Recently on Cyclingnews.com
Photo ©: Sirotti
Form & Fitness Q & A
Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject?
Drop us a line at email@example.com.
Please include as much information about yourself as possible, including your
age, sex, and type of racing or riding.
Fitness questions and answers for February 12, 2004
The Cyclingnews form & fitness panel
Carrie Cheadle, MA (www.carriecheadle.com)
is a Sports Psychology consultant who has dedicated her career to helping
athletes of all ages and abilities perform to their potential. Carrie
specialises in working with cyclists, in disciplines ranging from track
racing to mountain biking. She holds a bachelors degree in Psychology
from Sonoma State University as well as a masters degree in Sport Psychology
from John F. Kennedy University.
Dave Palese (www.davepalese.com)
is a USA Cycling licensed coach and masters' class road racer with 16
years' race experience. He coaches racers and riders of all abilities
from his home in southern Maine, USA, where he lives with his wife Sheryl,
daughter Molly, and two cats, Miranda and Mu-Mu.
Kelby Bethards, MD received a Bachelor of
Science in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University (1994) before
obtaining an M.D. from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 2000.
Has been a racing cyclist 'on and off' for 20 years, and when time allows,
he races Cat 3 and 35+. He is a team physician for two local Ft Collins,
CO, teams, and currently works Family Practice in multiple settings: rural,
urgent care, inpatient and the like.
Fiona Lockhart (www.trainright.com)
is a USA Cycling Expert Coach, and holds certifications from USA Weightlifting
(Sports Performance Coach), the National Strength and Conditioning Association
(Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach), and the National Academy
for Sports Nutrition (Primary Sports Nutritionist). She is the Sports
Science Editor for Carmichael Training Systems, and has been working in
the strength and conditioning and endurance sports fields for over 10
years; she's also a competitive mountain biker.
Eddie Monnier (www.velo-fit.com)
is a USA Cycling certified Elite Coach and a Category II racer. He holds
undergraduate degrees in anthropology (with departmental honors) and philosophy
from Emory University and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business.
Eddie is a proponent of training with power. He coaches cyclists (track,
road and mountain bike) of all abilities and with wide ranging goals (with
and without power meters). He uses internet tools to coach riders from
David Fleckenstein, MPT (www.physiopt.com)
is a physical therapist practicing in Boise, ID. His clients have included
World and U.S. champions, Olympic athletes and numerous professional athletes.
He received his B.S. in Biology/Genetics from Penn State and his Master's
degree in Physical Therapy from Emory University. He specializes in manual
medicine treatment and specific retraining of spine and joint stabilization
musculature. He is a former Cat I road racer and Expert mountain biker.
Since 1986 Steve Hogg (www.cyclefitcentre.com)
has owned and operated Pedal Pushers, a cycle shop specialising in rider
positioning and custom bicycles. In that time he has positioned riders
from all cycling disciplines and of all levels of ability with every concievable
cycling problem.They include World and National champions at one end of
the performance spectrum to amputees and people with disabilities at the
Current riders that Steve has positioned include Davitamon-Lotto's Nick
Gates, Discovery's Hayden Roulston, National Road Series champion, Jessica
Ridder and National and State Time Trial champion, Peter Milostic.
Pamela Hinton has a bachelor's degree in Molecular
Biology and a doctoral degree in Nutritional Sciences, both from the University
of Wisconsin-Madison. She did postdoctoral training at Cornell University
and is now an assistant professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University
of Missouri-Columbia where she studies the effects of iron deficiency
on adaptations to endurance training and the consequences of exercise-associated
changes in menstrual function on bone health.
Pam was an All-American in track while at the UW. She started cycling
competitively in 2003 and is the defending Missouri State Road Champion.
Pam writes a nutrition column for Giana Roberge's Team Speed Queen Newsletter.
Dario Fredrick (www.wholeathlete.com)
is an exercise physiologist and head coach for Whole Athlete™. He is a
former category 1 & semi-pro MTB racer. Dario holds a masters degree in
exercise science and a bachelors in sport psychology.
Scott Saifer (www.wenzelcoaching.com)
has a Masters Degree in exercise physiology and sports psychology and
has personally coached over 300 athletes of all levels in his 10 years
of coaching with Wenzel Coaching.
Kendra Wenzel (www.wenzelcoaching.com)
is a head coach with Wenzel Coaching with 17 years of racing and coaching
experience and is coauthor of the book Bike Racing 101.
Richard Stern (www.cyclecoach.com)
is Head Coach of Richard Stern Training, a Level 3 Coach with the Association
of British Cycling Coaches, a Sports Scientist, and a writer. He has been
professionally coaching cyclists and triathletes since 1998 at all levels
from professional to recreational. He is a leading expert in coaching
with power output and all power meters. Richard has been a competitive
cyclist for 20 years
Andy Bloomer (www.cyclecoach.com)
is an Associate Coach and sport scientist with Richard Stern Training.
He is a member of the Association of British Cycling Coaches (ABCC) and
a member of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES).
In his role as Exercise Physiologist at Staffordshire University Sports
Performance Centre, he has conducted physiological testing and offered
training and coaching advice to athletes from all sports for the past
4 years. Andy has been a competitive cyclist for many years.
Kim Morrow (www.elitefitcoach.com)
has competed as a Professional Cyclist and Triathlete, is a certified
USA Cycling Elite Coach, a 4-time U.S. Masters National Road Race Champion,
and a Fitness Professional.
Her coaching group, eliteFITcoach, is based out of the Southeastern United
States, although they coach athletes across North America. Kim also owns
a resource for cyclists, multisport athletes & endurance coaches around
the globe, specializing in helping cycling and multisport athletes find
Advice presented in Cyclingnews' fitness pages is provided for educational
purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice for individual
athletes. If you follow the educational information found on Cyclingnews,
you do so at your own risk. You should consult with your physician before
beginning any exercise program.
Mucus, mucus, mucus
Nutrition and hydration for centuries
Power output for track racing
Realistic weight loss
Whey vs. soy protein
Gym vs Turbo
Mucus, mucus, mucus
I am a 29 year old male, 5' 10", 155 lbs. I have been riding regularly and
racing cat 5 for almost exactly one year. I rode just over 5,000 miles last
year and competed in seven races. During my most intense training periods last
summer I was riding in two to three high intensity group rides a week and doing
about 150-200 miles. My solo rides tend to be about 30-40 miles of flat road
at about 20-22 mph. I do not plan to advance past cat 4 and I am not interested
in making my rides super structured, mainly I am out to have a pleasant ride
and get a killer workout. It is an absolute blast.
I have one question. After very intense efforts I get a bunch of mucus build
up at the back of my throat. The stuff is extremely viscous and takes a good
deal of hacking to get out. This affects me during the latter half of races
and training rides. Is this just a symptom of not being trained enough for the
effort or some kind of allergic/food reaction? (I do not have allergies that
I know of but my father does.) I seem to be the only one out there hacking up
Andrew Grant replies:
The first point is that the mucous membrane of the lungs and upper respiratory
system is designed to protect the lungs from damage. The mucous membrane consists
of a lot of water. It is important to ensure that you maintain adequate hydration
to maintain a thin mucous functioning membrane. There are a number of possibilities
of the cause of the mucous, these include a residual throat infection or residual
lung infection. The colour of the mucous will be a green / yellow colour.
Another possible cause of the mucous is due to regurgitating stomach acid
due to a weak stomach sphincter and then breathing the micro-aspirated acid
into the lungs. This creates a thick white mucous. I have seen this condition
on a number of occasions, without any gastric symptoms.
Both conditions are treatable using herbal medicine.
Nutrition and hydration for centuries
I am a 36 year old 170 pound male recreational cyclist who enjoys centuries
with an eye toward cross-state rides (I live in FL). I do my long ride on Saturdays
and a recovery on Sunday. On two other days during the week I work through the
"Suffer-O-Rama" spinerval CD for power/strength training. Twice a week I work
upper body on a home gym.
I am preparing for my second century in Feb. and wanted to get some basic guidelines
for nutrition and hydration during the event. Last year I completed my first
century but feel like my nutrition probably let me down in the last 30 miles.
My avg. speed dropped from 18 to 10 or 12 and it was all I could do to keep
turning over. T
he last minute advice I received from some bike shop buds was to simply pack
6-9 gels, eat one just before starting, then one every 45 minutes or so with
half a bottle of water. This seemed to work well until 75 miles or so. It probably
did not help that I somehow missed 1, possibly 2 of the water stops and ran
out twice pedaling about 10 miles to the next water. In any case I'd like to
get some basic, dependable guidelines for nutrition and hydration during the
event. I'm an ex competitive swimmer and know what works there but cycling seems
to place a different set of demands on the body. Thanks for any reply.
Andrew Grant replies:
For endurance events your carbohydrate requirements are 60 grams per hour.
6-9 gels are not enough.
I prefer Maxim Original. Make one bottle with Maxim and one with water. Carry
the additional Maxim in plastic vitamin contains and make it up as you go
along by adding water.
Test all of the nutrition prior to race day.
Eating for what you are about to do
Eat a small amount of raw or cooked oats. 1/3 cup is usually sufficient.
The amount eaten should not cause any gastric distress during the following
training session. This allows for a steady supply of glucose during training
Eating for what you are doing
Carbohydrate Usage During Training
Three scoops (60gm) of MaximT, AchieveTor Poly-JouleT per hour for any rides
40km or over.
Highly trained athletes may use less
Carry one bottle of water and one bottle of Maxim.
Carry a three scoop refill container of Maxim on long rides. 60km +
Solid Food on Long Rides - 100km+
Bread and bread rolls for addition carbohydrate supply.
Bagels for additional carbohydrate supply with a high Glyceamic Index.
Fast recovery: eating for what you have done
Post-training eating for fast recovery and optimal immune function
Eat boiled Calrose White Rice within 30mins of finishing training. This is
when the body's insulin system is most receptive to making glycogen.
Cook one cup (dry weight) of Calrose white rice and eat as much as possible,
without causing gastric discomfort.
A common objection is that the rice doesn't taste. Add soy or sweet chilli
sauce, or can be cooked into rice pudding
Drink a large glass of water.
Have a protein shake that provides 30gm - 40gm of protein with the rice. This
increases the amount of glucose stored in the muscle as glycogen.
Drink 200ml - 400ml fifteen minutes before the start. This will not have
time to pass and urine production is drastically reduced during exercise.
This will have you start the event slightly hyper-hydrated which is a benefit
during an endurance event.
During the event, one 750ml bottle every 30km - 40km (250ml every 20mins)
Larger volumes of fluid have a faster gastric emptying times. Fluid should
temperature to save the body using energy to bring it up to body temperature
Extremely cold drinks will cause reflex dumping in the stomach and intestinal
For Additional Hydration Try Glycerol loading. Test this out of competition
before using in an event as it is sickly sweet and may have laxative effect.
Supplementing with glycerin or glycerol in water 40mins before the start
can spare glucoseand glycogen stores in the first part of the race.
Formula for use of glycerin / glycerol is 1.2gm per kilo of body weight in
one litre of water.
It also helps to hyper-hydrate.
Power output for track racing
I am currently training for the track. My discipline is the 500m tt. To date
my fastest time is 40.42 over 500m and this was achieved in July 2003 in Aigle.
I am currently training for trials to qualify for the World Cup in Manchester,
the qualifying time is 36.15. My question is what power/wattage do i need to
be producing to achieve this result.
Steve Owens replies:
There are so many factors that you have to take into consideration when trying
to figure this out. Rolling resistance, wind resistance, acceleration, air
density... the list goes on and on! I believe this is a good way to objectively
train for the 500M time trial. If you have a power meter, you'll be able to
come up with a fairly accurate answer of what your average power and acceleration
will need to be to achieve a 36.15 second time for the 500M TT. Assuming the
following information, I've come up with an answer for you: You're at sea
level. You and your bike collectively weigh 75kg. Your effective frontal area
is 0.5 square meters (normal). A normal drag coefficient of 0.5. Standing
start. A flat, concrete track (coefficient of rolling resistance = 0.002).
You'll have to average 785 Watts over the 36.15 seconds.
If any of these are different, let me know and I'll rework the numbers. Or,
if you can give me more detailed information like Maximum power, the time
at which power is maximum and I can give you a slightly better answer. It's
a very complicated question to come up with an exact answer, but we can pretty
close if we have a lot of information.
Ric Stern replies
I don't believe it's possible to work out your power from the data given,
as there are too many unknowns, e.g., your size, the power you are currently
producing, temperature of the track, type of track, air density, bike and
equipment used, position on the bike, etc.
Estimations can be made at www.analyticcycling.com, however, these will be
estimations and could be wildly inaccurate depending on how well you know
the above answers. When you try to extrapolate any further answers (i.e. power
for 36 secs) the errors are going to be further compounded.
The only way to get a good answer is to record some actual data, (probably)
on an accurately calibrated SRM track crank on an indoor track (Manchester,
Newport?) to find out what power you are currently producing at specific times/velocities.
Once you have some baseline figures you can then start to do some modelling
and work out the power required to travel at a faster velocity.
Hope that helps, and if I can help further please do not hesitate to contact
I am 62, retired and have been cycling seriously for 15 years , previously
a runner. 16 months ago I was diagnosed as having chronic prostatitis and have
spent the time since trying to find a cure enough to let me get back on my bike.
I have been proscribed lengthy anti biotic courses, alpha blockers, cystoscopy,
prostate massage, by the urology consultant I was referred to by my GP all of
which had reduced the symptoms substantially but not enough to ride my bike
without stirring things up again. I asked for a second opinion and have been
referred to a consultant at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge who is particularly
specialising in prostate and allied problems.
After many blood and urine tests and an ultrasound scan of the prostate the
good news seems to be that it is very unlikely to be cancer. Subject to the
final tests becoming available, shortly ,I have been told that in the consultant's
opinion it is more than likely to be pelvic myoneuropathy. This is where as
a result of trauma (cycling?) of some kind, the bundle of fibres within the
pelvic floor area muscles have become super sensitised leading to the nerve
endings overproducing neuropeptides leading to pathology. Powerful immune defense
cells are stimulated which then produce a range of chemicals which cause similar
symptoms to prostatitis.
I am likely , if this diagnosis is confirmed, to be referred to another specialist
who is looking into ways of using new generation drugs to calm down the immune
defense cells. I have been told with regard to cycling that in his opinion,
he sees a lot of cyclists, the problem is not, as one would expect ,necessarily
caused directly by cycling. further that riding my bike is very much up to me
on a suck it and see basis. I have been doing 45 minutes three times a week
on my static trainer together with running three times a week. I have also done
the odd ride for an hour on both my road and mountain bikes. I get the odd twinge
while riding and for up to a day afterwards some discomfort in the urethra area.
I have experimented with different saddles, at present a Selle Italia SLK, very
expensive anatomically designed Assos shorts and even a suspension seatpost
on my road bike to cut down the shocks and vibration of riding on our appalling
Do you have any information, suggestions, knowledge, on this problem, I am
told it is becoming increasingly common, especially among men between 25 and
Scott Saifer replies:
This is pretty obvious and I hope you've already tried it, but have you tilted
the nose of the saddle down to relieve pressure in the sensitive area? Some
cyclists seem to have a bias in favor of a level saddle, no matter how much
pain it causes. I like to have the majority of the saddle contact pressure
on the sit bones (Ischial tuberosities) with just a little near the pubic
bone. For some riders this means keeping the saddle level, but for the majority
it means tilting the nose down a few degrees. If you feel weight increasing
on your hands, you've gone too far. If you are in an extreme, low-handlebar
racing position, you might also consider raising the bars a bit.
I know this particular diagnosis has been popular for the last few years,
but among the several hundred riders I've coached I've never seen a case,
so it either is not that common or is avoidable with proper bike fit.
I have been an avid cyclist since 1978. I am now forty years of age and have
been forced by a hip injury to stay off of the bike. I have been plagued with
an unbelievable soreness/pain on the upper outside of my hip. If I were to ride,
I would be lucky to walk the next day. I ignored the problem for about 45 days,
and I recently broke down and went to the doctor. My family doctor in turn sent
me to an orthopedic doctor last week. After running an MRI, he diagnosed me
with bursitis. He shot the area with cortisone, prescribed celebrex, and rehab.
I will return to see him in 30 days. The hip is now feeling better. The question
that I have is what can I do to get myself back on the bike? I know whatever
it is, it will be a slow process. Any advice would be appreciated.
Dave Fleckenstein replies:
From your report, it sounds like you have trochanteric bursitis, certainly
not an usual problem for cyclists. The bursa (and we have many in our bodies)
are fluid filled sacs, typically located near joints, that serve as buffers
between two moving surfaces. In the case of the hip, the trochanteric bursa
functions to prevent the tendons and muscles of the hip (including the hip
abductors and iliotibial band) from rubbing on the greater trochanter (that
knob at the top of your femur). The bursa typically becomes irritated in one
of two ways, contusion or overuse (excessive friction). It is common for cyclists
to experience both injuries. When cyclists crash, they frequently fall on
their hips and injure the bursa through direct trauma or contusion. I have
seen cyclists go weeks and months requiring intermittent draining of this
injury. Rest, ice, ultrasound, and massage are appropriate ways of dealing
with this type of injury.
I am assuming that, since no crash was mentioned, you have fallen victim
to overuse. I will caution you sternly - while the injection and anti-inflammatory
medications have reduced your pain, they have not addressed what irritated
your hip in the first place. Another way of putting this is that the drugs
have addressed the victim, but not the culprit. If you do not determine what
the irritant (culprit) is, you run the risk of having this problem return
quickly. If you made a simple training error and had a sudden significant
increase in your workout (either mileage or intensity) than you would probably
do fine to slowly return to riding. If, however, the injury came on without
any real insult, I would examine a number of factors before returning to full
First, how is your alignment? Excess rotation, particularly internal rotation
of the leg, during the pedal stroke is a primary culprit. As the hip rotates
inward, the tendons surrounding the trochanteric bursa become stretched and
rub the bursa. Over thousand of pedal strokes, this friction causes irritation
of the bursa (much like a blister forming) This is typically caused by excessive
pronation (inward rolling of the arch) and can be corrected (or at least improved)
with good over-the-counter orthotics. Second, how is your flexibility? Excessive
tightness, particularly of the iliotibial band, can cause excessive friction
at the bursa. Finally, and most overlooked, how is your hip strength? The
hip abductors, particularly the gluteus medius, play an extremely important
role in stabilizing the hip joint. I would recommend having those three components
analyzed by a sports medicine professional - a physical therapist, sports
chiropractor, or kinesiologist should all be able to give you some insight.
Realistic weight loss
First of all, thanks for doing this section. I always find it interesting to
read even if the question/problem isn't something I've experienced.
I'm a 57 year old male 6'2", 209 lbs. I did my last Iron Man Triathlon 20 years
ago and last season decided to get back into shape. I enjoyed some success in
local bike races, triathlons and duathlons in the old guys' divisions. This
year I'm starting out a little further ahead and need/want to drop some more
weight because I've caught the competitive bug again. I know some of you do
not believe in weight training but as a chief of police I need to set an example,
not just aerobically, so I can't turn myself into a stick man.
Here's my dilemma and I'm sure it's one many struggle with. How much weight
can you expect to lose and still maintain the energy to train? I intend to have
my body fat tested hydrostatically in order to set a more realistic goal but
when I'm able to exercise some will power and diet, I don't have the energy
to do much more than just go through the motions (heart rate 130 compared to
150 with a measured max of 182). If I eat a balanced diet, I can do more volume
and quality but don't drop very fast.
I try to bike (or spin if it's too icy) and run 4 times/week each, lift weights
with high reps and do body weight exercises (pushups, pull-ups etc.) twice/week
and swim 2 or 3 times/week. Closer to the season I will do longer rides and
just one workout/day some days. By losing a pound a week I could be down twenty
pounds by June 1 and be 10 pounds lighter than last year which I'm sure would
make a difference. I was about 180 and about 10% body fat 15-20 years ago when
I last competed.
Is it more important to train hard or be lighter? In other words should I be
more concerned with the workouts or the weight loss and is there compromise
in there somewhere? I read somewhere that for every 5 lbs. less you weigh, you
can travel about 3 minutes faster over 5k on the bike. What is a realistic body
fat percentage to strive for and at what rate should you try to get there?
Scott Saifer replies:
I've had several dozen clients lose weight as an important element of their
preparation for bike racing. My experience is that most but not all riders
can lose one pound per week consistently while maintaining training energy.
I've yet to have a client who couldn't lose 1/2 pound per week and maintain
energy. There seems to be a connection between available weight to lose and
the safe loss rate. That is, the more weight you have to lose, the more rapidly
you can lose. Of course as you approach your target weight you have to slow
down. At your current height and weight, I'd guess that you can probably lose
1-2 pounds per week for the first 10 pounds or so, and then one pound per
week after that.
Whether weight loss will improve your competitive ability depends in part
on what sort of events you'll be doing. If you'll be running, being lighter
will make you faster. If you'll be cycling, then weight loss will only help
if you plan to race on hills. I had a client who was 6'2", 235 pounds who
won flat criteriums in the senior 1/2/pro events just by virtue of his killer
sprint. Of course he didn't bother to show up for road races.
Each athlete may have a minimum body fat percentage to stay healthy. Most
masters riders can get down to 8% or even lower safely. Many athletes get
sick from losing weight to quickly, which implies that they are not consuming
adequate fuel for workouts and recovery, and mistakenly think that they have
gotten sick from getting too light. Gradual weight loss is key to maintaining
health and energy.
One last note: Body weight is much more important than body fat percentage
in determining success on hills. A 220 pound body builder with 2% fat won't
climb much better than a 220 pound couch potato with 20% fat of the same height.
I am a collegiate cycling racer getting ready for the upcoming seaon. I planned
my training using the Joe Friel Book and am now in Build 1. The problem I have
run into is that i based my plan on last years schedule and now the conference
championships, hopefully my first peak and A race, is a week later than scheduled.
I had scheduled after build 2 period to do two weeks of peak and then a race
week before conference chamionships. Any suggestions on what I should do with
my extra week. Thanks,
Eddie Monnier replies:
Without knowing a lot more about you, you might consider inserting an additional
Build week before your taper. You could do this by repeating Week 1, 2 or
3) to create a five week Build 1 or Build 2 (eg, Build 1...Wk1, Wk2, Wk2,
Wk3, Wk4), provided you've previously handled four week builds without being
too overreached. If you're unsure, I'd add it to Build 1 because if you become
too overreached you have time to address it before your A event. Either way,
it's probably a good idea to insert a few extra rest days between the "doubled
Good luck with your peak!
Whey vs. soy protein
I am a competitive cyclist, who has an unfortunate genetic make up of naturally
high cholesterol. Is there a distinct advantage to whey protein, which is high
in cholesterol compared to soy protein for recovery?
Andrew Grant replies:
Whey protein is rich in cysteine which is a precursor to glutathione. Glutathione
is the most potent antioxidant in the body and has a noticeable effect on
recovery. I have used both soy and whey protein, and the whey is way better.
(Excuse the pun)
With regard to your cholesterol, it can be lowered naturally by using a soluble
fibre and a herbal liver tonic that contains Globe Artichoke (Cynara scolymus).
Psyllium is the best soluble fibre to use. One heaped teaspoon with breakfast
and plenty of water and the liver tonic. How it works is, the liver tonic
stimulates the release bile from the liver. The bile is usually recycled and
reabsorbed in the intestine, but it binds to the soluble fibre and passed
in the stool. Cholesterol is the precursor to bile. The body uses cholesterol
to make new bile and so reduces your cholesterol levels.
Eddie Monnier replies:
If you are otherwise eating a reasonably healthy diet and exercising at typical
levels for a competitive cyclist, I doubt dietary measures will help your
cholesterol levels much, if at all. Fortunately, for people like you and me,
there are cholesterol lowering medicines which readily help us. While you
might try some of the dietary approaches, you should certainly follow the
advice of your doctor.
Gym vs Turbo
I'm 32 years old and I race competitively in Ireland at high amateur
My training routine is as follows. During the winter I train in the gym week
nights (two - three times per week) and build up cycling miles at weekends (i.e
Saturday 3- 4 hrs & Sunday 4+ hours)
My question is, during my winter training, specifically at weekends and at
times when weather is very bad, would I benefit most from a) attending the gym
or b) using my turbo trainer?
Could you advise on which of the above would be of most benefit to me or alternatively
recommend further suggestions for training.
Ric Stern replies:
For riders who are well trained and above, gym work may be of no use or even
detrimental for endurance cyclists (by gym work I'm assuming that you mean weight
training, cross training 'aerobically' i.e. not cycling, and 'circuit' type
In trained riders strength (the maximal force or tension generated by a muscle
or group of muscles) is not a limiting factor in endurance cycling performance
(ECP), except in a few specific cases (e.g., very old people, you suffer from
a functional disability). The force that can be generated on the pedals is generally
quite low (it's highest doing an all-out standing start), and most people can
generate the force that an elite Tour de France rider could produce (however,
i would add that you should really only compare age, gender, and mass matched
individuals). For example, it's known that when climbing an (e.g.) Alpine pass
top (male) riders will produce ~ 400 W (~ 6 W/kg) - most males (and many females)
will be able to produce this power -- however, the difference is that at that
power non-elite riders will only be able to sustain that power for a short period
of time (e.g. from seconds to several plus minutes), whereas the pro's are doing
this for about an hour.
As (virtually) everyone can produce the required forces for ECP, we need to
train the ability to sustain efforts for longer periods of time, which can only
be trained on the bike. As we can meet or exceed the power and force required
in ECP, increasing strength through gym work, will generally not be beneficial.
Strength training will often cause an increase in muscle cross sectional area,
and this will lead to a relative decrease in mitochondrial and capillary density
which will cause a decrease in aerobic power, furthermore, as hypertrophy occurs
there will be a mass gain, which will slow you uphill.
Thus, assuming that you can cycle during the week on (e.g.) an indoor trainer
and outside at the weekend then this is where you want to focus your training.
If on the other hand you can't do any cycling - then gym work or any
exercise will be beneficial to your fitness.
As for actual training suggestions, these would be highly dependent on time
available, goals, fitness, etc. and would be worth contacting a coach to help
you plan your training, such as myself or one of the others on the list at cyclingnews.com.
Other Cyclingnews Form & Fitness articles