Losing fitness while still training

I’m a 51 year old former bodybuilder who started cycling almost exactly two years ago. I have made significant improvements in both my FTP and fitness taking my FTP and VO2max from 225 and 34 to 312 and 55 respectively. My ultimate goal this year was to do some crit racing. I participated in two crits this year so far with mixed results. I still need more fitness to be competitive. Over the last few months however I have been feeling tired on the bike. I have noticed a significant drop in my avg and normalized power on rides. I feel like my fitness is plummeting even though I’m still doing the same type training I have been. Has this happened to anyone else? Should I just start doing base rides?

It takes a while to build a base and 99% of the time won’t happen in a single season or even a couple seasons. 2 years is a relatively short period of time so you are probably just exceeding your limitations at this point. In this case, more is not better. A focus on recovery would probably help and perhaps reducing your weekly TSS to a level that is more sustainable for your fitness now.

1 Like

Sounds like you’re getting a bit tired. How’s your sleep?

I’d suggest a week or two of recovery rides or even some time totally off the bike and then getting back to training afterward.

1 Like

@Brett_Hankins feeling tired and a drop in avg/np power on rides isn’t necessarily indicative of anything particular with out knowing a lot more info. Meaning, it could you’re over reaching, you need different nutrition, more rest, you’re getting cancer (:wink:) or yeah you need more base riding. But just adding more base riding when already tired and dropping power just to ride more is probably not the way to do it.

Are you following a training plan? If so, a TR plan or something else? If not, then I’d say take a few days completely off followed by an easy week of spin/recovery.

1 Like

My sleep has been poor recently

Thanks! I do work with a coach. And over reaching might be an accurate statement. The people I typically ride with are very strong riders with years more experience and fitness under their belts. I compare myself to them and constantly fall short. Even though (for me) I have made tremendous improvement.
I do need to get more sleep. My nutrition is hard. I am trying to keep my weight down but in doing so, I feel like I’m losing strength. In the last two years I am down from 240 to 210lbs. That coupled with the improvement in FTP has produced improved results on the road but I feel like they are at a cost.

“All things being equal”, I’d echo the two sentiments around possible short term over training and limited cycling experience. The typical # I have heard from elite athletes (pro and Cat 1/2) is 5-7 years. Personally, I’m 15 years in and still find I’m hitting plateaus and dips to learn and build/rebuild from.

1 Like

Thank you for the advice! I will do what you recommend. Cycling is so much different than any sport I’ve done. Knowing how to recover properly and when to take it easier is something I definitely need to improve on

Actually, you have more experience/knowledge than you are probably giving yourself credit for. To build the body you have (impressive!) through strength training it’s the same principles of overload/recover, just different body systems.

I’m 61 and over the past 3 years have built a serious weight training regime that has helped my cycling (and can currently lift cycling specific routines perhaps with guys 1/2 my age). I used the same overload/recover principal to do so. Due to power meters and heart rate monitors, cycling has more tools to measure progress, but the principals are the same and the best tools of all to knowing when to push and when to recover are the same for weight lifting - what your mind and body are telling you.

1 Like

All endurance sports (swimming, running, cycling, rowing, etc) require having a large endurance base to do your best. Due to their focus on users with minimum time available, TR, and all time crunched athlete plans for that matter, significantly understate the value of the long endurance ride(s) as integral to building a large endurance base (on top of which all upper end power is built). So, if you have the time, your weekly routine should include a “long ride”. For being new to cycling and crit racing, perhaps a single weekly ride of such is sufficient. For longer endurance events (e.g. road races and GFs), I’d have a different recommendation.

1 Like