainous fondos or alpine tours:

Quoting from the article:
Key takeaways

The first study in this article proves to us that strength training isn’t bad for cyclists and it won’t make you heavier; in fact, it actually does the opposite.

In the second study, we learned that you can include both strength training and cycling in your program, and simultaneously make performance gains in both. This is especially important for sprinters, crit riders, and puncheurs, whose absolute power matters much more than their power-to-weight ratio.

Lastly, we learned that strength training can have a direct and positive effect on your cycling performance. With just one to two sessions per week, you can increase your overall strength and absolute power output, while still completing your weekly training on the bike.

@FRANK @Jake, any reaction to these studies and the key takeaways? Thanks


That sounds like an interesting study. I agree that lifting can help you lose weight as your replace fat with muscle mass but at the same time I know by lifting you can add weight to someone who is lean. It depends on the amount and type of lifting you are doing.

From my experience I have had athletes complete the resistance training phase and not once where they putting out there peak power numbers. I know it can be rigorous during the hypertrophy phase but however when just doing 2 days of lifting for the strength and power phases we have I have not seen higher peak power number than when we do see later in the season or just weeks after.

My thought is if you are taking say 1 - 2 hours a week to lift you are taking that time away from riding. I guess I would have to read to find out how they structured that training format. For most athletes we coach they only have so much time to dedicate to training and we find that time more beneficial to be on the bike.

A few questions I would have would be: How many effective interval sessions could they still get in? Did their overall fitness and CTL drop if doing less riding by adding in the time for lifting? Were these athletes used in the study new to cycling and or have they never done a resistance training before? People will adapt well to any new training if never done before so results could be skewed.

For us timing is everything. So this is why we always talk about planning your season properly so you finish the resistance program, get your base in, do your intervals and are ready to race while still having the benefits from the resistance training you did earlier in the year.


@Jake thanks for the quick and thoughtful response. I’m somewhat lean riding at between 66 and 68kg and 5’10’ the last few seasons. Have done the 10 wk gym-based strength training the last 3 years and sometimes find a bump in FTP, sometimes not. Being a 60+ yr old, semi-retired and just trying to keep up on the B group rides and feel good about the half dozen gravel or road endurance events I do each year, I have/make the time to do 1-2 days/wk of 1-2 hr strength training in addition to 8-10 hrs week of 18week SS training followed by 6-week specialty blocks. So wondered if continued strength training as suggested by these studies would help or not worth it.

If you’re interested in looking at these studies further, here are the links


Thanks for the articles Steve2!

After a few seasons of cycling-only training, I just didn’t like the way I felt physically, a bit weak and frail–kind of a bummer after all that time trying to get “fit”

I enjoy structured training and watching my power and ftp numbers climb, but at 53 general fitness with a cycling focus is my gig. I use the fastcat programs as a base but swap in Hiit classes, weight training, yoga and hikes to feel better overall.

There’s usually an 8-10 point difference in my CTL when I toggle “All” vs “Cycling Only” I may not be the fastest cyclist I can be, but the variety keeps me motivated and having fun.

Granted, my idea of competing is with my Strava PRs, or the random climb on weekend group rides, not with a number pinned to my jersey.


I’m sure you’ve seen my opinion here but I’ll share it again.

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Ditto. I’ll do the occasional race, but it’s all about general fitness.

Hi Steve. The first study has a lot of problems or limitations, at least in proving the claim that athletes should be strength training year round.

I don’t want to be overly critical of it, but I’d suggest giving the full text a quick skim and I think you’ll see very quickly it’s limitations.

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Christian, Thanks for looking at the studies and for your thoughts on them. I just did a quick read but don’t feel qualified to judge the quality of the research. Frank has been clear over the years (reprised in his comment above) that he’s against in-season weight training. It’s just when I see coverage of new studies like these and how some other respected training programs (e.g. TR, SYSTM) encourage or incorporate maintenance lifting that I wonder whether some of us would benefit from it after the 10-week off-season lifting program without taking time away from our on-the-bike training during SS base building rather than it being a clear ‘no’ recommendation for all FasCat athletes. Cheers.

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Just my two cents (and I’m not a certified coach) but I think the answer to the question about whether to strength train in-season or not comes down to your goals. If your primary goal is to maximize your performance at a particular cycling event then power/weight ratio is a critical factor that would argue against strength training in-season. However, if your goal is to be a fit, well rounded human year-round then perhaps in-season strength training makes sense with the understanding that you may sacrifice some amount of performance on your A events. Again, just my opinion.


Hey Steve,

Might be so simple you missed it. There’s no control group!

A study like this is totally useless without a control group. Did the athletes improve because they were lifting? Or did they improve because they were training on the bike? Did the lifting help, hurt or come out neutral? Impossible to know.

Keep in mind, on top of that, the results were quite underwhelming: athletes only improved their FTP by an average of 14 watts over 8 months, and that’s with the pre-testing being done in November, when most cyclist would be at their lowest fitness of the season.

Not only that, the lifting results were similarly wonky: the athletes only improved 26 kg on their squat with that much training? Young, fit athletes were only barely able to squat body weight after months of training?

So, unfortunately, I don’t think this study helps much.

There are much better designed studies that show benefits to strength training over longer periods, but they still have their issues, and I think for now this is still a coaching question and not a science question, since balancing strength training with on-bike training is always the challenge we face.


Christian. Thanks for taking the time to point out the issues with the study and further explain your perspective. All of that makes a lot of sense. Much appreciated.

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After the 12 week weight phase this year I kept doing the Foundations 12 minute back routine, yoga sessions, planks, and hip openers with the bands. This work has kept me feeling very “well rounded”. It’s a really good maintenance program. Fascat has it dialed in!