I can't begin to tell you how much I've read re: this subject in the last month or so. To tell you that the reviews (as to the effectiveness of a Weight Training regimine for cyclists, when combined with an aerobic endurance training program, in the off-season) are mixed..is an understatement. And, I'm telling you the reviews are from the experts in the field: PhDs, MDs and Physiologists.
So, you may ask, why do I even care about a Weight Training program if I'm a cyclist? Specificity of training tells me if I want to get better (stronger) on the bike..just ride. But, unless you live in Hawaii or Key West, FL, where you can do that- just ride outside all year around- you're most likely going to be stuck inside during the Winter months. And, I don't know about you..but I get pretty stinking tired of JUST riding indoors doing interval sessions (or whatever) on my trainer all Winter long. Besides, for me, the off-season is a time to "mix it up a little", have some fun so you don't burn out, and prepare for the upcoming race season. (BTW, I think I would burn out if I lived in South Florida and could ride all year round.) When I say, "mix it up", I'm talking about X-training. i.e. doing things off the bike, like X-Country Skiing, Rollerblading, running, etc. It's also a time to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and work on those weaknesses. For me, my weaknesses as a racer are many: carrying too much weight (which drops my watts/kg and makes it difficult to climb hills fast), having a subpar aerobic engine (low Lactate Threshold and/or VO2max which makes it hard to hang-on during fast group rides), and having underdeveloped leg muscles (which will most certainly exclude me from any sprint finish). The weight I'm not worried about..because I'll start losing that with a strict diet and formal exercise/cycling training plan (which started in November), and the subpar aerobic engine will be tuned-up in February and March when I do more intense cycling interval training. But, what about underdeveloped leg muscles? I can take care of that weakness RIGHT NOW and continue that up to the racing season with a formal Weight Training Plan. Sounds pretty easy huh? Well, one problem..if you ever picked up a book on "Exercise Physiology" (and actually read it) you'll have discovered that Aerobic Endurance Training (i.e. cycling) and strength training (i.e. weight training) really don't complement each other too well. Why is that? See Part II for more.