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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

For several years I have been lifting and riding mtb but over the past year I have really dialed back my lifts and dialed up my cycling. What I have been doing for my fitness regiment (and having a blast doing so) is ride one day, upper body exercise the next, ride the next day, upper body again, rinse, repeat, and then resting one or two days during the week to not overload.

My goals are long-term fitness. I don't care about muscle size. I just want to be fast and fit on my bike, I want to be better at riding, I don't want to hurt myself by over-working any body part, and I want to stay fit and relatively injury free for a long long time. I am 32 years old and want to be doing this for the rest of my life so I don't want to do anything that will land me with bad knees or a overworked back or anything like that 10-20-30 years down the line.

So can I keep skipping leg day when lifting? Just balanced upper body on my non-riding days and let the rides work my legs? I ask because my buddy who is more skilled and practiced in the way of the lift than I am says that I should still keep maybe a couple of leg-work exercises in my lift routine and that it will help my riding ability and prevent injury in the long-run but I've heard conflicting things from some in the riding community.

I'm not opposed to adding some leg-work on lifting days, but I am opposed to over working my legs, hindering my riding ability, or increasing long-term injury.
 

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Bicyclochondriac.
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I am no training expert, but it is my understanding that throwing in some strength training days for your legs will help your mountain biking in both the short term and long term.

I do notice that the day after working my legs hard at the gym my legs are not 100% on the bike. But I am 52, and it takes me longer to recover than it used to.

However, I’ve also noticed that when I do regular strength training with my legs, I am stronger on the bike. (Just not the same day, and possibly not the next day).
 

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Slowohioboy
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However, I've also noticed that when I do regular strength training with my legs, I am stronger on the bike. (Just not the same day, and possibly not the next day).
I'm no training expert either, but noticed the same. I typically try to do 1 leg day a week, and don't ride the day after. Never been a fan of lifting leg days, but there has been a significant difference since I started doing them again.
 

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No known cure
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I'm no expert. I only know what works for me. I stopped leg day when I started single speeding 12 years ago. It's not my only bike but it's great training for enduro and super d racing. I also race SS. I don't go crazy with the gearing either. I'm on 34x20 and it's perfect for the mountains and I have no problem walking sections. I just turned 49 and I've taken care of my knees and avoided any activity that might compromise them, like motox. I do yoga too which may be the best thing I've done for core muscles.
 

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I'm mostly on your current plan. It's not ideal, but it's what i can maintain indefinitely. In terms of strength i don't think i give much up, but when i go running or backpacking there's a lot of little muscles that i don't work out. So i have fantastic leg strength and stamina and it's easy to accidentally push myself and then i SUFFER during recovery.

Since my objective isn't to look sexy (hey when you're born with it...), i try to do an occasional leg day and an occasional run, rather than MTB. 2-3x a month makes a huge difference for me when i venture outside my mtb routine.
 

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high pivot witchcraft
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I'm off for a biking trip on Wednesday. When I get back Sunday night I am going to get back into 5x5 StrongLifts. I had huge gains biking last time I did that program. Only compound exercises - squat, bench and row in one workout, and squat, overhead press and deadlift in the other. 3 workouts a week - A, B, A, then B, A, B, etc. 5 sets of 5 reps. Increased weight every single workout.

I am convinced squats and deadlifts allowed my to jump 4 teeth on my front ring. I could easily have gone 6.

Don't skip leg day. Squats may be the best overall exercise ever.

https://stronglifts.com/5x5/
 

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I am in a similar position to the OP, however, my gym is in my basement which is currently under renovation. With the gym under renovation, I have been spending an extra 2 days on the bike.

Quads, calves and hamstrings are all dialed, but I do not get the hip thrust I would normally get from a leg day.

What does it mean? I am way out of whack, now off the bike headed into a second week because of weakness in my hips and resulting IT band inflammation and hip bursitis. It sucks.

Granted I am 47 and active, The balance you get from strength training is crucial to long term health and injury prevention.

I am out of balance right now and paying a painful price.
 

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I am totally not into indoor exercise, but I can attest that riding, as good as it is and as much as I enjoy it, by itself, does have some limitations:
- range of motion is small(er) compared to squats
- core engagement is less compared to squats

However, MOST of my leg work is on the bike. Some days I ride it like a singlespeed and I get some real high-load reps, while other days are more about speed, and others are about seated climbing. Climbing long hills standing in a big gear is fully engaging, and really helps my endurance and mid-ride recovery, but low reps with more weight from time to time might be better, esp. if you are already trained in a different exercise like squats.
My goal, specifically, is mid-ride recovery (like after a series of hard climbs - but I do NOT do hill repeats). That is why I do everything on the bike.

-F
 

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I'm off for a biking trip on Wednesday. When I get back Sunday night I am going to get back into 5x5 StrongLifts. I had huge gains biking last time I did that program. Only compound exercises - squat, bench and row in one workout, and squat, overhead press and deadlift in the other. 3 workouts a week - A, B, A, then B, A, B, etc. 5 sets of 5 reps. Increased weight every single workout.

I am convinced squats and deadlifts allowed my to jump 4 teeth on my front ring. I could easily have gone 6.

Don't skip leg day. Squats may be the best overall exercise ever.

https://stronglifts.com/5x5/
Don't skip leg day. If you want to skip the minor leg lifts (calf raises, leg extensions, etc), do more core work and keep the major leg lifts (squat, deadlift). They're good for your entire body.
This^^^

Don't skip leg day entirely, but you can definitely change up your routine. Big, compound exercises are where it's at during the summer. You may not need to work your legs as long as you normally would in the gym, but keep squats, deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, and lunges in the mix!
 

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Squats and deadlifts are mandatory weight lifting exercises for overall strength. Bike riding (even on a single speed) is NOT a substitute. If you want to stay fit and strong and avoid injury, do 2 or 3 workouts per week of heavy free weight exercises like the 5x5 routine or Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe. Skip all the silly machine exercises and isolation exercises. This has worked for me and I am in my 50s.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Kk based on the responses I am receiving in this thread I'll go ahead and add a couple compound leg movements to my off day workouts. My weekly routine will be

Monday - Ride
Tuesday - Lift
Wednesday - Ride
Thursday - Lift
Friday - Ride
Weekend - rest/ride
 

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I squat, bench Press, press (standing OH press) and deadlift year around, though during Mtn Bike season, I get considerably weaker and squatting volume is scaled back considerably.

Accessories are cycled in and out depending on the time of year: chin-ups, power Cleans, Power snatches, Barbell rows.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
If you line riding then ride. The gym will make you worse at riding not better.
This is the majority response I got last time I asked this which is why I dropped leg day all together in the first place.

Gotta say I am nervous about progressing as a rider as I did only a less than half effort leg day on Monday and my Tuesday ride was one of my slowest and most difficult in months due to a lack of power I was able to conjure up from my legs.

I'm hopeful that as my body re-adjusts to some light leg work during lifting days that I can start seeing improvements in my riding instead of detriments.

I'll also add that my gym is a rudimentary home gym and my workout is essentially just a circuit version of a modified 5x5 with a couple of the more fun/complex accessory lifts. It's aimed more at endurance than hypertrophy. Not lifting heavy and no machines.
 

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Yeah, you are probably right. The pros and their staff of trainers have no idea why they are doing...

Hip and back pain is common across all types of cyclists, almost universally a result of muscular and structural imbalance.

Weight training is equally about correcting imbalance and injury prevention as it is about performance. Weight training performance should and probably will decrease with more time on the bike, but cycling performance, quad/calf/lower back/upper body strength all lead to greater performance on the bike.

This is not to say put on 30 lbs of muscle and look like the hulk, more so about addressing areas that are neglected by singular focus on the bike, building strength in neglected areas such as hip and lower back to prevent injuries that will knock you off the bike. And as a bonus, building upper body strength to better handle rowdy downhills

https://enduro-mtb.com/en/winter-training-part-iii-7-must-do-exercises-for-mtb-riders/

https://fascatcoaching.com/tips/enduro-training-for-mountain-biking/

[video]https://youtu.be/xXyAdMzjvo8%5B/url%5D[/video]


If you line riding then ride. The gym will make you worse at riding not better.
 

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This is the majority response I got last time I asked this which is why I dropped leg day all together in the first place.

Gotta say I am nervous about progressing as a rider as I did only a less than half effort leg day on Monday and my Tuesday ride was one of my slowest and most difficult in months due to a lack of power I was able to conjure up from my legs.

I'm hopeful that as my body re-adjusts to some light leg work during lifting days that I can start seeing improvements in my riding instead of detriments.

I'll also add that my gym is a rudimentary home gym and my workout is essentially just a circuit version of a modified 5x5 with a couple of the more fun/complex accessory lifts. It's aimed more at endurance than hypertrophy. Not lifting heavy and no machines.
I would recommend focusing on strength/heavy lifting. There is a wealth of published info on this matter, but for athletic performance, increased strength will have the most benefit and the only real translation from gym to sport. You're already getting endurance in your bike training and "endurance" tends to be specific anyway (I.e. "endurance training in the gym will give you more endurance for gym training but not much else. The same goes for the endurance you build on your bike.). Stronger muscles/increases strength, however, allow you to apply more force in a very general manner, be it mashing those pedals or helping your buddy move his couch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Can't lift too heavy, no time in my schedule to go to the gym and at home I only have a set of 5-55lbs dumbbells. Also full body heavy lifting regiments are too time costly, and I have a very finite amount of time to workout on my non-riding days.
 
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