Zero exercise for 5 weeks, whats the best way to get back to training?

So due to a crash and knee injury, Ive had zero exercise for 5 weeks. Prior to that is was entering into the specialty phase after high volume build…had a ctl in the mid 80s (and have 20 years of riding racing in the legs). Now i have a clt of 40 and can start riding inside. How long should i just ride before jumping back into structured training. Right now my HR is super high compared to my power output…which is to be expected. Im thinking of just doing HR based endurance rides until i feel like ive got some fitness back, doesnt seem right to do a test right now as I assume (hope) ftp will be changing weekly.

Anyone have better suggestions on my return? Really want to do a 150 mile gravel race the last week of May. This will be an interesting 5 weeks to build that fitness.

Do RPE endurance for a couple of days. Add in 30-60 min of tempo after that. Try some short sweet spot/threshold work like 5-10minx3-5. Listen to your body. Don’t rush it.

Sounds like you’ve got the right idea to me! I’m not familiar enough with CTL to comment on that, but with that level of fitness/experience behind you I imagine you’d bounce back super quickly.
Given how long you’ve been off the bike, i’d treat it as an ‘off season’ of sorts and build back to things over 1-2 weeks- firstly to reestablish frequency and figure out where you’re at, and then make sure you’re comfortable with the volume (bearing in mind that a loss of fitness also impacts recovery time.) At that point you’re probably good to retest and get back to structure.

On the bright side, you might find you come back stronger after a break, and given endurance tends to hold on pretty well it’s a pretty good choice race-wise. I wouldn’t feel too bad about adding some sprints/tempo into the mix earlier on if you’re feeling good, either- I’d just keep it pretty flexible and play it by ear.

Good luck on your recovery!

1 Like

Same advice one would give to a new cyclist: just start from square one and do it.

Do a ramp test and you get what you get. 5 weeks gets you through a single block of Sweet Spot Base.

I wouldn’t count getting back to your prior fitness. I’d guess that would take 10-15 weeks, which sucks, but in the grand scheme of things, that’s nothing. Don’t lose sleep over it.


Correct. I think your thinking is spot-on. Plus some sweetspot and you’re good to go. As long as you’re orthopedically okay, more hours is better for regaining endurance fitness, especially with an ultra distance event coming up.

I’d disagree with jumping back in with a ramp test & starting SSB. I’m 48 & ended up off the bike with very little physical activity for roughly 4 months due to a knee injury. I started back with Taku. My HR hit 156 - that happens inside for me on long threshold. Let me say that again: Taku drove my heart rate to threshold level. That was a kick in the gut & good indicator of my fitness or lack there of. I started doing sweetspot which was a bit much considering I was coming back from a knee injury. For about a month I did Maggie’s & Bays then had a breakthrough workout with Bluebell & only then jumped into a plan. I started SSB in late February & I’m roughly 60% back to fitness CTL wise & down about 8% on FTP. I’m just starting to feel a bit of fitness after 2 months. It’s going to take you awhile to get back to form. Be patient & know that you’ll get there & feel like yourself on the bike again in ~4-5 months. Good luck on your return!


Couple endurance rides then do mini-booster! Always works for me.

Ride hard, Vo2 workouts, anything at all for about 3 weeks then chill.

Gives you a fast FTP bump, then recover and do something in line with your goals structure wise.

You should be asking your physio what they think I’m my experience.

I would say gradually. Start maybe a half hour one day. Then 45. Then an hour and see where that gets you. Once you can do an hour consistently (3 days in a row) at z2, maybe throw in some tempo. Then a threshold workout. By then you should be okay to get rolling again.

Knee injuries are no joke and it’s pretty easy to reverse 5 weeks of healing. Just saying.


Don’t rush things. Get back on your bike and feel your way in. See how your body feels. Then go from there once you have a sense of how well recovered you are and where your fitness lies.