Aerobic fitness takes decades to develop

I’ve had a very similar experience.

I clock about 700hrs annually. All my lower duration power numbers, are what they are. They don’t move much. However, on long rides or races I’m far stronger at the end. Particularly in comparison to riders who average less training.

It’s actually quite noticeable. I’m the same as everybody, until about the 3hr mark. It’s usually about then, that the people I’m racing or riding with, noticeably fatigue. It’s a durability you don’t get from lower annual volume. Additionally, I consume vastly higher carbs than most riders, both in pivotal training sessions and racing.

Combined, it’s a noticeable difference.

Is it worth training for this difference. Probably not. I think many could be very close on half the volume. Say 350hrs a year.

High training volume, say over 600hrs a year, is only necessary if you’re racing long durations and are highly competitive. Meaning, it’s incredibly important to you or it means the difference between winning or losing. If so, have at it.

For most folks, doubling the volume from 350 to 700hrs, absolutely will not double your performance. Not even close. In fact, it’s difficult to even measure. Durability is hard to quantify in metrics. You can feel it, in relation to others more than simply looking at power numbers.


If you’re having to do 700hrs of annual training to get to 4.5w/kg. You’re either a little too old, late to the sport, or an average or slow responder. Genetics absolutely matter. Fast responders to endurance training will improve well beyond two times faster than average responders.

It’s important to be realistic. What are your realistic expectations?

Running a large cycling club and having friends who coach riders from learners to professionals, has given me a far more realistic and healthy relationship with goals. Both personally and in regards to other athletes.

I’ve discovered that w/kg targets are the absolute worst possible metrics to focus on, long term. They are close to irrelevant. Forums like these. Zwift and a million websites have most cyclists almost obsessed with their FTP and w/kg.

I get it. It’s fun and gives us something to aim at. However, it’s an illusion.

If you want to improve as a cyclist focus on PERFORMANCE. I don’t care what your supposed w/kg is. W/kg does not win races. Humans win races. Racers win races.

Racers with incredible skills, powerful sprints, next level bike handling etc etc. Thinking you are somehow a great cyclist because you hit some arbitrary mass vs power equation is short sighted.

Yes, of course we need to have a level of fitness to join the party. However, rarely is that single metric going to determine the result. Maybe, if you’re strictly a competitive hill climber, obsess away…

Obviously, we all like different things. Different music, different food. We all have different drivers, be that racing, social interaction or simply our own personal fitness goals.

However, based on watching a large volume of riders come in and out of the sport. The faster you learn that cycling is not just w/kg, the faster you’ll improve. The faster you’ll enjoy other aspects of the sport. The faster you’ll make new friends and experience new events.

Leave the w/kg fixation to the professionals.

Face it folks, if you ain’t over 6, you’re pretty crap anyway :laughing:


It all depends on how you are riding those 700 hours and what your specific aims are. From a progress standpoint…I think you could have a better rate of progress (long term) on more hours than you will on less hours. Pros don’t get to where they get on 350 hrs per year. And NO, I’m not comparing myself to a professional rider. I’m just saying that they have a much better platform for year on year improvement with a larger base of fitness to draw on. This creates far more flexibility for things like block periodization. The more you train…the more you can train. More can be better if done the right way for a long enough time.


Please don’t do that. Cycling is supposed to be fun and most faster people are nice human beings who’d happily wait for you at the top of a climb. And even if you are fast, there is always someone who is faster. Once you reach 4 W/kg, you are eying people with 5 W/kg. And I am sure if I ever were to reach that, then I’d still know that there is a gulf between me and a pro.

You are not your FTP, you are not your W/kg. Try to compete with yourself. Try to become a healthier, more well-rounded athlete and human being.

Nevertheless, while I am ignorant about the science that exists, doing endurance sports for decades helps, yes. As does good genetics. The latter means your soil is more fertile than others, and you see more gains more quickly. The former means you will have spent a lot of time training your body to endure. But we all started somewhere.

My advice? Focus on the process. Take yourself as your personal yardstick and do not pick goals that aren’t attainable (at least in the near term). Keep in mind that things like strength training can help you be more well-rounded, and you won’t necessarily see any improvements in your FTP. Sleep well. Be realistic about your other obligations (family, job, etc.). And most importantly: have fun. Let sports be one of your outlets that helps you balance you mentally.


I’ve been doing this since 1980, and, based on the last 41 years – agreed, agreed, agreed.

But also disagreed.

The powermeter has a purpose, even for a someone who doesn’t pin a number on (I haven’t since 2020, and I won’t in the future). When you go to the gym, you see the numbers on the plates. You know how much you’re lifting, you can set goals, you can see progress. The PM does that on the bike.

I’ll stop using a PM when I’m 60 (famous last words). I figure if I can get to 60 well fit for 60, it’s time to just ride the bike.

But, if someone – like me now – just goes out and does a lot of solo rides and uses the PM the same way a swimmer would look at the pace clock, I’m not going to criticize them for not honing their pack skills.

But, if you’re tacking on a number regularly, or doing your weekly club runs, then yes, hone your cycling skills and maybe you just set your computer for elapsed time, and don’t even look at the watts. The first ten years I raced a bike all I had was a wristwatch. I think that was a pretty good thing, actually.

The messaging of these kinds of podcasts is deceiving. Get TR, do the hard work, and get really fast.

The first step missing is “have the genetics”. These podcasts are often about outliers.

Nate posted these a long time ago. This is also reported FTP so probably way over-reported between over-testing, short tests, and not wanting to accept a 190FTP when you can enter a nice round 200.

It’s a small percentage of everybody that is at 4w/kg. As you get older, it gets tougher.

And past 50, you are in the top 3% if you can get past 4w/kg:

If you are 18-30, you have a much better chance.

Here is the topic:

The stats start at post 49 and then there is more just past 100.

Decades…er…no it doesn’t :grinning: and if you are using the w/kg charts there are so many variables …on a ramp test I can get a FTP of 275W in the small ring but 300W in the big ring on my kickr with a road bike that’s about 4.4 - 4.9W/kg aged 53 weighing 61kg…but it doesn’t matter because in the real world I can only put out about 250-255W for a 25m TT on my TT bike which gives about 4.1w/kg for the 53-54 mins it takes. Or 268W on the road bike for an hour TT…all I know is that I get my arse handed to me by guys who are a lot older than me and a lot younger than me…some of them are training harder than me…most are just more talented than me :grin:

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Don’t agree with every aspect you mention but deffo agree that this thread would be far more useful and interesting if we stopped using W/kg to measure fitness.

I’m certainly not saying bin the power meter. Not at all.

A power meter is an incredible tool.

It’s just the fixation of so many cyclists on the power to weight math. It’s so arbitrary. People actually state that reaching 4w/kg is their main goal in cycling. Not completing a certain incredible event. Winning a race. Climbing the toughest climb. Sharing an epic adventure ride with friends etc etc.

It’s 4w/kg. Like some mythical event will happen at this point.

It doesn’t.

Nothing happens at 4w/kg, you wake up, ride your bike, it feels the same as the day before.

4w/kg has nothing to do with physiology. Our bodies don’t know what 4 is. Hell, if we grew up in a different time, on a different planet, four could be 9 and a kg could be 18.876452989 lbs.

Try making that your main cycling goal. I want to be 9.87433 Flim Flaps per Hectawommps. Then I’d be strong…

I love the training, I love the math, I’m as in to it as anyone here. I just think, many would be better off focusing on other measurements of success in the sport. It’s got to be healthier long term.


Folks have different goals. Who are we to judge others? May they train for a grueling 250k alpine race, the Saturday group ride or a metric like w/kg. And folks are driven differently, many simply enjoy the process of getting to the goal. The goal itself is only of minor importance.


"Grit your teeth and turn those pedals and give it some grunt is lost among the gadgets that lie on the front of your handlebars. If you’re riding your bike and all you’re focussing on is the figures in front of you, then you’re not looking at the scenery and world around you. “Cycling is for enjoyment. The buzz of whizzing through the atmosphere is what cycling is all about. If you do want to measure your improvement, do it on the static bike. But when you’re out riding, ride.”

Graeme Obree


Love that - should read it every day before heading out the door…


I do TT - Watts against CdA - is far more important than W/kg. My metric for the latter is ok but I still get easily beaten by big guys with good TT positions who just put out 30W more than me even if they weigh 20+kg more than me :roll_eyes:

I live in Boulder CO. Despite Garmin saying my “VO2 Max is in the top 5% for people your age and gender. Your Fitness Age is 20”, there are many, many cyclists my age I can’t hang with. I’m guessing genetics, decades of high altitude cycling, smart off season training and whatever else. Picking the right riding group and just laughing at myself as I get passed by younger, older, fatter and slimmer riders of both sexes keeps me happy. PS- I’m 70


I hear what youre saying but shooting for some w/kg is the same in principle as a weight lifter who wants to be able to squat or bench, etc a particular number. It is a way of goal setting.

All these charts show is that the vast majority of users have lives - almost anyone can get to the top 5% of their age group on these charts with consistency and by prioritising cycling above most other things. The reality is that most of us don’t, we just want to be as good as we can whilst keeping other life factors in balance. We’re so far away from our “genetic” limits it’s a joke.


What evidence do offer for your assertion? I honestly don’t believe that most people can get to the top 5% by just training more or better. I’ve ridden with a lot of top 5 percenters and they don’t tend to train more than anyone else. They seem to be fast responders to training, they have naturally high VO2maxes so they get faster than most on a little training.

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Of course some people will find it easier than others but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. You’re absolutely right, most of the top 5% don’t train any more than the rest, they train more effectively and prioritise the whole spectrum of what goes into becoming faster. This could be lower stress at work, fuelling, sleep quality and quantity along with general rest and recovery.

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What’s the specific 4w/kg duration everyone is obsessed with?

15 minutes?
20 minutes?
45 minutes?
1 hour?

What duration gets you in the 4w/kg club?

Half the time when I see FTP I don’t know if someone is meaning their 20 minute power 45 minute power or 1 hr power.

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IME, the top 5% don’t even train more effectively. Most don’t even do structured training. I’ve scoped out most of the top 5% in my area and in my club. Most just ride for fun now and are naturally fast. Many did race at some point when they were younger. A very small subset still race seriously and do structured training and all that. One or two do the 15-20 hour weeks. 90% of the top 5% are just naturally fast.