Personally, I have never really got into weight training. Though, quite a few pro-cyclists do use gym work to help boost leg strength. Another option to improve leg strength is to ride in a very high gear (low cadence – perhaps 40-50rpm) and cycle up gradual hills. This can be several repetitions for 3-5 minutes. This increases the strength of your muscles. It isn’t done at a high heart rate.
2. If I encouraged to use weight training, should I do it on the same day as cycling or on my rest days? (I’m just trying to work out when my muscles will recover)
It would make sense to do weight training on a different day to your cycling. This gives chance for muscles to recover. I don’t know much about weight training, but resist the temptation to try and lift as much as possible. You don’t want to become a weight lifter, just increase core strength.
3. My Sunday ride is just suppose to be a nice steady ride giving me basically time in the saddle. Should I go out with my cycling club for rides which will of course push my heart rate up and could interfere with my base endurance training? ( or do you think the extra work will help me to improve?)
It really depends. If you are reasonably fit, then the Sunday club ride could be good fun and inspire you to cycle a bit further than you would on your own. cycling. It doesn’t matter if once a week, your heart rate gets pushed up. Don’t be a slave to heart rate zones. However, if the riders are quite competitive, just don’t feel obliged to sprint for every road sign. Also, if the ride is always uncomfortably fast, try find a slower group or ride on your own. You don’t want your main ride of the week to be a struggle from start to finish.
When going on club rides, it is good to have an idea of how fast they will cycle at. On any club ride, you should be happy to cycle home on your own should you get blown away. If you wouldn’t attempt a club ride on your own, you may well be pushing it. I remember on club rides for Otley CC, a youngster would join our rides. At around 60miles, he blew up and we would rode home at 10mph, pushing him up hills.
The main thing for endurance training is to ride at a manageable level. If you get back from a club ride and feel utterly trashed, it’s no fun. Either look for a slower group or go on your own until you are fitter. If you train for a few weeks or months, you may suddenly find that it’s much easier to keep with a group who were too fast before.