strength training

How to Include Strength Training in Your Cycling Training Plan

Topics Covered In This Episode:

  • Benefits of Strength Training
  • Why strength training shouldn’t be just off-season or cross training
  • If you’re going to do strength training, it’s best to do it year round
  • A Simple Process to Follow:
    • 4 Strength Training Levels we use at CTS to identify where to start
    • How to use these levels throughout the season
    • Best Practices to keep addressing strength all season long


Adam Pulford has been a CTS Coach for more than 13 years and holds a B.S. in Exercise Physiology. He’s participated in and coached hundreds of athletes for endurance events all around the world.

Guest Bio

Guest Bio
Sarah Scozzaro is a CTS Coach who specializes in ultrarunning and has an extensive strength training background. Sarah has her Masters’s degree in Exercise Science with a concentration in performance enhancement and injury prevention and has a long list of qualifications and certifications after her name including being a National Strength and Conditioning Association certified personal trainer and National Academy of Sports Medicine performance enhancement specialist.

Show Links

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherGoogle Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform


This Week’s Episode Was Fueled By The Feed

Claim Your $20 Credit to Spend at The Feed
The Feed is the largest online marketplace for your sports nutrition, offering the brands you know and love, from Skratch Labs, PROBAR, to Maurten. The team at The Feed understands that improving your nutrition is one of the quickest ways to see meaningful improvements in performance. To help you create your personal Feed that works for you, they’re offering you a $20 credit to spend on your first order of $35 or more. Claim your $20 credit.

Episode Transcription:

Please note that this is an automated transcription and may contain errors. Please refer to the episode audio for clarification.

Adam Pulford (00:01):

My guest today is a wonderful colleague and friend who I’ve been working with on a new strength training revamp at cts. She comes from the running side of things, and you’ve likely heard her on other podcasts, including the Cup Cast, Karin’s version of the training Right. Podcast and various others. So, Sarah, welcome to the show.

Sarah Scozzaro (00:20):

Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Adam Pulford (00:22):

Yeah. So for those who have not been listening to these other podcasts, could you tell our audience a bit more about yourself?

Sarah Scozzaro (00:30):

Yeah, so I’m on the ultra running side of cts, so I’m over in, in that group. And I have been in the ultra running and personal training strength conditioning field for quite a while. So it’s been a passion of mine and I love being able to blend the two. And yeah, I’m just really excited about what we’re gonna be rolling out with our athletes and how to implement this and get more people on the strength training train, as it were.

Adam Pulford (00:55):

The strength training train that, that’s, that’s a mouthful for sure. Kinda like you last name, which I, i glossed over. So Sarah Za, if you’re gonna look perfect, if you’re gonna look her up on Instagram later. I, I feel like I’m interacting with virtually anyway. I’ve actually never met you in, in person. But we we, we’ve been talking so much over, over the past couple months that I, I glossed over the last name, so sorry folks. <Laugh>. Oh,

Sarah Scozzaro (01:22):

You nailed it though. Well done. No one ever gets it on the first try, so. Perfect.

Adam Pulford (01:26):

Well done. Perfect. <laugh>. So you know what we’re talking about today. I went over it in the kind of background and intro before we got going, but it’s really the, the main messaging here is we want everyone to, that is incorporating strength training into their program to engage with it more year round, know best how to do that and maybe identify like if you’re a good candidate of strength training and then how to course correct when it all doesn’t go perfectly. So and I’ll admit to everyone here is like, I struggle with this myself, both like as an athlete and as a coach in terms of getting that strength training. I’m not gonna use the word perfect, but really dialed in <laugh>.

Sarah Scozzaro (02:13):

Yeah. I think a lot of people do. So I think a lot of people will be able to relate to that. Yeah,

Adam Pulford (02:17):

Totally. So as we just like jump right in, Sarah we’re recording this in October. I’m getting a lot of inquiries and, and questions of, Hey coach, you know, is it time to go back in the gym? Is it time to crank up the, the weights? Are you having that same conversation?

Sarah Scozzaro (02:35):

Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I am. Yeah.

Adam Pulford (02:37):

Yeah. And so do you find that endurance athletes, I don’t know, is it just like the offseason habit that’s going on, like in the culture? Or why is it like off season equals gym? Like what’s going on with

Sarah Scozzaro (02:51):

I I think so. I think it’s, it’s a little bit of combination of both. I think some people, as they wrap up their big events and their season, they naturally start to think to the next thing of like, Oh, I’m not running as much, or I’m not cycling as much so that I can be, spend more time on something else. And maybe they’ve been a little burned out by their season, so they’re excited about introducing something different or new. And also, I think it’s just that natural kind of the seasons where kind of tend to be more indoors this type of year, at least for a lot of us in the Midwest <laugh>. And so it’s cold, it’s dark and it just lends itself to very nicely to more gym time. And so if they might be maybe training for runners in particular, maybe on the treadmill or in indoor training, it just lends itself like, well, the weights are right there. So kind of that combination kind of fits a little more, I think, naturally for some folks.

Adam Pulford (03:40):

Yeah, there’s definitely a seasonality that goes on with it. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I think us endurance folk. We also love being outside. I mean that’s, that’s our playground. Absolutely. That’s our gym <laugh>, if you will. Yeah. So we gravitate toward that. And with the reduction of light, the reduction of temperature yeah, we, we go inside. So the, the seasonality of gym work is kind of built into it as well, but there’s also some full season potential to this. Oh yeah. Right.

Sarah Scozzaro (04:07):


Adam Pulford (04:09):

So I’d say, but like, as we weave into like the, what I call the full season potential of strength training, let’s remind our audience of just like the benefits of strength training. Like why are we doing this in the first place? And you can take it in two directions. One, general health and wellness. Yeah. Or performance or both.

Sarah Scozzaro (04:29):

Yeah, I, I both, I think absolutely. I think there’s the general health aspect, you know, bone density you know, just all of the durability aspects from a health as side of things, but also from the, as an athlete being more well-balanced and durable as an athlete how that corresponds to potentially accessing power and economy and things that we don’t have when we ne neglect that side of training. And we’re solely focused on kind of one modality.

Adam Pulford (05:00):

Yeah, Yeah, for sure. And and I think like the durability, that’s a, we’ve talked about durability on this podcast before. It kind of has a broad theme to it, but it’s remind you that a durability is your ability to hold up over the long run. So whether it’s a long run, a long ride when your muscles, your skeletal system are stronger, it’s gonna hold your biomechanics longer. So whether it’s your gate Yeah. How you hold yourself on, on the bike, whatever your core strength in some of these aspects, we find that strength training allows you to endure over, over time because you’ve trained the, the nerves and the muscles to be stronger for the long run. That’s, that’s a huge component of it.

Sarah Scozzaro (05:45):

Beautifully put. Absolutely.

Adam Pulford (05:47):

I, I’d say like also the health and wellness, like this is kind of why personally I do any strength work or yoga for myself is because I don’t, like, I lived in a gym, like I have a strength training background, I’ve got a lot of hours logged in the gym. I hate spending time in the gym. So I don’t really enjoy it anymore. I like the benefits of it, but I know that like I’m a healthier person, I move better. I and I have less just less little things that go wrong when I’m doing stuff off the bike.

Sarah Scozzaro (06:20):

Yeah. I think it makes us, you know, when you, when you teach yourself how to pick things up and put them down and lift and bend over and all of these things, when you go to do that in the real world, you’ve strengthened those areas that can so critically be neglected when we focus just on our sport. Yeah. And so then you sometimes that a lot of people will get injured. Not any, not on my runners. They won’t get necessarily injured when running. It’s, I tweaked my back when I did this, you know, I picked something up off the ground and things like that cuz they just don’t have that Well, that good body awareness Yeah. And being able to move in, in an intelligent kind of durable

Adam Pulford (06:56):

Way. Exactly. Yeah. It’s like my wife, she loves yard work. Had a hu like two tons of wood chips to move in July. I haven’t touched a weight or done anything for several months. We moved those wood chips for the next three days. I’m just like, like an old man and I’m like, this is terrible. Meanwhile she’s running circles around me with a wheelbarrow that is degrading. It’s exactly.

Sarah Scozzaro (07:18):

But also you’re like, what is she doing right? What am I not doing?

Adam Pulford (07:21):

For sure. She, and she’s the one moving the kettle bells, doing the yoga three, four times a week and I’m riding my bike six days a week and laying on the couch. So

Sarah Scozzaro (07:31):


Adam Pulford (07:31):

Doing podcasts. So, so if I continue on with this theme of Coach Adam needs to do more strength training throughout the season you know, I I think a lot of athletes, we, we get excited about doing stuff, you know, in the, in this sort of off season or or shoulder season of sorts. They, they go good for a while then they kind of peter off. So is this doing strength training than not doing strength training? Is that good? Is that bad? And does, does it matter?

Sarah Scozzaro (08:06):

I think anything is better than nothing. But I feel like with other things in life, the more consistent we are with them, the more we’re bound to reap the benefits of it. So if you have a consistent strength training habit throughout the year and that we will, we’ll talk a little bit later about what that may look like cuz it’s not gonna be linear throughout the year, but if you still participate in that activity, you’re going to re reap the full benefits of it without the stops and starts of doing it for three months and then not doing it for nine or doing it for three and not for two and then for three and and whatnot. I feel like you don’t really make any progress that way. There’s still some benefits. It’s, it’s, it’s not an all or it shouldn’t be an all or nothing, but I think, I think we can do better.

Adam Pulford (08:51):

That’s it. Yeah. My, my point is there is a better way, however, the side note to that is I would not discourage anybody from even if, even if you do a glorious three months of weights every year. Yep. That’s not bad. And I, and I do think that there are long term benefits to that, especially for endurance athletes and cyclists in particular with the bone loading. Right. The bone health that you get out of that and you know, cuz if, if you do a sport like swimming or cycling a non kind of weight bearing sport for 20 years, your, your bones start to be compromised. Right. yep. And strength training can improve that and Absolutely. And again, I don’t have any data to suggest that three months <laugh> per year does X, y, Z but I know it does something more beneficial than not.

Sarah Scozzaro (09:40):

Yeah, I agree with that 100%. And so if someone were to come to me and be like, Coach, I can only do three months. I can give you November, December, and January and that’s it, I will take that because I do feel that there is a benefit to that outside even the training realm just from a health standpoint. But if we can, if we can get it extended into the, the year into the season, that’s all the better.

Adam Pulford (10:01):

Exactly. Exactly. So the main point is there is a better way to do this. And before we get into I’d say that better way, how, like, how does one identify if they should start strength training or not? How do you kind of identify that in your athletes, Sarah?

Sarah Scozzaro (10:22):

Yeah, absolutely. So first thing is when we have those conversations, it’s like, where are they at in their training season? And generally, I’m sure you agree, we get a lot of our athletes early or in the training season, we’re not getting them in the final six weeks generally, or the final two months. So you, you gener generally have more of a a runway. So that’s usually not an issue. But if someone’s just bring coming on for like a quick, I need some triage before my next big event help, that’s not the time to start changing things with strength. So once we kind of establish that we have the time to do it, what I’m asking an athlete is injury, history, accessibility to training, how are they recovering right now? What does their training load look like or what will it look like with the event and the, the ramp we’ve got for it?


So cuz all of those things play a factor into whether or not they’re not necessarily a candidate for strength, but where we put them in a season with their strength where we start them or where we continue them. Because some athletes might come to us and be like, I’ve got a robust strength training regimen that I’m already doing. And other people are like, I haven’t picked up a dumbbell in 20 years, what do I do? And I’m six months out for my event or something like that. So isn’t, I think most people are candidates for strength, but it’s taking that information and deciding where the best place to start them as an individual at Yep.

Adam Pulford (11:42):

In this season. Yep. That’s a really good, that’s a really good point there. You know, another way to to look at that, Sarah, because you know, you coming in with that individualized approach in, in your coaching side, you know that you ask all the right questions to identify, you know, where to start. Who is this athlete, what do they need? What is their background? Right? I’d say for the self coached athlete, there’s a really cool resource that I’m, I’m putting on a screen share. So for anyone watching us on YouTube, they have that available to them. Also a link to this in the show notes. But Sarah does this, does this chart look a little familiar to you? Yes. Okay. Why does it look familiar?

Sarah Scozzaro (12:25):

I might have written

Adam Pulford (12:26):

It, you might have written it. Cool.

Sarah Scozzaro (12:27):

I admit have written I might have made that one. It’s g Gloria. It

Adam Pulford (12:30):

Is glorious, isn’t it? It a thing

Sarah Scozzaro (12:31):


Adam Pulford (12:31):

Beauty. Yeah. And so what we’re looking at here, folks for those just listening is it’s an identification she, I found in Jason COE’s book that Sarah created. And what it does is it’s asking, you know, are you a good candidate for strength training? And it all starts with, are you two months out from your event? If yes, then it takes you down a whole series of questions. I would say, you know, kind of skimming the surface of what Sarah would ask you know, their her athletes to identify if they’re good, where to start, all this kinda stuff. And if you are, are you at least two months out from your event? And the answer is no. The chart goes to focus on rest recovery, coordinative exercises, you know, if needed, basically don’t add anything more. Correct. Is that the kind of the, if

Sarah Scozzaro (13:21):

You’re closer than two months, two months are closer to your event?

Adam Pulford (13:23):

Exactly. Mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. Yep. So essentially what this is saying, and it goes, it dovetails right into what Sarah was just saying is like, the longer the runway you have, the better it is to start to deploy strength training into your overall training strategy because you have the time that it takes to make those muscular and, and skeletal muscular adaptations over the long run to benefit you for your actual endurance activity. So. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So this is, this is one resource, again, you can find it in CO’s book, you can find on YouTube, you can find it in our show notes. I think it’s a worthwhile one for everybody to, to look at. It’s very simple, but simplicity is sometimes is just like the best thing in the world. And thank you to Sarah for creating that from her brain. We always appreciate that’re welcome <laugh>. So once, and really there’s some time limitation questions that go into, you know, are you a good candidate for strength training? Sarah, real quick, describe an athlete who maybe is so time crunched that strength training may not be a good fit. If you can describe somebody like that. Or does that even exist in head,

Sarah Scozzaro (14:38):

I feel? Yeah. Okay, so yes. Athlete comes up and they’re working a full-time job. They’ve maybe a single parent. Yeah, they are. They only have six hours a week to train. I mean, at the beginning, like they’re like, this is all I’ve got. I can only train four days a week or, or five days a week, no more than 90 minutes, an hour. I’ve got all these other responsibilities. It’s really hard to then convince them to, to spend an extra 60 minutes in the gym two or three times a week. That can be a tricky one. Yeah. So, but that’s not to say that we can’t give them things they can do at home. Like that coordinative work, that coordinative exercise we’ve talked about. There’s still some mobility work, there’s still some things that can be done. Again, I don’t take an all or nothing approach. I I don’t have someone, you know, it’s very, very rare. Is it completely black and white where they can’t do anything. Yes.

Adam Pulford (15:28):

Yeah. Cuz again, it’s, i I don’t believe that scenario exists where somebody would not benefit from doing some core work while they watched the latest Netflix thing at night just to relax. Right. sometimes that’s how you get it in. Right, Exactly. Yeah. Yep. Yeah. Yep. And so what we’re really talking about, and we’ll get into the meat and potatoes here in a bit is it’s, it’s not hours and hours and every day at the gym. It’s very strategic it’s brief and to the point because let’s face it str like endurance athletes, you don’t need a ton of dosage, <laugh> of gym work to actually move the needle. Yeah. Right.

Sarah Scozzaro (16:08):

And I, I think that’s exactly it. I think a lot of people when they hear strength training, a lot of people will hearken back to that they muscle and fitness and body building and two hours, you know, they hear about people spending two hours a day in the gym and all of this work. And it doesn’t, that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about strength training that’s going to enhance your cycling or your running and balance things out and not take away from it or from your limited training time.

Adam Pulford (16:35):

Bingo. Bingo. And so let’s get into, let’s get into some of the latest kind of twist on the philosophy that we’ve been working on with cts. And I think I want to share this, this concept with listeners and athletes, cuz I think it’ll help to plan and organize their strength training as it pertains to their overall endurance training throughout the season. So Sarah, you want to get into the four levels of this thing?

Sarah Scozzaro (17:05):

Let’s do it. Okay. Absolutely.

Adam Pulford (17:07):

Okay. And with that we’ll give some like examples of within these four levels what a, a week maybe could look like. So I don’t know high level, Sarah, what are the four levels that I’m talking about and that we created at cts? Yeah.

Sarah Scozzaro (17:25):

<Laugh>, wait, checks, notes, frantically. I’m kidding. <Laugh> kidding. So we’ve got level one, which we call starting out. Yep. And we’re just gonna go through these and then we’ll, we’ll go into them deeper, right? Yep. You just need to list them off. Bingo. level two is moving well, level three is getting stronger and level four is build or maintain.

Adam Pulford (17:42):

There you go. So level one, starting out, level two, moving well, level three, getting stronger, level four, build and maintain. We’ll come back to those, but it’s there. It’s a very simple concept, but is this linear Sarah? No. Like, do you have to go 1, 2, 3. Okay.

Sarah Scozzaro (17:59):

No, you do not. Some people will benefit from it. Yep. And it might line up perfectly with both their experience and their season. Other people will be starting at level four based on the individual or level two based on the individual. Again, experience and time and season. Okay.

Adam Pulford (18:12):

So if an athlete comes to you and you identify them as they need to start out in level one, what, what scenario is that? What does that athlete look like to you?

Sarah Scozzaro (18:23):

It could be a couple things. It can be someone that’s never done any strength training before. It could be someone that’s coming back from an injury and it’s been quite a long time since they spent any time in the weight room or doing any strength training. It could be someone at the very, very beginning of their season who maybe did strength training a long time ago. But they absolutely need to find a way to balance what that looks like out as, you know, start, start progressively. So they literally want to start from the ground up with their, with their strength practice. Also for, you know, we, like we talked about in our coaching call for some athletes, this is the one level that involves more body weight and less equipment. So that is ideal for athletes that might have either a space or a equipment constraint or closer to a season. Like they’re big events, they’re gonna be falling back onto more of this work as the final ramp up to their, their a race.

Adam Pulford (19:15):

Bingo. Yep. Yeah. And in this level one, I, I think when I’m working with an athlete there it is, a lot of cyclists start here because as you said, it’s body weight based and that’s enough load for generally a cyclist who’ve not done any strength training to get some benefit out of it. And also typically I’m gonna do maybe two, maybe three, I call it two and a half days a week of this type of activity and sessions are generally 45 minutes or less.

Sarah Scozzaro (19:47):

Yep. Yeah. And I, I also like this one is, it’s a good baseline for a lot of folks too with movement patterns and making sure they’re comfortable. You know, if they haven’t done a body weight squad or in a long time where they can’t do one well, we wanna make sure that pattern is solid before we start loading it. So it’s a great way for people even, even if someone’s like, Yeah, I’ve been lifting for a while. It’s like, okay, let’s get a baseline, make sure everything’s good to go. And then you can divert from there and kind of decide where you wanna go with with the different levels. And you can also load things. So you can step up level one slightly near the, you know, should you choose to.

Adam Pulford (20:23):

Yes. Yeah, exactly. So if we have an athlete who either starts at level two or maybe they progressed from level one and they’re going to level two, what does that athlete look like to you?

Sarah Scozzaro (20:38):

That’s an athlete that has established that they’re both comfortable and capable of doing the, the movement patterns, the push pull, squat, hinge, lunge row, you know, like we’ve talked about in the past it’s athletes that feel very comfortable and confident with or getting more comfortable with the gym. They have access to more equipment, whether it’s a home gym, a facility, and they’re still early enough in their season where we can start to load them and, and play with different movements and loading and not having impact their, what’s typically their main sport. So in the heat, you know, in the, in the, in the height of their season, it would be cycling or running, but at this point they still have enough bandwidth, their energy to, to kind of start to move up a bit in this and do it moving. Well establish, I like to think of this as a, as a really good foundation because we’re really starting to load here as opposed to just body weight.

Adam Pulford (21:33):

Yep. Yeah, exactly. And, and when I’m working with an athlete at this level two, you know, we’re two to three days per week in the gym as well. Probably more three-ish. And this is also like in a, a general kind of base to build phase of their, of their training as well. I mean we’re, we’re building everything at this point in, in that capacity. And so, you know, I’m, I’m the loading is is good and I think it typically corresponds with the load that we’re doing on the bike, even if the athlete is getting a little tired. Right. The mu it’s okay to get tired in this, in this case. Yes. Yep. But as the title moving well correlates is, you know, you you never want to sacrifice that form for more repetitions or more load or anything like that. It’s really quality of movement getting things right.

Sarah Scozzaro (22:23):

Yeah. And I think when people focus on that early, that sticks with them. Yep. For the duration of their strength training. It, you know, it’s, it’s never sacrifice form. Form always comes first over reps and sets and loading and volume, any of that. Always make sure your form is Chef’s Kiss. Perfect.

Adam Pulford (22:43):

Exactly. Chef’s Kiss <laugh>. All right. Level three. If somebody graduates up to level three or if they prove to Sarah, coach Sarah that they are ready for level three, what does this athlete look like to you?

Sarah Scozzaro (22:57):

This is a fun phase and this can be a a, a quite a long phase depending on where it happens in the season. We have, we can build this one out to be a bit longer because it’s usually more in that middle kind of end of early into middle stages of, of their phase. I don’t know if that’s what it looks more like to you. So we can add more, a little bit more velocity. Here we are in the ability to, maybe this is, we’re gonna introduce some plyo movements, start to getting them used to those we’re setting up. There’s definitely an increase in intensity here. So if like, if we were in the running side of things, we might be in like a endurance phase, building volume in the beginning. This is where we’re starting to add a little bit more of that intensity with our strength training. And usually this starts to pattern very well with an intensity phase off the couch or off in the running shoes, I should say. <Laugh> can’t say off the bike. We don’t have something like off the bike <laugh>

Adam Pulford (23:54):

Out of the shoes, out

Sarah Scozzaro (23:56):

Of the shoes <laugh>. So and this is where you’re gonna be loading more, you’re gonna be having more complex movements reps and sets. You’re still gonna be doing, you know, three to four sets, you know, more of that eight rep range, 10 rep range. Some would consider hypertrophy. We’re not really going for hypertrophy, which is that muscle aesthetically, we’re not going for muscle build, although if that’s your goal, there’s nothing wrong with that. This, that type of rep range will get it for you, but into more of just strength of that getting into the beginning edges of focusing more on that. Yep. Yeah, for strength’s sake. So body awareness is there now we’re, we’re optimizing it a bit more.

Adam Pulford (24:37):

Yep. Loading, getting stronger and velocity as well. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> that’s another thing with faster movements looking for that kind of quality of movement with speed is, is a good time period for this. And yeah, I, I agreed and, and I think for cyclists still, I’m still sticking to like a two to three times per week in Yes. Unless they’re like super high. You’re like super not high mileage. Somebody more like like an an Enduro racer or downhill racer, something like that. Then I might go up to four, but that four is gonna be lighter. The main point is you’ve got an, you’ve got quite a bit of load coming in these sessions, so you want to come into these sessions fresh, ready to go as much as possible. In addition to that, I think it’s really important, at least in my practice anyway, that I am putting these hard days on a hard day with a bike so that the easy days in training is still contrasted

Sarah Scozzaro (25:38):

That polarity of hard days are hard, easy days are easy. It’s exactly what I, I am a fan of and what I try to get people to do because you, you need to have that differentiation from a recovery standpoint. So keep your hard days hard, your easy days easy. Exactly. And I would say, I will note too that for some folks, if, you know, when I’m starting out with someone and we get a quick baseline, some folks might be doing more of this phase and we’ll talk about the next one earlier in the season. Yep. Depending on the runway to their event and also where they are in their, I hate to keep using this term, but I do the gym literacy, like how much experience they have in the gym, how comfortable they are with lifting and, and whatnot. So like we said at the beginning, this isn’t linear, it doesn’t go in a step order.

Adam Pulford (26:23):

Yeah. Yeah. And we’ll, we’ll run through a couple different scenarios where it’s, it’s the non-linear approach is is generally better, but before we do level four if you got an athlete who is now in level four or would they start in level four, what does this athlete look like?

Sarah Scozzaro (26:42):

Yeah, so for the running side of things, level four and where I’m at in that build and maintain, it dovetails off the getting stronger a bit because this is where a lot of people will be either in their off season or kind of starting the early season if they’re been lifting for a while. So somebody comes to me, they’ve been lifting quite a lot, a lot. They have good experience, great gym, you know, literacy. They’re very comfortable with lifting all the big moves, the compound moves. This is a great place to have them further away from their event. And I think that’s the key. If you take nothing else away, this event is best further away, at least in the running space from their a event, because this is gonna be the most taxing in terms of what we’re asking from them. It might be four days a week, it could be three days a week depending on the individual and the time that they’ve got. But it’s gonna be heavier loading, it’s gonna be lower sets in terms of well higher in the sense it might be four or five sets, but lower reps. Yep. So you might be doing four

Adam Pulford (27:44):

Total, five,

Sarah Scozzaro (27:45):


Adam Pulford (27:46):

Total repetitions are total low. Well I’m not even gonna say load less total movements maybe even though the load

Sarah Scozzaro (27:53):

Yeah. But the volume is higher in loading. So if you add up how much weight’s actually being lifted or pushed or pulled, it’s higher than a three by 10. Exactly. But you’re doing less repetitions per set, but you’ll be doing more sets of them. And here the, the, the rest tends to be longer or the longest in between sets and I dunno about you, but for my athletes, that usually involves like one or two big movements, usually just one per day. And then they’ll have more, not accessory, but kind of more of the accessory work or the smaller movements that are, you know, still important. But not every exercise within a set in a day is gonna be a five by five.

Adam Pulford (28:32):

Yeah. So yeah. So for audience, what she means by that is, say it’s a power clean for example, that’s the main big movement of the day. You’ll do a nice warmup, you’ll focus on the five by five power cleans in from there with the weight and the velocity of which you move that weight, that is gonna be a significant load on the day. And then you u then you do accessory lifts to kind of like touch on the other aspects of, of the body. So Correct.

Sarah Scozzaro (29:01):

That’s what she talking about. Yeah. Perfect. Yep. Yeah, <laugh> and he says it so well. So, so it’s less so overall you’re not taxing the body with every single set, but you’re still getting benefit, but you have like a prime focus on that day. Yep.

Adam Pulford (29:14):

Yeah. So here’s, here’s an interesting one with kind of this level four even. Like really we’re talking about philosophy at this point. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> because every coach is a little different. Sports are a little different. And I’ll say this about level four, if people can just kind of like follow and track with this level four like we’re talking about, would work for like a main competitive phase if it’s like a Enduro downhill, even some cross country mountain bike where you’re really focused on speed and power and you know, during, during that phase, because you are, it’s very specific to the main event that you’re going for as opposed to ultra running where <laugh>, the specificity of ultra running, just say

Sarah Scozzaro (29:57):

It <laugh>,

Adam Pulford (29:58):

It’s going very, very medium for very, very long <laugh>.

Sarah Scozzaro (30:04):

Some of us more medium than others. <Laugh> Yeah.

Adam Pulford (30:07):

<Laugh> medium, medium speed for very long. Let’s put it that way for

Sarah Scozzaro (30:11):

Yeah. Yeah. And, and you nailed it. It’s the it with everything, with our training with our athletes, it’s specificity. So the specificity of this phase might fit a cyclist, like you said uro or something. Cuz it’s very, it’s very niche. It’s very a specific type of athlete raiser differently than a 50 K or a hundred mile or a 200 mile runner. Yeah. So it’s that specificity. And that’s the beauty of these levels though. It’s not cookie cutter, it’s not linear. It’s, it’s definitely you can find what works best for you as an athlete, Right. Or for your athletes if you’re a coach and apply it at the right time for your athlete for the specificity.

Adam Pulford (30:52):

Bingo, there, there are four big puzzled pieces that you have now to, to fit into your, say training program, you know? Yeah. And knowing when and, and what to place where is gonna be super helpful. Now I’ll get even more gray if you will, or more creative, let’s call it this level four. Just like Sarah was describing, well it could work very well for cyclists in this kind of more off season or early season. I have a long runway sort of approach if you are an unbound 200 mile or the, you know, the unbound XL sort of rider that needs strength and power development right now and say we progressed since, you know, that that main gravel event that’s super long in nature, we progress one, you know, you have enough load kind of to, to get to that level four in other words. But we’re working on the, those high power, high strength workouts right now so that you come into the season stronger and then we maintain throughout. Yeah. So

Sarah Scozzaro (31:56):

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that’s what we see a lot on the ultra running side is focus on more of that strength and power early. That’s not to say in early is air quotes relative. I mean, early could be quite a bit into the season, but we focus on that further away from the event, further away when it’s the less stressful or texting both in terms of what you’re asking from the body and also time commit,

Adam Pulford (32:19):

Lot of hangout

Sarah Scozzaro (32:19):

Time, lot of hangup time. The rest, you know, you might be doing 90 seconds to two minute rest between sets, so

Adam Pulford (32:25):

Yeah, yeah. Or,

Sarah Scozzaro (32:27):

Or longer. Exactly. <laugh>. So it, it’s, for some people it’s also a time thing and in the off season they have more time.

Adam Pulford (32:33):

Exactly. And so, you know, with that, and again, a little bit more abstract if you will, or philosophical, I really want the audience to absorb that a little bit. Again, it’s, it’s to help plan and organize their training for this upcoming year. Because again, the goal is to do strength training all year round

Sarah Scozzaro (32:58):

Team year round over here. I think we’re both team year round <laugh>.

Adam Pulford (33:01):

So yes, but not every training phase and not every week needs to be five by five all out drink your protein shake and in between just I feel seen <laugh>. Right. And sometimes it is just like dusting off the, the glutes and activating a little bit of the core and the hamstrings and 20 minutes you’re done. Yeah.

Sarah Scozzaro (33:25):

Right. Absolutely. But I think so many of us feel like if we don’t do an hour or four times a week, we’re not, it’s, it’s not, we’re not doing it where we’re trying to say that. No. We’re giving levels and we’re giving strategies that can be deployed year round. And just like with our coaching with our athletes that is periodized and has, you know, ramp up and deloads and builds, so does the strength can be the same and you can find a way to match them very well. Those puzzle pieces and they actually just compliment each other.

Adam Pulford (33:54):

They do. And you bring up a good point there with kind of like a loading phase and a deloading phase. Like the, just because you maybe stop for a week or two doesn’t mean you’ve lost everything. Same thing in training. Right. But the more you kind of have in the system over the long run, the, the more those benefits will be there for you if you miss a week here or miss a week there,

Sarah Scozzaro (34:19):

You know? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean life happens vacations, right? Sickness recovery from an event. Yeah. Building know the, the week of an event,

Adam Pulford (34:28):

Segue time.

Sarah Scozzaro (34:29):

Oh boy. Segue

Adam Pulford (34:29):

Was, I was gonna ask you, what the heck do you do if you’re not perfect? Right. If you don’t do strength training year round now what? Oh,

Sarah Scozzaro (34:36):

Well I don’t think anybody listening, that doesn’t apply to anybody that’s listening to today. <Laugh>. Right? It applies to everybody at some point. <Laugh>. So I think most people, if you’re missing, if you miss a session during the week, kind of like regular training, just pick up, carry on, no big deal. But if we’re talking, you’ve missed a month or more. Yeah. You know, my, we’ll say a month, my biggest thing is you can usually go back to where you were mm-hmm. <Affirmative> in terms of exercise selection, be mindful of your loading. Don’t start with where you let off, warm up into it. Start with a slightly lower load, just make sure the body’s ready. Because you can’t lose a ton of strength, but you can lose enough that you could hurt yourself if you have delusions of grandeur and load the bar up with your last working set from six weeks ago

Adam Pulford (35:20):

In oftentimes as well. If you miss that month. I mean sometimes like for, for myself, it’s like, oh, I just need to get back into it and maybe you skip like, like your preset or your dynamic warmup or something like that and you just like go right into the main set and that’s usually when, when it happens. So don’t forget your like warmup set.

Sarah Scozzaro (35:36):

Yeah, yeah. Take take exactly. If you’ve taken time off, always do your warmups and your activation, your mobility. But if, especially if you’ve taken time up, time off. Because I also view that critical warmup time is, it’s just a great way to assess the body. Yeah. Are you your readiness for the workout? Am I, you know, is anything tight? Is anything sore? Do I, maybe I need to be a little bit more prudent when I’m loading the bar for that first, you know, a couple working sets of squats just to make sure I’m all in. It just, it gives you a chance to connect and kind of scan the body. Yeah,

Adam Pulford (36:07):

For sure. So I guess like in the other like non perfect real world scenarios here, if, if you do have an athlete when, let’s call it a cyclist or a runner, your choice, but they’re in a very like the highest mileage phase or period of their training and you still, you’ve prescribed two days a week of strength training and for them to get it in is just like, sounds terrible. And they would have to like move these things around in their life and maybe not sleep as much to get it in. How do you adjust, What do you do with an athlete like that?

Sarah Scozzaro (36:43):

Well, sleep is always priority. So if something, if, if, if strength training is going to be cutting into your strength, your sleep, especially in these last critical weeks before an event or your big, big peak phase you’re gonna get more benefit if you have to choose between the two. I find most people, there’s something else in their life that they could move around if they had to. Yeah. But let’s assume they can’t. I would reduce either if you’re, say you’ve been doing two days, try going down to one, reduce your sets. So maybe you’ve been doing three sets, maybe you just go down to two during this time. You can also manipulate the, the amount of reps that you’re doing. But ultimately, especially when it comes into the very final weeks, you should be focusing more on mobility anyways at that point. And just some basic movement patterns, kind of just keeping the body feeling good and keeping everything online. I would, I would use that energy, especially if it’s starting to bleed into that mental component which you talked about where they’re like, this sounds awful, I don’t wanna do this. I mean, maybe mobility sounds a little bit more palatable and you’re gonna get more out of it and it’s gonna not put you in such an excitable state to where you’re gonna be able to sleep better and recover better.

Adam Pulford (37:53):

Yeah. Full, fully, fully agreed with that. If, if ever I have an athlete who’s like tapping out a little bit and just needs Yeah, we’ll take a break. Let’s back it down. Cuz again, I think it goes into the, the loading and deloading. It’s like all that’s not gonna be gone in a, a week or two, you know?

Sarah Scozzaro (38:11):

No, absolutely not. And when an athlete is that having the, when you’re having those conversations or you’re seeing those comments and training peaks or they’re communicating to you like, I just didn’t wanna do my strength, I just couldn’t do it. I was exhausted or I just, I just hated it. I dreaded it the whole day. Oh my gosh. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, let’s just not then. Yeah. You know, let’s just, maybe this week, let’s just back things off. Let’s go down to one day or let’s just take this week as a deload week and let’s see if, if that reframes things for you.

Adam Pulford (38:37):

So let’s say, let’s create a, create a scenario too from maybe coach aps life. You have an athlete who Yeah. Who, you know, we, we have a lot of racing call it either stage racing or multiple weekends of racing. And a gym doesn’t really exist too much and the athlete still has maybe a little bit of time to do their training, their strength training, but they’re so focused on race, race recover, race recover, race recover. What would you suggest in a scenario like that and what would you tell the athlete of, okay, you’ve just did 11 months of strength training work and now you’re coming into this time period mm-hmm. <Affirmative> where you just have to focus on the bike, but you need to do a little bit of strength work. How would you Sarah deploy that?

Sarah Scozzaro (39:26):

That one You could go a couple ways. You could go back to level one. You’re gonna maintain not so much strength if you’ve coming off of like a build phase, but body awareness, mobility, you know, the, the type of strength that’s real world strength for our ligaments, tendons, and muscles. And also the consistency and the habit of doing the strength. So when all is said and done and you, this athlete AP is ready to hit the weight room again and a very, you know, excited and really excited about doing so they’ve already been carving out those two days Yeah. To, to, to do that type of movement. So it’s just part of what they do.

Adam Pulford (40:05):

Yeah. You know, that’s, that’s perfect. And that’s, that’s exactly what I would do or what I do with that type of athlete. And I think it’s important to know that from, like, from the research stu side of things, it, it does seem like you can stop some of this, like high strength, high power training just com stop it all together and you’d still have some benefits that are hanging on after three or four weeks. Right. You’d still have some of that snappiness going on after six and eight weeks. You, you’d have that de training start to take effect. But what I find in practice is that even if you go back to some of this level one and reminder that’s a body weight based sort of movement, activation, coordination movements, you’ll retain some of that just from the nerve muscle movement patterns, you know, and keeping absolutely, keep in mind if, if it’s a cyclist we’re racing on the weekend there’s a lot of high power, high speed going on in that. So we get a lot of leg speed, you get a lot of force development. So I typically

Sarah Scozzaro (41:02):

It balances nicely with

Adam Pulford (41:04):

That. Yeah, for sure. A hundred percent. So I think, Sorry,

Sarah Scozzaro (41:07):


Adam Pulford (41:07):

Ahead, <laugh>. Well, and my point there is like say it all falls away. Your perfect gym scenario decays and all, it’s like 15, 20 minutes twice a week. Oh yeah. Maintain. Yeah.

Sarah Scozzaro (41:18):

Yeah. So, and, and remember, you know, circling back to what we talked about earlier, the strength, especially in the season is meant to enhance the cycling or the running. So the body weight is still enhancing the main sport. Cuz like you said, especially in the case of a cyclist like ap, there’s gonna be a lot of power and things that are happening on the bike. So the strength work balances that beautifully. We’re not, we’re not going for, for, for gains in terms of muscle. You know, we’re not going, this isn’t an aesthetic build Yeah. We’re going for, but we wouldn’t be doing that anyways for this athlete at this point in their season. Yep. So from a neuromuscular perspective, level one ticks the boxes this athlete needs. And I think that’s the important thing to, to remember when a lot of people are faced with that all or nothing. Yeah.

Adam Pulford (42:07):

Yeah. That’s it. It’s not all or nothing folks, if you mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, if you take anything away from our conversation today, it’s, it’s not all or nothing. Generally you can, there’s a better way of doing it and yeah, tomorrow is a new day. So ream refocus, do some, do some activation work. Okay.

Sarah Scozzaro (42:28):

Yeah. And it’s again, like it’s not linear, so there’s a better way to do something every season. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So don’t, you know, you will be able to adapt and adjust and find the level that works best for you in your training phase right now and, and your life balance of training. And I think that’s the important thing. It’s all important.

Adam Pulford (42:45):

Yeah. Yeah. I, I couldn’t agree more. And you know, I think like in summary too, Sarah, it’s a, I’m glad we’re having conversations like this now as endurance athlete coaches, I think for so long. It’s like you bring up strength training and the, the conversation or argument goes toward how is this gonna benefit my cyclist? How is this gonna benefit my runner? And we’re now having the conversation of how best do we deploy strength training for these endurance athletes. Right.

Sarah Scozzaro (43:15):

I love it. Yeah.

Adam Pulford (43:16):

Yeah. <Laugh>,

Sarah Scozzaro (43:17):


Adam Pulford (43:17):

It’s, I love it. It’s super cool. You know, so, you know, so many people know the benefits of strength training for both the, that health and component or health and performance component for the endurance athlete. You know, the tricky part is actually getting it in and fitting the puzzle piece where it is. And so, yeah. You know, today hopefully we, we covered I I guess from a philosophical sense how to do that or how to organize your training and then gave you some, some good examples of what at least those levels or those periods can look like in your training. And from there I’d say, you know if some of this resonates with you you know, go back and talk to your coach about it, about how to really fit that in. And I don’t know any, anything else from you, Sarah, of some take home messages for these listeners?

Sarah Scozzaro (44:08):

No, I think, I think you hit it spot on and I think it’s just important. Like we keep, not to sound like a broken, a broken record, but something is better than nothing. It doesn’t have to be perfect strength training isn’t one of those things that you won’t get any benefit, even if you’re doing, you know, a little bit. Yeah. Cause there’s still some benefit and you can adapt it to fit your whole season year long. And I think it’s so, so you get so much more benefit from doing that versus a stopping and starting and only focusing in on the off season and dropping it as soon as the season approaches, which, hey, like you said, there are some benefits that can still happen, You know, if that’s the only way someone’s gonna do it. But I feel like there’s a better way and I’m hoping that this is a simple way that people can employ themselves and find a way to, to make this happen.

Adam Pulford (44:52):

I think it is too. I think it is. So with that said, Sarah you know, if people like what they heard from you, they wanna follow what you’re doing, where can they find you these days?

Sarah Scozzaro (45:02):

If they like cats they can follow now <laugh>, sarah dot gza, that’s S C O Z Z A R O on Instagram.

Adam Pulford (45:10):

Perfect. Yeah. So if you like cats, if you like weights, go there.

Sarah Scozzaro (45:14):

I do a lot of weight training running pretty fall pictures. Yeah. Occasionally food. Yeah. Kind of cover it all

Adam Pulford (45:20):

<Laugh>. Exactly. And, and keep your eyes to like, on the CTS newsletters and, and some of that. You’ll see a lot of Sarah’s work come up in a lot of the content that we put out there. But Sarah also, I mean, are you taking on athletes right now? If, if somebody hears this and they wanna get ripped with Sarah <laugh>, that’s their next step.

Sarah Scozzaro (45:41):

Absolutely. I’ve always loved to have consults and have a conversation with someone if they’re interested in, in kind of going, you know, having a deeper conversation about that. So absolutely. Just reach out Instagram through cts es gaza train Cool.

Adam Pulford (45:55):

Yeah. Yeah. We’ll put that in our show.

Sarah Scozzaro (45:56):

Love to chat.

Adam Pulford (45:57):

Yeah. Great. All right. Well thank you Sarah. I really appreciate your time today. And I’ve I don’t know, been stoked to work on this little strength training project with you at cts. It’s, it’s been a blast.


Comments 1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *