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Strong Lifts and Bike Riding


Senior Member
Apr 5, 2009
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I am just starting out with the 5x5 program in an effort to get stronger. However, I am also hoping to train for RAGBRI (bike ride across Iowa). That requires progressivly longer bike rides, eventually riding over 100 miles a week.

Are these two goals incompatable? In other words, will my lifting efforts be wasted, or at least dramatically inhibited, if I am also spending so much time on the bike.


Senior Member
Jun 1, 2007
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RAGBRI is a very casual long distance ride. Average total length is about 472 miles and around 68 miles/day (from host city to host city). A cycling enthusiast can complete the daily ride in 3 - 4 hours without stopping. More recreational will take 5 - 7 hours with stops for refills and such.

Either way - this isn't a lot of time on the bike if you've been riding descent distances (30 - 40 miles a few times a week). Your back and ass might take most of the beating if you have legs that are in shape.


Distinguished Member
Jul 6, 2009
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all you want is to get stronger right? not bigger?

so if you do a weightlifting program properly you'll get stronger. the only thing the bike ride will do is really burn calories and build cardiovascular base.

both are compatible.


Well-Known Member
Jul 14, 2010
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You can do both, but you need to prioritize.

If strength is your priority, never skip a workout or vary the program. 3x5 or 5x5 squats 3 times each week, adding 5lbs each time. This will impact your ability to bike, but you will still build cardiovascular fitness and other leg muscles, even though you can't ride as fast or far with 'dead' legs. Take a week off squats if you have a race or other event you want peak performance.

If biking is priority, do the opposite. Develop a program to train for biking, and don't compromise your distance or frequency, even if you have to slow down a little being sore from squats. You will be sore and feel like skipping squats, and you don't need to do them 3 times a week but never go a week without squats, and you should squat twice a week more weeks than once a week. This is mostly a mental battle, as your legs CAN do squats even though you feel like you can't (you might need to lower the weight, especially if you start failing reps despite 100% effort).

These are both goals that you work up to over a long time, and they will to some extent compliment each other. But the most important thing is to do both consistently over long periods of time. That doesn't mean you don't need to push yourself, squats especially are mental effort - but going 80% intensity all year is far better than 100% intensity for 3 months and then 1 month off.


Distinguished Member
Aug 15, 2008
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Good advice from others here.

I do strength training about 5-6 days per week and ride 2x per week ~40-50 miles each ride at ave pace of ~18 mph (plus 1 recovery ride if possible).

You can definitely do both. Just structure your training blocks so that you aren't taxing muscles that are sore from recovery. For a while I was do 2-3 workouts per day (swim, bike, strength) and it completely wrecked me. Learned the hard way.

Also be mindful of your nutrition to not only for recovery but also for fuel on your rides. I usually fast but on my ride days I do proper pre ride carb loads, during and post ride too.

I also 20-30 min of yoga each morning to keep the hips open and back stretched.

Just as an example here's my nutrition around my rides:

3 - 3.5 hours pre ride:
0.5 - 1 cup oats (80g)
1-2 cups berries (200g)
3-4 walnuts
2 pieces grain toast

1 hour pre:
1 banana

During ride:
45min - 1 hour into ride and every hour after:
30g carbs energy pack
30g energy drink

Post ride Immediately:
60g glucose (*******)

30 minutes after:
Protein drink (60g min)

Then resume my regular nutrition for rest of day.


Oct 20, 2019
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I’ve been doing the 5x5 program for a while and I’ve seen a huge increase in my strength. I find it to be a great program, I have added some auxiliary lifts to the base to be a little more rounded.


Distinguished Member
Oct 29, 2010
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Even though this is an old thread, I think it's worth commenting on:

I ride and lift, and I've trained for various cycling events, include the Etape du Tour this year. It depends on your cycling goals. Do you want to just finish? Do you want to enjoy the ride and go hard when you want to? Do you want to be among the top finishers?

If B or C, then I would suggest cutting back on lifting heavy and focusing on cycling-specific exercises: Stretching, core, neck/shoulders and some light arms, maybe some bodyweight squats. You want to be light, flexible and support areas that take a beating when you're in the cycling position for hours a day. Also, the more time you lift the less you can ride, and there's really no substitute for time in the saddle.

The exercises that have made a difference for my cycling have been daily, thorough neck stretches; shoulder and upper back free weights; abs, including Russian twists; and light deadlifts with barbells to target lower back. Anything is fine to do but it's usually a question of priority. Also, losing 10-15 pounds over 6 months helped, too...

I'm on the fence a bit with squats: I've read that cycling doesn't tax your glutes as much as you think, so cyclists should at least do body-weight squats.

Overall, though, being strong is always better but cycling really requires CV fitness, especially if you're hoping to ride 100km a day for 4-5 days.


Saucy White Boy
May 27, 2008
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As I just learned yesterday, squats work the adductors, which play a major role in hip flexion. Don’t neglect that!


Distinguished Member
Sep 3, 2006
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cycling taxes the quads.
do RDLs

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