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

Yes, exactly that! Got on my first road bike 3 yrs ago at 250 FTP, now 10,000 miles later, still about the same…

I consistently test well on ramp and am barely able to complete the LV base plans in the hard weeks. Mainly VO2 and sustained power rides are too much near the end.

As others have said, 3.3K miles a yr isn’t much but it’s hard to do more with job/family.

As winter pulls in here I’m going to focus on the trainer and start with MV base to increase my hours.

There are relatively inexpensive genetic tests that can give you a ballpark idea, supposedly. Broadly speaking you can find out what gene variants you have for the genes that control VO2 max, etc. How useful/accurate they are I have no idea.

I seem to remember that Coggan suggested that ‘Joe Average’ will max out around 4w/kg FTP, depending a little on the testing method.

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warning, back of the napkin math ahead Using 10,000 miles in 3 years at an average of 18mph - 3,333 miles per year, roughly 185 hours. Across 52 weeks, that’s 3.56 hours/week. I think there’s only so much you can expect out of that. Sure, you might be able to squeeze a few more Watts out by thoroughly optimizing that time, i.e. more time on the trainer to squeeze everything out of the limited time put in, but that’s going to be at the expense of getting outside and having fun on group rides. Not sure what sort of schedule and time commitments you have, but maybe there’s the option of early morning or late night trainer sessions when the kids (I assume that’s what you mean with family) are still asleep?


Does it give an age, the amount of training or other specifications?
It can’t be right for a young, healthy male. If everyone started training at the age of 6 and trained like Evenpoel or MVDP until they are 25, you think even a one (healthy) male would top out at 4.0W/kg?
So, it would be interesting to understand how he specifies “potential”.

Again. You don’t need more hours, you are just not training smart.
“Not having the time” is the most common, easy and usually pointless excuse to not make gains.

I personally have no idea. EDIT: I wonder if hard training during puberty might have epigenetic effects, but that is outside my sphere of competence.

Here’s what he said (I got curious so went looking):
From https://forum.slowtwitch.com/cgi-bin/gforum.cgi?post=2830698#2830698

"Let’s do some figgerin’…

The average healthy but sedentary, college-aged male has a VO2max of approximately 45 mL/min/kg. However, I have seen it argued based on studies of, e.g., aboriginal tribes (and there are population data from Europe as well as military inductees here in the US to suppor the conclusion) that the “default” VO2max of the average human male is closer to 50 mL/min/kg, and the only way to get below this is to assume a couch-potato lifestyle, gain excess weight, etc. (and/or grow old, of course). So, I’ll go with that latter number.

With short-term training, VO2max increases by 15-25% on average, with another perhaps 5-10% possible (on average, anyway) with more prolonged and/or intense training. That gives a total increase of 20-35%, so I’ll go with 30% just for argument’s sake.

So, if VO2max is, on average, 50 mL/min/kg and increases by, on average, 30%, that means that the average Joe ought to be able to raise their VO2max to about 65 mL/min/kg with training. Indeed, there are many, many, many, MANY amateur endurance athletes with VO2max values of around that number (not to mention the fact that athletes in team sports with an endurance component - e.g., soccer - often have a VO2max of around 60 mL/min/kg, something that is also true in other sports that you don’t normally consider to be of an endurance nature, e.g., downhill skiing or motocross - i.e., motorcycle - racing).

The question then becomes, how high might functional threshold power fall as a percentage of VO2max (again, on average), and what does this translate to in terms of a power output? The answer to the former is about 80% (LT, on average, being about 75% of VO2max in trained cyclists), which means that in terms of O2 consumption, a functional threshold power corresponding to a VO2 of 65 mL/min/kg * 0.80 = 52 mL/min/kg could be considered average. If you then assume an average cycling economy of 0.075 W/min/kg per mL/min/kg, this equates to…

3.9 W/kg"

I’m not qualified to assess the validity of the assumptions, but Coggan does supposedly know his stuff.

I also think we forget how good 4w/kg actually is, in the grand scheme of things. Guys with FTPs in the low 4w/kg range typically come in in the top few hundred finishers of some marquee European sportives.

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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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