Fall Fitness Crash Cycle

Looking at my “Fitness” trend on Strava. Each August and again in October, it crashes. Not just a little, a lot.

I know we all “peak” at some point in the year and then need some recovery. It should be cyclical. Can it be done without such a severe crash?

What is this cyclical you speak of?

I did have eye surgery, that will take numbers down a notch.


Seriously, I think that is normal - those ‘crashes’ are not that severe. You peaked for something, or had a multi-day cycling event / trip and then you ease off.

It’s more the result of a reduced training load, than actual loss of fitness.


I wouldn’t stress it too much, we all need rest and recovery, it’s not possible to endlessly build fitness. My graph looked the same on strava, I’ve just finished a 4 week base block and it’s really dropped down, but my FTP/MAP only dropped a handful of watts on HM today.

Thanks. 45% drop seems like a lot. I’ve done a lot of searching on this fitness score - can’t find the info I’m looking for. Is 100 the max? If I’m below a certain score does that mean I’m not fit for my sport? And so on… been struggling lately and not feeling like I’m improving.

I’d take those fitness scores with a pinch of salt. I like @Cyclopaat comment about treating them as training load rather than fitness.


No, 100 is not the max. Training load is based on accumulated TSS and there are some average formulas taken into account. I don’t know all the background math of it, but it takes 42 days and 7 days averages of accuate / chronic training load and fatigue, or somethinbg like that.

In theory, 100 TSS per hour is your max, as that assumes you pushed FTP level Watts for that hour (100% intensity).

All sorts of things are wrong with that, but for general purpose, it’s more or less fine. General purpose is what Strava is and calculates.

If you do 3 hours training at 70% intensity, you have accumulated ~210 TSS points. If you that every day, in various variations (4 hours at 50-something, 2x 1.25 hour at 90), you will eventually have a TL (‘fitness score’) of 210.

If you take it easy for a week, that will make a dent - proportionally bigger on lower numbers. It doesn’t mean you’re actually losing fitness or need to do another test to figure out your numbers.

Edit: maybe this will help: https://www.trainingpeaks.com/coach-blog/a-coachs-guide-to-atl-ctl-tsb/

I think our new Transition plan — the one with the ramp down - could be exactly what you need.


I agree with @Alistair_Brown take the numbers with a pinch of salt. I also think Strava has the load part of the algorithm right but not the non-load part. It’s also worth considering and I know this will sound heretical but these numbers are only mathematical articulations of your fitness/health.

They tell a very particular story but not the whole story. We are not a number - even if we can use them for specific and/or general purposes to get results. If we’re going to understand these concepts of health/fitness/training etc… it’s going to take a lot more than maths to get us there and it’s worth considering how much we ‘value’ these numbers. Which is another conversation…

The new Transitions ramp down training plan do sound right too. I wish I had them as an option when I did a half Tour with a friend this year! And it’s hard to argue with the wisdom of the CSO :wink:.

Not sure how what you are saying is different from what I am saying, but yeah…

Thing is, people like to be transformed into numbers, as it gives them some guidance as to their progress, or lack thereof.

If things go awry or do not go as expected, questions arise :sunglasses:

BTW, my last reply was meant as a response to the OP’s ‘is 100 the max’. It is not: however useful or useless, the number can be greater than 100. Mine is a tat higher and if you look at my training diary, you can see why :rofl:

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:grimacing: whoops. I thought I was replying to the thread generally - but yeah I think I took your clear explanation of TSS and turned it into philosophical ambiguity - ah typical :crazy_face:

I have to say that when I saw your fitness score I thought ‘wowsers is that possible!?’ Made me wonder what Mark Beaumont’s was when he rode around the world.

How long do you think you can hold it or do you see it just rising based on your training dairy?

Anyway, I do find this whole conversation about the meaning of the numbers really interesting. I think there is a lot in it.


Yeah, them stupid ‘Reply’ buttons - confusing there’s two of them :joy:

My TL (or fitness score, ATL, CTL, or whatever you want to call it) is what it is. It’s not a goal and I’m not looking to see how far I can get it up or how long I can maintain it.

As stated, it takes on average 3 hours at 70% intensity to get there. Every day.

My riding is basically all sweet spot, so I’m a one trick pony. Big engine and time to kill.

It has been on this level pretty much for the last 6 months or something. I was training for my Giro end of July, 11 days of climbing, including the Maratona.

The only way I could train for altitude and durability was by upping my TL steadily, as I have no mountains to train on and I’m sure as hell not going to sit inside to mimic hours of climbing, indoor on my Neo all the time, while it’s perfect outdoor cycling weather.

After my Giro, I had another cataract surgery, but as I’m used to it, I picked up training at the same level a week later.

I have no life :rofl:

But seriously, I will probably reduce it over the coming months, as there’s not much to train for right now. Maybe my wife will sanction another trip to the Alps next summer.

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Agreed, it is very misleading naming that graph “Fitness”. If I spent 5 hours a day plodding along at recovery pace that graph would soon tell me I was getting very “fit”. But not all training load is created equal and that’s why structured training is so time efficient. I measure my fitness off performance metrics, not training load.

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The problem is that much of the terminology and modeling is owned by TP.

If you want to think of something, without having to refer to them, this is what you get.

They try to describe it as a mix of bla, but it’s basically TL, or - more accurately? - TSS.

Ok, thanks.

What led me to question my fitness + training…

Last Wednesday I made a rate appearance at at team ride. Guess who was the slower rider who kept tailing off and getting dropped?

In September I did a 12 hour solo race. Failed to meet my 100 mile goal by 25 miles. I missed the podium group by 1 lap. I should be happy but the week before that my job was eliminated.

In July I did a 100 mile MTB race. Missed one of the cut off points by 7 minutes. So Finished at 75 miles.

It’s got me questioning, am I doing this right? Am I selecting the wrong plans? Am I really just an impostor who will never get beyond “beginner” level fitness? Ugh.

I’d like to point out that the Strava Fitness algorithm uses heart rate, not power/ TSS to track freshness/fitness. Personally I believe their model to have even more flaws than the PMC but that is for a different time!
As others have said, you can’t be at 100% year round. It is not a sustainable or healthy way to train. While fitness trackers can help give better guidance to your training, your goals shouldn’t really be based around specific fitness / training load values because they really don’t take enough information into consideration to be an apples to apples comparison year round.
Think back this year to the 3 best days you had on the bike, then go back into the chart and look at the relative scores for the freshness/fitness metrics. Chances are those numbers were different, even though they are trying to tell you when you should have a good day or should have a bad day.
But back to the original question, a big fall drop off is actually a good thing, everyone needs time during the year where training is backed way off so your body can reset and ready itself for another year of training.


Thank you. Makes sense.

One of the things I’ve seen happen in my 20 months as a Sufferlandrian is my workout HR has come down unless I’m doing something like Violator or a 10x200m running workout. Then I hit my max.

My best days on the bike were, well, great. :slight_smile: I think the combination of the plans with strength, yoga, mental toughness made those happen.

Sounds like I need to use the next few months to chill and recover.

“ Fitness is calculated using your Relative Effort (based on either heart rate data or Perceived Exertion input) and/or power meter data.‘

Strava’s description.

(I’m not validating their calculation, as stated before, but if you use power, it’s included in the math.)

Interesting. There seems to be differing information on the Strava site. Their article on Relative Effort (updated a couple of weeks ago) makes no mention of power in that calculation, only heart rate, and PE.

I do know when they first came out with their fitness tracker it based on Roger Banisters TRIMP model, which only can be calculated vie RPE or Heart Rate. Very possible they have updated things since then though!

How much/how long would we be advised to back things off? Would the 4 week base block be a good way to go, before reintroducing a new 12 week training plan? (I’m hoping so as this is exactly what I’ve just done!)

This partially depends on what your weekly/monthly hours have been for the year. World Tour riders often take 3-4 weeks completely off the bike. When I was training/racing I would usually take 2 weeks off the bike before getting back into things.
You can get away with just doing low intensity riding as long as the volume isn’t more than what you would normally do with intensity.
We actually just released a series of “Transition” plans that are aimed at filling this off-season/break time. They are really heavy on the Yoga and include strength. There are two versions, I would probably say for most people the ramp up version would be ideal as it starts of dialed back, and ends in a way that you should be good to dive directly into your next full training plan. They are 6 weeks though, not 3 or 4 like the building block plans.