Am I wasting my time on TR? Update: no

I joined TR to try and raise my ftp from 3 w/kg to 4 w/kg at 84kg. After almost a year and a half I do not feel like I have made much progress having only raised to 3.2 and am wondering if I have completely wasted all that time when I could have been doing other workouts that would have been more productive. I heard on the podcast that if you are not progressing that you may need more volume so about 6 months ago or so I switched from low volume to mid volume. However, with no real additional progress being made it just feels like I am working much harder and longer to achieve the same results.

Here are my ftp results from Careers page:

Aug 8, 2022 272
Jun 27, 2022 265
May 16, 2022 273
Mar 7, 2022 281
Jan 25, 2022 275
Nov 29, 2021 268
Oct 25, 2021 265
Sep 28, 2021 268
Aug 17, 2021 277
Jun 22, 2021 258
Apr 30, 2021 248 <Probably more accurate as a starting point
Mar 31, 2021 219 <First ramp test ever so I think I botched it a little
Mar 31, 2021 132 <TR estimated this prior to first test

The one thing I do that is an outlier to the prescribed workouts is to lower the intensity on the back half of some interval sessions on the handful of times my legs have felt too fatigued to complete the workout as prescribed. For example, if I am doing 5 intervals and I do the first one at 100% but it feels like my legs will never complete all 5 I will reduce them to 98% for 2nd, 96% for 3rd, 94% for 4th, 92% for 5th or something along those lines. I understand that this is not the most optimal way to complete the workout but I feel like I still do 95% of the work or more so I should be getting some gains from the workout even if its less than 100% gains. Also, Its really not very often I have chosen to do this.

  • If I may ask, what is driving the 4.0 w/kg goal?

    • Is it aimed at a particular performance need or are you shooting for the all too common target just because it is referenced frequently here and other places?
  • At your weight, that is an FTP of 336w (if I did my math right), which is not small power value and should be taken into account here with respect to the likelihood of you actually reaching it.

  • I am pointing to this because we have plenty of people who’ve set a similar target with no actual “need” for their use, but to hit what seems like a good place to be from all the related discussion here and elsewhere.

There are likely many other questions like:

  • What is your training history before this timeframe within TR?
  • What is your work / life stress like?
  • What is your recovery ability & history?
  • What is your nutrition before, during and after workouts?

There are probably many more. With the limited info you’ve shared, it’s difficult to offer much guidance or review.

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There could be so many things going on. You obviously saw an improvement in FTP which plateaued which can be for multiple reason.

What plans are you using? I know you said you went from low volume to mid volume but are you doing Sweet Spot, Polarized, Traditional, etc? For example if you have been doing all sweet spot maybe it is worth experimenting with their Polarized or Traditional plan.

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Good point. I started with traditional and have done an 8 week polarized and a 6 week polarized before as well. Maybe I try the Sweet Spot next?

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Are you only doing TR plans? Or TR plans on the indoor trainer, plus some other outdoor/indoor riding? How long have you been riding?

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Are you faster? Isn’t that what really matters?

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More knowledgable people may correct me on this but my impression is you need A LOT of volume for traditional and polarized to be effective. So not sure if mid volume would be enough to keep seeing gains on Polarized and traditional so curious what others have to say on this.

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I have been riding for 5 years (45 years old) and rode outdoors only before signing up for TR. I have been substituting outdoor rides for the prescribed 1.5 hour endurance rides over the last 3 months or so.

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so on Mid Volume you are doing about 6 hours per week total?

I think its closer to 7 right now, but yes generally 6-7.

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Going from 3w/kg to 4w/kg is a 33% increase. That’s loads unless you’re new to cycling or have a fair bit of fat to lose. So, if you were at 3w/kg from a fair amount of cycling before starting, then I’d say your 30 watt increase is pretty good. 3.3w/kg isn’t bad at all for most people, particularly someone your size.

But I’d recommend trying something else - other programs on TR or another app. I’d recommend trying Sufferfest (now Wahoo Systm), I find the variety and motivation helps me compared to TR. Also, lifting (heavy) during base.

Edit - just read your age, and cycling background. 3.3w/kg is really pretty good for an 84kg guy starting cycling at forty.

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Thanks for the reply, maybe 4 watt/kg was an unrealistic goal. I will check out Sufferfest and I will for sure keep lifting heavy!

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By the numbers you’re at a 10% increase in FTP over a 15 month span that’s pretty rocking if you ask me. So that says you’re getting something out of it.

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Good luck.

(Also, Dylan Johnson on youtube has some good stuff for cycling specific lifting.)

FWIW what I found is that 2 years (2018-2019) averaging 5-6 hours/week on TR MV plans had me between 220-250W FTP.

The 2 years BEFORE TR I was riding outside only, around 7-8 hours/week, less structure, about same intensity, and I had reached 260-280W FTP. So something was wrong however I’m currently 15 years older than you so weird stuff is happening to my body.

But the last 2 years (2020-2022), I decreased the intensity by A LOT, went back to around 7.5-8 hours/week average, and got back to 260-275W FTP. Its not polarized, its doing 4-6 hours/week of endurance riding and 2 or 3 days of easy intervals. And my resting HR decreased, my HRV went up, and other good health benefits. So this idea that you need a LOT of volume for a more traditional (not TR base) plan to be effective, well I found the opposite to be true. A nice pic with science-y interpretation over here:

In 2020 I started with FasCat sweet spot plans which are a lot easier than TR plans and within 3 months broke thru my TR MV ftp ceiling.

Sometime in your 40s a lot of people start needing more recovery. Most people can’t retire and focus on riding, so backing off the intensity can unlock some gains by giving your body less stress and more time to absorb the training. It worked for me.

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Might help if you open up your careers page so folks can look at actual stress too

Without more context, my guess is your FTP has been overestimated, and you’re dropping workout %s to manage suprathreshold workouts that aren’t actually hitting the systems you want. Would suggest you try a different FTP test (e.g. 20 minute or the infamous Kolie Moore test) and see if you get a decently lower number.

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Don’t take my question the wrong way because I mean no offense whatsoever!

Are you pushing yourself? If you are lowering the workout intensity, are you giving up too early?

I read something once that some people think one thing that separates pros from amateurs is tolerance to pain. Being able to suffer.

So, my question is, are you truly suffering? These gains don’t come easy.

Suffering is so subjective, and I am not asking you to hurt yourself. But ask yourself the question if you NEED to stop, or you WANT to stop.

I mean no condescension and I’m not trying to patronize you. I ask myself the same questions when I put in an effort.

It is pushing that increases your fitness. I know some people will disagree with me and that is ok, its just how I feel.

Also, look at fueling and cooling, as these things can affect RPE drastically and RPE affects motivation to finish.

My point to this entire post is that if you don’t continuously push, your body will adapt to what you are doing and then stop. You have to give it novel stimulous.

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This is probably going to sound so dumb, but I’m going to say it anyway. The Coggan Chart shows 4 watts/kg as good so thats what I picked as my goal, knowing I was already at a 3 with little effort and no formal ‘structured’ training. If its a matter of it will take more time thats fine, but from the comments here its looking more like my potential is just not as high as I had assumed it was. Thanks for the response.

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Thank you so much. This is good info. I will look into the FasCat plans.

Are you feeling like you can handle more after every exercise?

The RPE survey at the end of each workout should be helping you realize your full potential.

My personal feeling is you’re expecting too much too fast. These things can take years.