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  1. #1
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    Days off make me weaker!!!

    First post, first question.

    I noticed this after my time off during Christmas holidays. After 10 days doing absolutely nothing, my legs REFUSED to pedal. My usual endurance pace felt like a 30 min time trial! It took a week and a half to get back to my usual self.

    Same thing when I take a day or two off. For instance, after 6 days of good work, I gave myself a break yesterday. Today, back on the bike. Guess what? NO LEGS! They were sore everywhere from the first minute to the very last (40 min total). As usual, I suppose tomorrow will be easier and I will be in good shape by the middle or the end of the week. Now I will not take these first rides easy, not at all. It seems that the harder I work, the more legs I have the day after.

    So the question is... WHY??? And should I just take recovery rides instead of days totally off the bike?

  2. #2
    Reading Rocks!!! david.l.k's Avatar
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    Who long have you been cycling hard for? I'm allways stronger after a weekened of no commuting. But I usually work out at least once over the weekened.
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  3. #3
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    if you need to take days off, i would suggest staggering them throughout the week. riding every other day with a day off inbetween would be better than riding consecutively and then taking 2-3 days off in a row (or 10!!). even a 10 mile easy spin is enough to keep you feeling fresh. most people tend to ride a mix of harder days followed by recovery rides and maybe a day or two off during the week.

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    A day off each week is important for the muscles (and the heart muscle). I agree with staggering the workouts (hard/easy).

    It isn't until a day off - without those pain-masking endorphins - that we feel the actual building of the muscles. Sometimes a day off lets me know that I actually need to take 2 days off in a row after I worked myself extra hard.

    10 days is too long I have found. It doesn't take as long to get 'back into shape', but the first 10 days after 10 days off will feel the worst and once you get through that wall you'll be back to your old routine.

  5. #5
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    Taking time/days off depends on your goals. 10 days off the bike is long for anyone to lose some fitness. A day or two doesn't actually cause a decrease in muscle mass or VO2max.

    Pros and other serious racers don't take time off, they take recovery rides. There are 2 days "off" during the tour, and every rider goes out for a 3-4 hour "spin." Per the instruction of my coach and team mates, I don't take days off intentionally. So far the longest I've gone is 30 consecutive days. I took 8 days off for a trip to europe, from time to time it's either skip a day or get on the trainer at 10pm, in which case I take that day off. But no matter what I have at least one recovery ride a week where I spin over 90rpm, and keep my heart rate below 130 for 60-90 minutes.

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    But does anybody actually know why I feel this way after as little as a day off? I mean, it seems that my body should use these days to adapt to the workload and should therefore be stronger when getting back to work. Not the other way around!

  7. #7
    Isaias NoRacer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stanette
    But does anybody actually know why I feel this way after as little as a day off? I mean, it seems that my body should use these days to adapt to the workload and should therefore be stronger when getting back to work. Not the other way around!
    Check this out. It used to be on Lance Armstrong's website, but now I can only pull from there as being cached by Google:

    Maintaining Training Adaptations During the Off-season
    by Bryan C. Bergman, Ph.D.


    This article goes into detail about what happens to endurance athletes as one de-trains if complete rest time is taken for too long.

    .
    2009 mileage = 14,738 miles; 2010 mileage = 15,234 miles; 2011 mileage = 17,344 miles; 2012 mileage = 11,414 miles; 2013 = 12,169

  8. #8
    Climbing Fool terrymorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stanette
    But does anybody actually know why I feel this way after as little as a day off? I mean, it seems that my body should use these days to adapt to the workload and should therefore be stronger when getting back to work. Not the other way around!
    The only physiological charcteristic that can change that quickly is blood volume. The effects of de-training on blood volume was studied in elite runners. After two days, the trained aerobic athlete could lose up to 1 kg of plasma. This reduces VO2max, lactate threshold, and power output at every effort level.

    Going to a high altitude has the same effect as de-training for a couple of days. I lose a lot of fluid when I first go to altitude, and it takes me a few days to get back my fitness.

    I did some personal de-training experiments, measuring my time trial performance after 1 or 2 days of rest. After 1 day, my performance dropped by about 5-6%. After 2 days, it could drop as much as 12%. I would also lose about 2-2.5 lbs -- about the same as measured in the de-training study.
    Managing Director, Undiscovered Country Tours

  9. #9
    Isaias NoRacer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by terrymorse
    The only physiological charcteristic that can change that quickly is blood volume. The effects of de-training on blood volume was studied in elite runners. After two days, the trained aerobic athlete could lose up to 1 kg of plasma. This reduces VO2max, lactate threshold, and power output at every effort level.

    Going to a high altitude has the same effect as de-training for a couple of days. I lose a lot of fluid when I first go to altitude, and it takes me a few days to get back my fitness.

    I did some personal de-training experiments, measuring my time trial performance after 1 or 2 days of rest. After 1 day, my performance dropped by about 5-6%. After 2 days, it could drop as much as 12%. I would also lose about 2-2.5 lbs -- about the same as measured in the de-training study.

    I think some of this could be neuromuscular--peripheral and central nervous system changes.

    .
    2009 mileage = 14,738 miles; 2010 mileage = 15,234 miles; 2011 mileage = 17,344 miles; 2012 mileage = 11,414 miles; 2013 = 12,169

  10. #10
    Climbing Fool terrymorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoRacer
    I think some of this could be neuromuscular--peripheral and central nervous system changes.
    Interesting thought, although 1-2 days seems a very short time to see much cellular change (even nerve cells).

    I'm pretty fuzzy on the whole neuromuscular thing. How do neurological changes influence aerobic capacity?
    Managing Director, Undiscovered Country Tours

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by SandySwimmer
    A day off each week is important for the muscles (and the heart muscle). I agree with staggering the workouts (hard/easy).

    It isn't until a day off - without those pain-masking endorphins - that we feel the actual building of the muscles. Sometimes a day off lets me know that I actually need to take 2 days off in a row after I worked myself extra hard.

    10 days is too long I have found. It doesn't take as long to get 'back into shape', but the first 10 days after 10 days off will feel the worst and once you get through that wall you'll be back to your old routine.
    i agree with this. dont go all out everyday. make sure you plan in some long rides at 65-75% and leave the sprinting for another day. as quoted, you wont actually gain any muscle until you rest so it is crucial. if youre very serious about training, set a goal for yourself a few months from now. have specific days tailored to different things. make sure to factor in rest. taking 1 or 2 days off isnt going to make any difference as far as losing or gaining endurance.
    There are two types of people in this world: those who eat hot dogs whenever it is possible to do so, and those who opt to do other things with their free time.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by stanette
    First post, first question.

    I noticed this after my time off during Christmas holidays. After 10 days doing absolutely nothing, my legs REFUSED to pedal. My usual endurance pace felt like a 30 min time trial! It took a week and a half to get back to my usual self.

    Same thing when I take a day or two off. For instance, after 6 days of good work, I gave myself a break yesterday. Today, back on the bike. Guess what? NO LEGS! They were sore everywhere from the first minute to the very last (40 min total). As usual, I suppose tomorrow will be easier and I will be in good shape by the middle or the end of the week. Now I will not take these first rides easy, not at all. It seems that the harder I work, the more legs I have the day after.

    So the question is... WHY??? And should I just take recovery rides instead of days totally off the bike?
    Because you're probably overtraining.

    Time off after christmas? What did you eat during the 10 days you were off over Christmas break (be honest)?

    My thought is perhaps you're not as trained as you think you are- then you overdo it for your workouts, then by the time you get your day off, you've already pushed too hard. :-/

    My 2 cents.

    Koffee

  13. #13
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stanette
    But does anybody actually know why I feel this way after as little as a day off? I mean, it seems that my body should use these days to adapt to the workload and should therefore be stronger when getting back to work. Not the other way around!
    When I feel like that it is because I had too much fat in my diet and not enough carbs.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    Because you're probably overtraining.

    Time off after christmas? What did you eat during the 10 days you were off over Christmas break (be honest)?

    My thought is perhaps you're not as trained as you think you are- then you overdo it for your workouts, then by the time you get your day off, you've already pushed too hard. :-/

    My 2 cents.

    Koffee
    Yeah, I did eat junk food during Christmas.

    As for the overtraining, I only ride 9-10 hours a week. I have started riding 7 months ago and I have had this schedule for the last 5 months or so. At the moment I do nothing but endurance and tempo rides. I haven't gone anaerobic since november! And I feel that I am getting stronger on the bike every week. If I am overtrained, I don't feel that way.

    BTW, as predicted I got back on the bike much stronger yesterday (monday). Just to reiterate: friday was 2.5 hour endurance ride, saturday off and sunday, 40 min on the rollers. I had no legs on the rollers. To give you an idea, I averaged 36 km/h for these 40 min and could not have done more. Monday, I averaged 43 km/h for 75 min on the rollers and the legs were not protesting. (I know these averages on the rollers don't mean much but they are my only way to measure intensity!)

  15. #15
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    The most likely reason for feeling sluggish after time off from exercise is fluid retention.

    The effects of fluid retention are most noticable in exercise where limbs are called upon to make sudden movements or repreat a movement at a high frequency.

    The "heavy legs" effect can be experienced to some extent by anyone who binges on sodium-rich foods and takes a day off.

    Welcome to the forums, but be advised, these are the most BS-filled forums on the Interent. Careful, don't believe much of what you read here.

  16. #16
    Isaias NoRacer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by terrymorse
    Interesting thought, although 1-2 days seems a very short time to see much cellular change (even nerve cells).

    I'm pretty fuzzy on the whole neuromuscular thing. How do neurological changes influence aerobic capacity?

    The hypothesis and models can be found here:

    http://bjsm.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/38/6/797

    Aerobic capacity is not affected. It's the ability to produce force that is affected coupled with the perception of fatigue.

    .
    2009 mileage = 14,738 miles; 2010 mileage = 15,234 miles; 2011 mileage = 17,344 miles; 2012 mileage = 11,414 miles; 2013 = 12,169

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