Any other non-FTP,-increasers out there?

Based on outside rides I do in non-winter months I have gotten faster in part thanks to TR. But… my FTP doesn’t reflect it. Mid 30’s male, started using TR at 28, endurance athlete since high school, triathlete, all training is on a tri bike, so I’m doing lots of exercise/training in between biking.

When I got into TR in 2018, I was doing the 20 minute test with a stages L-arm crank power meter, and I got up to ~262 watts FTP. In 2019 I started using the ramp test and was disappointed that my results were “down” to ~230, and now using a Wahoo Kickr, but I kept my head down and did the training. I got faster outside even though my FTP only got up into the 250’s. The pandemic threw things askew and in 2020, but I rode consistently. In 2021 I got back up to about 260 with months of solid training. I’m trying to delay doing the harder trainer workouts this winter because I peaked WAY too early last year, and have switched to using a gravel bike on the trainer, and my most recent ramp tests were 230’s/240’s. I have a reasonable job, no big family obligations, and am on top of training, sleep, and nutrition. So in the past 5 or so years of riding fairly consistently, by the books I haven’t improved, but I set some big PR’s in real world races (70.3 even while battling through injury).

Is anyone else in this situation? Is this normal for traithletes to not improve FTP with a few years of consistent training? I am getting real world faster but it’s starting to get frustrating seeing all these people gaining 100+ watts on FTP after years where I feel like I’m stuck between 230-260.

I think your experience is typical given you came from doing endurance sports. For myself, I went from 20min test 320 to 370-375 in maybe 3 years of 8-10hpw, but no prior endurance training (was a T&F sprinter).
I have been around that fitness level ever since - maybe the past 5years or so but train the same load 8-10hpw. Such is life my friend. Sky is not the limit, but you can get fit and stay fit prob forever relatively speaking. I love to ride the bike tho and that’s the whole point. Don’t forget that

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Two comments:

  1. The Ramp Test is really an anaerobic threshold test that has been scaled (75%) to yield an FTP #. The test favors those who PDC profile represents that of a sprinter and is often very low for those whose profile is that of long endurance (that I presume you will fall into). As a hill climber, I’m more in the latter category, so when I did a Ramp Test in 2018 it was about 20% below my 20min FTP. Haven’t done a Ramp Test since.

  2. As a triathlete, presuming your goal is holding power for extended periods of time, TTE (Time-to-Exhaustion) and Stamina are 2 important metrics, and perhaps even more important than raising your FTP. Unfortunately, TR does not believe in making advanced data available, so you need to upload your rides to a product, such as Training Peaks’ WKO5 for that (as I do).

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Just focus on progression levels and don’t worry about what your “FTP” is…you will get a lot more satisfaction out of it.

The only purpose of an FTP input in TR is to get yourself in the right intensity of workouts. And there is a wide margin you can put on that input and be productive. The system will keep you on track. I’ve experimented aggressively with varying my FTP input and it works really well.

Bottom line, don’t equate TR fitness with your FTP. If you want to know if you are getting more fit, plot your MMP curves year over year. Or better yet, convert your MMP curves to work vs. time and see how much they’ve changed…

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You touched on something else that rattled around in my brain that I didn’t mention, or at least vaguely touched on with my “lots of other exercise” comment. I’m training 8-12 hours a week, but the reality is being an age-grouper triathlete my bike time is only 3-4 hours a week. People like you (YOU people!!) that are pure cyclists if you take the other 8 hours in the week and put that back on cycling, woah I’d hope you get your FTP up into the high 300’s! Maybe I just need to stop watching Sam Long and Lionel Sanders videos lol.

If you are hitting a plateau in bike fitness, then you’ll need to do a dedicated block. I’m a triathlete by nature, but got frustrated with my bike fitness and just decided to see how high I could get it. That was a couple years ago and I’m up 40-50W in my different training zones/racing intensity.

I didn’t need two years to hit that, and the last 18 months has been spent, mostly through mistakes, figuring out how to get another 10-30W. The vast majority of my gains came over 6 months from just focusing on a huge increase in bike volume and almost no running.

Now I’m starting to add in running while also trying to get that last few percent increase I’d love in cycling fitness. So far so good - but it takes a lot of focus and thinking to do right. Especially as I get older.

I’m in a location where running is great from Oct - Dec and stinks Jan - Feb. So demphasized cycling a bit and started sprinkling in running in the fall, built up my volume and once it got crummy outside went into maintenance mode on the run and a micro focus on bike. Once April hits I’ll be more balanced and then try to add in swimming.

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Did you do more hours on the bike in 2018? Or have you been consistently doing 3-4 hours/week for years and years?

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Yeah 3-4hrs is not enough to expect consistent gains. The top triathletes train like 10-20hpw on the bike. IMO, your majority share of time should be on the bike (of your 8-12hpw). Any length tri has the majority share of time in race during the bike leg.

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In contrast to, and respecting other comments, I think you can “get faster” on 3-4 hours/week:

  1. You are already building a lot of conditioning, particularly aerobic capacity, in your swimming and running, that is complementary to your cycling so “3-4 hours” does not fully capture your overall training benefit to your cycling.

  2. Your strength conditioning can include cycling-specific muscle groups (lots of Forum thread discussions on this)

  3. The time on your bike should be efficient and targeted at your event. TrainerRoad places a tremendous focus on FTP. It is why so much training time includes VO2 Max and anaerobic efforts. It works, if FTP is your goal. HOWEVER, as Tim Cusick (Training Peaks) has discussed numerous time and in detail, time and energy spent in these zones (i.e. improving the left side of your power curve and FTP) is time NOT spent on the right side (improving TTE and Stamina). As I infer above in my metrics comments, your goal should be the latter (improving FTP will come along for the ride, but not be the focus) with your training focused on time-in-zone (TiZ) of sweet spot and threshold zones.

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another Q to consider, since time on the bike has come up here; would your times improve even more with more riding time and less swim/run training? if it’s your weaker link, get some more rides in and you’ll be flying!!

good luck!

Weight an (indirect) issue, too. If you’re not a big person than a 260 FTP in a TT position is pretty good and you’d be closer to the top of the log curve already and you’d probably need more than 3-4 hpw to get significant gains.

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The ramp test could give a very bad estimation of your ftp. As a triathlete, your aerobic capacities are probably much more developed than your anaerobic capacities, which will make the ramp test underestimate your ftp, probably by a lot.
In my case, I was feeling that my ftp was wrong when I was doing easy endurance ride in the middle of my tempo power zone, based on the ramp test.
I’m now using intervals.icu and the calculated power curve it gives me is pretty spot on with the TTE tests I made. The ftp calculated using it is 14% higher than the one from the ramp test. The power zones now feel right.
From there you can look at your critical power, W’, fractional utilisation to know what you should focus on during your training.

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I totally agree with this…with the caveat that eventually one still needs a bike focus. So those bike sessions are gonna need to be really high quality/intensity and running is gonna have to be a secondary focus. The good news is that running fitness is more efficiently gained through low intensity stimulus than cycling (i.e., 4 hours of running per week is a lot, even low intensity, compared to 4 hours of cycling at low intensity), and you can keep up the mileage if you have a great run base - just gotta check the ego at the door and keep it all easy. If things are going well with absorbing the cycling intensity, throwing in some tempo 1x week or every other week will help keep the run fitness ready to go.

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My reference to sweet spot and threshold is meant to address this. Low intensity miles (Z1 and Z2) are not an efficient use of the limited time that @Squats4Watts can allocate on the bike and anaerobic (Z5 and Z6, depending on your #ing) cost too much.

FWIW: I was a high school and collegiate competitive swimmer. Of all the 3 activities, based on my experience, swimming is tops for efficient aerobic conditioning with the least bodily impact (provided one has the technique mastered). Depending on @Squats4Watts skill level, he could knock off 2.5-4K yards (~2300-3700 meters) in an hour and develop a huge aerobic base. Triathlons are not swimmer’s specialties (hence why I would not do one), but efficient swimmers can benefit enormously in other activities (as I have experienced in my cycling).

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I don’t really have any input to this. But I do find myself in a similar position or at least I feel that way. In reality I probably don’t have the sleep/recovery and nutrition nailed down.

I completely get what is said about although the numbers don’t seem to be going anywhere (FTP / W/KG) out on the roads I feel more capable.

I plan to do a high volume block of the ‘maintainance’ plan later in the year before switching to a polarised base plan in the winter to switch up things

I will be watching this thread with interest for any advice

One of the earliest findings of sports science is that endurance performance scales with the number of hours. Its one of the most fundamental findings to help guide training.

FWIW my own data shows that fundamental fact:

(15-16 season starts last Monday of August. My guesstimate for 2014, 2015, and 15-16 is based on HR data and a strong power-to-HR relatioship across the years, I’m closing out my fifties within weeks and fighting age related declines)

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People who swam as kids and especially through college have a massive advantage here. It isn’t so much the wear and tear on the body, as the time overhead associated with swimming. Adult onset folks need lots of yards/pool time, if nothing else to build up enough fatigue resistance to not screw the pooch on the bike and run - I’ve had races where my swim times were not much slower on low swim fitness, but my bike and runs were hugely impacted. The problem with that is that with swimming - unless you have a pool in your backyard - it is the highest time overhead of the three sports. It is just a PITA to get to a pool compared to hopping on my trainer or lacing my shoes up and going for a run.

People with a swim background can do almost no swimming and get in the water and be FOP. On a time crunched schedule, that’s huge!

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Same, poor sleep (chronic insomnia) and bad eating habits definitely play a part in my lack of FTP gains, but I feel good on the road.

I did a ramp test two days ago to commence a new training plan but I think it will be my last test, I’ll just rely on AT to get me through the plan. Hoping estimated FTP will be released before my next scheduled ramp test.

Yep!

Here is my weekly TSS from the last 4 years. The big spike in 2019 is the tail end of just me focusing on bike fitness. Since then I’ve gotten smarter about training and hit a little higher fitness, but that big bump and subsequent smaller bumps always correlate with highest fitness levels.

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Yep, a little hard to see the forest thru the trees with that chart, but yeah its mostly about volume and consistency.

Once volume/consistency are in place (or fixed), only then does fine tuning what you do enter the conversation. For example my 2021-2022 training is far easier than 16-17 (more endurance, fewer intervals) but hours/week is the same and all fitness metrics (FTP, VO2max, W/kg, 5-sec power, 30-sec power, 2-min power, 4-min power, 10-min power, 30-min power, etc. etc.) are showing roughly equivalent fitness.

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