Off season bike fitness lost

Hi, I have been doing triathlons past 4 years. I always wonder how my bike fitness sucks after the off-season and it takes relatively long to gain it back. My last race was in end of June and July and august were off-season with casual 3-6 hours week training, also some weekly cycling. FTP was around 260-270w in June. I train about 400-500 hours annually and cycling is 40-50%.

Now after two weeks of training my running fitness would be the same if I lost the weight I gained during the previous months. I just did FTP test and couldn´t do more than 205w. I had also similar results after last September Iron man race and later injury in October. It took 4-5 moths to gain the fitness back in cycling and just month in running/swimming.

Anyone else having similar issues? Am I doing something wrong in cycling training? Usually during winter I do a lot of hard indoor workouts and more volume in spring/summer. This time I decided to do some volume blocks in the winter also and see if it helps.

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Your probably losing your ‘top end’ in your off season. I would search the podcast stuff for maintenance work, Chad has talked about it recently. I would think if you did 1 VO2 session a week you would keep a lot more of your hard earned fitness that doing no structure.

I think I am losing all Fitness. Like now I am struggling to hit 150-170w in endurance training. With 120-130w I can keep the heartrate low.

How much are you riding you bike during the off-season? I found that doing 2-3 1hour intervall workouts each week during offseason effectively negated any loss of base fitness on the bike.

I ride mayber 1-3 times, 2-4 hours and mostly endurance in off-season. I also add some mountain biking .

It doesn’t even have to be particularly brutal to maintain VO2Max. Some of the 45 minute versions of Gendarme or Taylor - 30/30 VO2Max intervals.

260-270w FTP on 200-225 hrs/year (basically 4hrs/week avg) is in my opinion amazing.

Don’t take two months off cycling or at least keep some maintenance level going and I bet you would see much less of a dip. Doesn’t mean you need to stay pedal to the metal during that time, but a huge factor in growing and maintaining performance is consistency. Taking two months off and then having to rebuild all you lost is wasted time when you could be building on what you have.

I know what you’re taking about, have been in the same boat for years. Also loosing fitness quickly.

There are two ways to go about it.

Either you accept that you loose some fitness, but what you loose during 2-3 weeks will come back quickly. Taking a break will leave you stronger overall because you effectively prepare yourself for the new season.

Alternatively you try to hold on to your fitness. One sweet spot workout a week should do enough. Who cares about the VO2max as a triathlete.
This means you add structure and interval workouts to your off season, which somehow defeats the purpose.

Anecdotally, a “true” off-season, = less load, no structure, leaves people fresher for the next year.

This might be part of it. Even if you increase your endurance time in zone, you still need some intensity. At least one or two sessions per week.

Guess I need to reconsider off-season plans next year and do even some intervals in cycling. In running it is so easy to get back the same fitness (2-4weeks from a 6 week injury for instance). So, now I have maybe figured it out that cycling works totally differently.