Long break, FTP loss and hard to get it back

Looking for other peoples experience and any advice that comes with it. I was very fit and racing hard up until I had to take a 4 month break off the bike about this time last year (surgery). I slowly got back into my routine over 2 months following the break (6 month total since the break started). Kept riding unstructured through end of year (9 months since break started) and started Sweet Spot in January. Did 3 blocks of SP. My FTP has not budged and is still ~12% lower than it was before the break. Typical for a long break? Any advice or feedback would be great.

You had 4 months off so that is at least 8 months to get back to where you were, if not more. But also how much has your training load changed compared to where you were before? Sounds like you had basically 4 months of detailed, structured training. You’ll need to give it another 4 months. It will take time.

Any other variables change, i.e. bike set up, power meters, indoor vs outdoor riding/power, and etc.

I personally just had nearly a year off of structured training. I’ve been back at it 1.5 years and am still below where I was. But also the time I have to ride is considerably less than it was a pro, so probably won’t quite be where I was. Just work each day to get better. Just started having ‘breakthroughs’ recently this year.


Thanks for the input Jake. Training volume is roughly the same 8-10 hrs per week at the most. Diet is different, but quite good and getting enough calories and nutrients. Not trying to cut weight at all either. I guess Ill just keep plugging along and trust the process.

Post your PMC Chart here @iamkramer - that will tell us alot. Include dates ranges before, the break and the build since then up until now.

Thanks Frank. Are you referring to an image of the PMC or a file? I just started using WKO so I’m not very familiar with some of the functions. I have all the data in their now but having trouble zooming in on the right timeframe. I’ll keep digging but if you know how to get this done I’d be super appreciative

Post a screen shot of your Performance Manager Chart from your Dashboard in TrainingPeaks - this is a Premium feature (of which we gave you a FREE 30 day code)

Per this training tip:

@FRANK The time off is easy to identify, but there are also gaps in my workouts for times I did not have my power meter (different bike). Hope this reveals something. Thanks!

The gaps make it tough. Even if you ride without a poweremeter you should either estimate TSS or have heart rate TSS. That’s the best way to accurately track your training. In 2017 you had a CTL of close to 60. Only were close to that point in October of 2018.

The inconsistency of missing data makes it tough because it makes it look like inconsistent training. In 2017 had a nice steady long build. That’s what you need. Consistency goes a long way. Recently looks like you had some big rides in Kate April and your CTL shot up. Build off that you want a steady build and hold it. That is what the sweet spot plan will do. Than you want to add intensity. CTL will drop slightly but level off and nit just drop.

Look something like this.


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@Jake. Thanks a bunch. Will certainly stay consistent going fwd with a power meter on both bikes. Appreciate the input

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Consistency is KING, like Coach @Jake said. Also you can manually estimate TSS and enter that number into your TrainingPeaks workout to help keep your charts more accurate.

eTSS = duration x intensity

So multiply minutes trained by an estimated Intensity Factor - .7 is zone 2 and something between .84-.97 is sweet spot. I give my endurance rides a TSS of 50 per hour, so a 4 hour ride = 200

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Glad you posted this. I am two years into cycling and was making a ton of progress until I had a wreck January with some broken bones, fourteen weeks off the bike and I feel like I’m starting back where I was a year ago. It’s frustrating but ready to put in the work and grateful for this community and the training plans to help stay motivated.


One of my favorite things about cycling is that nothing comes easy. The work you put in is very evident. Because once you stop you realize how quickly it can go away.

I think it matters what your injury or illness was or is. Obviously a cyclist will take longer to return to previous form with a lower extremity surgery or injury than say a wrist or collarbone injury. I broke my leg (Tibial Plateau fracture) in the spring of 2008, while I was able to “race” in 2009 I just never had the same fitness or #'s that I had prior to the injury. The good news is in 2010 , I had a great season with great numbers etc. The forced convalescence made me appreciate the bike, family, friends, health and opportunities to do anything; including go to work, activities of daily living, and of course race my bike! Focus on the day to day small victories and forget about comparing your power numbers. Right now that will just bum you out and I promise if you work hard that time will come. Find joy in the incremental improvements and know that you will have bad days. Stay consistent, work hard with any therapy or training and you will get there. To this day, I still remember the first hard ride I did outside. Feeling my body work and hearing myself breathe was amazing! Good luck to you and your recovery, The last suggestion keep a diary (not a FTP diary), 5 years from now when your in the trenches of training and racing you’ll be glad you did.

I only lost a couple of weeks with work and type 1 diabetes reducing my ability to FTFP, and from a 6 week sweet spot plan totally messed up nearly half of the plan, I lost some significant CTL and am about to start the racing phase of my season (Australian spring summer) I’ve chosen the basic road racing interval plan hoping that the reduced volume will allow me to stick to the plan better and hopefully salvage something from the season.

Conversely should I head back into another sweet spot phase and try to build my ctl back up and look at races later in the year?

Hi Leigh,

I would recommend doing some more sweet spot to building up your CTL and overall fitness. You can still be strong by doing sweet spot and using the early season races as intensity training. But by building that base now it will set you up better. Too much high intensity training can be a bad thing especially if you don’t have a base.

I would recommend our sweet spot 3 plan. Here you will get mostly sweet spot and aerobic training but also some higher intensity efforts to be ready for the races. If you have 18 weeks of sweet spot this would the last 6 weeks of the plan.

Look back to your previous year to see what you CTL was. Ideally you want to get back to where it was last season, at a point when you felt you were at your best. So apply the plan and look at your projected CTL and see how it comes out.

Hi FasCats, I have a long winded question… So I have been cycling seriously for 8 years or so, I managed to get to a Cat 1-2 level of road racing on no real specific training plans, I just rode hard when i felt like it and easy when I felt like it. tossed in intervals before my Cat 1/2 road races. I have since transistioned more to big Gravel events ie; DK200 (unbound) BWR, SBT Gravel, RPI etc… I still race with an elite road team and have some road races to do for the team in spring but BWR san diego is my first A race.

With no racing last year I just rode lots of hard kms. 22,000 + kms 250,000 meters and about 800 hrs. At the begining of the year my 20 min test was 370 watts, My FTP was +330 at 170lbs. (which i felt was low and wanted to grow) Basically rode at threshold or sweet spot all year with recovery rides, I had multiple weeks at 131 to 135 CTL. My FTP dropped but my 2 hr power was 292 watts, so I built a great engine and was able to ride strong for 10 hours (which my gravel events demand) Now that I am 42 yrs old I thought it was time for some training plans (but I am not super diciplined at structured training) so I did the resistance weight plan (started it late) and got a back injury at the end of strength and begining of power phase, So i thought since it was the begining of January I would just start SS/Base, Is that smart or should I continue with the power phase? My CTL through Hypertrophy was around 130 I was also riding. I had also lost some weight after Hypertropy so I am now down to 160/162lbs. But since getting back on the bike I have noticed my power is so low, I even calibrated all my power meters thinking something was wrong because I have been finding it hard to hold even 33o watts for 20 minutes, Is this normal after doing gym work? Or after losing nearly 10 lbs? But I feel like my ftp has dropped by a huge amount. I havent done an FTP or 20 min test but even my normal Sweet spot feels so hard and feels like threshold or higher. I am possibly overtrained and do a need a long rest/recovery break? how can I get my FTP back? I clearly want to improve from this time last year, but with the loss of weight even if I could just keep the same ftp that would be fine, So what do you recommend?

Thank you so much for all the great content you guys put out from the plans to the podcasts to this forum. It is all so much appreciated by all who use it!!

Hi @owenvermeulen - thanks for all your questions :wink: Not sure where to begin, lol.

Sounds like you would benefit from interval training when the time comes since you’ve become such a diesel. I highly doubt BWR in April will happen - all of California is locked down currently.

When the time comes look at sweet spot part 4 for its VO2 work and also road intervals. At the elite level (P1/2) gravel events race like a road race.

As for as weight loss, be sure you are winning in the kitchen like this:

For more help, consider our coaching subscription or hire a coach option - we really can’t answer the rest of your question without looking at your training, training plan, and data, including the your PMC Chart.

Hi Frank,

Thank you so much for the insight, (So basically do more of what I suck at most haha) I know it was kind of a mash of questions. I have more all over the place questions for you… sorry, LoL.

So since last year have really built up this diesel engine, which I am very happy about for my gravel races. My weight is steady around 72/73kgs (with a healthy diet and some winning in the kitchen). I would like to also bump up my ftp by 7 watts which would put me in the 5.0+ w/kg area. (looks like BWR is not going to happen for me so 1st A race would be DK200/Unbound if that even ends up happening for me). But I am part of a elite Cat 1/2 team and would be expected to race some road races for the team as early as March (these would be C races the some B road races later in the season) I feel like I have lost that punch and repeatability it takes to really be competitive in the 1/2 races. IE; following moves, breaks, sprints etc. What do you recommend I do to maintain the diesel but improve those areas??

I also had another question… It has always been hard for me to keep to a very structured training plan, to get to my current fitness I have just rode sweet spot/base then pick up intensity before races. But like I said before with getting older i need to follow more structure to make anymore gains. (hence the resistance plan i did) with my resistance plan cut short due to minor injury with 2 weeks of power left to do and the races being pushed back would I beneifit from doing some of the power phase workouts now? Or just continue on with SS/Base and intervals to get my “kick”/repeatability back?

Also… (i know i’m sorry) With being new to a solid structure and having about 15 hrs +/- per week to train, Knowing myself If it is too structured I am more apt to loose enjoyment/motivation. I had been doing a 4 day on 3 day off for the most part through through 2020 as it worked well with my work schedule, I have wiggle room in my work schedule (hence the ability to ride 760+hrs in 2020) now with taking consideration of all the above questions what do you think a typical week should look like (ie; days on off, intervals and hard rides) for someone in my position wanting to some structure but also be able to have (I love a long hard sweet spot/threshold ride) “free ride” time.

Thank you so very much for all of what you do at FasCat, I enjoyed the plans I got from you so far and love the podcasts, forums etc. everything you do is awesome!!


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Hi Guys,

So i have been looking to buy the sweet spot 4 plan as recommended from frank to get my “punch” back as i have become more of a diesel. I’m just curious as when to start it? I have a series of road races (C races mostly but a couple B ones) starting in the begining of march, I was thinking of starting it feb 1st is that too early? I have some A races and Unbound (DK) to do throughout the summer hoping they are a go. Another thing is that I have extra time through the week to possibly do more and wondering what to do on top if thats the case? I would like to bring my FTP up tp 5 watts per kilo by spring. I am currently around 4.6/4.7 will this plan also help that too?

Thank you

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