[Study] Training Load and Performance Impairments in Professional Cyclists During Lockdown

Conclusions: Total indoor volumes of 12 hours per week, with 6 hours per week at low intensity (Z1 and Z2) and 2 hours per week at high intensity over the threshold (Z5 and Z6), were insufficient to maintain performance in elite road cyclists during the COVID-19 lockdown. Such performance declines should be considered to enable a safe and effective return to competition.”

The above is after a 33% reduction in volume.

Issues: Low sample size, confounding variables (indoor/outdoor)



Might as well add the other text for quick reference:

Purpose : The COVID-19 outbreak has challenged professional athletes’ training and competition routines in a way not seen before. This report aims to inform about the changes in training volume and intensity distribution and their effects on functional performance due to a 7-week home-confinement period in professional road cyclists from a Union Cycliste Internationale Pro Team.

Methods : A total of 18 male professional cyclists (mean [SD] age = 24.9 [2.8] y, body mass = 66.5 [5.6] kg, maximal aerobic power = 449 [39] W; 6.8 [0.6] W/kg) were monitored during the 10 weeks before the lockdown (outdoor cycling) and the 7-week lockdown (indoor cycling turbo trainer). Data from the mean maximal power output (in watts per kilogram) produced during the best 5-minute and best 20-minute records and the training intensity distributions (weekly volumes at power-based training zones) were collected from WKO5 software.

Results : Total training volume decreased 33.9% during the lockdown ( P < .01). Weekly volumes by standardized zones (Z1 to Z6) declined between 25.8% and 52.2% (effect size from 0.83 to 1.57), except for Z2 ( P = .38). There were large reductions in best 5-minute and best 20-minute performance (effect size > 1.36; P < .001) with losses between 1% and 19% in all the cyclists.


These results are not surprising, but the title may be misleading. When you train less (relative to whatever you were doing “before”) your performance degrades (again, relative to “before”). Is this much different than what would be measured seven weeks into off season?

The more interesting question is “why” did training volume at Z3-Z6 decrease? Is it actually related to lock down, or because races were cancelled and coaches had their athletes take a short break then return to base training, or some other reason. Unfortunately the title implies correlation / causation but the cited text above does not support that.


I hope that study does not discourage the average Joe from going low volume. As long as you see improvements in following a low volume plan, you are good to go!

I think the key question is if the new protocol of training indoor was supposed to replace the higher volume and what was the expectation of relative performance ex-ante. H

I guess the other way of looking at it is a 33% reduction in training only lead to a 1-19% reduction in performance. :grinning:

It’s an interesting data point, but since there was no comparison to a different method of training within the study it doesn’t provide much other useful information.


They talk about training 12hrs/week, I hope most mortals don’t consider that to be low volume :slight_smile: