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How much fitness do you lose taking a few months off?

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How much fitness do you lose taking a few months off?

Old 03-18-19, 07:24 AM
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maartendc
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How much fitness do you lose taking a few months off?

Hello everyone,

Currently training for my first century ride on May 4th. I know I could probably finish it just fine, I do 50-60 mile rides on the weekend no problem. But honestly, I am looking to set a good "time" and enjoy the experience, so trying to get as fit as possible.

I was just curious: I was in good shape at the end of October last year, where I did 7 weeks of pretty hard training (for me) at about 100-km a week). November, December and first half of January had been off months where I did no training. No significant riding, except for short commutes every day (12 mins each way), and a couple of isolated rides.

So now my question is: How much of the Fitness I had gained in September- October (and the months leading up to it to a lesser degree) would I have lost during 2.5 months off?

Also: I started training again late January for 4 solid weeks, but due to illness had to stop training for 2 weeks the first two weeks of march. How would two weeks off affect my training?

I am hoping to put a good solid 8-week uninterrupted training block in between now and the event. This is how my schedule will be:

Monday: Rest Day
Tuesday: Speed work: intervals 1hr+
Wednesday: Rest day
Thursday: Steady ride, 80% of max HR, 1hr+
Friday: Rest day
Satursday: Rest day or easy ride
Sunday: Long ride, 50 miles+, 4hr+

Thank you!
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Old 03-18-19, 01:29 PM
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How much fitness you've lost isn't worth your time to think about. That's done. Your only concern is the future. In that future, try not to do that again. Indoors works fine if that's your only option.

Your program looks fine. If you're much over 50, I'd recommend dropping that 80% on Thursday down to 75%. Or better yet, do a lactate threshold test and base your zones off that, so more like 85% LTHR. On Friday or Saturday, depending on your response, you might try 30-45 minutes of relatively easy riding with one very hard effort of about 1.5 minutes. You might want to try a walk or brief run on Wednesday.

More importantly, you want at least 100 miles a week, preferably more, and at least 50 feet of elevation gain per mile if that's available. Climbing is the quick way to get fit.
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Old 03-18-19, 09:14 PM
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I came back fairly quickly after 5 months off the bike. However I don’t race I just basically cruise. My routes have climbs so I get the leg building part of it. 854 miles in 7 weeks road/gravel on week 6 I got tired so I took a few days off and had a lower mileage week. Don’t over think it or get paralysis by over analysis you will be fine.
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Old 03-19-19, 12:02 AM
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Some. But it comes back quickly.
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Old 03-19-19, 12:14 AM
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https://io9.gizmodo.com/this-is-what...cis-1724581507
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Old 03-19-19, 04:02 AM
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Age is a big factor in how much you lose, I took about 45 days off for medical reasons and it's taking me 6 months of hard structured to get close to where I was before - age 62
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Old 03-19-19, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by srode1 View Post
Age is a big factor in how much you lose, I took about 45 days off for medical reasons and it's taking me 6 months of hard structured to get close to where I was before - age 62

Agree about age -- 68 being factored into the length of recovery time frame along with overall health. I used to recover everything lost in short order but since thyroid issues in addition to cancer issues at age 65 my return takes forever. Just got back from a week long cruise on Sunday and will get out on Thursday already realizing a loss of power/endurance. Have 1 day Cross Florida Ride on April 7th, https://spacecoastfreewheelers.com/xfl/ , and it might take 2 weeks before I'm back to form.
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Old 03-19-19, 03:59 PM
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My FTP dropped from a peak in oct of 278 to 250 at the beginning of december with a significant taper. Didn't ride at all over the holidays ~ 1 month and my FTP dropped to 215 on my first day back/test. Was back to 235 by mid feb, and 250 by beginning of march with ~4-5 hours/week on zwift with almost all intervals/races.
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Old 03-20-19, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by redlude97 View Post
My FTP dropped from a peak in oct of 278 to 250 at the beginning of december with a significant taper. Didn't ride at all over the holidays ~ 1 month and my FTP dropped to 215 on my first day back/test. Was back to 235 by mid feb, and 250 by beginning of march with ~4-5 hours/week on zwift with almost all intervals/races.
Thanks, this is useful info! Good to hear you were able to regain from 215 to 250 in about 2 months. Kind of discouraging to hear how fast it goes down though!

Originally Posted by srode1 View Post
Age is a big factor in how much you lose, I took about 45 days off for medical reasons and it's taking me 6 months of hard structured to get close to where I was before - age 62
Good point, thanks for the feedback! I am 32 so perhaps a bit quicker to regain?

Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Some. But it comes back quickly.
Good to hear, thanks!

Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post

Your program looks fine. If you're much over 50, I'd recommend dropping that 80% on Thursday down to 75%. Or better yet, do a lactate threshold test and base your zones off that, so more like 85% LTHR. On Friday or Saturday, depending on your response, you might try 30-45 minutes of relatively easy riding with one very hard effort of about 1.5 minutes. You might want to try a walk or brief run on Wednesday.

More importantly, you want at least 100 miles a week, preferably more, and at least 50 feet of elevation gain per mile if that's available. Climbing is the quick way to get fit.
Thanks for the feedback!

Well, I am 32. I don't have a power meter or HRM at the moment, so all of these numbers are pretty much based on "feel" and breathing rate at the moment. It LTHR the same as FTP? I know my FTP was 177 when I started my training in January. I kind of know what 177 "feels" like from being on Zwift, so I can kind of gauge my efforts accordingly.

-I try to go at a "steady, hard, but sustainable for an hour" pace on the steady rides. I have heard it is more beneficial to train closer to your FTP than at 80% of your FTP for example? Faster fitness gains?
-I try to go "all out" for 45 second intervals with about 1 minute of recovery for about 5-6 reps during interval days (after warmup etc.). This should raise my VO2max / lactate treshold?
-On the endurance rides I just focus on getting the distance in, at a steady pace. Trying to go easy first half, and upping the pace to steady during the last half if I feel good. This is kind of to simulate the kind of riding I would be doing during the century.

100 miles a week seems doable. I am currently at about 85 miles per week, will be able to up this to 100 in a couple of weeks.

I currently do about 2500 ft of elevation per 50 miles, so that is about 50 per mile as you suggest. Really have no choice in the matter, as it is quite hilly around here, no matter where I go. I guess that is a good thing. The century I am training for will be similar terrain, so I have to get used to taking it easy up the climbs not to burn out too fast.

Thank you!
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Old 03-20-19, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by maartendc View Post
<snip>

On the endurance rides I just focus on getting the distance in, at a steady pace. Trying to go easy first half, and upping the pace to steady during the last half if I feel good. This is kind of to simulate the kind of riding I would be doing during the century.

100 miles a week seems doable. I am currently at about 85 miles per week, will be able to up this to 100 in a couple of weeks.

I currently do about 2500 ft of elevation per 50 miles, so that is about 50 per mile as you suggest. Really have no choice in the matter, as it is quite hilly around here, no matter where I go. I guess that is a good thing. The century I am training for will be similar terrain, so I have to get used to taking it easy up the climbs not to burn out too fast.

Thank you!
In the matter of endurance ride pace, I do the opposite. I go really hard on the climbs, moderate but still fast on the flat, until I'm tired, then I simply try to get to the end as quickly as I reasonably can. If I can still walk comfortably, I know I could have gone harder. I try to leave it all on the road. Endurance starts to build when one starts enduring. Of course I don't do that during events, just training rides. You don't know where your limits are unless you go in search of them. IME this can make a century event an easy day in the park where one just has fun riding with others.
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Old 03-20-19, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
In the matter of endurance ride pace, I do the opposite. I go really hard on the climbs, moderate but still fast on the flat, until I'm tired, then I simply try to get to the end as quickly as I reasonably can. If I can still walk comfortably, I know I could have gone harder. I try to leave it all on the road. Endurance starts to build when one starts enduring. Of course I don't do that during events, just training rides. You don't know where your limits are unless you go in search of them. IME this can make a century event an easy day in the park where one just has fun riding with others.
Well I have noticed that if I go too hard on the climbs during the endurance rides, and really go all out, it takes me 2-3 days to recover properly before being able to put in a good effort again.

This is really not beneficial to my training consistency, as it would prevent me from riding "properly" again until Wednesdays or Thursdays, thus not getting my full schedule done. I've heard it is better to be consistent and get 3-4 rides in per week, rather than one or two huge rides.

I guess different things work for different people.
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Old 03-20-19, 11:07 AM
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I took 3 months off last year (Sept-Dec) due to patellar tendonitis (and some burnout) with either no riding or z1. My FTP went from 280 to 220 but I got back up with 240 within 2 weeks and I'm probably sitting around 265 right now. The other big thing is the weight. I gained 20 pounds and still have about 10 more to lose. From a Power / Weight perspective, I was at 4.3 w/kg, went down to 3.4, and right now and somewhere around 3.85. For me, a guy that's really only good at long efforts and climbing that's a lot.

Taking 2 weeks off would hurt as well, I don't think you lose muscle just some aerobic capacity.
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Old 03-22-19, 07:25 PM
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I'm 35. Last August I took 5 months off and my FTP went from about 340 to 240. It's taken 3 months of very hard training to get it back to 310ish and will probably take another 1-2 months before I've regained all of my fitness.
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Old 03-22-19, 07:52 PM
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I like the routine-- getting back on the saddle and this 3x weekly sounds good...

M - rest
T- ride
W - rest
T - ride
F - rest
S - rest
S - ride...
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Old 03-24-19, 12:54 PM
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Hiya,

I've been training and racing for 10 years now, and I can tell you that taking weeks off (because you're sick or injured) starts eating into the higher-intensity ends of your fitness first and foremost. If you took 2-3 months off, you'd not only lose most/all of your Anaerobic and Threshold-level fitness (read as: hill climbing-at-speed), but you'd start losing your basic aerobic fitness. "Use it or lose it" fully applies here. If you want to do well on a 100-mile ride, even if it's non-competitive, you need to do something during those 2-3 months to preserve at least your basic aerobic conditioning.
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Old 03-24-19, 03:44 PM
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@maartendc, lots of century first-timers fret about "getting a good time" when they should be focused on pacing themselves and finishing. You can always do the next one faster.
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Old 03-25-19, 11:58 AM
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My understanding is that fitness losses are not linear and highly dependent on your physiology. However, "average" losses would probably be in the 30-40+% range, but I think you should be able to gain back that ground fairly quickly. I took 10 months off the bike to travel and within a matter of a couple months after resuming training was back to the level I was before. The important part is you gained that level of fitness before so it should be easier to get back to that same level of fitness vs gaining that fitness to begin with.
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Old 03-26-19, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Duncan B. View Post
Hiya,

I've been training and racing for 10 years now, and I can tell you that taking weeks off (because you're sick or injured) starts eating into the higher-intensity ends of your fitness first and foremost. If you took 2-3 months off, you'd not only lose most/all of your Anaerobic and Threshold-level fitness (read as: hill climbing-at-speed), but you'd start losing your basic aerobic fitness. "Use it or lose it" fully applies here. If you want to do well on a 100-mile ride, even if it's non-competitive, you need to do something during those 2-3 months to preserve at least your basic aerobic conditioning.
Originally Posted by Psychocycles View Post
My understanding is that fitness losses are not linear and highly dependent on your physiology. However, "average" losses would probably be in the 30-40+% range, but I think you should be able to gain back that ground fairly quickly. I took 10 months off the bike to travel and within a matter of a couple months after resuming training was back to the level I was before. The important part is you gained that level of fitness before so it should be easier to get back to that same level of fitness vs gaining that fitness to begin with.
Thanks for the responses! This gives me a good idea of what to expect. I am currently on track to put in my full 8 week training block, so I hope things work out well.

It is worthy to note probably that I do commute by bicycle to work every single day at a brisk pace and hilly route, although it is only 10 minutes / 2.5 miles each way. Also bike to a friends house for dinner once a week, which is 25 minutes each way. So it is not like I absolutely sat on the couch and did nothing, I still ride my bike daily, just not great distances. Hopefully that helps retain some muscle and aerobic fitness at least.

Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
@maartendc, lots of century first-timers fret about "getting a good time" when they should be focused on pacing themselves and finishing. You can always do the next one faster.
That is true. I surely will be trying to pace myself the first half of the ride, going slower than I think I need to. I guess I just want to finish strong and feeling good, rather than hitting a certain time. That is what I'm really training for. Thanks for the advice.
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Old 03-27-19, 04:57 AM
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This is an interesting talk about losing fitness, specifically in the first minute of the video

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Old 04-14-19, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Some. But it comes back quickly.
same for me 100%
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Old 05-22-19, 02:42 AM
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All of it! But you'll get it all back in half the time thanks to "muscle memory." Yes, that includes the complete level of fitness.
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Old 05-22-19, 04:58 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I'm 35. Last August I took 5 months off and my FTP went from about 340 to 240. It's taken 3 months of very hard training to get it back to 310ish and will probably take another 1-2 months before I've regained all of my fitness.
Ahhh, two months later and I'm still at 310-315! Bleh.

Need more hours.
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