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

Okay, Short Term Training apparently does 66% of the possible work here already, which I don’t know is realistic or not. “Short” and “prolonged” are not really accurate terms here.
Nevertheless, I think 3.9 is a too low figure for people in “college age”.
I am very close to 5W/kg after <2 years of training, and at my local time trial (150 participants) I didn’t even crack top 10.
On many many climbing segments in the alps, over 2/3rd of the people who place ahead of me are clearly amateurs.
Apparently a lot of amateurs in the >5W/kg category…

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Gotta disagree here…whether he could be training “smarter” is one thing, but what he needs, IMO, is more volume. On 3-4 hours a week, there is only so far you can go, no matter what the workouts look like.

He needs to build his aerobic capabilities and to best accomplish that, he needs more hours in the saddle.


low volume plans are 3-4 hours/week.

There’s “only so far you can go” with anything. The question is has that “so far” been tested yet.


Genetic testing is worthless.


Is that based on your own personal experience? Seems a sweeping statement.

I’ve never had it done so cannot comment from even an n=1 perspective.

I totally get that there are many useful cycling qualities that cannot be tested in that way (ability to suffer, tactical nous, bike handling, etc) but I would be willing to bet that the substantial majority of elite racers have a significant genetic advantage over most of us.

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My FTP - Oct 2020 302 (3.2 w/kg), Oct 2019 247 (2.57 w/kg) and Oct 2017 242 - missing 2018 as was very poorly around that time for a few months which is why the Oct 2019 wasn’t much higher that the 2017.
That’s me following a LV plan and doing club/group rides at the weekend or playing out on the MTB.

Biggest gain 2019 - 2020 when i followed the plan consistently and still fitted in outside rides. I’m 55 and my outside rides are around 3500 miles per year give or take.

From my n=1 I’d try consistency first and fit in outside rides when you can but not at the expense of the training. On the LV plan you can switch days around and this might be that thing where riding outside is certainly not the same as doing a workout - unless you’r doing outside workouts.

Try doing a complete base and build block and hit every workout and then see if you still have a plateau, look at rest, food and other life stress and then see when you do watch ramp test if you’re getting any better though not all adaptations will be reflected in one number.

Or if you’re sure you have this already nailed on then try more stress to drive adaptation.

Just my tuppence so feel free to ignore though and i think you’re on the right of the bell curve for your age group…

Here you go - https://www.trainerroad.com/forum/t/the-bell-curve-of-cylists-how-fast-are-the-average-tr-users/5840/124?u=johnnyvee


I’m not qualified to comment on Coggan’s assessment, and he certainly doesn’t need me to defend him, but quibbling over specific words in what was a forum post (not a research paper) is possibly a little unfair.

I would suggest that if you have reached c. 5w/kg in a couple of years, then you have very good genes for endurance sport and are probably (statistically) an outlier, in terms of being at least 1 if not 2 standard deviations from the mean. Congrats!

Something Coggan doesn’t get into is lifestyle. What is a realistic max FTP if you had all the time in the world and no financial issues may be very different to a realistic max FTP if you have a limited number of hours per week to train and family commitments. Is 4w/kg the max potential of Joe Average if he has all the time in the world? Possibly not (though I still don’t see him getting to 5). On 8-10 hours a week? All I’ll say I don’t know many guys with your kind of numbers who don’t/didn’t put in a lot of time on the bike.


Marked, you’ve done quite well on very low volume. Pat yourself on the back. That’s enough watts to have fun on a group ride but nearing 50 you aren’t ever going to be the top dog and catch the 20 year old cat 1s in your club. That’s ok. It is what it is.

As others have said, you need more volume. Back when I raced in my twenties, I didn’t feel like I was getting fit until I was riding at least 5000-6000 miles per year as well as fitting in the 3-5 hour epic Sunday rides every now and then.


My biggest issue with him stating that 3.9W/kg is the limit for an average joe at college age, is that I just don‘t believe that is realistic with, as you say „all the time in the world“, and also spending the time „right“.
4W/kg is a great figure to reach if you take up cycling as an adult, become pretty determined and set aside as much time as you can, while still working full-time, having a family, that needs time, and also having social obligations (that usually entails consumption of „normal food“ and „alcohol“).
But if I were college age, presumably 19, 20 years of age, and healthy and generally fit, and I did every last thing in the books to become as good as I can at 20 minute efforts, I would be pretty upset if 3.9 really was the limit.
Why am I dwelling on this stupid point so much? Well, because I think it is very easy to say a person has reached their genetic limit. That probably behaves differently in different sports. In Power Lifting for example (the sport I did prior to cycling), the genetic limit is usually approach after 4 to 5 years of consistent training, and reached after between 6 and 10 years. Don‘t think there are that many (again, college age/ healthy/ male) people who have been training on progressive overload for that amount of time and still didn’t manage to break 4 W/kg…

I have found this post by Cycling Analytics when I started cycling, and have used it as a means of comparison. It is by no means scientific or exact, but I doubt it is completely off. Here around 25% of „cycling analytics users“ (probably not the absolute beginners, but not Team Ineos, either) have an FTP of above 4W/kg. If this really was to be the genetic limit of the average male (3.9 actually), I doubt that there are this many people beyond it (and I absolutely doubt that all of them have exhausted their genetic limits).

You can only go so far on a 15hr/week plan as well. I highly doubt, that someone who hasn’t done consistent training, with progressive overload and focused interval sessions, who also hasn’t improved one bit in 3 years, has exhausted everything a 4 hour plan can do for him…
Dan from GCN did a very focused 4 hr/week plan last year and his results were pretty impressive. I know he used to be a pro cyclist and that probably helps him out here. From how I read this thread, the person in question would benefit MUCH more, from converting his 4 weekly hours of „just cycling“, to 4 hours of focused, intense and consistent training, rather than doing 6 or 8 hours of the Same unfocused stuff he does atm.

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It’s based on the scientific literature. Although it is clear that genetics play a major role in athletic success (as in all things), the specific genes responsible for, e.g., having a high baseline VO2max are still unclear.

What’s the SD on that 3.9 W/kg estimate? That’s the data you’d really need to predict how many people can exceed it.

Idk and I don‘t know if @RecoveryRide has information on that either. There is research on the topic, of a person that is much smarter than I am and had given this way more thought, and I accept that.
I am just saying, that I really dislike this „average joe“ term. If an average person, does average training, with average consistency, average quality of recovery and average nutrition, guess what, they will be pretty average. But if we all trained, ate, and slept like Team Ineos, I am sure we wouldn’t all make the world tour, but I am also pretty sure that many, many, many people would easily break 4W/kg.
I just don‘t know a single person under 40 who does 10 hours (or more) consistent weekly training, looks after their diet and has trained for years, who isn’t beyond 4 Watts (and I just know many people who are, none of which gets paid to ride a bike).

I don’t know - I linked the forum post. And AFAIK it’s a rough calculation, not a study. I think Coggan is still posting over there and generally active, so he might respond to a direct query.

I’m pretty sure the data he references re. VO2 Max is well attested in the literature though.

The added complication is that - IIRC - there seems to be very little correlation between starting VO2 Max and % improvement with training. In other words, to be elite, you need not only a high starting point, but also to be an outlier in terms of response to training.

Let’s all note the self-selection bias here, though; unusually good cyclists will probably know a disproportionate number of unusually good cyclists, and will likely perceive that ability to be more common than it actually is.

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No one is suggesting he rides 15 hours, so that is a bit of a strawman. He said that he does the LV plan, along with group rides in the season. So, I wouldn’t say that his current training is “unfocused” or “just riding”.

he also said that, on hard weeks in the LV plan, he barely makes it through them. Adding more intensity will just make it harder.

IMO, he needs to build his aerobic capacity more before adding in additional intensity…


I meant that any number of hours can only get you to a certain point. And I am sure he isn’t at the point where 4 hours can get you to.
Riding hard and making progress is not the same thing. Probably pointless to continue discussing here. I am 100% sure you get get more out of 4 hours than what we are presented with here…

I love me some fermi estimation style problem solving. We are not going for an accurate answer here, just trying to see if our hypothesis is stupid. With how wildly individual this all is and how poorly its possible to measure the variables I think this kind of napkin math is likely the best we get.

I’ve got some bad news for you.

This screams selection bias. If they were average joes they wouldnt have had the success it takes to be spending lots of their free time in the circles of people you likely ride with. They wouldnt get the return on investment to put in the time and put in even more time. I think your answer suggests there is a non 0 chance the people you ride with are not average joes.

Please keep in mind, right around 50% of people are below average…

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