10,000 miles in 3 years. Totally flat power 🤷‍♂️

As the title says, I got into road cycling 3 years ago (before I did MTB/commute for 10 years and have always been athletic).
Now at age 46/80Kg my FTP has been 250-270 (powermeter) the entire time from the first week to now (~3.2W/Kg)…
I do B+/A- group rides 2-3 times a wk and TR low vol plans all winter (the last two years). I’ve not got much fat. My absolute lowest achieved weight was 77Kg.

Am thinking about upping to a mid vol plan this winter. Is there any hope I can improve my power from here? I feel like I’ve ridden has hard and far as I can without seeing much of any improvement over the 10,000 miles :thinking: Is this really my peak potential?

Discouraged

If you’ve been doing the same thing for the past 3 years, then I think there are two options to try:

  1. Choose a different base, build, specialty plan. The same training every year will lead to plateau. Sometimes a different or new type of stimulus can be all you need to get over that hump.
  2. Do a mid volume plan as you say. If the stress has been the same each week for three years, then you’re not loading enough to lead your body to adapt.

One of those should at least get you past the plateau.

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I think there is hope with structure and progression and the right volume. LV is only 3.5 - 4 hours / week. I think having a 250-270 FTP is pretty good considering that volume. Adding aerobic endurance rides to LV or bumping to MV would give you additional training stimulus.

If you follow a plan throughout the year you will also get workout progression and training load progression which you probably don’t get with the group rides. The plans will progressively increase training load and let you recover and repeat. The workouts also progress in terms of time in zone for the different things they are trying to develop over the course of the plan. And with the various base / build phases also target specific energy systems for improvement. The summer schedule sounds like unstructured riding, with some intensity, but unstructured.

Can you cut out some of the group rides in the summer and keep on the LV plan? Not eliminate the group rides but cut back. Maybe to do that you need to only do 2 of the 3 LV workouts, but thats better than 0 or 1 and would give you structure and progression.

Personally, I think there are better uses of time towards developing fitness than group rides. I use them for skills development but from a fitness perspective find I spend too much time in Z1 / recovery zone and then am blasting away in Z5/Z6 but don’t spend long enough in zone at any one time to actually reap the benefit. Basically I fry my legs for little to no benefit.

To me it all comes down to this is a hobby and you should enjoy what you are doing. I would recommend customizing a plan that allows you to grow and develop but still do the things you enjoy about cycling. I’ve ridden 10-12hrs/week on LV plans by doing the workouts during the week + 2 1hr recovery days + free rides on weekends. Based on my weekly hours I’m over the HV hrs but wanted to be able to do group rides or endurance rides or whatever I wanted on the weekend, which is why I went for LV.

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10,000 miles in 3 years? You haven’t even scratched the surface.

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I would think you need to up the volume, 3300 miles a year isn’t much compared to what the majority of high w/kg riders are doing

How many hours?

10000 miles doesn’t really mean anything in a vacuum.

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Yeah think you’re mixing up the 10,000 hours to miles. I ride probably between 9-12k miles per year and have done so past 3-4 years.
Real improvement is seen by consistent training with the right mix of recovery and intensity.

As noted above, you have just scratched the surface. Commit to riding more (whatever plan you chose) and you’ll improve.

Is there a way to asses potential without expensive lab tests? H

DO you mean you started cycling 3 years ago with ~250 and over 3 years/10k never increased more then 20 watts?
That’s really odd… I have be cycling for a long time, had a long break and got back to it in 2017. started with power this januari with 262, but that must have been already way more then when I got back into cycling 2 years prior… but anyway… that doesn’t really matter.
Coming from 262 FTP on 0-5 hours per week just riding hard (Z5) on my MTB (and probably a little Z2 on the way to the trails), I managed to increase my FTP to 309 in 7 months, on LV + some outdoor rides or additional workouts. (recently started to increase the length of the 60 min workouts a bit)

  • what percentage of a LV plan do you complete?
  • is every workout a struggle, even sweet spot?
  • is every workout easy, threshold, vo2max?
  • what workouts do you fail?
  • can you consider using TR not only in the winter?
  • where do you gain the 20 watts and where do you loose them (summer/winter, outdoor/indoor), or just random fluctuations?

Strange takeaways, pretty high start FTP, no big “first structured training” gains, no long term gains

I am not training using TR so I hope I am not going against their principles with what I‘ll say now, but miles/ hours/ speed/ average watts etc are a very poor predictor of whether you have done everything to improve.
Over the winter (understanding that you will not participate in any events over the next 5-6 months), it makes a lot of sense to plan out how many hours you can put into training. Given that’s 6-8 hours, I would plan 2-3 endurance based rides, where you don‘t go into threshold, and then do 2 hard, cycling specific gym work outs. All your intensity should come from these early on, and focus on progressive overload on these gym sessions.
As we go deeper into the winter, substitute one of the gym sessions with an intense session on the bike and progress on that. Then a month or two later, get rid of the next gym session for another intense cycling session.
I‘d really focus on progressive overload, a principle many people forget. They ride and ride and ride and wonder why they never get better. Much of that can be attributed to „not even testing if you got better“. You might incorporate an FTP test every 4 to 8 weeks over the winter, to see if things are progressing as they should. If I may recommend one of the best and most comprehensive cycling training channels on YouTube, go and look up Dylan Johnson. This video should help you out and explain in much better detail, what I just tried to convey:
Fast on 6hrs


Fast on 10hrs weekly training:

There are many ways of doing it, like the (in)famous sweetspot training, that as I understand, TR is working on a lot. I can say, that I had great „success“ with training like it is explained in the videos. I started cycling in February of 2019, and did some riding around (as I understand similar to what you do) for 8 months. I did workouts based on GCN videos and chased local KOMs and jersey on Strava. I got myself to just under 4W/kg doing that (I was pretty obsessed with powerlifting before cycling and therefore reasonably fit). Over one year of very disciplined training based on these principles I got myself from a best 20mins 312W at 74kg (October 2019) to a best 20mins at 372W at 71kg (October 2020), so at least for me, these principles have worked wonders.

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As chad says in many podcasts the body will adapt up to a point it no longer has too for the workouts/training/cycling you are giving it…e.g it plateaus.

Therefore you have to change something, different stresses, challenges that force the body to adapt again as it tries again to reach a plateau/status quo.

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yes, but in that case… it’s really strange to hit the plateau right after you start…

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Would you consider making your calendar public?

We could give much better insight if we could see that.

GOOD NEWS, @Marked! You have got your maintenance program dialed. Whatever you’re doing, that’s exactly what you need to do to maintain the fitness you have.

If you want to get better you’re going to have to push the envelope, though. Hard to say where w/o knowing more about you…but here are some ideas…

1.) What’s your training load curve look like? If it’s flat or range bound consider making it your goal to achieve a new CTL high.

2.) Leave everything the same but throw in an FTP TTE workout once/wk. Try to add minutes every week during this workout.

3.) Leave everything the same but throw in one workout/wk of 2min intervals @ 133% FTP. Do as many intervals as you can. Try to add minutes @ 133% FTP every week.

Anyhow, you get the idea, start measuring progress, not just miles. It’s ok to measure miles or hours on the bike…no prob with that…but what you’re looking for is PROGRESS. So measure PROGRESS.

Almost certainly not! I’m quite confident you can make yourself better on the bike.

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Lab tests can’t tell you anything about someone’s potential. Only way to find out how good you can be is train your arse off and see what happens.

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A lot of sound advice!

I see two paths to take from here towards improvement.

  1. Better quality (less riding without purpose more structured training, sleep, recovery etc.)
  2. More of what is already working for you. (one more training session a week, maybe you need to add more fuel, maybe you need 7 hours of sleep instead og 6 etc.)

whatever you decide give it time to work

test and evaluate (repeat until goal is reached)

To get your FTP up (which is the goal here?), you do not necessarily need more volume. Volume has merit, but it is not going from 6 to 10 hours, that will get you above 3.2W/kg FTP. Intensity (systematic, not just „Going into the red“) and power progression will definitely do wonders for you without spending one additional minute on the bike that you otherwise wouldn’t have.

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…and the rest of the three quarters of the year what are you doing?

My average is around 18mph. Its hilly where I live so mostly doing 50 mile group rides outside with 4000ft climbing, April through November, and TR through winter.