Suggestions for an out of shape come back

I was an avid cyclist 15 years ago, and due to circumstances (a partner who couldn’t ride anymore due to an injury, too much work, yada yada) I dropped out and became an overweight, out of shape couch spud.

I recently got diagnosed with diabetes as the final straw to this sedentary lifestyle, and since I am from a family of people that have died from this, it finally woke me up.

Now that I am retired (i am 55) I have the time that I didn’t in my 40’s to spend on a bike like I did when I was a kid. It’s a dream thats accessible finally.

Picked up a Tacx Neo 2T trainer, and dusted off the old 2006 Cannondale Cyclocross disc and have been spinning in Fulgaz. My Fulgaz FTP was a whopping 69! But, I was happy to have made it through it.

Unfortunately, i had no concept how much it could hurt being out of shape. I am doing yoga before and after and yet I am waking up in the middle of the night with a new muscle group screaming in pain every night for the last week. I use a heating pad and a tens unit to get me back again.

To lose weight (I was at 258 when I started and now at 246) I am intermittent 16/8 fasting and keeping my calories under 2k a day which seems to be working.

I read that I should keep spinning even when sore for best recovery. I am spending a lot of time doing core yoga postures to help.

I am hoping for any recommendations, reading, or even a “hey! It will get better!”. I am so looking forward to being able to jump into Sufferfest workouts, and eventually ride my mountains again.


Congratulations on your weight loss and on starting doing something you love again! Massive amounts of effort to into gaining that momentum, I’m going through a similar phase though from a different background. I don’t have a lot of cycling experience to share, but just wanted to say hello and let you know you’re not alone!
Sounds like you’re suffering quite a bit with soreness, perhaps taking some rest days could help with that? I’m also trying to find the right balance between “suffer” and “torture” and had some really great advice on here from other members of the community to make sure I rest and don’t push too hard.


Well done on having such brilliant motivation!!! Wish I had more of that some days.

Soreness (I used to get this after gym), what works for me is:

  1. Protein immediately after a workout. Can be as simple as greek yoghurt, a boiled egg or a whey shake.
  2. Cold on the legs. Cold shower, cold bath etc. Whatever is easiest.
  3. Foam roller every day.
  4. Yoga

If it’s DOMS, your body will adapt and the problem will go away. Just stay alert for injury pain as well I guess!

The advice from Lanwan re recovery days is important too. Sufferfest has a training plan for people starting out from doing nothing. I think it’s called “couch to…” Might be worth starting with that as it’ll build you up with lots of recovery built in.


You’ve already made a big step by making the commitment to start training again!

In addition to the ‘Couch to Crusher’ training plan @DameLisa mentioned (under the Road plans), there are also a couple of Fitness Kickstarter plans, and also the Ramp Up plan (Transition → Cycling).

All of them except Couch To Crusher include the Half Monty ramp test early in the plan. If you did an FTP test in FulGaz, you can use that number, but Half Monty will also give you an estimate of your MAP (Maximal Aerobic Power, aka 5 minute power), which means all other workouts will be better customised to your personal power profile.

Spinning, or any other low-intensity movement, will be good to help with the soreness. It gets blood flowing to the muscles, and helps with the repair process. Some level of soreness is normal as you adapt to the new activities your doing, it will get better. It’s a matter of making sure it’s the ‘good’ soreness that comes from muscles getting stronger, and not the ‘bad’ soreness from potential injury.

I’d also recommend including the Mental Toughness Plan in your training. It’s a great way of setting goals to help with the motivation to train, and also to deal with getting through tough workouts. The Sufferfest Mental Training Programme. It is an option in many of the training plans, or can be added standalone (you can have multiple plans running in parallel).


First, good luck and keep at it. I am on a similar journey, but a bit further in. At 56, after a long haitus, I was at 228 lbs & having some health issues. 9 months in, I am down to 195 and finally starting to really train with some intensity.

It has been a bit different for me in that I started by doing a lot of long endurance rides outside just to try and prime the pumps and see if I could ride without injury and overtraining. When winter came, I found myself on a trainer and indoors. I also found sufferfest - which has been great, in that I have really started to add some intensity to the training schedule.

I would recommend getting on a plan, so that you have structure, and also, to try to integrate some outdoor riding if possible. Spring, supposedly, is coming. The long rides were real calorie burners for me, and helped me remember what I enjoyed about riding. I also would recommend trying to do something most days, but make sure you have a couple of low intensity days a week in which you are really resting, or just doing a ridiculously easy recovery ride. For me, that is usually Monday and Friday. That gives me a two day weekend block and a three day T-W-Th block to do harder or longer efforts. I also would strongly recommend you set a schedule in which you have two weeks on, and one week of recovery. I have all of this set up in my old Trainingpeaks Annual Training Plan, and it helps to have the overall structure.

Anyway, good luck, and keep at it. It is worth it!!!

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Thank you for your suggestions. My doctor friend just stopped by for a visit, and mentioned I must be in desperate need for calcium and magnesium - making the nights worse than the day. I will incorporate some protein too.

I was afraid to start the Sufferfest training - but I see from our discussions its not too early!

Great insights your sharing. It’s inspiring to see others that are using this method to meet the same goals. I need to build up some new wheels (the hubs didn’t make it through the 15 years of storage) but then… I’ll be ready to ride in the world again.

I live in a very mountainous area of the Oregon Coast where I need to be able to climb to get out of my river valley, thats why I started indoors. I am daydreaming every day for the rides I didn’t have the time before!

Thank you. I’m excited to think that I can start on a program here.

I will add another vote for Couch to Crusher.
I would also recommend the Mental Training Program because the going will be tough from time to time.

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I’m in! Starting Monday for the couch to crusher. I didnt see the Half Monty in its calendar, should I attempt that before I start to get the heart rate info?

Have you done a Full Frontal yet?
For best results, you might want to do the FF Prep program (7 days) and then a FF.

If you do not wish to do that, a Half Monty at the start would be good to get an approximate measuring point.

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I don’t think I’d make it through a full frontal yet, other than maybe a full frontal lobotomy. :grinning:

It is not THAT bad. I am sure you could get through it. It is just another workout. You do not have to kill yourself doing it, especially the first time through. You just want to get to a reasonable starting place for your program. Just do your best.

It will take you a few repetitions to get the hang of FF pacing. That being said, if you do the Half Monty at the start it will be OK.

I just do not want you to develop FF fear which some cyclists have here.

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A suggestion for calories and macronutrient-calculator :

I have had good success with this site’s calculator establishing my baseline numbers. I have dropped 6 to 8 lbs in 5 weeks of truly following my numbers. I haven’t been going to bed hungry either. Yet I have been lifting heavily over the same time except for the Tour.

You’re awesome for getting back to it.

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I think it’s worth doing Half Monty. That will give you your MAP and FTP, as well as your LTHR.

Holy Smokes - thats a lot of protein and carbs! I’ve been doing a 2111/day calorie restriction with an 8 hour eating window. 106g of protein, and Legion recommends 235g. Maybe thats what some of my night cramps has been coming from…?

Agree. Their point is that to create muscle while eating at a deficit is to elevate protein so your body has to use fat stores for energy. Yet again this is more of a body building/weight training site so they aren’t focused on endurance sports. Anecdotally, by pressing myself to eat high protein and carb like this has kept me full.

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