Strength Training for a Peak Race:
Is 12 Weeks Enough Time?
These days many cycling and triathlon coaches have begun to dole out strength training programs to their athletes, as well as many cyclists & triathletes finding or developing programs for themselves…. But many see strength training in a very limited view, which leaves them categorizing strength training as a “Base Period” only activity.
This is a problem, as due to this small world-view of what strength training is, and the benefits it can offer, means that many are missing out on the massive benefits that can be had from an intelligently designed strength training program.
Should I Start Strength Training If I'm 12 Weeks Our From a Peak Race?
This morning as I perused the interwebs, I came across a post in a group along the following lines:
I am 36 and have ridden consistently for the last 12 years, but with no structure to my training. I’ve recently hired a coach, and my question is about strength training.
The "Common Sense" Answer
“Common sense is neither common, nor sensical”
This saying holds true here, with many answering that it’s either “too late to start”, or “progressive loading for X weeks and then de-load”, as well as the all-popular “focus on core”, and of course the “focus on X on the bike, which will have better benefits than strength”.
Before we get into the answer here, let’s make one thing crystal clear here:
Every single person who has attempted to answer this question, comes from a place of caring, and wanting nothing but the best for this individual. They come from a place of sharing their own experiences and the culmination of their knowledge and abilities up until that point in time.
They are all trying to help.
However, those answering are working with a very old and outdated paradigm of what strength training is, and how/ when it should be applied.
It’s not their fault, however, as this is what the public understand from a strength training perspective.
But these beliefs and understandings of strength training are heavily based upon bodybuilding & power lifting principles, which have influenced nearly every corner of human strength programs, from physical therapy to sports performance- until recently.
Important Considerations When Strength Training for a Peak Race 12 Weeks Away
3. Improved ability to produce proximal stiffness for distal motion (Although this should be addressed in step 1. better motor control, it is here that we build a bit more robustness, and look to improve strength-endurance)
So with these 4 building blocks in mind, what do you think?
Is 12 weeks enough time for this rider to see on-bike improvements in their performance from an intelligently designed strength training program?
The Correct Answer
The TRULY correct answer is….
On the athelte
And frankly, we do not have nearly enough information from a 2 paragraph post on some forum online.
In fact, forums are not the place to debate these kinds of topics- that can only be done via a live conversation, or a correspondence over a period of days, weeks, or even months.
There are far too many questions that remain needing to be asked, than answers.
So for now, the correct answer remains to be learned, and we’ll only truly know if we try something, and see how it goes, followed by taking the time and effort to dig into the results and seeing what could have been done better, or what massive wins (or mistakes) were made along the way.
Hindsight is 20/20, as they say.
But you’re not here for the real answer, you’d like to know IN GENERAL, for your own knowledge and application.
So here’s a GENERALLY correct answer:
12 weeks is not too late for a properly designed strength training program to help this individual unlock potential and abilities they already posses, and to help them look, feel, and move far better than they already do, while putting out more power on the bike.
In fact, we can see significant improvements in as little as 6 weeks, even with “just bodyweight” movements, as many of those who have been through my 60 Day Movement Mastery Program have felt and experienced.
HOWEVER, should you focus on weights on the bar, or more repetitions at a given weight, you’ve missed the boat on performance, and are simply following a power lifting, body building, or general fitness approach- none of which will help you perform better as a cyclist or triathlete.
Sure, you may see some general improvements, but those will typically fall off after the first 3-4 months, with your cycling or triathlon failing to improve, and being crunched for time – and let’s be honest, it’s far more fun to be outside biking and running than it is to be int he gym- so you’ll drop the strength training…. This means starting back from pretty much scratch, the following transition or base period.
Meaning you’ve essentially wasted your precious time and energy.
Avoid this, by using strength training year-round to help you build strength, resilience, and better movement, while complimenting your riding or training and helping you be the best and most resilient endurance athlete you can be.
If you’d like to learn more about Strength Training for Performance in Cycling, Sign up for the Insiders List for the Strength Training for Cyclists Certification Course, which opens again February 14, 2021.