Big fitness loss after crash - advice on plan?

Hi everyone :grin:

Apologies for what is a bit of a long question.

Its 5 weeks today since I was knocked off my bike by a car. Was unconscious for a while, had some sort of seizure (reportedly) and ended up with concussion, 3 broken ribs and various cuts and bruises plus a nice lump on my head :grin:

Good news is no other broken bones albeit my right hip took a beating and the swelling still hasn’t completely gone yet plus the muscles are clearly damaged and extremely tight all around that side.

Not so good news:

I took my first go at getting back on the trainer on Sunday just gone, which was 31 days after the accident. I did ‘Dans’ at around 90% IF with higher cadence and it was moderately painful but doable.

Up until that point I have been relatively sedentary other than walks of about 3 miles a couple of times a week, since the crash, as I’ve not felt up to much else.

I then attempted ‘Pettit’ at 90% IF on Tuesday this week and it was a complete disaster. Whilst the level of ‘pain’ was actually quite low, normally RPE for L1/L2 workouts like Pettit is super low for me with HR around 120bpm. This time around RPE was equivalent to previous experiences of sustained Sweet-Spot and my HR shot up and stayed at over 170bpm; plus my average power was only 163w and I bailed after 40 minutes.

I feel completely defeated, especially as my fitness prior to the accident was on a good upward tick. I’d completed most of short power build and although I hadn’t done an FTP test I felt like my power and endurance was pretty close to approaching my best from last year (circa 330ftp on the bike) - this was evidenced by me having nabbed around half a dozen local KoMs in the 30s to 2 minute range that previously I wouldn’t have been anywhere near to getting.

So my question is not the usual ‘what plan do I do’ - I’m clear that when I restart my ‘training’ it will be back to SSB LV and progress form there.

My question is, what do I do to get myself (as quickly as I can) back to a position where I can actually confidently begin a training programme?


Any recommendations on workouts to do that will be gentle enough to not set me back but still good enough to stimulate healing and help protect my body from any further fitness losses? (I’m worried about the latter).

I’m guessing (but am unclear) that I will need to take it relatively ‘easy’ and just look to build low intensity volume on the trainer over the next 2 or 3 weeks and the re-evaluate whether or not I feel up to restarting a proper training block?

Clearly I will need to reset (lower) my ftp bit in the absence of a ramp test (I really don’t want to do one of those yet) what are the suggestions on how to estimate my revised (lower) ftp for training other than trial and error?

I’ve asked my doctor and the answer was - no real reason why you can’t go back Cycling but just take it easy and listen to your body. So that’s a green light for me but with the obvious caveats about being measured to begin with.

For info, I’ve got my nutrition and sleep absolutely dialled in - it’s been something I switched ‘on’ in my brain the day after my accident as I didn’t want to get fat (I’ve still put on about 5lbs though :flushed:).

For info: I’m also doing daily gentle yoga, some outdoor walks and have built in cold showers and other daily movements to try and speed recovery and my ageing (I’m 47) metabolism; and have also lined up some physio consultations via zoom so am trying my best to cover all angles to improve my recovery.

Any advice gratefully appreciated; I’m just looking for a steer from people who have either successfully navigated a similar experience or those of you that have relevant expertise you can bring to bear on the situation?

PS: my bike was pretty badly damaged but luckily the carbon frame has no fractures (I paid for a professional scan and check over) so I now also have a nice little full rebuild project to keep me busy (maybe with some upgrades) - I will likely begin a thread elsewhere in the forum to post updates.

Thanks in advance
Dave :grin:

How about a TLDR. :sweat_smile:

I’ll answer your long post with a short one.

Take. Your. Time.

I had a similar thing last February - car crash, hospital, concussion. It takes a long time to be fully recovered.

I wouldn’t think about workouts. I’d do gentle rides outside, easy routes on Zwift, or free rides on Trainer Road, just to test what feels comfortable for you. Only when you start to feel like you can add a bit of intensity should you think about starting a plan.

And don’t be precious about whatever your new FTP is. Don’t say “I’ll knock off 20 watts”, actually look at your heart rate and compare it with before and make an honest assessment. If you do a ramp test, accept the number it gives you. The fitness WILL come back. But it WON’T be rushed.


Thanks :blush: :+1:t2::+1:t2:

Apologies if I missed it, but you did significantly reduce your FTP before attempting anything?

Having been in a similar situation (broken femur), I would just ride easy using Free Rides until fitness comes back and avoid any structured workout based on FTP.


Take a couple of weeks and just ride ad libitum. Find fun on the bike again before jumping back into super serious training. It will give you an anchor point for the rest of your training.

1 Like

I would focus on just turning the pedals at low intensity. Maybe go by HR. Ride at your old usual 120bpm and forget the watts. If HR spikes or you have symptoms then back off.

This link suggest 70% of HR max:


I spent 3 days in the hospital and it was quite a while before I could ride and 1.5yrs before I could ride pain free after I got hit by a car. My advice is take it easy for a while, just ride by feel and don’t worry about power or FTP, focus on enjoying being able to still ride, go outside and just look at the scenery. Just riding along will bring your fitness up quickly without intervals and your power will come back, it might take a while, but that’s ok.

1 Like

@d_diston - no - I just used the intensity control to reduce the intensity to 90% - but it was already an L1 / L2 ride so pretty low watts anyway.

1 Like

Great link - thank you :+1:

Cool :sunglasses:
Thanks for the advice.


As per the advice above, I really would just spend a bit of time just rolling around and get reacquainted with the bike - it’ll come back, but don’t force it!

1 Like

As I and others have said, just free rides and easy spinning is probably best now.

But when you start thinking you can handle harder intervals, I would maybe look at doing a similar ride and reducing the intensity until your heart rate matches where it would normally be before the accident. Whatever % intensity that is, use that to calculate your new FTP and go from there. That way you don’t have to go through the stress of a ramp test straight away.

You might listen/read some of Ian Boswell’s stuff. He crashed and got a big concussion. His comeback was anything but quick and the therapy wasn’t intuitive. I remember him talking about it being hard to find a specialist that really understands concussion and athletes.

1 Like

Thanks :+1:t2::+1:t2:

Thanks for this, definitely relevant and I appreciate you pointing me in this direction :+1:t2: