Question: I’ve been doing twice-weekly leg exercises in the gym since last season and have made significant progress. At the beginning of March, I cut back to one session per week. Experienced racers say that a weight program should be discontinued during the season, but some coaches claim that if you stop lifting, all the gains will be lost. What should I do? — Erik M.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: This is a controversial issue. In the past, some pros were still doing leg presses in April even though they started racing in January.
They felt that strength is the basis for power and speed and wanted to peak for one or more of the Grand Tours. So they planned to lift through mid-May or later even though they knew it might be hurting their early-season racing.
Most riders will do better by reducing leg work in the gym to once per week during the season. The workout should be done on the same day you do sprints. Don’t do weights on your off-bike day because it will stress the quads when you should be letting them recover.
Some riders with lots of natural strength can discontinue weights during the season. But if leg strength is a limiting factor in events you ride, or if you’re over 40, an in-season, once-weekly maintenance program is recommended.