Weightlifting and Sufferfest Plans

I am thinking really hard on where I want to take my training next, and a big part of me is considering adding some muscles to my physique by weightlifting.

Naturally, this opens up a bunch of questions:

  • Is weightlifting and doing HIIT-sessions like The Sufferfest contraproductive?
  • How can I slot in enough recovery?
  • Is it even possible to balance both and come out the other side with some results?

A part of me is afraid to lose some of the progress I made during my time on the triathlon plans up until now.

Right now I have my eye on a 5x5 StrongLifts routine, which will see me squatting on three sessions a week, together with deadlifts, bench- and overhead presses and rows. The rest of the time I want to do some duathlon work (running and biking) plus some light yoga to stay limber.

@Coaches: Do you feel like this is something we could realize with the custom plans? Does it make sense?

@Community: Does anyone else do weightlifting or has some experience with heavy strength work together with The Sufferfest?


Interesting and these things worry me also. As a female rapidly approaching middle age, I know I have to lift heavy sh#& to maintain muscle mass and bone density. I’ve no idea how to incorporate this with my Suff plans, tho at the moment I’m lacking motivation in those too.
What I do is select a plan with Suff Strength and replace the Suff Strength sessions with gym sessions.

I do actually use 5x5 strong lifts. It’s simple and effective. My muscle mass is up and body fat is down: although I weigh only a little less, I am definitely a little slimmer too. I’ve been doing this since late last year. I found I massively slowed down on the bike at first, but now am finding it easier to power on the hills. It’s taken 9 months. Bear in mind also that I’m now in a 2nd Covid lockdown which means no gym. I’d only just got back into the gym before this 2nd lockdown. So the gym work has very much been disrupted over these 9 months. I don’t have the gear at home to lift heavy. The kids and dog refuse to cooperate.

For an idea of what I was lifting before lockdown: benching 35kg, squatting 75, upright row about 45, deadlift 85, overhead press (my weak point) 30. Not big numbers but they were going up rapidly, about 5kg a week. Was lifting twice a week. 3 times would have been better.


I like that idea. I’m doing something similar with the triathlon plans, where I replace every swimming sesssion with strength. :slight_smile:

It’s great to hear that you enjoy the routine. Sounds like you made awesome progress during your time, too - and all that on only two sessions a week. If you are satisfied and proud of your numbers, that’s all that matters. They don’t seem low at all. In fact, I will be very happy to arrive at these numbers at some point.

Right now, I am still waiting for my proper equipment to arrive. I’m very excited to start.

Hopefully we can get a few more opinions in this thread.

I think I will just start by keeping my modified tri-plan and see how far it can take me, for now. I would just love some coach-feedback before I decide on a custom plan going forward…


@Pierre Nice post. I am certainly not the authority on this but I can share my experience and hopefully it gives you some ideas.

Firstly (goal dependent of course!) I do not think it counter productive, and in fact I think it complements and enables an overall functionally fit body!

My fitness journey started with weight lifting and very little cardio. I was focussed on the “Mens Health Magazine” style physique. I was a self confessed gym rat!

I fell into cycling to improve my cardio and then about 4-5 years ago my first download off The Sufferfest Videos (The Wretched)!

While I was instantly hooked on the The Sufferfest I was predominantly lifting for strength and size.

In the last 3 years I have shifted focus to Cycling and weightlifting is no longer size/strength improvement focus and more for maintenance.

To give you some perspective
During my “peak” weight lifting I was 93kg … Benching 120kg/Squat 160kg/Deadlift 190kg I had an FTP around 260.

Now with shifting focus I am currently 88kg … will never be a climber :slight_smile: !! FTP of 320 & MAP 435. I still enjoy lifting just not as much volume (Squat of 140kg/Bench 100kg). If I only did cycling I could improve even more but I am happy with the mix as I approach the wrong side of 40 years old !!


Hey @Pierre,
Stength training is my jam. I’ve been doing it for the better part of 45 years as a coach/trainer and an athlete.
You definitely can incorporate a 5x5 strong lift routine into a customized plan or as @DameLisa suggested by selecting a program designed for strength and sub in your own sessions. A few basic ideas:

  1. In order to get enough recovery , lift 2x/week
  2. Squat, Deadlift, Press (overhead and bench), Row each once per week
  3. Add chin ups.
  4. Pair deadlift with bench and overhead press
  5. Pair squats with chins and rows
  6. Incorporate core work into both workouts
    Have fun!

Interesting, that’s exactly the strength combo I use. Although I do weighted squats both days. Chinups…groan ok @Coach.Spencer.R


Awesome @DameLisa. You could do lunges on your deadlift days if you wanted (reverse, forward or walking)…chins are the squat for the upper body!


Before lockdown I mostly did CrossFit and Olympic Lifting. I actually didn’t do any organized training on the bike - just outside MTB rides on weekends. Come race time my fitness was great and I had the ability to be uncomfortable for long periods but I didn’t have the total package and started Sufferfest in March and it has been a great addition. I actually do not skip the Suff Strength - I use it as a primer and then move on to sets - usually DL, rows, pushups one day and power cleans, FS, pull-ups another but it varies. I am trying to work in more single leg drills and also use tempo lifts eg. 3-1-1. I also use bands to work some of the smaller muscles after doing the major muscle group lifts. I keep track of the extra work in a notebook in my pain cave. I feel much more prepared for the next MTB race.


That’s some awesome advice. Thank you, @Coach.Spencer.R.

@DameLisa and you suggest doing the lifting only twice a week. That’s solid and simple, in order to get enough rest. Honestly, I was so fixated on the plan that I didn’t even think about this option. Great.

Chins should target a lot of the same muscle groups than normal pull-ups, right? I will stick with weighted pull-ups then, because I enjoy doing them.

Choosing a normal plan with strength sadly doesn’t work for me. I would need a proper duathlon plan in the plan builder to fill all my needs appropriately.
I guess I will become a „custom boy“ soon, if we could only stay within SUF and get rid of training peaks for this purpose. As soon as this happens, I’m in.

Maybe I need to revisit my initial plan to do a modified mix out of „recommended routine“ and „5x5“, twice a week?!:

  • Squat (3x8)
  • Pull-Up (3x8)
  • Deadlift (3x5)
  • Dip (3x8)
  • Push-Up (3x8)
  • Row (3x8)
  • Core (3x8)

Does that sound resonable and rounds out the 5x5 formula?

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@Pierre 5x5 actually suggests I lift 3 times per week, but I suspect it also assumes I’m not riding the bike up to 6x per week. On the weeks where I’ve ridden 5 or 6 times and lifted twice, I’ve been knackered and emptied the pantry. I found getting more sleep, eating enough (more) and adding in easy yoga sessions seems to help with recovery. Being female, cold water immersion is also amazing. Time is a big constraint for me as well, and that is what prevents me from over doing things


I was always encouraged to add 2 days a week weight training of some sort. Wish I did over the years. It is a big help now, and nothing really heavy or often, just 2 days does the trick.

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Okay, I was thinking long and hard about all the great tips in here, and I think I came to a conclusion:
I want too much. My ambition needs to be simplified.

I can’t believe it myself, yet, but I will abandon running completely. Same already happened with swimming. …Oh Sufferfest, what are you doing to me? :slight_smile:

My new plan is to concentrate on cycling and weightlifting.

I already set-up an intermediate All-Purpose Road-plan with strength and will substitute SUFStrength with a modified 5x5 routine. 2 Days a week.

Workout A:

Squat, Pullup, Deadlift, (Dip), Pushup, BB Row, Ab Wheel, Hyperextensions

Workout B:

Squat, Pullup, Deadlift, (Dip), Bench Press, Overhead Press, Hanging Leg Raises, Hyperextensions

Does that sound like a reasonable approach, @Coach.Spencer.R? I like doing all of these exercises and I figure, as long as I can make progress, I will try doing them.
Or should I concentrate on even less exercises per session?


Lisa, you are impressive. :slight_smile:

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Hey @Pierre
Looks good, I would suggest subbing lunges for squats on your deadlift days ( walking, reverse, or forward). Is the ( dip) a bar dip or a bench ( tricep) dip? Love the ab wheel rollouts!


Thabk you, but I can’t maintain that amount of effort unfortunately, so don’t be too impressed. At the moment I’m barely riding at all as struggling with focus and motivation. But I did enjoy when I was training that hard. Now to get back into it!


Thanks @Coach.Spencer.R as I don’t have access to a gym at all at the moment, I’ll try the lunges. Now to get back info my routine. :muscle:t2:


Thank you. I will try out lunges instead.

Dip = Ring Dip (Triceps)


Keep up the good work @DameLisa!!
@Pierre …just be very careful with the ring dips there extremely hard on the shoulders…


I will be careful. Thank you so much for all the advice. Now I’m really wondering, what kind of improvements to this formula we could do in a customized plan. :slight_smile:

One last thought / question, @Coach.Spencer.R: In my generated training plan I mostly have a combination of two or three workouts planned for any given “strength”-day:

  • Either Strength + Yoga or
  • Strength + Yoga + Cadence Builds.

Which order would be best?
Do I treat
…cycling as a warm up or cool down?

…yoga as a warm up or cool down?

My intuition tells me to start either with strength or yoga-warm-up then strength, because I need all the energy I have to lift on this day.

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Cool, no worries!
You’ve got the right idea.
Yoga + strength + cadence builds ( or No vid Cadence Drills or No vid Cadence Build and Holds, or No vid recovery spin) is good , as is:
Standing starts + strength + yoga
Let us know how it goes