Getting Your Power Back During the OutSeason®

150 150 Rich Strauss


Endurance Nation’s 2015 OutSeason® has begin, with our November OS crew having performed their initial power tests. We’re seeing several comments about “I ustacould do this and I ustahave an FTP of that.” So the natural question is:

“How long / how much work will it take to get that back?”

Below is based on my experience of >12-13 seasons of training with power and having periods of awesome fitness vs not so much with the awesome fitness:

Your Basement Power: in my experience, once you build your FTP up and up and up, say over the course of a season, and then you fall off the wagon and don’t train consistently for a while, your power will settle into a “basement” level of not so goodness. The higher your inseason power, the higher will be your basement power. For me, I’ve gotten myself up to ~295-305w FTP several times. Got up to 315w in ’10 while riding only, training for Everest Challenge. In my experience, my personal Basement Power is about 250w FTP. No idea if we can draw any conclusions from that, ie Basement Power = x% of InSeason Power…I just know that this is a trend I’ve seen many, many times. Now, add Strava and weight gain to that difference between InSeason and Basement Power and you can really, really start to hate Strava and that Stoopid Fit and Lean You who is kicking your ass on every. ride. with his PR’s and KOM’s.

Your Training Power: once you start to hit it hard and consistently, getting back on the horse, your FTP will rise very quickly to what I call my Training Power. Similar to a training weight, this is a power that you associate with “yeah, I’m getting my mojo back.” For me, this is about 280-285w and it takes me about 8-10wks of solid consistent work to get myself out of the Basement of 240-250w and up to this Training Power. When you couple this with attention to improving body comp, the net is that your w/kg can also increase pretty rapidly. Personally, I saw this today on my Tuesday Urban Climbing Bonanza Ride, where I was about 30″ faster this week than last week on 2x ~19-20′ climbing segments that I target on this ride. I’m beginning to “ride” vs grind these climbs, finding myself in different gears, have the fitness to keep my momentum rolling at the crests vs almost hurling, stuff like that. So the takeaway here is that when you begin to emerge from the Basement and put in solid, consistent work, you’ll get within 15-20w of your best FTP from last season in the first 8-10wks of consistent work.

Your Historical, Racing Power: this is your best power from last season and the one we hope to push to higher levels this season. However, the closer you get to this power, additional gains require more and more work, and take longer to see. For me, after gaining 30-40w in 8-10wks, it can take me an additional 12+wks, or more, to squeak out that final ~20w and get me up to my historical power of ~300w FTP. Now add parallel body composition improvements producing w/kg gains and you can see how things really start to come together…but also how long and how much work and attention to detail is required.

Now, if you do the math on all of this you’ll notice that you’ll typically be at your Training Power by about Week 10 or so of the OutSeason. And it will take another 10-12wks to get to your Historical Racing Power. Now do the math on where this puts you in your personal racing calendar and understand that as we have to add volume to your training, to build race specific endurance, the continued FTP gains become even harder to achieve.

The net is that experienced athletes will do really, really well to add 5-10w to their Historical Racing Power in a season, which is about just in time for their A-races.

In my experience, less experienced athletes will have an accelerated timeline vs the one I outlined above –> you folks are going to see massive gains and will crush your training partners in April, guaranteed!


Allow yourself a crawlspace, not a Basement! 
It’s much easier to build your power to even higher levels next season if you don’t lose so much of it at the conclusion of our current season.  Maybe a just a few steps down vs on the couch in the corner with a bucket of chicken and a pizza.

We did a lot of work this season engaging our athletes after their races, keeping them in the game and engaged in “what now” conversions, as we knew that just having them on the bike, in some manner would limit how deeply into their basement they descended.

Address body composition in parallel.
The hard work you do on the bike is only mo betta and betta on race day when it’s accompanied by substantial w/kg gains. For fun, bust out a calculator and do some w/kg calcs on various FTP’s that you’ll hit as benchmarks during your season. You’ll soon begin to have an idea of how much work, pain, and suffering is associated with the FTP gains. Now do the same but manipulate your weight at the same time and see how much more quickly the w/kg numbers change, in a good way. And so we’ve done a lot of work in our preparation for the OutSeason towards getting our athletes to think about this side of equation, working together as a Team to develop accountability and motivation systems.

Questions? Comments? Personal observations / experiences with getting your Power Mojo back?

Please post them in the comments section below!

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