I’m wondering if reaching 4 watts per kg is a realistic goal. I have been cycling for about 3 years and have been actively using TrainerRoad for the past 3 months, following a custom low-volume plan until the end of June. This plan is designed to prepare me for a cycling vacation with a focus on climbs and is combined with outdoor rides on weekends. I’ve seen significant improvements in my initial stats due to increased fitness and the overall impact of interval training.
However, over the past month, my FTP hasn’t been increasing as much as before, which I understand is normal. I’ve considered the possibility of shedding a kilogram or two for potential benefits, but I’ve already lost some weight through training and diet adjustments (72 kg down to 68 kg), so I’m not sure if further weight loss would be beneficial.
I’m contemplating switching to a mid-volume base program after the summer to prepare for the next season. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Weight: 68 kg
Height: 178 cm
Current FTP: 226
Initial FTP (January): 175 (Note: I had a cold at the time)
Estimated Garmin VO2 Max: 54
Max Heart Rate: 205
Lactate Threshold Heart Rate: Not yet tested; I estimate it to be between 170-175
Further weight loss probably won’t help change the needle much. Your 4w/kg at 65kg is 260 vs 68kg being 272. It’s more likely that losing those 3 kilos will also simultaneously make you weaker, unless you have a lot of body fat to shed.
Give mid volume a try! Use plan builder and give your vacation an “A” event of climbing road race. Unless you have 10+ hours a week, sweet spot base will probably give you a lot more return on investment with < 1 year.
I would probably add some more volume but not the intensity that mid volume gives. 2-3 sessions of intensity has been proven to be enough, along with other less intense volume around that.
I’d perhaps add in some z2/endurance sessions - sounds like you already do some outdoor riding. More sessions of intensity like what mid-volume would give, I doubt is the answer.
Or, thinking back, I had similar stats to you when I was doing sufferfest 8 or 9 years ago. FTP around 270, height the same, a little heavier. Then I went coached and worked up an extra ~30 watts within the first year. Probably, the main difference was working on time to exhaustion. So really pushing the duration of sweet spot over the weeks up to a solid hour. Rather than pushing the limits of wattage for lower durations. I actually felt fresher coached than battering myself on Sufferfest. I also was doing even just 30mins super super easy z1 on what would normally have been rest days.
And I just seem to exist around 300w give or take a few watts depending on the time of year.
The key thing is age and weight - you aren’t v heavy and you are not old - so provided you work hard 4W/kg should be doable. That said measuring it these days is a minefield…since FTP has more definitions than you can shake a stick at. That said I’m nearly 55 - come from a running background and weigh 61-62kg. I can do 254W for an hour on the TT bike in a TT and 270W for 75mins in a TT on the road bike so over 4W/kg and I don’t consider myself talented or young! - That said I can get 300W on the ramp test in the big chain ring but only 275W in the small ring which I use for workouts to maintain the wattage floor in recoveries - so as you can see measuring FTP is difficult - but at 30 and not being North of 100kg in weight then 4W/kg - however you measure it is very achievable - good luck
You’ve got your newbe (new to structured training) and went from 175 to 225 which is massive!. Now it will slow down considerably and you have to except that. If you keep training and gain about 2-3% each block that would be as massive as your initial jump. Keep at it and you’ll keep seeing progress.
If you do decide to change things, add in a big weekend zone 2 ride. work your way up from 2 to about 4 hours and i’m positive you’ll see another nice bump. Volume is king imho
I probably started cycling about the age you did. At first it was for commuting on a cheap and heavy hybrid, then it was for leisure when I was around 30 year old and it never got a sport for me until I was about 33year old. My height and weight then was not too dissimilar to you either and whilst I never had a power meter until after I was 41year old I wouldn’t be surprised if I was over 4w/kg at times. Shortly after getting a power meter I was anyway and a couple of times I’ve broke through the 5wkg barrier. With work 4w/kg is a realistic goal IMO. As said volume will facilitate it whether thats going to a MV plan or sticking with the LV plan but adding endurance rides possibly out doors is up to you.
Thanks all for your input. I’ll continue pushing on with the low-volume (LV) plan during the season, while also incorporating outdoor rides.
Once summer ends, I’ll transition to a mid-volume (MV) plan and take it from there. Although I’ve typically been fairly average in sports, I don’t anticipate reaching 5w/kg. However, I remain hopeful that with consistent effort, I can attain the 4w/kg milestone.
With consistency that’s certainly achievable. I’m now 40, started cycling about 5 years ago while being overweight and not doing a sport in 20+ years and even I got to 4w/kg. Just remember that it’s not gonna come overnight, but you’ll still see the small gains.
I’d guess 4w/kg is achievable with consistent mid volume training (ie 6 to 9 hours a week, rather than a particular plan) over a few years. Consistency being key, rather than following a particular plan (main benefit of which is, in fact, consistency).
Since you’re only 30 years old and of a reasonably slender build, I would argue that you are physiologically capable of 5w/kg with time. However, it is possible that 4w/kg is a more realistic with your current lifestyle. If you decided to go all in on cycling and train 20 hrs/week consistently while eating and recovering well, 5w/kg won’t be unrealistic. That said, with your time constraints and other commitments, you probably can’t handle that training load, and thus, aiming for 4w/kg is more appropriate. Your actual physiological limits are still very far away, but your ability to reach these is impacted by your lifestyle outside of cycling. Maybe you can’t just train, eat, and sit on the couch.
To give an example of someone with a similar build to you but very different life circumstances, I’ll explain my own situation. I’m also 178 cm tall, about 65 kg at the moment (down from 75 kg), and still trending downwards. I started training with a power meter in september 2022, but I’ve been a runner for years and always rode a bike for fun. I also worked as a bike messenger. The first FTP I ever got was 220w, or 2.9w/kg. Note that this was outside, where I’m considerably stronger than inside (about 7-10% depending on intensity). My current FTP, 7 months into training, is 310w, or 4.75w/kg, and that’s inside, which means I’m likely sitting just at 5w/kg outside. This may seem like an impossible improvement rate, but I have vastly different life circumstances to you. I can train 20+ hours every week, eat all the carbs and sleep 9+ hours every night. I also have a solid base from years of running, so that gives me a good head start. I don’t say this to brag about improvement rate, but to illustrate how quickly improvement can happen if everything is optimised. I’m not special, I just had the opportunity to focus entirely on cycling for 7 months straight. If you did the same, 4w/kg would be a piece of cake. You’re limited by your life outside of cycling, not your physiology. The more you train, the better you’ll get, as long as you’re able to recover adequately! So trying MV sounds like a solid plan. Best of luck!
I am going from memory and that is failing me at my "advanced " age. On one of yhe podcasts they mention the percentage of TR subscribers that are over 4W/Kg. I think that it is 15%. So there is the are you a top 15% (if that is the right number) type of athlete? I have the same goal but am beginning to feel like that is not achievable for me. When I was running more I would sometimes place in my age and find myself in or near top 25% of finishers. So many variables to look at to know can one get to the magic 4W/Kg. Good luck and keep pushing forward. I will do the same.