Got them gains. Had a break. Lost them gains

Anyone else in the same boat here?

Had a solid 12 week block of training on TR where I did SSB and then GB HV. At that stage I was new to TR and we had quite the severe lockdown where we couldn’t be outside for more than an hour a day. So, I basically trained indoors for 3-4 months. Came out of the COVID-19 indoor training block on the trainer stronger than I have ever been on the bike and also the lightest. Had a W/KG of about 4-4.2.

Then had a summer on the coast where I did mostly Z2/Z3 group rides. After that, decided to take four weeks off as an off season. That month off turned into two months with minimal riding - the joys of moving house and also having a young family! Busy times! Also rekindled my love for hot cross buns, chocolate and dim sims. A little too much love rekindled I think.

Now getting back into it. Started on Monday with some light Z2 stuff to get back into it and build up the base again. Boy oh boy do I feel like I have zero power on the bike now though! Can barely hold a 15min interval at 175w now! That used to be a Z1 effort for me! Would barely even get my HR up doing that. Gosh you lose it so quick don’t you!

Anyone else been in the same boat? What did you guys do to get back into top form? Did you manage to get the gains you made back quicker than the first time around?

Yes, I have gained and lost fitness in waves over the last year or so. It comes back quicker. My advice is to ignore people who will advise you to be cautious with ftp bumps. Don’t be afraid to increase your ftp part way through a base block if sweet spot becomes easy. I’ve seen gains of 30w and 40w when doing ssb from an untrained state and it was quite clear that half way through those blocks, sweet spot had become too easy.

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Although not currently using TR, 2021 has been very inconsistent compared to 2020. At the end of Jan I did an FTP test that put me 4.9w/kg (333W) for the first time, this might have been reading a little high but I was certainly building nicely after a great base period from September to early January.

At this point I had a load of turbo trainer issues and with poor weather I couldn’t get outside much either. Throw in a couple of minor illnesses and I’m currently scratching my head where to go from here. I did a “lets do a random ramp test” a few weeks ago which gave me 310w FTP, still pretty good but right now I feel like I don’t know quite where to go. I have sold my PM so only use power indoors, my aim right now is to find a way to up my volume and just ride as much as I can for a few months then test again to see where that has left me.

I agree. My experience is that when i raise FTP gradually during a block I tend to “pass” next block easier. Before, after Ramp test and a higher FTP gain, I more often crashed out. Probably because the jump was to high in FTP.
Another way is to work more strategic with the intensity during trainings.


Part of the reason for the two months off was because I had this lingering cold (non COVID related) for a good four weeks there. Just never felt right on the bike so didn’t really do much. Locking myself in the garage for 2hrs seemed too painful to imagine let alone carry out. When I was in the peak of training indoors, I would strap the headphones in, crank the fan, have Rage Against The Machine going on repeat, and literally train for 2-3hr blocks and just felt super strong. Now even going on the trainer for 45 minutes is as much a mental challenge as it is physical!

I guess I am taking the same approach as you. Slowly upping the volume each week. I was doing 12-15hrs a week during that lockdown period and I have started with building up from anywhere between 5-8hrs at the moment. Mostly Z2.


I hope this is the case. Turing the pedals over at 60rpm when doing a 14min 175w interval was definitely a shock. Hoping that muscle memory kicks in and the FTP rises steadily through SSB.

I’m actually really intrigued as to what happens to you physiologically during a prolonged de-training phase. I know in simple terms you lose mitochondria function but I would love to hear more about it. I think from memory it was 14 days of no activity that severely decreases mitochondria numbers? Has @empiricalcycling done a podcast on this?

I don’t even need 2-3 months. Recently hit a record 295W (4.3w/kg), slipped down some stairs at work and hurt my knee so couldn’t train for 3 weeks.
Now 270W seems hard :grimacing:
I’m hoping it comes back easier (and quicker) than getting there in the first place

Had a high of 320 W last year Januari (at just over 80 kg, nearing the 4 W/kg). Got sick in spring, dropped to 240 W at the start of the summer. Got to training again, but only got it as high as 270 W at the end of the year. Did have some weeks of due to a cold and then a pulled muscle in my back - dropped to 230W, and died on a Zwift not-a-race yeasterday with a 212 W over 45 minutes. To make matters worse, I also gained a couple of kg - up to 85 now. (which put me at 2.5 W/kg).

It is finally getting better weather, hope to gain back some of the losses - but yeah, it happens.


One approach - I would rather see increased TiZ rather than increases in power. Totally depends on where in the season you are though…


Yes that’s true. When I was regaining fitness, I found that my heart rate for some of the sweet spot sessions was maxing at about 70-75% of my max, which is a level I have held for 4+ hours, so I just don’t think it was even truly sweet spot and in that case I think it’s better just to increase ftp manually to make the session into a sweet spot session again. Also means you don’t have to think about customising the plan to increase tiz. But increasing tiz is an equally valid way of increasing the training stimulus.

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can relate, I increased my FTP by 35W from December 2020 to March 2021. My FTP went from 266 to 301. I was already at 301 the past summer but I took an off-season break of 2 weeks during November and then did some unstructured riding after that. So in short,

To get to 300W FTP in the last season, I had to do:

SSB LV 1> SSB LV2 > Short Power Build LV > Century specialty LV part 1 (this is where I got 301W FTP)

To get to 300W FTP in this season, I had to do:

SSB LV 1> SSB LV2> General Build LV 1, part 1 (at the start of General build LV part 2 my FTP was 301W)

Hope this helps.

Sounds very similar to what I’ve done. Glad you were able to get back to peak fitness quickly! I guess it comes down to ensuring you just keep turning the pedals over.

I am, however, mindful of overtraining this time around. My mind is in a place that my body is not! So I think I’ll factor in back to back rest days over the next 6-8 weeks so it’s a steady build.

Keep the pedals turning + be consistent + get enough sleep + proper nutrition.

If you feel like that I suggest you take 1 to 2 weeks off and start fresh. Stress is stress even if it comes outside biking. They might be some warning signs that you are training too much. My motivation is much higher after a break.

I’m guessing that having a teething toddler that is awake all hours of the night and gouging on hot cross buns since Christmas isn’t part of this?! At this rate, it is only one more sleep until Christmas 2021 for me.