From the Coaches: Adaptations to Strength Training

I am new to the Sufferfest community and I just purchased a smart trainer on Black Friday to begin my indoor offseason. I want to include strength training as part of my Sufferlandria program, however the one thing I already know (since beginning cycling during the COVID pandemic) that I need to increase my overall power. From my understanding, the strength program here does not include any weights. So is the program really conducive to building strength or is it more focus on cardio development. I have always to been told, that you gotta lift weights if you really want to get stronger.

1 Like

I would characterize the strength modules - especially 1 to 3 - focusing more on proper form, balance, core strength, preparing connective tissue for lifting and general warm-up. There are a few exercises - goblet squats and Cossack lunges - where the weight of a filled water bottle or two is added to the exercises. There are also several rides on the bike that are similar to squats - Power Station is one of them - where power targets are high but cadence is low.

Hi Manny.
Welcome to Sufferlandria. :slightly_smiling_face:
We are pretty well all here to increase power, and as you may have seen, this can mean different things with 4DP. Do you mean short burst power, long threshold power and so on… Which power you mean can affect what exercises are best.
The strength workouts predominantly uses body weight, along with filled water bottles to add a bit more. This is usuallyy plenty - try doing slow moving one legged squats! As I have moved up through the levels I have incorporated a few weights I already had at home for some exercises. This works well.

@ChrisMTB thanks for your response. My main challenge is hills and in particular long hills. I have been working out with weights most of my adult life, but I do realize cycling is different type strength.

Yes, running is great for bone health and is a good way to get outdoors during trainer season, but it is hard on the body. It also becomes tough to make the time for everything we want to do as we add more activities to our lives. The strength program is also great for bone density, so if you’re doing that, you shouldn’t need to stress about adding in too much running. A couple short runs each week should be sufficient.

Just like power has a different meaning depending on the duration of time we’re talking about, strength is the same way. The Sufferfest strength training program is meant to improve functional strength; the kind of strength that makes you more durable and stronger, both in cycling and your daily life. If you want to get stronger in terms of max strength, then yes, you must lift weights. There are many ways to program strength, and you could lift weights to become a stronger cyclist, but you might also miss a lot of the smaller muscles that a lot of lifters fail to recognize that are important to cycling (and every day life), like core, stability, balance, etc. There is a bit of a cardiovascular component to our program as well, mostly because you’re not loading with any significant weight, so in order to increase difficulty, we have to extend the time you’re performing the exercise. The benefit of this, however, is that it will improve your strength as a cyclist on hills, especially long ones!

@Coach.Suzie.S there’s a post that relates to STR (linked below) … could you maybe add the official thoughts on order of STR inside other workouts in the same day there? Save us all guessing :slight_smile:

I recommend anyone starting strength to do warm up first. I Just do 5 to 8 minutes or medium intensity on the trainer first.

I’m wondering how we can breakdown a STR workout if it comes down to pacing (cardiovascular system) and depth (muscle load). While cycling we’re boxed in thanks to HM or FF fitness test. The fitness test creates a so called “limiter” for heart rate and power. During a STR workout we don’t have a handy-dandy limiter that protects us from blowing the fuse or having to much left in the tank. The only metric we have for strength is RPE.

A few months ago I decided to change focus from high pace to medium pace and go much lower, because I need to increase power.
For pacing I changed from 8.5 to 6.5 and for muscle load from 6.5 to 8.5. Now I do things much slower and go as deep until I almost collapse during specific exercises. At the end of the workout it feels like an 8/8.5 for RPE for the entire strength training. I begin with the same level of pacing as the end of the workout.

Is this the way to go for strength? Can you give us some guidance for RPE, how to pace ourselves and how to handle muscle load?

PS sorry for the long post…

@Coach.Suzie.S thank you for this posting. I’m a promoter to including strength, mental and yoga into the training plans. Recently, I’ve become aware through reading, social media postings, etc. about integration of mobility exercises such as jumping, etc to promote explosion. What is your thought on that and would we see “explosion” exercises into the strength routines in the near future? Thank you! Jorge

Hi, Im ”New” to structured plans and indoor training. Pre COVID, I went to gym “pump” classes and spinning. Last gym visit feb… 800 km bikeing this summer. When weather allows weekly MTB training 3hour. Now got a “smart bike” and joined the 200 mile mile gravel grinder 12 weeks, as I will participate in a race on Iceland in July. As there has been no gym visits, and I haven’t done any strength training, the strength videos are good. But is the program right? Or is there base training blocks that I can follow to start? I see focus on strength and perhaps a lot of low intensity? To repeat The 12weeks twice is likely not optimal. Some personal info if it helps advise what program to chose: Home office and many hours in training budget. Sunday’s are high effort. I am bad at Zone 2-3 training and do as most unstructured cyclist more high intensity Z4 for fun. No Structured intervals. (52 Y, 79kg (should be 76),214 ftp based on garmin algorithms and half Monty test. 100 KM rd @ 30-32kmh In a group or 3hours technical MTB Is what I do weekly in summer.


My best advice is to use your best judgement on what your needs are. You can make these strength routines easier and harder in various ways. As a strength coach, I like to see people generally challenging their muscle load/strength more than the speed or number of repetitions which would put more stress on the cardiovascular system. As cyclists/endurance athletes, we generally get enough cardio training via riding, running, swimming, etc. But not enough muscle load. So bottom line- challenge yourself however you see appropriate, but if possible, err more to the muscle load aspect.


Yes, you will see more plyometric exercises in the strength program in the near future. Explosive activities very beneficial, but must be done with caution and only after developing a good strength base, which is why they were not included in the original strength program.

If you want more specific advice on training, please consider a Customized plan so you can talk to a coach and have your plan tailed to your individual needs. It is fine to complete the “pre-season” or Strength based gravel plan, followed by the gravel plan that ends with an event. It would appear that they’re the same plan and one just has strength added, but it is actually more complex than that. Adding strength requires a completely different cycling plan so pairing these two plans back to back is actually an optimal way to train.


Thanks Suzie
Either I missed that the plan I selected with strength added is a “pre season”plan, or it should be more clear in the description.
I use Garmin connect, right now I have a “low “training load “not productive”and more high intensity and Anaerobic is recommended by the algorithms. I should probably not be alarmed when adding strength. Or what do you think?
When adding training in Z2 and Z3, as a beginner I think it’s not “real training”. No tunnel vision and keeping the food down is not hard enough :slight_smile:
Only 2nd week so guess I need patience and see how I feel. But if I feel More challenge is needed Would you recommend to increase some Targets threashold, or redo the threashold test? The ftp is a little low, compared to Garmins algorithms. (4 units).
Some of the outdoor rides lack video, when weather is bad, it would be good with a file without video. Have I missed them or should I look elsewhere? I guess the easy instructions could be made into a file, but I never done that…
Stay safe Fred

mån 7 dec. 2020 kl. 17:26 skrev Coach Suzie Snyder via The Sufferfest <>:

BTW:My HRM didn’t work at the “Half Monty”, so I guess retake the test with working HRM might be good to set values right?

mån 7 dec. 2020 kl. 21:36 skrev fredrik grim <>:

@BikeGirl and @Coach.Suzie.S
Thanks for the question - I’ve had the same.

and thanks for the answer. I’ve been wanting to add more running but didn’t want it to get in the way of my cycling focus. I may just try this approach.

1 Like

Yes, if you can re-do Half Monty with a working HRM, you’ll have better numbers to train by. BUT if you haven’t done Full Frontal yet, you’ll get even more accurate numbers to guide your training and are likely to make your intervals more intense if you feel that they aren’t currently.

And yes, be patient on the plans. Some of the start rather easily but ramp up over the first 4 weeks. So don’t get too antsy and manually increase your metrics yet. Especially if you haven’t done Full Frontal. In addition, since you’re on a plan that includes strength training, there are not as many high intensity cycling workouts because of the general need for more recovery and less intensity due to the stress of the strength training. The same plan that is designed to end with an event would have more high intensity sessions.
And finally, remember that not all training has to make you puke to be effective!


Font know if the uploadmworks but I Deciderat on a FF, and ftp+3, MAP+33 AC+8, NM 51. Figurer might show I didnt Hold back on the MAP, and SAS tirad afterski. But I gudssonen tris New Numbers Will impact levels. Would the type of workouts, in the graven 200 chaNge now When I am a persuiter? Or is the strength/weakness in the profile not part of the program design?

Yes, now that you have a rider type, the training plan you choose and the workouts within it will be tailored to your strengths/weaknesses, making your training much more effective. Does that answer your question? I’m sorry I don’t completely understand your question because of the language/translation.

As I selected training plan before workout, Where not all exercises/workouts Decided and scheduled at that time? Or will some now Some be changed/tailored to better reflect my profile? Or should I delete current plan and start a new? Autocorrect doesn’t work well when language is set to Swedish…

tors 10 dec. 2020 kl. 19:07 skrev Coach Suzie Snyder via The Sufferfest <>:

If you’ve done Full Frontal since choosing a training plan, then yes, you should delete the applied plan and re-apply a new one. Future workouts may change but your completed workout history will not be affected.