I've been hitting the gym for weight training twice a week (1 day legs, 1 day upper body) for the last 6 months to increase the strength over last year. I assume at some point in the season I should cut out the weight training. My current plan is to ease up a bit through the first half of the season, still weight training but shorter sessions that are easier to recover from. Then, to cut out the weights all together for the last 3 weeks or so.
Any trainers want to pipe in and let me know if I'm totally off track?
I am not a trainer - but I get the 2nd hand beni's of training side by side with a few elite athletes (NFL, MLB, Div 1, and even 2 Olympians). (I'm the fat slow guy that pays to be in the same place!)
This has become an area of debate over the past few years. There has been a number of recent studies typically based on Olympic / pro endurance athletes starting to prove that low rep / high weight is more beneficial than high volume / low rep. The gist of what I've seen is as pro endurance athletes start to mature and push the overtraining threshold the high volume / low weight reps start to tear down supporting body structures. As these structures start to break down you are more prone to injury & lower overall performance.
A good multi-joint workout routine using high weight / low reps can build supporting muscle structure and improve overall explosive speed. I think its silly the .5% of elite athletes push down the no weight gain mentality. All the hard work & nutrition required to gain 5lbs of lean muscle will more than pay off in overall explosive CX performance & bike handling skills.
I personally have blended (stolen) a few techniques over the past few years:
Start workouts w/ heavy multi-joint lifts: dumbbell bench, back / Front Squats, bar/dumbbell/kettlebell Cleans, dead lifts, farmers walk, weighted tricept dips, "Armstrong Pull-up program", Upright Rows, etc
Secondary: Tabata style intervals (20 seconds reps - 10 second rest x 8 w/ 3-4 sets). This keeps your HR high & builds endurance. I mix in traditional lifts & explosive body weight moves like: lunges, box step up, frog hops, jump-rope, flutter kicks, pushups, dips, high skipping / sprints, etc.
Don't forget food - heavy lifting requires more protein to rebuild muscle .
Pre-Workout: Complex carbs like apples, bannana, oats & Whey Protein shake
Post-Workout: Fast Carbs: Gummies, Chocolate milk, white bread, Whey protein shake.
Bed Time: Casein Protein Shake
I know this doesn't purely answer your question of when to stop weight training. Over the past 5 years I have continued to maintain this style of workout 3 days a week for the entire season. I find myself pushing & focusing more on the endurance aspect as the season goes on. The real athletes I train stop heavy lifting about 2 weeks before an event / tryouts and focus on maint & injury prevention by doing a lot of yoga & bodyweight / plyo workouts.
There is no evidence that weights improve performance in endurance athletics. There are plenty of other reasons to lift weights but getting faster at 'cross is not one of them. [Search for Coggan and weights and have fun reading for a day].
That day spent lifting would be better of as recovery or yoga or a cross practice.
Well, weight training has worked great for me. I have a lot more power on my rides and races this year over last, especially up hills. I decided to work on the leg power after I found I lacked power for some of the steeper climbs last season. I know it works, but it seems to me that during the season it's tough to recover while putting in a full week of training and racing every Saturday. I think I'll put in a couple more weeks of training then transition to something more 'cross specific to maintain what I've built.