8 Months using TR and FTP trending down. HELP!

I was enticed by the structure of the workouts, plans, calendar, forum, and podcast that TR offers. With the hopes to push my FTP up via the structured training, progression that TR offers, and the competitive price I signed up Mid-October 2020. Working through mostly low-mid volume SSB with one GB that torched my legs during the second half, especially the VO2 workouts. I‘ve hit at least 90% of the scheduled workouts with numerous outside rides and a couple ski trips thrown in. TSS average has been between 300 and 400. 35-year-old male with HS sports background and cycling experience of about 4 years but nothing further. I have never had a structured plan prior to joining TR and had been picking the random Z workout 3 or 4 times a week. I do half a dozen T-Shirt rides in my area but no ‘pin on a number’ races. I’ve probably lost 5lbs going from 150 to 145 not necessarily because of TR but because I have been watching what I eat a little better. That puts me right around 4.0 w/kg.

Any thought/suggestions/ideas as to why I have seen a slightly decreasing FTP since starting TR, profile is public (see below most recent to older)?

Monday, Jun 21, 2021 – 261 Start SPB MV
Tuesday, May 11, 2021-- 266 Start SSB MV2. AT Beta release (no invite) tweaked some workouts
Tuesday, March 30, 2021-- 279 Start SSB MV1 Failed Ramp Test kept it at 279 (pulled the plug early,
didn’t have it in my legs after the second half of GB LV)
Thursday, Feb 25, 2021-- 279 TR Ramp Test half way through GB LV
Tuesday, Feb 2, 2021-- Start GB LV
Thursday, Dec 24, 2020-- 277 Start SSB LV2
Monday, Oct 19, 2020-- 274 First TR Ramp Test
Sunday, Oct 18, 2020-- First TR workout and Started SSBLV1
Monday, Sep 28, 2020-- 282 Z Ramp Test

Same trainer for all ramp test Wahoo Kickr added powermatch 4iii Left Side crank several months ago

Answer these questions and we can be of more help:

  1. Why do you miss workouts-schedule, fatigue, etc
  2. How are all aspects of your recovery? Sleep and nutrition specifically.
  3. Are you favoring “other trips” or “random rides/workouts” over consistent training
  4. Medical issues or procedures? (Vax issues saw me lose 15 watts).
  5. What life stress are you experiencing?
  6. Any equipment or fit issues keeping you from achieving workout results?
  1. Missed workouts are typically schedule driven or substituted for unstructured outside ride. On occasion I’ll wreck my mtn bike and be sore for a few day.
  2. Sleep is good typically 7.5 hours. Food is B, wife may say B-
  3. I would say I am consistent with my workouts. Biggest breaks are on “recovery weeks”
  4. I did get the vax and do donate blood a couple times a year.
  5. Not a lot of stress. Good job and home life.
  6. No real issues with equipment.

When did you switch to the 4iii?

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Couple of thoughts- I’m leaning towards the fatigue angle a bit, as it sounds like you have a good handle on everything else;

  • Have you taken an off season break and/or slight reduction in training load at any point? Stress/recovery works on many scales and you can’t build FTP year round without running yourself into the ground eventually.

  • The Zwift ramp protocol is different from the TR one AFAIK, so I wouldn’t compare the two. Following that your numbers appear to be relatively consistent with a small increase until recently, which I noticed coincided with you moving to the MV plan. Given you’re adding a lot of additional riding + other stuff on top of the plan, i’m wondering if LV might be a better fit for you? (Also don’t know when you started using the 4iii, but again you can’t really compare the two.)

  • How do you weight your additional riding vs the structured workouts? Are you pushing yourself outside and then struggling to hit your targets? Do you find yourself adding extra to recovery weeks? nothing wrong with smashing yourself outdoors, but mixing a plan with significant extra work requires some understanding of your priorities.

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I have had the left side 4iii for a couple years. Started using it via powermatch with the kicker and 4iii meter so my outside rides would hopefully match closer (correlate) to inside trainer rides. Honestly I do not remember. Lets say when I had a drop in FTP ramp test which could be why I got destroyed by some of the VO2 efforts in GB LV. To my understanding powermatch is supposed to work maybe it was a bad idea to use the feature. Both are calibrated each workout. But I still don’t understand why FTP hasn’t budged in 8 months of structured training.

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  • I follow the normal recovery weeks. Twice for ski trips as they landed on or near recovery weeks

  • I agree that Z and TR ramps are different just threw that one in for additional info.
    Jumped up to MV plan because I felt pretty stagnant doing the LV plan and was looking for something to move the needle

  • the vast majority of my outside rides are recovery style trying to keep HR in z2. I did have a couple hundred mile fondo style rides and a few other long days in the saddle. Nothing that a day of extra rest could not fix or would knock me off a week of training.

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To be honest, I think you are focusing on the wrong things here. You have told us that your FTP has slightly decreased over time, however, you have not said anything about the more important factors to cycling. How is your endurance, your RPE, your repeatability, how is your 1 min, 2 min, 5 min etc. power profile progressing? How do you feel after threshold efforts? Do you feel destroyed or that you could do one more?
FTP is a leading indicator of ability but should not be a primary focus. FTP is the number around which your workouts are structured. The person with the highest FTP (either by raw wattage or WKG) is not guaranteed to be the fastest on the day - unless they are simply head and shoulders above their competition. People who build up their endurance and fatigue resistant muscle fibers, repeatability, and ability to work for longer periods of time at higher percentages of their FTP will be faster on the road. And that, after all, is the point.
I would evaluate the situation a little more thoroughly. Are you losing speed? Are you feeling more fatigued? Are workouts becoming less achievable? Maybe you tested poorly for one reason or another? You have some confounding variables here as well that call into question the accuracy of those numbers over time. Those are concerns that you want to address.
I suspect you’re getting hyper-fixated on one metric and you’re probably enduring a plateau if anything. You can do something about that, and that’s change the stimulus. Increasing volume is a low hanging fruit example. Low volume can only take you so far before you stop adapting. I see you went to mid volume but you’re still in sweet spot base. It might be time to look at a higher intensity in-season plan like build or specialty. The change in high intensity will likely start to draw up threshold from the top and force some adaptations.
Bottom line, don’t get too wrapped up in the assessment numbers and focus more on the day-to-day performance. If your workouts were achievable at 279 and you test at 266, it might not be prudent to adjust your workouts to that number for instance. You won’t force adaptations that way. You have to match your assessment values to your performance and understand that assessments are not always accurate.

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FWIW the ramp test is actually estimating maximum aerobic power (MAP), which is roughly your 4-6 minute power.

You can sweet spot and sustain power build your way to increasing FTP without changing your MAP / ramp test results.

I have no clue what’s going on with you, just wanted to point out that ramp tests and threshold power are somewhat independent.

My personal experience with ‘getting destroyed by vo2 work’ is that it gets a lot easier when I go out and do a lot of aerobic endurance and tempo work. A lot, even on 6-7 hours per week, something you don’t find in most TR plans but do find in plans from other coaching companies.

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I think it has.

My Zwift ramps usually score a few watts higher, and you’ve changed power meters.

5W is your TR progress through winter:

Thursday, Feb 25, 2021-- 279 TR Ramp Test half way through GB LV
Tuesday, Feb 2, 2021-- Start GB LV
Thursday, Dec 24, 2020-- 277 Start SSB LV2
Monday, Oct 19, 2020-- 274 First TR Ramp Test

Personally I always take some time off the bike in winter which you might want to consider at the end of this season.

At some point you stopped using the Kickr power estimate and started using the 4iii - this is where I would “start counting” afresh. Each year I decide on any major changes to my setup before jan 1st which is when I usually restart structured training. This year, for example (for long and irrelevant Bluetooth reasons) I switched to using my trainer power instead of powermatch, and a road bike on the turbo instead of a Tri bike.

So I think you’re okay but a few things;

  • As @Sarah indicated I would check you other benchmark rides, you probably are a bit faster.

  • Think about your next downtime, might be worth a week of rest if you have no A races coming up soon

  • Consider the higher temperatures of indoor training in summer

Good luck!

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Ok it is a longshot and treat it with a grain of salt, but… donating blood lowers the overall volume of blood. It returns to normal but the hemoglobin and proteins are lower. Blood volume rebuilds within 48h but your vo2 max stays impaired for around 3-8 weeks (and it can be as much as 15% of vo2 max). And ramp test measures exactly that - MAP.

So basically after every blood donation you loose 1-2 training cycles in terms of vo2 max. This can be contributing factor and part of cause why you have plateu. Of course it depends what “couple times a year” means.

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Nice, sounds like you’ve got a good arrangement going there.

I can definitely see LV getting stagnant, but it seems like the drop seemed to coincide with the move to MV- based on that I’d be curious to see how you respond to a short break because it seems like more recovery is the one approach you haven’t tried, but of course that’s down to your own discretion! (FWIW though, getting bored/dissatisfied is usually a dead giveaway that I need a break, even if I’m not great at noticing the other signs :joy:)

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(post deleted by author)

Wow, that’s a staggeringly rude post.

Sarah was absolutely on point. You sir, are straight up wrong.

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Great post Sarah.

Race results and actual performance in the real world are my metrics. FTP is just a portion of that equation.

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And you are what is wrong with the community. The man asked a question and you, with nothing of substance to say, attack the answers of others rather than provide anything of your own. Notwithstanding, your appraisal is banal and ultimately wrong. Grow up.

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I also found GB challenging last time I did it. Going from SSB, into GB LV and then bumping the volume straight into a MV SSB plan sounds like it might cause some problems. Especially into SSB2 it gets quite hard again, almost a pre-build (speaking from experience…). The old SSB and GB plans (I haven’t looked at the new ones) both have a lot of sustained work and VO2 (VO2 starts getting mixed in from SSB2 IIRC), if you keep stacking them like that it probably would lead to stagnation and fatigue as you’re effectively doing a lot of fairly similar work for a long time.

If it was me, I would take a proper rest and reset before going into a new plan, but that’s just because of what I would expect from my own body if I did the same thing and ran the plans together like that.

One other thing that could maybe be relevant is losing the 5 lbs (2.3kg) - your w/kg has stayed more constant than the raw W suggests. Don’t know your height but if you were already pretty lean and you lost 2 kilos that was mainly muscle mass, it would not help.

His FTP not 60 though is it, it is a very healthy 260-280. At 4 w/kg he is already pretty successful - many riders will never reach that number, or will really struggle to get there.

It’s not correct to say he’s stagnated if his repeatable 5 min power has increased a lot, or he’s able to hold 250 watts for much longer, etc etc etc.

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@Sarah Thanks for your input. Endurance and RPE both feel stronger. (nothing to report on power profile) I did some longer Sweet Spot rides that were substitutes from the easier prescribed SS rides after AT launch (3x25 and 2x30 @90%) and Smith -2( 4x10 @98-102%). Definitely could not have completed them prior to joining TR.
My primary focus is FTP based as I really enjoy the ‘work’ part of cycling indoors and out. I don’t have access to crits or regular road races and prefer to spend my time on the bike rather than driving 4 hours round trip to ride 1.
I had hoped that moving to structured workouts would move me off the plateau that I’ve been in for over a year. 8-ish months using one program or another with little to no movement seems to me like I’ve given it the ole college try and that is why I am reaching out to the TR community for suggestions or ideas that I may have missed.

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You have a lot of great advice here! My only 2 cents would be; If you want to increase your FTP sustained power build or general build will do a better job in my opinion, than short power build. Short power will get you good at sprinting but won’t necessarily build your FTP as much as a sustained power build would. If you don’t have any events I would go that route. Best of luck!

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@bbarrera I was having quite a bit of difficulty finishing the 6-7-8 set of 2-3min efforts on VO2 at 120%. No issues with the 30 on 30 off style but missed some TiZ. After looking at HR at >90% and the amount of time I was able to achieve the number I started doing longer efforts at 110-112%. These 4.5 to 5min efforts allowed me to get HR >90% for more TiZ and I was able to finish the workouts. Maybe I should keep the efforts at 120%.
I typically average around 8 hours a week training. 6-7 aerobic outdoor what I aim for on recovery weeks.