Comeback post surgery

Hi Guys - I’d love some feedback and any advice on how to comeback after an injury and subsequent surgery. Here’s the quick and dirty:

Finished SweetSpot 3 in August and tested with a new FTP of 320. Took a week off prior to starting SP4 and went to Tahoe with the family. Had a mountain bike accident in Tahoe and separated my shoulder. Was in surgery a week later and I am now finally 10 weeks post surgery and had my first road ride this past weekend. Took slow and easy. During my recovery from surgery, I would get on my trainer and spin my legs seated upright. Arm was in a sling. I have not been able to weight train for obvious reasons but I have been doing bodyweight squats 3x / week and other lower body exercises. Needless to say I am frustrated at what is a major set back. I am now at a phase where I can slowly start introducing weight training back in to my routing but light to start and then build. My question for you is this: which of your preset training program sequences would you advise I start with and progress with now given the time of year (winter) and my situation so that I can build back to my 320 FTP? How would you advise I incorporate weights of some type as well given my limitations as I regain use of my arm/ shoulder.

Thank you for the great training. Dino

I would recommend our 32 week off season plan. This would give you 3 week foundation to get back into a scheduled riding program that wasn’t too demanding coming from the time off. But also it would start to introduce some strength work. Then that would roll into our 10 week strength and resistance program. This is when you would start squats, leg press and leg curls. Incorporated into this program is cycling specific strength workouts as well. Once you complete that the plan rolls into Sweet spot 1, 2 and 3.

If you already have the sweet spot plans you can just get the foundation plan and the resistance program separate.

After you complete the 32 weeks of offseason plan you would need to do an interval training plan. This depends on what your goals maybe. If just looking to raise your FTP our road race plan is a good all around plan that would help with that.

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Thank you Jake. I have 2 questions please about the Weight Lifting for Cycling program.

  1. Is this program strictly a weight lifting program or does it include bike workouts as well? I read the summary of the program and it seems there are 3 days of weight lifting. If bike workouts are also included, how are those mixed in with the weight training?
  2. Gyms are closed in San Diego due to Covid. I don’t have a squat rack, leg curl machine or leg press at my house. Given this, I am forced to use a makeshift home gym for weight training with substitute exercises. Any advice on substitute exercises or should I just do my best to replicate? For example, I wear a 45Lb weight vest and do squats, step ups, lunges. I do single leg glute bridges, planks for core, push ups etc. I know it’s not what the program calls for, but I dont have the equipment needed for more advanced training and everything is on backorder.

Thanks for the insight.

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Hey Dino, I have a good buddy who went from biking to weights for a year, whacked out his shoulder a little over a year ago and is also having ongoing problems with one of his fingers that has affected his being able to put weight in his palms, or support himself meaningfully on a bike. I’ve offered to let him use my kickr this winter, to ride upright but he’s skeptical and demotivated. I figure if he’d even spin AT ALL it’ll help, or I have month codes here I could offer if he wanted to follow a plan.

His shoulder by now is in better shape relative to his hand, I was thinking he could try some clip on bars spaced wide to be comfortable, but I don’t know if he could even handle that. How did the indoor sitting-upright go, were you able to do your indoor workouts for the most part? Any tips or encouragement I could offer him?

Hi Dino,

We do have an at home resistance plan! This maybe something you could benefit from. It gives you workouts that you can do at home.

Both the at home and the normal resistance training program are a mix of off the bike and on the bike workouts. During the resistance phase you will be doing muscle tension intervals 2 times a week, one endurance ride and also your warm up and cool downs on gym days. Hypertrophy phase has 3 riding days but mostly easy days with the heavy lifting. The strength and power phases (2 per week) have seated sprint workouts to be done on the bike 2 days and some endurance days as well.

So the idea is to take what you do in the gym and transition that into on the bike power. So that is why we include both.

Hi Chad - Sorry to hear about your friend and his challenges. Its hard being there and you’re a good friend for wanting to help him. For me, getting back to working out as soon as feasibly possible after my accident and surgery was the best move I ever made. Keep in mind that my arm was in a sling 24/7 but resetting my expectations about what I would be able to accomplish vs where I was just a few weeks prior was key. I wasn’t sure what I could do. I remember about 2 weeks post surgery walking in to my garage seeing my bike on the trainer and thinking I wont be riding it for at least another 12 weeks but I thought there’s no reason I cant do body weight squats or lunges safely with my arm in a sling and that’s exactly what I started with, all to keep my legs engaged. I was determined not to lose strength and have to start all over 12 weeks from then. Then one day on week 3/4 when the wifey wasn’t home to stop me, I finished my leg workout and I sat on my trainer and just started lightly spinning my legs all seated up right to see what it felt like and it was great. I fired up Zwift and searched for a random workout that was very easy (around 150-180w) for 45 minutes and I did it all seated up right. I got my heart rate going and my legs were feeling good. I did the same type of workout for the next week and then knew it I could progress it. I selected the Zwift workout: 10-12wk FTP Builder but I only did the workouts that kept the intensity stable in the 200w range and not the interval workouts that went up in to the 300w range because I wouldn’t be able to push that high seated upright. Over the next few weeks, I started sprinkling in workouts that were mostly base miles type rides but incorporated short surges and I would use my one arm and then revert back to sitting up right as I recovered until the next surge when I used one arm on the bar again. Its amazing how the body will adapt and allow you to achieve more with less if you just start slow and build it. Riding for long periods with one arm on the bar will absolutely fatigue that arm but if your buddy can figure out his sweetspot wattage for riding upright with out using his one arm, then he can start to progress to doing slightly harder workouts where he does incorporate the one arm for surges and he will love it. This is when I started getting excited because I could feel the strength coming back. I quickly got a feel for it and I would strongly encourage your buddy to do the same. It will change his psyche and get him re-engaged until he is fully back. I would definitely do a Zwift workout though because if I just got on my bike on the trainer spinning my legs with no program leading me, I would have given up. I needed the workout plan and goal in front of me on the screen and seeing my wattage, heart rate and cadence was a important for me to learn what I could push and for how long so that I knew what my body could handle and how I could progress. I am at week week 12 now post surgery and I did my first road ride this past weekend and while I took it easy, I felt good. Had I not followed all of the above, I would be so much further back and more frustrated. If you friend can just try a structured workout and set himself a short term goal, he will soon realize that he’s been missing out on a lot of fun back on the bike. I would also tell your friend to view this as a challenge. Yes he has been dealt a blow but treat it like a forced challenge. For guys who’s aren’t injured, there is no reason to spend the next few weeks riding with one arm or seat up right. That would be ludicrous but for those of us who are injured, turn this around and view it as a forced challenge and embrace it. Take it on and test your body and learn what you can do with a handicap. Happy talk live with your buddy if you wish and I can share more derails about my experiences.