Train to start training?

Hey folks,

I ended my season early due to experiencing symptoms of overtraining, which included lingering fatigue, consistent low motivation to workout. I then took two weeks off from any form of physical activity, and now I feel motivated to train. I am 20 years old FYI, and I usually recover quickly from efforts.

My question is, do I need to train to start training? By that I mean do I need to do some unstructured riding before I do a ramp test? If yes, how many days or weeks would you recommend?

Last year, after taking two weeks off completely I spent two months doing unstructured riding before I jumped back into training. I would like to try a different approach this year as I don’t want to be training this summer. I instead want to only maintain my fitness (what I will be gaining during this upcoming winter of training)


Learning to train before you know how to ride is the new norm it seems. In this day and age, where new riders are overwhelmed with tech telling them exactly how many Kj’s to do in zone 3.75 on Tuesday’s is just a huge mistake IMO.

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Yes the overwhelming amount of advices is confusing.
I remembered when in my youth back almost 40 years ago, when there were no cycling computer etc. when I “only” cycled and my fitness grew without me knowing almost anything about how to train.

Nah just hop in. Don’t start treating your FTP like it’s a score. Practically speaking, the ramp test is a mechanism to set your power zones so you can get the most out of your time spent training. You want that as soon as you can get it.

I don’t know, all the tech and structure was a pretty big draw for me when I started :smiley:


I think that a week or two of just riding would be great before following a training plan again, also considering that you don’t have an event to train for.

I mean, you took two weeks off because you weren’t motivated, so I guess that starting immediately with structure after the break won’t be ideal for your motivation.

However, in general, it has been said many times on the podcast that you don’t need to “train” before starting training, even though you will probably see a lot of gains in the first couple of weeks and you would need to retest early or manually adjust the intensity of the workouts.

Forget the ramp test for a few weeks. I just had 4 weeks off and was motivated to start, i just started with some sweetspot workout 3 a week All 1 hour of Abbey and this felt reasonably easy. I had dialed down my FTP 20 watts also. The second week i did 4 sessions of Abbey and added 10 watts to FTP. I then did the ramp test 2 weeks ago and was down a bit but ready to start again with 6 weeks of Base.


However, it should be said that there’s an excellent chance the ramp test gives you an FTP that will be too high and make the following workouts unsustainable.

Drop it by 5% and go through the motions of following the plan for a couple of months before moving it up. I wish I did when starting out…

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If you do this and guess you may find any workouts too hard or too easy which could put you off either way. To get the right training stress from the workouts do the ramp test and dive on in. There’s loads of posts about over testing - so see how it goes.

Maybe chose a low volume plan and do some fun riding outside. Its a crappy time of the year in the northern hemisphere for road but gravel, MTB and cyclocross are all on - go get muddy and have fun if you have the chance or just explore and play out. One of the best afternoons I’ve had on any bike recently was with our girls in the garden with the manual trainer. :slight_smile:

At your age I pretty much never stopped moving but then I’m old and we didn’t have computers, mobile phones, the internet in my day … :rofl: :rofl: :grin:

Does depend what else you do and if you’re going to train for anything - looking back is always 20/20 looking forwards take it easy and be kind but most of all have fun - without fun what is life but a much paler version of what it could be like.

Tech and structure is good. Not disagreeing. Just that there are times when letting go are just as important. Being able to ride a bike in the moment w/o numbers and be in tune with your body’s performance is very much underrated these days. On the other hand, if all you do is TR or Zwift then yeah, there is no real need for anything I wrote. “Train to Train” just hit me as someone who might benefit from turning the tech off and just go ride.

I fly airplanes for a living. Decades ago as an instructor, I ran a Chinese contract at a large academy here in the states. Great kids but, very hard to get them to fly the airplane looking outside rather than by instruments (prior to an instrument rating…just working on a private certificate). They were all about flying the numbers and in the beginning they were terrible. With experience, they got used to setting a pitch by looking outside and even listening and feeling the airplane perform. Then verify with a quick scan inside.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I feel there are parallels that apply to training.

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