• New Mom and Strength Training for the Competitive Cyclist

    Q. Hi Gale, I am a 37-year-old Irish girl, and recent first time mom. I just reviewed your book there on Amazon! I actually bought it a while ago when I was pregnant as was looking for advice regarding cycling during this time and post-partum. I found it really helpful. So many people try to talk you off the bike when you're pregnant!

    Anyway I recently dipped into your book again as I am doing some structured weights this year. I am a track cyclist and compete in most events but my favorite and best would be the 500 time trial and the 2km pursuit (I'm a masters level cyclist, hence the 2km!).

    I just have one question for you. Should I cycle through the Max Strength Phase every few months and right through the competitive season, or should I just do this phase during the off season? I've just finished an AA Phase. Someone said to me that women need to do weights right the way through the season as they lose strength gains quicker; but I just don’t know when I should stop, or what type of lifting I should be doing in-season.

    My season on the track starts in earnest in July and ends with the World masters (which I obviously want to peak at) in early October.


    Hope to hear from you soon and that you can help me, S.M.


    A. Hi S.M.,

    Thanks for the compliments about my book. Glad it is helping you.

    Since you are a track cyclist, maintaining power is critical. There are a number of good studies that show once a level of strength is achieved; it can be decently maintained with one strength session per week. Your once-per-week strength sessions may need to rotate between Strength Maintenance, Power Endurance and Maximum Strength. There are no rules that say you can’t change the strength session types.

    That written, the closer you get to your competition season, the higher priority bike workouts should take. Be careful that strength training doesn’t take away from key cycling workouts.

    So, begin with these suggestions and modify as you need to:

    1)      After you’ve done at least two weeks of the AA Phase of strength training in your training plan, you can begin to add plyometrics. You can use the reference materials cited in my book or you can use a routine posted on my site to get you started. Begin with the floor routine.

    2)      As your progress to the PE Phase, you can move to more challenging plyometric exercises.

    3)      When you move to a SM Phase of strength training, you can keep a low (floor routine) to moderate (low-level box jumping) level of plyometrics in your workouts.

    4)      If you find this isn’t enough, you can alternate PE and SM strength training.

    5)      If you find it’s too much, eliminate plyometrics and see if your legs respond positively.

    6)      Be cautious adding MS back into the mix as it can take the life and power out of your legs. It often leaves them feeling flat.


    Hope that helps. Keep me posted on how it goes.


    All the best,


    Gale Bernhardt


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