Anaerobic/VO2 intervals after rest week

Anyone else struggle with anaerobic and (to a lesser extent) VO2 sessions after a rest week? I’m on the low volume XCM plan and going from the 8th week of general build into Wolf and failed my first workout of the entire season. This morning, going into week 5 of the plan after a rest week, AI gave me Merced and I failed that one too.

My hunch is the slight decline in anaerobic capacity over 2 weeks between hard workouts is to blame but I might be reaching with that…

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Absolutely! It takes me about 1-3 hard workouts or rides after a true rest week to get my legs back. It’s normal.

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Testing after rest days/week is an ongoing issue for me, as I seem to need a harder effort to get the system started again.

Some have touched on this in other topics, but the idea of performing an “opener” workout for a return to training (even from a recovery week) is something to consider. Using a short, high intensity workout as a “wakeup” for the body & mind could make sense in a training case just as it does for racing. Certainly worth a test for anyone who feels that the first workouts back are harder than they should be.


That’s good to hear other people are doing this. During my build block I hit Goddard during my recovery week and still felt very rested by the end but not as dull when it came time for VO2 efforts the next week.

I always dial back my FTP. The TR workouts are usually difficult, and I add more effort with the +/- adjustment if it feels too easy or nonproductive. Even with a 5 to 10 point FTP reduction, most of the higher-end workouts lose nothing by having a slightly lower FTP. If it’s too easy, add more points to your FTP. There’s plenty to brag about even if TR suggests a 210 FTP, and you opt for a 200 or 205.

I do something similar as @Hlyon, but rather than dial back the FTP I dial back the PL. Not for any reason other than it is easier for me to choose and alternate than manually change my FTP. (Though you could just as easily dial back intensity 5-10% but mentally I hate thing seeing the line below expectations so I do the PL thing).

I usually do some form of light intensity during a recovery week (like PL 1 or 2) to try to keep the legs moving. This week I took the full recovery week and definitely needed a rust buster. I usually do 30-30’s the first workout back to help get the mojo back but did Bays today to test out my legs. Still have some residual fatigue so dropped the PL this week as I need to climb out of the hole, not dig it deeper at this point.

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I used to do my ftp testing on the weekend of rest weeks if I felt up to it. Now I just click a button.
So instead I do either openers or a couple short efforts. This last weekend I did a 1 minute all out test and an all out 5 minute test. I did that on Saturday, first vo2 workout in a long time was Monday, good amount of rest.
Felt pretty good, I just need to be honest with myself if I’m rested enough for openers or a short KOM attempt effort .
Work can be busy and might not seem stressful but is, anyways very personal. Don’t be afraid to try something different to find out what helps you the most.

What I found, for myself, is that a recovery week of only zone2 is a bad idea. I’m sure it works better for some, just not me. For those that benefit from some intensity during recovery week, that means carefully modifying the TR plan. Or as mentioned above, keeping recovery all zone2 and doing some openers as part of the warmup for the first workout back (as part of anaerobic/vo2 interval workout).


I tend to struggle with those workouts every time I do them… As others have said, it’s not uncommon for it to take a little time to get the engine going again after some rest. The first hard interval of any high intensity workout is tough for me, but I can usually get rolling after that even if I’m coming off a rest week. A little experimentation can be helpful. Maybe a throw in a few “openers” toward the end of your rest week.

It would be interesting to understand the science on this, maybe worth a podcast discussion if they haven’t done it. I suspect part of it is pure mental (ie - I forget how hard these things are), but I’d bet there are some bigger physiological things going on as well.

I feel like it has to be partially both. I definitely struggle less with sustained efforts less after the rest week and struggle much more with more intense efforts.

What do you do for intensity during your rest week? Some of the plans I’ve seen from other coaches have half the intervals of your intensity workout. i.e. if you were doing 4 x 4 VO2 you might do 2 x 4 during rest week or one set of 30/30s instead of 2.

Yes, I definitely struggle with that first VO2 workout after a recovery week, especially since it is usually the first interval workout. Prior to AI-FTP and it recommending a replacement workout, I used to do Bluebell or Bluebell +1 - sets of 60/60s. I find these still give a good VO2 workout but are manageable. Now with the recommended workout I see what it is. Half the time I go back to Bluebell anyway.

Are you only doing the 3 workouts from TR LV plan? I’m generally targeting 8-12 hour weeks, so a rest week my coach dials down the volume but keeps some intervals. The type of intervals depends on timing - where I am in my season. In general I’m doing fewer intervals than TR plans, but often higher power full-gas intervals. The rest weeks are more like 5-7 hours, without full-gas, so generally controlled z4 or z5 intensity or perhaps some tempo with bursts.

Up until I hit the specialty phase (and the birth of our second kiddo) I was doing a long Z2/Z3 ride on Sundays and sometimes, a z2 trail ride between intensity days similar to a MV plan (just can’t justify the 90 minute workouts mid week and don’t like committing to the volume). That being said I was only averaging 6-7 hours a week so not a massive amount of volume. Historically I can handle a pretty good amount of TSS but it’s hard to find the time with tiny kids.

if it was me, and understand I’m older and also need to lay down a solid base of endurance riding in order to push a lot of power on hard workouts (without minor knee complaints or extra recovery), then I’d probably do the first two easy workouts in the TR plan and substitute something with high intensity for the 3rd workout. And keep the weekend trail ride on the chill side. Because if reading correctly you are doing 4 workouts/week - 3 TR and 1 trail ride. I’d sub out the last TR workout on the basis of “I’m rested and need some late week intensity to not be stale for next week’s TR workout.”

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Great advice and correct interpretation of my rambling! I’ll try that again during my next recovery week for sure.

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I most definately struggle after a rest week. Usually I just accept it and make my training first week a bit easier easing my way back into training. Second week is solid training but holding back a little bit trying to leave every workout feeling strong and “hungry” for more. Then the third week is when I go proper hard.

If I need to perform straight after recovery week (race coming up) I usually do some kind of opener session the day before. I’ve found out that short, really hard openers don’t work for me but a longer sweetspot / tempo (say, 2x15min low sweetspot) is just about perfect to get the engine going but not inducing too much stress. Something like 5 min VO2 test is also fine, but can leave me feeling a bit flat especially if the recovery week had some work stress etc. going on.

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Great question @Briceps and great answers!

It’s totally normal to struggle with anaerobic and VO2 sessions after your Recovery Week. Even I struggle to get the cobwebs off my legs sometimes! So if you’re having a hard time with those tough workouts after a Recovery Week, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Recovery Weeks are crucial for your body to recover and repair itself, but it can also cause a temporary decline in your anaerobic and VO2 capacity. This is because your body is adjusting to a lower training load, and it needs some time to build back up to where it was before.

As @mcneese.chad suggested, starting with shorter, easier rides to get your body used to training again is a great idea. It’s important to ease back into training and not rush straight into your toughest workouts after a Recovery Week.

@WindWarrior’s and @Vpe advice is also spot on! You can take advantage of Workout Alternates to make these changes to your training plan so that you are still working the correct energy systems at a lower intensity.

A little more info here: How to use Workout Alternates

What’s the takeaway? Don’t stress if you’re struggling with those hard workouts after a Recovery Week. Just take it easy, give yourself time to adapt, and before you know it, you’ll be back to your pre-break level.


I’ve been wondering for some time whether there’s an actual risk of detraining during a full z2 easy recovery week.

Granted it might be necessary to take the full week easy depending on how cooked one is after the previous load weeks, I see some coaches recommending to have some intensity sprinkled in.
On the other hand I see the argument for keeping it easy.

I’m still trying to find the right balance between the two options.

Nonetheless, by default now I know that the first hard Tuesday workout is essentially “wasted” in trying to bring hr down. Let alone testing at the end of a recovery week, that’s mission impossible :crazy_face: