3 week break big FTP drop

I’ve just taken 3 weeks off and then retested. Was a little demoralized to see a drop from 242 to 213 after an active, but no riding 3 weeks off. Granted my testing protocol wasn’t the best: no riding, 30 min endurance at my old FTP, Test. But damn, that’s a hard one to take, especially after losing 25W going from the Zwift to TR ramp tests (I know, I know, I didn’t really lose watts there). I started a new plan this week, so I’m going to retest at the beginning of next week and hopefully get some watts back.

Anyone else experience something similar?

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Yep. It comes back quickly though.

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Sometimes there’s a part of it that’s just about not being used to doing a max effort. Same thing as feeling ‘flat’ on race day, really. If that’s a component of it then you might recover up to half* of the ‘loss’ in just a week or two.

*this is a guess plucked out of thin air based on personal experience, N=1

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Yes, perfectly normal and that’s why I don’t recommend taking 3 weeks off unless absolutely necessary. But you will likely gain most of the lost fitness back fairly quickly.

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Yep, in middle of summer had also 3 week enforced break accompanied 30W drop. But in retrospective, it was best thing happened to me since starting with structured training with TR: it made me realise how brittle my fitness was with relatively time-crunched high intensity approach, rode Z2 always at higher range IF ~0.7, plus high volume of sweetspot. Sure had decent muscular endurance but whenever touched threshold, broke down quite quickly.

Since then have followed 3 months of high volume (15-18h) low intensity (IF 0.60-0.65) plan with 1-2 sweetspot/threshold intervals per week. Still not reached same high as before break (started VO2max intervals just this week) but TTE is way better – before could barely hold Z4 4x16min, now can do Z4 2x40min, or SS 90% 1x120min.

Anyway, this little bragging aside, theoretically HV LIT fitness should decay slower over such breaks. But I am not sure if TR AI takes this into account or not :thinking:


I have had the same thing happen after three weeks off the bike. I even ran every few days at decent pace, but I still lost a bunch of bike fitness.

That said, I came back stronger and fitter after only a couple weeks of training. So while it sucks to lose it, the break is probably good for all of us as long as we get back to it and it does not happen so often that we never have a chance to increase our fitness and we are just playing catch up instead.

I wouldn’t be mentally or physically ready to test coming off a 3 week break either. That just sounds miserable. Ease back into things, get the rust off and a few workouts. Maybe dial it back a few PL & start 85% intensity the first week. Then retest.

Don’t be discouraged. The fitness is still there, like others said, it will come back quickly and you’ll be better off in the long run.

I just had a foot operation that will force at least a three week break, possibly extending to several months depending on healing. I’m curious to see how I come out at the end.

I speculate is that the recovery / gains on the other end of the break are, at least in part, influenced by age? Any info out there on rebound issues for aging riders? For now, my thoughts are to just plug my hoped for 2023 events into plan builder once I’m cleared to ride and follow the plan (supplemented by some progressively longer outdoor riding on the weekends).

I didn’t take it totally off, but took a break from structure. I was ok with the couple of percentage drop that AI FTP, but (to back Chad, and science) really notice the drop in VO2 Max - struggle surveys/ very hard so far - PL’s way to high, whereas I’m doing ok on the sweet spot and threshold workouts!

I don’t have direct answers for you, but I do have a suggestion.

On your downtime, buy and read “the midlife cyclist.” Great book that covers a lot of aspects of aging and riding.

The Midlife Cyclist: The Road Map for the +40 Rider Who Wants to Train Hard, Ride Fast and Stay Healthy: Cavell, Phil: 9781472961389: Amazon.com: Books

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Yeah… I took a 4 week break since the last week of June… I had reached 221 FTP and when I got back I dropped to 196ftp :confused: Was pretty bummed as well. So, from last week of August until now (end of November) still haven’t reached that Personal Record again. Nevertheless, I believe I will reach it by December and I will even go way past that for sure #roadTo300 #commitment #stayFocused

After about 4 weeks of LV SSB (one of which I was sick and didn’t ride), AI FTP has me within a few watts of my 3 week break. So overall it wasn’t a huge deal. Just demoralizing at the time. I guess my fitness wasn’t as fragile as I thought it was :man_shrugging:

To channel Amber Pierce … Progress Isn’t Linear. :blush:

Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards. Not so much when you’re first starting - increasingly so as you get closer to your potential.

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next time, just ride for 2 weeks and then test… in 3 weeks the drop comes for the most part from your loss in plasma volume. If you give yourself some time to get some of that back and as mentioned above, get used to some harder efforts again. If you do a test then, it will possible still be less, but not that much…

If you have had to miss out on some training, there is good news. In a short time, you can start to increase your blood plasma. Those first few workouts may be tough, but you’ll get back on track quickly.

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