How long does it take you to regain your lost fitness after an off season break?

I just took a two-week off-season, and then did one week of unstructured riding with some strength work. The second week, I started my training with sweet spot base low volume part 1. I am a high-volume trainer i.e I mostly add unstructured zone 2 rides to my training so my actual riding volume per week is around 8+ hours/week.

Today I did a two-hour endurance ride and noticed that I had a hard time getting up the hills as I just wasn’t capable of producing the power that I was previously able to and this is not really a surprise to me given that I took some substantial time off my bike and any form of exercise. How long does it take on average to regain the fitness you have lost as a result of the off-season break? I would also like some tips on easing in and gradually increasing the volume after a break.

I’ve got a couple datapoints. The most recent was a 5 week off-season including getting sick twice. Restarted training the 1st week of October, now in my 6th week and both threshold and zone2 power/HR are back to my peak fitness this year (May 2021). Averaged around 7 hours/week this year, and that includes lower leveling of cycling this summer plus the 5 week break. I did something similar in 2017, for a November climbing event. My belief is that the quick rebound this year was doing more disciplined zone2/3 work the past 14 months.

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It varies, but up to 2X the amount of time you took off, so 4-6 weeks. Or you could be back next ride, who knows.

Not to worry though, the point isn’t get back to your old fitness as quickly as possible, but instead to break through your last season’s plateau, and oftentimes you need that dip.

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This.

have now done 4 seasons or so with a structured plan. After 2 weeks offseason I wouldn’t start with the same workouts as before, but rather base-build-speciality. That usually involves some level of detraining if you just come off a speciality plan and I may not be feeling quite the same as in my peak for a long time.
I allow myself that time and indulge a bit more in the other joys of life. Extra time for family and friends. Maybe gain a kg of weight. Whatever.

After 10 - 12 weeks of base I usually feel very fit again. build and speciality is where the magic is happening.

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Here’s my 2 cents.

My season properly ended August 15. I tried one other gravel race 2 weeks later with the tail end of my fitness, and some mechanicals issues turned into a time trial.

I spent about 6 weeks doing pretty minimal training. I had gone from my peak of 20-24 hours per week, down to like 3.

That said, I didn’t so completely nothing, I did mostly easy riding, and I threw in the odd harder effort just to keep a little fun here and there and not let my top end totally disappear.

Funny enough I actually managed my best 4 minute power on one of these, and did a new all time 20 minute PR on a climb with close to record freshness haha.

Anyways, 7 weeks ago I started sweet spot base mid volume, found I hadn’t lost that much if any “ftp” fitness, but some of the sweet spot work was tough on longer efforts.

I also almost immediately was asked to hop into a WTRL ZRL team on basically my off season time off fitness, hahaha.

I am now a week into sweet spot base mid volume 2, and have not only regained my “base” fitness, but I JUST might be close to what my peak outdoor season numbers were at least for sustained work already, and it wouldn’t take a lot of vo2 to get those numbers back up too ( vo2 max work starts tuesday )

Basically the longer your time off, the longer to get back.

The longer your history of being fit, the easier to get back.

If you do a bit here and there to sort of keep things from falling too much, you’d be surprised how much you can minmize the dip with very little unstructured work rather than full time off.

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I find after time off from high intensity it takes 3-4 weeks to get back up to speed. The base takes much longer to lose.

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I’ve just come back after nearly 6 months off the bike. I dropped from a pretty solid 300W @ 75Kg beforehand to 230W. This was with no riding at all but running 35miles per week to stay fit.

I’ve had 6 weeks back doing a minimal 200-300TSS per week, comprising a VO2 set and a longer weekend Zwift ride (The awesome “Team EN Hang-On Ride” on Saturday mornings)

It’s been hard work at first going through all the same motions of cycling but somehow the numbers don’t make sense: 200W ? how can i be feeling that? 300W - i can hold that for a handful of seconds… Fortunately it is coming back surprisingly quickly now and i reckon i’m back to 280W now @ 73Kg.

So, the takeaway is Yes, fitness drops fast, but it comes back fast as well :slight_smile:

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this comment right here! focus on the benefits gained from taking that rest, and then build back up, surpassing where you were previously!

LG!!! :rocket::rocket::rocket::rocket::rocket:

good luck!

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:star_struck: