5000 miles in 2 years and no change in FTP....!

Dear all, it was July 2017 when I got my first road bike. Coming from a casual/commuter mountain biker I had good fitness for a 43 yr old 80kg, and was riding on club B+, A- rides from the start. Then last winter picked up a Kicker Core and Trainerroad subscription. Wow! ERG and many SSB programs later I’ve gotten my ass whipped just surviving most workouts feeling truly stretched.

So here’s the weird thing. 5000 miles and 2 years of burying myself on the bike and with structured training my FTP has been a steady ~250W ± 20W!
What’s up with that!?

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How much of the programs did you follow? What volume? Which programs specifically?

To be honest, 5000mi isn’t that much volume. Secondly, you don’t mention what type of TR training you have been doing. Have you been following plans? If so, low volume or high volume? There is a big difference. You mention +/-20W, does this imply setbacks, time off, or inconsistency?

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Sounds like you were doing a fair bit of good quality training already, even if it was unstructured. Were you tracking mileage previously, and if so how much of an increase (if any) is going to 2500 miles/year? Also you say you are doing lots of SS work - are you training the higher intensities as well? SS really builds your base in preparation for increases in FTP, wouldn’t necessarily expect to see a big ride in FTP from doing SS work unless you were starting from an untrained state (you weren’t), or it was a big increase in training load (see previous question). MTB, club rides and commuting (if you’re like me and like racing cars and other commuterd anyway…) all involve a lot of work at threshold and above, so if you’re missing that from your training then that would also explain it.

Second point is that there is much more to bike fitness than FTP tests. E.g. I did a lot of SS and endurance work in the last 3 months. My FTP test results (using ramp test) haven’t increased much, but my aerobic base has increased hugely. I can ride at or just below FTP for much longer durations and at lower HR than I could at the start of the year, I’m also recovering much quicker from hard efforts than I was previously. Those are useful improvements, and more importantly indicate that as I move into Build and start doing more Threshold and VO2max work then I should have the base to make some big gains.

And lastly, 5000 miles in 2 years really isn’t that much, it’s only 50 miles a week. Not sure how your trainer calculates speed/distance, but that implies you’re training about 3 hours/week on average. The benchmark for somewhat serious riders that I know seems to be more like 5000 miles/year - that’s people who get out for a club ride most weekends, supplement with a few midweek rides and don’t take big chunks of the year off. The serious people who are riding most days are doing more like 10,000 miles.

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Good points being made about 2500 miles a year not being that much.

Also you may be fitter but have no change in FTP. Lower HR for the same effort - weight maintenance or even loss - they could all be in place and be beneficial without directly impacting your FTP.

It might be that you do not truly push yourself during a test so you sub-conciously do what you know you can do without extending it out further.

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Hi there!

Training hard is only one part of training.

Have you measured your nutrition?

How are you documenting your rest and recovery?

So you’ve had one winter and spring on TR, I’d expect some gains too. Can you expand on your fluctuation of 10%? What was your first TR ramp test and any tests since?

How consistent has you weekly tss been?

What rest periods and illness have you had?

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With out a systematic increase in stress followed by rest (adaptation/improvement) everyone will plateau. The more fit you become the more training you have to do to improve.

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How many hours per week? Miles are irrelevant for the most part.

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also, how consistent are you?

Found the problem. Common rookie mistake/misconception. You can’t get better if you’re not recovering.

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There are only two worthy goals in cycling: 1.) Get paid. 2.) Have fun.

Make sure you’re accomplishing at least one of those. If FTP also improves…that’s great.

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I don’t think 5000 miles in 2 years is enough volume. Since you started with good fitness you had probably already attained the quick wins early on. I’m on the low volume plan and I put in about 5000 a year and my FTP only goes up in 2% increments. Any significant time off and I would probably lose some of that.

Outside I would agree. On the trainer, though, speed/distance can be misleading…so who knows?

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Totally. I’d go a big further and rest firmly in the camp of speed/distance on a trainer is irrelevant and pointless to track at all (I’m still excited for when these metrics are no longer displayed in uploaded TR Workouts on Strava).

50mi/week outdoors is small volume. 50 “miles”/week indoors is…well, it’s a statement missing the relevant bits :slight_smile:

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Thanks for all the good tips
Agreed 5K in two years isn’t massive but it is massive for me!
I’ve been doing g SSB low vol and the mileage on the trainer is way off. Riding for an hour outside I average 18 with 3-4k of climbing. On the trainer I average 14 despite setting up wheel size and getting data from vector pedals.

I’m typically strong for 40 miles then fade quickly so need to work on endurance and longer sessions.
Also need VO2 specifically as I’m banging around my max heart rate (183) for large portions of my time.

I’ll probably move up to SSB mid volume this year to get more hours in.
One thing I’ve learned is just how much suffering is involved :worried:

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Not sure I would sign that. I started 5 month ago, with Trainerroad on a Wahoo kickr core in low volume. Weather hasn’t been great, and I enjoy riding indoor - so most of it was on the trainer. My FTP has risen from 220 to 270 during that time and I always felt that the workouts are demanding but doable. I never felt destroyed after a workout. (Age: 39, first time I ever follow a program)

I can only suggest that you check the amount of sleep (and quality) you get and your nutrition. Good recovery is the key here.

And btw, on an electronic trainer the speed is irrelevant. It is directly connected to the gear you are using. Start shifting and your “speed” will change without you feeling a difference (in erg mode).

More info on speed and distance.

So I signed up for trainer road in Jan having never done any off season training at all… Have been riding for maybe 6-7 years avg around 4-5K a year, however now that I am in Chicago virtually all my riding is indoors. So in Jan SSB mid volume and my first ramp test was 244, then after SSB it went to 260 and I was thrilled… Then comes the tricky part. Ever since then my FTP has just creeped lower and lower… ramp test after during build want down to 250 and then 247 and then 240 later on and now im down around 230… Now I will say that some weeks I couldnt get the 6 hours needed for mid volume but I would always get 3-4 hours in… The confusion is how it continues to drop… I mean even with 3-4 hours you would think you could maintain a week or drop no more than a couple watts… I eat and sleep very well and there are no outside factors that would contribute to this that I am aware of… Needless to say im baffled… Maybe my body just needs more stimulation to create adaptation and grow… Any ideas guys?

Are there any workouts you’ve done multiple times that you can analyze? Do the repeated workouts seem to be appropriate stimulus at 230ftp or are they easier? You could be under testing. I personally don’t enjoy ramp tests in the slightest so I’ve just been manually adjusting my ftp when necessary.

I’d add a third, but I guess it is also covered by 1 and 2 implicitly: 3) Keep the rubber side down.