Hypothetical Training Question

All things being equal (training, diet ect), would it get easier to retrain to the same FTP every year? Or would it require exactly the same amount of work? This is assuming a month long off-season where the rider detrained a fair bit.

If so, why?

It’ll get harder because you’re getting older every year.

or easier if the rider was only a teenager…

let’s say age not being a major factor. rider is mid-20s

I’d say easier.

Apparently muscle nuclei remain for decades even if the muscle has atrophied.
I bet capillaries remain increased for ages.
Central governor system? Image it remembers how to get there.

Lots of hard science here.

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It seemingly depends on how long you have been training, but if you’ve been training a long time in one month you will still have reversed

  1. all of the increase in plasma volume
  2. most of the IIx -> IIa shift in myosin
  3. more than half of the increase of mitochondrial enzymes (except in type II fibers)
  4. none of the increase in capillaries
  5. none of the increase in LVEDV

It has been speculated that retraining is more rapid due to 3-5, but there isn’t much data available.

If you haven’t been training as long, then all adaptations are seemingly more readily reversible. Conversely, even if you have been training for decades, long periods of detraining will still result in declines in everything.

Lastly, the notion of “muscle memory” due to activation of satellite cells resulting in an increase in DNA per myocellular volume is still highly controversial. Most data indicate that this doesn’t happen.

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The best bet is to not detain. At minimum try to maintain most of what you have. If you can’t ride then jog, ski, lift weights, or ride a trainer all winter. Even 4x30minutes per week on the trainer can provide good maintenance.