How Quickly Do You Lose Cycling Fitness? – An Interesting Process

How Quickly Do You Lose Cycling Fitness_ - An Interesting Process

If you take some time off from biking, you may wonder, “how quickly do you lose cycling fitness?”. Let’s find out the answer in the following article.



When you practice hard with an adequate schedule, your strength improves gradually. But when you stop training for a while, the reverse comes as a natural progression. This brings up the question “How quickly do you lose cycling fitness?”.

You may notice the difference after the first week. Keep scrolling down for more details.

How Quickly Do You Lose Cycling Fitness?

How Quickly Do You Lose Cycling Fitness-How quickly do you lose cycling fitness_

How quickly do you lose cycling fitness

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The Starting Point Of Detraining

How quickly do you lose your cycling fitness? Do you lose fitness in 2 weeks? Or does it happen after 1 week? Curiosity about detraining comes a lot when you need to stop your cycling activity for whatever reason.

Actually, the reduction of physical capacity after stopping activities is a process that starts after 3-5 days of no training. Regardless of this, the decrease at this stage is very low. Under some circumstances, you may not even realize such a change.

The reason why it does not occur earlier may make you curious, but the explanation is fairly simple. Your body needs time to handle and recover from your training.

Within the first 3 days, your body keeps repairing your muscle fibers and metabolizing your glycogen. It can be said that the metabolic changes in the muscles take up this period. Until 3-5 first days pass, small fitness losses begin appearing.

The Process Of Losing Fitness

The First Week After Inactivity

The first change will happen to your circulatory system. A decline of 5% to 12% can occur in your stroke volume, which means your pumped blood volume decreases. Thus, when you ride after a long break, your heart needs to work more, and its rate will be a bit higher.

The second result after one week of inactivity is less efficiency in taking glycogen. Your body needs more time to move glycogen to your muscles during your detraining. So, when restarting, you need to use your muscle glycogen stores to fuel, and thus, it takes more time to build up such stores later.

Another change is the decrease of your muscle’s effectiveness in dealing with lactate accumulation produced in high-intense training. Thus, you can easily feel burning in muscles and cannot maintain the same exercise intensity when coming back to cycling.

The Second Week To Third Week

You will see the decline of your maximal oxygen amount taken in and processed (VO2 max ) after two to three weeks of inactivity. Such a decline can be from 4% to 20%. It comes from two reasons: the heart's decreased cardiac output and physiological and biochemical changes in your muscles.

After One Month

How Quickly Do You Lose Cycling Fitness-The effects are becoming clearer.

The effects are becoming clearer.

The muscle changes mentioned above continue and become clearer and greater after one month. At this point of the training break, your muscles turn to the situation before your past training.

Your body's fat burn process will become harder when you ride your bike, leading to a decline in your endurance capacity. Your maximum strength will decrease, then making the previous training adaptations lose gradually.

Moreover, the muscle fibers that are IIA – fast oxidative fibers turn to IIX (also called IIB) – fast glycolytic fibers. This means your muscles will have lower endurance performance and oxidative capacity.

After Two Months

At this period, your body observes the significant change in your heart. It becomes less muscular, and its muscle walls’ thickness can decrease up to 25%.

The decline of efficiency also happens to the muscle mitochondria, which use oxygen to produce muscle energy. The decline can range from 25% to 45% within 12 weeks after stopping practicing.

After three months of inactivity, the changes occur to your hormones. Due to your detraining, the stress hormones appear more during exercise. Thus, your body needs more energy and recovery time for the same training intensity.

After Six Months

At this time, after six months of inactivity, the fitness-losing process may be stable. But you can still see several declines, such as the mitochondria volume or the oxygen utilization of your body during cycling.

You may not gain body weight, but your body fat will increase because of the decline in calorie burn and the loss of muscle mass.

How Do I Get My Cycling Fitness Back?

That was our answer to the question “How quickly do you lose cycling fitness?”. So how does one get back what they lost?

How Quickly Do You Lose Cycling Fitness-How do I regain my fitness_

How do I regain my fitness

The Most Efficient Method For Your Regaining

The first point you should keep in mind is to return with the gradually-raised intensity. You should not do a lot in the first weeks as your body endurance is not the same as before. If you train too hard, it will take more time to recover.

The most effective way we recommend is to combine both strength and cadence work in your practice when you come back to biking. Such a combination will make you gain in both faster, pushing the overall regaining.

Furthermore, when you include both aspects in your training, it reminds your body and brain of the muscular contractions’ patterns in cycling, helping you regain muscle memory. Thanks to this, your work will become more efficient.

How Long Does It Take To Regain Fitness?

Actually, there is no exact answer to this query. The time consumed depends on a wide range of factors, including the rider’s physiology and health condition. His or her past fitness levels and the period of physical activity cessation can also affect. Thus, different bikers will have different regaining times.

It may take longer to regain than the time it takes to lose what you have got. But don’t worry, when you have experience, things will become easier than those who are new to this exercise. Maintain a wise training schedule, and you can both regain your fitness and come to higher levels.

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As you observe, the query “how quickly do you lose cycling fitness?” can be answered by a process starting from 3-5 days after inactivity. Such a losing process can last around six months, with many unwanted changes during the path.

However, you can regain your fitness with adequate training that combines strength and cadence work when you return to biking. Thus, if you have to cease training for some reason, don’t let your mood down; everything will be alright later.

Ridge Davis

Ridgid Fitness represents the synthesis of Ridge Davis's career experiences in fitness and sports.

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