Any idea why my FTP is going down, not up?

Hi. I’m a 39 year-old-woman and started Trainer Road in August.
After registering an FTP of 245W on my first ramp test, my FTP has declined on every subsequent test. I clocked 219W on the test today. I wonder if anyone could explain why this could be.

I’m doing the low volume, grand fondo plan (3 days a week), which I supplement with 2 endurance rides per week. I’ve been training consistently and have noticed positive improvements in my strength and fitness. However, I am always at my max riding at 245 Wats FTP and sometimes need to reduce the intensity by 5%.

I’ve been riding since 2007 and used to race competitively. I reached peak fitness in 2013 (FTP 262; 3.4w/kg).

One reason I can think of is that my job is quite stressful and busy, which means I’m not always sleeping as much as I should…

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Too much stress could be the answer then.
5 rides a week, on top of a stressful job, might be too much for you to handle, especially if your sleep suffers.

Welcome!

This kind of thing has an impact. Rest and recovery is when you repair all the damage from your training sessions, and on a low-volume plan, those training sessions are intense (to make up for the volume). Sleep is critical, and if you’re doing five days per week without getting enough sleep, your training will suffer. How’s your fueling?

It’s also worth noting that the ramp test gives you an estimate from an estimate: it estimates your max aerobic power, and then estimates your threshold power at 75% of your MAP. That gets close enough for a lot of people most of the time, but not everybody all the time. It’s sensitive to the kind of training you’ve been doing recently, and it’s absurdly sensitive to your level of mental toughness at the time you take the test (which is usually my downfall, heh).

Can you make your calendar public and link it here?

(I’m guessing she meant a Gran-Fondo-focused Plan Builder plan, not Century Specialty.)

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Interesting - how are you measuring power?

Thanks for the comments everyone. I think you’re probably right that the programme might be a bit too intense for the amount of sleep I’m getting! I’m doing the plan with my partner and we decided to start with 3 days a week and supplement with low intensity rides where possible - so as not to feel too guilty about skipping rides. However, as we’ve been able to keep that up quite well, we are now considering changing to a formal 5-day/week plan, which might reduce help reduce the stress as well.

My nutrition is quite balanced. Porridge for breakfast, rye salad sandwich & salad for lunch and buddha bowl-type dinners. I don’t eat a lot of meat, but try to at least get a reasonable amount of protein in every day (e.g. eggs, chicken breast, yoghurt). I snack on yoghurt, fruit, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, chocolate :slight_smile:

I’m measuring power through our Elite trainer. We do all our rides indoors now as we’re in lockdown in Paris.

PS: Here is the link to my calendar: https://www.trainerroad.com/app/career/dees/calendar

PPS: And yes, I think we’re on a Gran-Fondo-focused Plan Builder plan

Wow, so you’re used to quite a lot of stress, looking at your calendar.
It might actually be the other way round.
You might be getting too little volume/intensity :expressionless:
Going for a formal MV plan is probably the way forward, if you have the time and you feel like you can finish the workouts.
But, also, maybe you should try an alternative to the ramp test. Can you “easily” complete the workouts that are at threshold… How was your recent mount goode, for instance?

Interesting perspective. I do sometimes wonder if I’m just not suited to ramp tests, as I’m not a sprinter and much better at time trials!

From memory, Mt Goode was doable, though I was struggling a bit towards the end. I suffer most in the over-threshold sessions. Dicks-1, Kaiser+2, Dade+1, Bashful+2 were all rides where I had to lower the intensity by 5% to finish the ride.

Your workout compliance looks good so it doesn’t look as though your FTP is set too high.

Can you tell us what FTP values the ramp tests gave you each time? I can’t see that info on the calendar.

One thing to note, personally, is that you could work on improving compliance of the plan itself. You should see gradual increases in TSS each week, with a low TSS week for your recovery week. These incremental steps help build you up. I don’t think that is to blame for FTP going down, but it’s something that may help, especially as you continue to get stronger.

Check out this thread for lots of discussion on why the ramp test doesnt work for everyone. However, note that if you are doing the ramp test everytime, then that shouldnt explain your discrepancies in FTP either, unless you are making huge shifts in anaerobic capabilities.

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Ok looking at your calendar, you’re knocking all the threshold work out of the park – the over/unders, the horror shows like Washington and Mt. Hale – and the only places you consistently struggle are the VO2max sessions (Kaiser, Dade, Bashful). If you’re finishing stuff like Mount Goode +3 with perfect compliance, I’d be surprised if your FTP setting is that far off your actual threshold. How often are you doing a spin-down calibration on your Suito?

My first (uneducated, layperson’s) guess is that right now, your threshold is on the higher side relative to your current VO2max capability. If that’s the case, then all those workouts are scaled too high, and you’re going to exhaust early on the ramp (and end up with a lower result). Plan Builder set you up with a ton of threshold-focused work to prep for Amstel Gold, which is great, but it’s (intentionally) not training your ability significantly over threshold. I think it’d be worth trying a steady-state test instead of the ramp just to see what you get.

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I think you may of just had a bad ramp test today. Based on workout compliance after your October 27 ramp test, I can’t believe your FTP would have dropped as much as the most recent ramp test has estimated. I would be inclined to manually set your FTP at the prior number and continue. You can then adjust FTP or drop workout intensity if you start to fail workouts. Or you could continue and increase workout intensity if the workouts are too easy.

I am not an expert but I don’t think the training stimulus would have decreased your FTP by as much as you have experienced. Perhaps it is fatigue or simply a sans jour on the ramp test day.

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Yes, you’re probably right. As I mentioned, I’m switching to the medium plan which should take care of that issue.

Re FTP rest results, from memory I started at 245, then 220, then 244 then 219 this morning, roughly 4-6 weeks apart.

I have this same problem: I’ve got good time trialling diesel power but a rubbish 1 min power and sprint and so ramp tests give me silly low numbers.
I often think that the ramp tests work better with people with more “normal” power curves.

If in doubt do a 20min test. They are pretty horrible but they tell the truth…

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Thanks very much for the detailed advice. Good food for thought,

I do the spindown calibration once every week or two.

Good idea about the steady state test. I’ll give that a try and report back.

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Yeah, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ve kept my FTP at the very first reading (245W) for the past four months and adjusted the intensity as required - usually 5% down for some of the VO2 efforts. If the 20-minute FTP test doesn’t help I’ll probably continue doing just that.

Do you also have another PM that you use to powermatch?
Wrong calibration could also explain why your FTP is all over the place. It does seem like intense fluctuation.
Taking my badly-trained-self as an example: i got injured in august, and had to take 3 weeks off the bike.
This is my first year of training, and my ftp dropped from 225 to 214.
That’s with 3 weeks off. Shouldn’t happen to you :expressionless:

Exactly. Frustrating as it is, I guess that’s the flipside of doing well at the over/unders and threshold work. I also enjoy it a lot more.

I doubt that’s the issue, because my partner uses the same trainer and hasn’t had these problems. In fact, his FTP has been steadily going up on the same plan. Also, he has a separate power meter that he used to check the Elite Suite and it’s fine.

I fear I might just be mentally weak! :slight_smile:

Wouldn’t think so. Looks more like you have high fractional utilisation of vo2max - your FTP is at a higher-than-average percent of vo2max. TR assumes that power at vo2max is 120% of your FTP, and for you it is maybe more like 115%. So when TR asks you to do 120%, it is actually higher than you should be doing. Short term, you can solve that the way you have done, by dropping intensity for vo2max workouts.

Long term, it might limit how much you can improve your FTP - you’d need to raise your vo2max first. Maybe see if you can fit a dedicated vo2max block in somewhere, or do a plan that includes more of those workouts.

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