HR through the roof after week off


I’ve had quite a pickle these past two days. After coming off 4-5 weeks of 18-20 hour weeks with 900-1100 TSS and work life I decided to take the past week (almost completely) off training. I felt fine, overate a bit the first two days, slept decent and was hyped to get back to training this week.

However I’m trying to do a Z2 workout around 200-225W and my heart rate just blows through the roof. I’m not feeling sick or anything. Normally my heart rate would be around 130-140 for these efforts, now I’m up to 170-180. Now granted, I haven’t been eating optimally and sleep wasn’t all too good these past 3 days. It’s just amazing for me that I’m struggling to finish what would normally be an average Z2 workout.

Anyone else have any experiences like this? Should I just tough it out? Or take another two days off?


Think it’s pretty normal, I always feel rubbish the first ride after a week off. You’ll be fine tomorrow.


This podcast gives a bit of science behind what happens in an easy/off week.

Hi, Taking a week off, blood plasma levels drop and hence your Oxygen carrying capacity drops so when you come back, it feels really hard (Thats why the rest weeks in TR are packed with 60-70% workouts keep up plasma levels). It should come back quickly as you are a trained rider (Although not all athletes a quick responders , just finished reading a book Coach Chad mentioned in the podcast about Genetics)


Just read the blog post on blood plasma levels. Thanks for pointing that out to me.

Guess I’ll just have to suck it up then :slight_smile:

Confused. I though oxygen is mainly (98%) carried by red blood cells, and not in the plasma?

Thinking out loud then. If an individual has taken a rest period after a six week block would he be best to:

  1. Do a few days of activity before doing a ramp test to see if there is an improvement in FTP? or
  2. Do an FTP test immediately?

I’ve noticed in many training plans the start of a new block has a ramp test and while the plan doesn’t include a rest week, I always thought the blocks were supposed to be separated by a week of rest?

The plans have a recovery (not rest) week as the last week of each block. You don’t add another week of rest normally between them. That also means you’re not going into the ramp test completely fresh (like after a week off).

If I actually had a week (or a few days) really off, I feel rubbish on my first ride back, and wouldn’t do well in an FTP test. I always do an easy ride or even do an opener workout before going back into hard efforts. I don’t need multiple of them though, one is enough.

How about the more basic things like, your age, what you eat, how many hours you sleep, hydration.

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Absolute number of RBCs doesn’t drop (significantly), but your blood plasma does, and it is your plasma forms the majority of your total blood volume. Total cardiac output is stroke volume x HR. After week off, your blood volume is down (plasma down, RBCs same), requiring higher HR for the same oxygen-carrying capacity output. After a few workouts, your plasma begins to be boosted back to it’s previous levels, and HR comes down pretty quickly.

That being said, a few degrees increase in temperature of your workout room can make a massive difference in HR, as can hydration status, stress, sleep, etc.

Thanks… still confused though, if your plasma volume is down, but RBC is the same, doesn’t that mean you actually have more RBC/volume? So wouldn’t each stroke transport more RBCs, not less?

As someone has replied, the TR blocks have a recovery week, low intensity rides 60-75% and short duration, depending if your volume plan.
I have just completed the recovery week, i even sub’ed some of the rides for easy outdoor rides when the weather was nice. I was coming of a hard build few weeks and was struggling with VO2 max backing onto threshold work. Did not expect any improvement, but with the recovery, 2 days off before the FTP test yesterday, I got an 11 watt improvement. Now starting new High Volume plan, so Base 1 and 2 at new FTP. Today 5x10min at 94% new FTP felt okay :slight_smile: So the recovery week worked. I did have the Highest Heart rate i have seen in years, ( i am 55/56 next month and i hit 175… normal 170 is as high as i get) , I also followed the recent Tips on doing FTP test, and 19min 30 seconds was the target to start with then pushed for 1 more minute that worked rather than worry about HR or Watts.

Plasma volume and stroke volume are directly correlated. Thus, decreased plasma volume --> decreased stroke volume --> higher HR for same cardiac output.


Not unusual. That’s just your couch muscle burning off. :smiley:

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Recommend TR Pod cast 251

The Effect of Training on Your Blood Plasma Levels (Ask a Cycling Coach 251)

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Holy. Hannah. That’s one hell of a 4-5 week block. Everyone’s a bit different, but I’m not surprised you’re noticing things like elevated HRs after (just one!) recovery week. I would pay more attention to how you’re feeling overall and not be super concerned.

Thanks for the answers everyone! Not to get all sappy, but I love the wealth of information and willingness to share on here.

Read up on the blood plasma volume thing…interesting!

That was what I was going to put :+1:

Thanks guys @splash @C10oky that makes sense again now after looking at the plans!