Another FTP Plateau Question

First, a bit of background. I’m a 35 yrs old, 5’10", about 193 lbs. I have been doing some measure of structured training (with some interruptions) since January, 2019. I started SSBHV back then with an FTP of 229, and got to 258 through SSBI & II. I started a Build block which was interrupted slightly by an accident involving a careless driver, but managed to get my FTP up to 266. Since that time, I have had off and on bouts of structure, but my FTP always hovered in the 250 to 260 range.

After continuing this trend a bit through early 2020, I had a bit of a “reset” in the Spring and decided to go back to base to start all over again with renewed focus. I am coming off of SSBII MV (5/26/20 to 7/5/20) after completing SSBI MV (4/14/20 to 5/24/20). My compliance through the last 12 weeks has been good, with minimal missed/moved workouts, only when absolutely necessary due to life. However, my last three tests have stagnated, and my frustration is building:

– 4/14/20 Test - 270;
– 5/26/20 Test - 272;
– 7/7/20 Test - 268.

At this point, I’m not sure what gives. I’m probably riding 8-12 hours a week on average, with some slight variation. I’m sure my recovery and sleep could be better, but I have seen gains through the base phase with TR before with similar lifestyle. I’m not sure I have the time to fully commit to a high volume plan due to life/work, though I have added Zone 2 volume when able to get my hours in the saddle up closer to a HV plan.

Is it worth trying to “shake something up” a bit to see if I can break through this plateau, or is it better just to move on to a Build plan with the current numbers and see if that can get me moving in the right direction? Are there other obvious things I’m likely missing?

Frequency, duration, and intensity are the only things you can manipulate. If you have already maxed out the first two, your only choice is to up the third.

Right… perfect time for build phase! Stay patient and trust the process. Sometimes it takes awhile for your body to adapt. Get through the increased intensity of a build block and then decide if you need to make more significant life changes (free up additional time, etc). Sleep/nutrition always help, so spend what time and effort you are willing to on them as well, but that’s a given for any plan.

Maybe this will give you some inspiration:

for me personally I almost never gain FTP through the low volume SSB, though I’ve never tried HV so who knows. I saw my first big gain in two years recently by following short power build low volume to the letter with 100% compliance, doing 90% of my workouts outside. In the years prior I always ended up doing long rides outside instead of build because I couldn’t train indoors in the hot weather. I was able to knock out 4-6hr rides outdoors for distances of 70-100 miles without an issue though, so despite not having an FTP increase I had a much better aerobic base than in previous years. I’ve always done well with VO2 work so I think for me switching it up to the VO2 stuff in short power build mixed it up enough that I responded well. I hit a PB for FTP in june, high er than my peak last august.

I guess another odd variable to throw in here is that, about two weeks prior to my 4/14/20 Ramp Test (270 FTP result), I tested at 253. I got frustrated, and basically took two weeks off and did nothing but Zone 2 riding. That was my “reset” I referenced earlier, before going back to base. After those two weeks, I came back and tested 17 watts higher. This has thrown me for a bit of a loop.

have you looked at other metrics; are you improving in other areas, especially repeatability of the FTP effort?

I would 100% shake things up if the training feels stale; VO2Max work at 110-125% FTP is great for that.


Well, here I am again, after “accepting” the July 7, 2020 test result, setting my FTP to 270, and completing Sustained Power Build MV I. Here are my results:

– August 4, 2020 Test (after SPB MVI) – only gained 3 points, to 273 (or 5 points, if you use my actual test result from 7/7/20 of 268).

So, after sticking to the plan for another 4 weeks, I’m right back where I started leading into SSB MVII. This is incredibly frustrating, and I essentially have not made any meaningful gains in my FTP since April, 2020.

I’m starting to run out of ideas or excuses for why I should continue down this path. While some of the workouts were challenging, I stuck to the plan pretty damn well, with a mix of indoor and outdoor workouts. This long without any real movement seems out of the norm.

Few questions -
Are you testing hard enough? How deep are you digging into your ramp test?

When you say you stuck to your plan ‘pretty damn well’. What does that actually mean? Did you complete everything? How many workouts did you drop? What is your blend our indoor vs outdoor riding and are the power numbers accurate etc.

And finally what’s your BF % at? 5’10" at 193 lbs either means you’re a pretty muscular build or carrying along some extra weight. If the latter, maybe one thing is to also look at your diet.

I’ve bumped up against 300 FTP for the last 3 years. I think I’ll finally break that ceiling thanks to extra volume and a block of Polarized training. COVID has been a global disaster, but it has made a few rather insignificant things better. :confused:

According to my FitBit scale (not that I necessarily think it’s accurate, but I use it consistently), I hover around 20-22% body fat. Certainly, I could afford to lose a bit of weight, but I have never been a “spindly-armed” climber body type. I’ve always carried a good bit of breadth/muscle in the shoulders/chest.

To answer your question re: consistency, I didn’t miss a single workout in the Build block, and only moved around a few in the last block of Base (but didn’t miss). I was about 70/30 outdoor/indoor on the last Build block. The only thing I would say is that there were a few instances where some of my more sustained riding (the Sunday high tempo/sweetspot) intervals were interrupted by flats, but I did complete the overall amount of work. Also, there may have been a few instances where rest intervals were longer than planned due to road conditions. But, the 1.5 minutes and 6 minutes intervals were done on road stretches that almost always accommodated the full interval, with maybe one interval falling short by 10-20 seconds on the 6-minuters.

Finally, as to how deep I’m going, I think I’m pushing myself as hard as I can. The higher intensity intervals in the Build phase have stung pretty damn hard, and it was a struggle to complete some of them. I go until my power starts to drop significantly, and my legs truly feel as though they’re giving out. There may be 5-10 seconds in it at most, and that is always in hindsight.