Struggling after a short break - what's wrong with my legs?!?!

Hi all,

I’m turning to fellow sufferers for this because i really need the advice and maybe someone has experienced this.

I’ve been indoor cycling since October 2019 with a vengeance. Started the 3 month training plan for e-sports based on my 4DP profile (sprinter apparently…who knew!!!) in May 2020. the first couple of workouts i had to stop mid way to re-inflate my collapsed and burning lungs but after a month i felt good progression and the subscription was and is, very much worth it. I’ve mixed the workouts with a popular racing platform doing a variety of hill climbs and flats for up to 2 hours at a time.

I focused on fast paced rides since October and until the last 2 weeks i haven’t revisited the sufferfest videos.

In November my indoor trainer died and i had to wait 10 days for it to be fixed. No riding for that time and this is where my problem started.

I have struggled to get back to where i was prior to the 10 days off. Its like my legs are just not prepared to put the effort in and my stamina/ability to last long sustained efforts has dropped off a cliff. Mental toughness isn’t usually a problem for me and i like to fight it out. The vids on sufferfest are great for engagement and keeping you focused so i don’t think that’s my problem.

When my trainer was fixed I did the usual virtual group B ride and was dropped after 6 miles and its not much better since. I’ve started back on sufferfest and completed violator, Downward Spiral, Blender (mini ver), The Hunted, The Tool Shed (Mashup), Hell Hath No Fury mixed with a few normal virtual very steep hill climbs. I’ve done all of the aforementioned workouts previously as part of the e-sports plan and whilst my eyes were bleeding and lungs on fire, I was fine. I was ready to take my new 4DP test before the trainer broke and was expecting an increase all round given how i felt i was performing.

Now, I cannot complete any of the sufferfest workouts without stopping several times and am actually having to cut the workouts short as my legs have nothing left. Same with group rides…being dropped relatively quickly. Every aspect of my 4DP seems to have dropped off a cliff. I’ve been training again since mid November so i would have expected to be doing better by now.

Fuel is not a problem and rest every few days.

So what am i missing here? Is this usual and i just need to be patient or should i be looking at very specific workouts? (suggestions welcome :slight_smile: )

I don’t mind being told i’m impatient and should be flogged and sent to the mines for stopping mixing focused workout sessions with virtual rides but i’m starting to feel deflated about the whole experience. Any suggestions or advice welcome…or directions to the mines!

thanks all

By no means an expert but if I was you, I would spend a solid 7-14 days just spinning. Not hard efforts. It’s a tall glass of suck sauce but it should give the legs a chance to recover. I’d try standard cadence ie whatever the vids state for 3 rides. I would then increase cadence while still just spinning along at below normal watts to introduce speed back into them. Then build up after that. Then limit hard efforts to 3 rides a week.

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What trainer do you have? Could it be a calibration issue following the fix?

I read this and immediately thought trainer calibration problem. There’s a possibility after the trainer has been fixed it’s now reporting lower power numbers.

What I mean is that if you were actually putting out, say, 250W pre-trainer failure it was actually, say, 225W and now it’s been fixed it’s saying 225W. This would absolutely make hard sessions impossible. Likewise with racing platform, you’ll be going slower because the trainer is reporting lower output.

I reckon that’s your issue. 10 days is a fair chunk of time off but after 5-6 weeks or whatever you’d expect to be at least close to previous fitness.

My advice would be, unfortunately, to do. Either Full Frontal or Half Monty. Probably do HM, see what the differences are. You could either manually adjust your AC and NM accordingly if both FTP and MAP have changed by similar amounts (eg if FTP and MAP both down 5% then lower AC by 5% too) but preferably do FF.

Thanks for taking the time to help out.

The trainer is a Wattbike Atom (not next Gen, 14 months old). It had a motor and switch replaced - switch was making it stick in gear 22 after a minute or so of riding so impossible to use.

I’ve checked Wattbike docs and its calibrated at the factory for life. Whilst some deliberate that statement, I can only trust what it says as I don’t have pedal power meters to compare. After reading your and @Ross 's comments it could well be a difference in power i.e. misreading by 10%. I was looking at power meters for the road bike for this coming year so i might just bite the bullet early and see what they say compared to the wattbike values. I can get them here quite quickly so will buy the wife some flowers and see how she feels about them. :slight_smile:

I have reset the bike to zero offset (which i’m sure i had already done) so with that and the suggestion of Half Monty from @Ross i will see what happens this afternoon. I’m loathed to do the Full Frontal until i am at least where i was prior to my break because i have another plan starting in January and want the workouts based on any improved values. I don’t mind my eyes bleeding through those as that’s gains time but to be at the same point i was in March last year would be devastating to morale.

I know i can do the Full Monty again but…well… for me that’s worse than a battering from nine hammers!

@Tribute2Troops I’ll also try the spinning once recovered from Half Monty because i had noticed that higher cadence/higher power longer efforts were harder to hold in the workouts I’ve done recently. I wondered if this was a natural decline in fitness due to not doing intense workouts and just riding at my sweet spot 80-90 RPM in virtual rides.

Thanks again for the help, I have so many questions about this because it doesn’t make sense how I’ve stepped back nearly 12 months…it’s just weird.

You haven’t stepped by 12 months. A few % difference in your workouts can make a huge difference. It can be the difference between completing the workout and failing fairly early on. Just retest, ignore your old numbers and just carry on. Considering you’ve had a change in what is measuring your power I think it is daft to think it is only a problem with you and that your new setup is 100% identical to the old one.

Thanks @Ross makes sense. :slight_smile:

A question on the percentage in workouts. When you are in a plan, the details say for some workouts that the values for AC, MAP etc. are all automatically adjusted for you and there is an indicator that shows AC, MAP all around 80%, 90% and various other values for each within the details for that workout so you know what to expect. For instance:

When you actually start the workout and you look at the settings they are all set at 100% so it doesn’t look like they are auto adjusted according to the levels it suggested. Is this done in the background and the settings just report 100% regardless? This is on the app for IOS.

The reason i ask is that when you just choose a workout not on a plan (which is what i have done in the last few weeks) theoretically, it wouldn’t be automatically adjusted and would be at a true 100% so this is something that would definitely impact my ability to survive…if I’ve done these on a reduced intensity previously.

If you click on the workout via the calendar the intensity gets automatically adjusted. It should be easy to spot. So in your example AC is set to 50%… So it’s fairly obvious that any orange AC bar in the workout will not be spiking miles above any of the blue FTP bars/sections.

Ok, so by choosing the video from the videos section in the app means i’m actually doing the workouts at 100% not at the recommended values that i should be doing if i selected from the calendar section.

This means every video I’ve ever done has been at 100% and not at the prescribed. Smashing!! RTFM!!

I’m off to do Half Monty. I shall report back.


Yes, RTFM indeed, :crazy_face:

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So, my map has dropped from 341 to 310, give or take 9%. Whilst feeling a little demotivated at this point i also feel you are right about the bike being slightly different. I do wonder if it’s under reporting power output as well as me being a slightly off my game which would also cater for any gains i would have made.

I’ll speak to Wattbike support and see if they can suggest anything.

I’ll carry on with lower % workouts and some high cadence work until i have some feedback from wattbike. Seems like calibration could well be the answer here.


Don’t feel too demotivated. It’s really unlikely you’ll have lost 9% in such a time if you’ve still been training. I suspect it’s the bike, now, just get on with enjoying training again and forget your old numbers, because we don’t know if you’re comparing apples with apples.

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Really interesting thread and great to discover that it is probably just new bike/calibration issues.

I’d definitely ignore all the old numbers, and take gains and improvements based off your new numbers going forward.

I had a problem where I was running comfortably for an hour and one week just couldn’t. Tried rear, tried food, tried slower speed - nothing worked. Turns out I had pinched nerves in my spine which meant my legs were like jelly and had nothing in them. No ability to fire nerves to do any work. That said, I’m delighted to see its just a bike calibration issue and nothing like my issue.

Both legs? Neurogenic claudication? Disc herniation?

Both legs. Multiple disc herniation. Two in lower back, one in thoracic and a displaced rib where it doesnt attached to the spine properly so breathing deeply hurts like hell.

Interesting! I’m a chiropractor, sorry if I seemed nosey… Just curious. Hope you get better, if you aren’t already :+1:

On the road to recovery is how I’d describe myself. Definitely getting better, feels like I can get on with things as long as I am diligent with the rehab exercises 5-6 times a day. Definitely not good, but definitely not “Mr Grumpy” like I have been for 6 years. Amazing what constant pain does to someone’s personality :slight_smile:

Consider taking high strength magnesium citrate supplements (400-500mg/day), B12 liposomal drops (1000mcg/day) and 5000iu/day vitamin D. You’d be amazed what the research shows what these can do for people with chronic pain with neurological symptoms. If you’re genuinely interested I can try to dig out some research articles for you showing their efficacy.

Thanks Ross. Already on 400mg magnesium, 10000 d3, and 500 of b12 - only been following it for 2 months though.

Also have glucosamine chondroitin and coq10 as well.

Will see if there is a way to up the b12.

I’m down to one pain pill a day from the 14 previously so the spine rehab is definitely making things better.

Well done on the supplements! That’s great!