Anyone over 50 at 4 watt/kg? Can I make it? (Long)

First off, thanks trainer road for the great product and podcast.

Alright, 4 watts/kg is my goal for next year, but I have heard over and over that about 3.5 is the top end for cyclist over 50. I have stayed in shape most of my life and have really yet to see my age as a limiter, but I can’t help but be curious of others results.

I know that everyone says that your FTP is just a number, but it is one of the easier ways to measure progress, and I am using this as my goal.

I just started cycling in February of this year and the vast majority of my time has been on the trainer. I do typically ride outside on Saturdays, but even then I am doing a Trainerroad workout.

I turned 54 in September. I am 5’8” 145lb and probably at about 10% bf, so I don’t have a lot to loose, but think that I can probably shed 2 pounds which will get me to an even 65kg. I have always stayed in decent shape, but the worst shape that I have ever been in was probably just prior to starting cycling. Not overweight, still eating clean, just not in great shape.

I have been weight lifting on and off, mostly on, since junior high, so I am carrying more upper body muscle than most and I could probably loose a few pounds there, though I prefer not to, but I will if it puts me over the edge.

I started with zwift and my first ride was a 20 minute ftp test where I scored a 130. I know that since this was my first attempt that is probably wasn’t very accurate, but that is where I started.

From there I did the four week ftp booster, back to back, four times. Of course now I know that this was not smart, but just the same, that is what I did.

Then I found trainer road. I started SSBMV1 with an FTP of 207 and at the end I did a ramp test and ended up with an FTP of 211. I moved on to SSBMV2 and at the end my ramp test again put me at 211, so no change. A little disappointed, but I knew that the build section was really where the gains were seen and I could tell on the road that I was definitely a faster cyclist regardless of what my FTP showed.

I just completed the first four weeks of short power build mv and did a ramp test today. I upped my FTP to 219, (3.33 w/kg.) I think that I could have done a little better, but I read a thread on here yesterday titled “Ramp Test Anxiety?” and I think that it got me a little psyched out. lol

I would love to hit 3.5 w/kg at the end of my next section of the short power build, but I know that this is optimistic, as I would have to increase my ftp by another 11 points.

I have always eaten really clean, but I had not been keeping up with my calories or macros during the base phase, but since starting build, I have measured and counted every bite that I put in my mouth. I have learned since doing this that I wasn’t getting enough calories during the base phase and that probably cost me a couple of watts.

I do train in the mornings at 5:00am, this is my only option and I do find it hard to get more than about 6-7 hours of sleep a night. I see this as my biggest limiter and I know that it can be a big one.

My question is can I make it to 4 w/kg and how many guys in their 50s are there?

I know that some are going to ask what my cycling goals are and right now they are simply to make it to 4.0 w/kg. I have never raced, I probably will next year, but right now winning a race is not my goal.

I have read Joe Friel’s Fast after 50 and learned a lot, but I feel like his advice lines up pretty well with Chad’s ssb and short power build.

I’m really interested in the experience and comments of those who are over 50.

Thanks everyone for the great forum.

Pat

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Depending on which powermeters I believe in*, I’m either 4.78 (PM on bike 1), or 4.92 (PMs on bike 2 and 3). I’m going to be 53 in a few weeks.

I’ve been riding since I was 14, but I think that within 5 years, you could get to 4 w/kg. You need the intensity that TR programs provide, but to reach your genetic potential you also need as much low intensity volume as you can adapt from, or that fits in your time availability.

If after a couple of years, you can move from MV to HV plans, that’s the ticket – along with consistency, consistency, consistency in training.

*(higher is always truer! except when it isn’t!)

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There are a couple of guys in our club that are 60+ and over 4 W/kg. I’m jealous :wink:

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Thanks Robert.
That’s strong. I’m not a real patient guy, so I’m going to listen to all that you said except for the 5 years. lol
Adding volume is tough. I own a business with multiple locations spread out across the south, so I am pretty time constrained. In fact, I have neglected my travel over the last few months because it was interfering with my training. lol
But maybe in the next couple of years

Yes. And yes I think 4 is doable for many over 50. At least many I roll with are well over 4.
Around 5 is where the hitters play from my experience.

History combined with genetics is number 1. A reliable and accurate PM is a must imo.
Consistency yet, knowing when to stay off the bike is an art. Sound contradictory but, they go together.

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Yes, and no. I’ve been a powertap user for a long time – since 2003 – and I’ve seen wheelsets that all pass the factor spec be as much as 20w apart from each other. I used to static test them, but that’s not really possible now without the LYC (little yellow computer) that gave you raw torque readings.

Progress is the thing. When I go out on The Snot Rocket (my green EVO), then 90% of FTP means 315w. Now, is that a real 315? It agrees with the wheel on The Black Beast, my old track bike that sits on the trainer. It doesn’t agree with the wheel on Muley Graves (a used '14 High Mod), or the carbon wheel I use for racing, both of which read about 4% lower (which suggests that maybe they are on the -2% end, and maybe the other two are on the +2% end). If I only had one PM, would I even care?

For me, if the different gizmos are all showing higher numbers through training cycles, ok, it doesn’t matter whether I’m “really” 5 w/kg or not. I look at hill times for fitness, and race placings for, you know, actual performance…

I always refer back to Nate’s comment in this thread (#123) to motivate myself.


The relevant section for males over 50

Edit: Also mentioned by others that TR users are a self selecting group and there is a bias towards people who are willing to train and be faster. It tends to skew higher in regards to higher w/kg when you compare to the average cyclist.

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I’m sure you can make it. Consistent adherence to the plan and high volume outdoor in the first few years of cycling was the key for me

I’m 56 next week, 69-70kg and normally around 284 FTP this year, which is a little bit over 4 w/kg.

I took up cycling about 5 years ago after my knees didn’t like recreational running anymore. Started training 3.5 years ago

Luckily no 5 w/kg hitters in my patch :pray:

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Based on your weight and BF% I say you will make it if you are disciplined and patient. Don’t get burned out chasing that FTP goal and eventually you will be there.

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Thanks everyone!

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I’ve been reading Training for the Uphill Athlete,


which while not cycling specific goes into great detail about the types of adaptations that occur when you are training at low, moderate, and high intensities. One of the main takeaways from the first 100 pages is that the type of high level adaptations that are often desired only result after years of training and effort, not months.

I’d recommend the book - I’d be curious to hear from @chad - Has he read any bits of it? It feels so data driven to me, but then again, I’m not a coach or a sports scientist.

yep. high intensity can raise the 4mmol FTP ceiling, but only as high as the 2mmol AeT floor will allow. That’s where patience and volume come into the picture.

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I hit 3.83 last indoor season at 51 but stopped TR once the weather got nice enough to be outside. If I can get my butt on the bike I am not stopping until I hit 4 this season. I’m starting later but also starting from a higher FTP initially.

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So once I get done with this last build phase should I go back and start over at ssbmv1?

I’m 51 and hit 4.1 w/kg last year. It was the first time in my life to hit 4.0. FTP was 305 @ 165 lbs. I’ve had that kind of power before, but not at that weight. It was the first time I’ve done serious vo2 work in many years and I added about 20 watts to my FTP very quickly during my build. It made me a believer in Friel’s focus on intensity for the 50+ crowd.

I’ve already started a “double peak” plan for my A race in August. My goal is 320 ftp @ 162 (4.35w/kg) and my stretch goal is 330 @ 160 (4.5 w/kg). I don’t know if either of those are possible, but I just completed my own version of SSBHV1 and my recent ramp test was 303 (almost my high from last year). It will interesting see if I can mentally and physically hold up for another 9 months. I figure I’m not getting any younger and now is the time to test my limits.

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That’s good info.
When you say that “it was the first time that you have done any real vo2 work in many years”. Was that through the standard TR build phase or did you modify it?

I think that I am at a disadvantage just starting compared to those who have been cycling and building a base for years. I still think that it is doable.

I modify the TR plans. For build, I used the high volume sustained build plan as my base and used the Tuesday/Thursday workouts from those plans. For me, I can only really handle 2 days of hard v02 max intervals per week (mentally as much as physically). Saturdays are always a long outdoor ride where I try to get around 300tss and shoot for 60-90 minutes at threshold or higher and a bunch of tempo work. Fridays and Sundays are mostly filler work to make sure I’m at least getting the target TSS for the week, but I was usually exceeding it. The meat of the v02 work is really just 2 days per week and I made sure those were quality days. Those intervals suck so bad for me, but they really produced results.

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Man I don’t hate the intervals so bad if they are 90 minutes or under, but anything over 90 minutes on the trainer are torture to me.

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I admire anyone who can do a 3-8 minute zone 5 interval indoors.

I haven’t done that for 9 years – I can’t wrap my head around that anymore.

I try stuff like 10 x 2:00 on :30 rest, but no mas on 4 minutes at 120%!

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I’m 55, 5’8".

Currently
261 @ 154lb = 3.75w/kg

Target for April 2020 (when I’ll be 56)
271 @ 149lb = 4.00w/kg

For most of us I reckon losing a few lbs is easier than adding watts to our FTP. Will power vs hard work and suffering!

My wife will be giving me a hard time for being “boring” when the proper healthy eating kicks in. :rofl:

Currently I’m allowing myself sweet treats but I’m alcohol free in November and will do December 01 to 23 with no alcohol or processed sugar. I’ve published it now, so I have to stick to it!

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