Joe Friel is the author of “The Cyclist’s Training Bible.” Dirk Friel is the chief evangelist at Peaksware and TrainingPeaks.com.
How does weight training count?
Joe and Dirk,
I am trying to follow Joe’s training plan and have a question regarding weight training. Does time in the gym count towards the overall planned weekly total? If so, which sessions should be sacrificed in order to the fit them in? I have been substituting E2 with weights so far as this seems to be about the right intensity level.
Yes, we do add weight training sessions into the weekly total hours. We usually assign weight sessions as being between 30-45 minutes. The strength routines in the gym are not lengthy but very focused and should not take a lot of time. But they certainly do require recovery and therefore are a part of the overall yearly training volume an athlete records.
Next, the bike is always your most important activity. First, plan your essential bike workouts (including recovery days), and then add in your strength workouts for the week. Many times if you have 75-90 minutes you can actually get in both a weight workout followed by a bike workout (using the gym’s spin bike is the quickest way to have a lift and a ride in under 90 minutes).
Hope this helps, and good luck with your training!
—Joe and Dirk Friel
Four hours on the trainer
Dear Joe and Dirk,
I have two questions. I’m now coming into the base 2 part of my training plan, which will be three-four-hour days, mostly on the trainer. I’m wondering what is the best way to split up workouts for two workouts daily. Is it better to split up a four-hour E2 day into two two-hour rides, or to just commit to doing a four-hour trainer ride?
My other question is about lifting. I live in an area where it is impossible to get to a gym. What is the best way for me to improve my strength on the bike? What drills should I be doing? Or should I improvise a strength program off the bike in the form of body-strength circuits?
First of all you may not need to do three-four-hour indoor trainer sessions if you can get outside and do some other cross training activities. We very rarely prescribe such lengthy indoor ride sessions unless the athlete is getting close to an important race and still cannot ride outside.
Your important races sound like they are a ways off as you are only in your base 2 period. If so, then feel free to mix in other activities to reach your weekly hours. If you live in a cold climate you might enjoy gaining aerobic base fitness not only indoors on the bike but also by snowshoeing, X-C skiing, hiking, mountain biking, etc. Get creative. You might be able to start outside with a one- or two-hour hike and then finish with 90 minutes or so indoors on the bike.
The point is to work on endurance fitness, which can be gained by doing several different activities. Make the indoor time well structured so you are not only gaining endurance but also developing better technique, pedaling skills and strength.
If you cannot get to a gym to lift you can consider getting some equipment at your home. Handheld weights, rubber stretch cords and a fit ball can be used to design plenty of resistance routines. Wall squats with a ball and hand weights can be very grueling, and inexpensive.
The only downside I see in not visiting a gym is that it is tough to work on your maximum strength without using proper equipment such as a squat rack, leg press, etc. Your exercises at home can build strength, but it may be harder to gain the same max strength as compared to lifting in a gym.
Also feel free to add strength work on the bike such as low cadence force drills. Here are two examples you might try. Just take precautions if you have knee issues.
F2a-“Hills.” On a trainer with high resistance setting, do the following 8-12 times: 30 seconds @ 70-80 rpm, 30 seconds shift up, 30 seconds shift up, 90 seconds recovery). Seated. Heart rate 2-3 zones (maybe higher if you are in the late base or build periods).
F2b: Ride several 1-2 minute climbs of varying grades. Shift to a higher gear than you would normally use for any given climb. Cadence is 50-60 rpm. Seated.
Thanks for writing us, and good luck in your training.
—Joe and Dirk Friel