Are your gains linear or in 'fits and starts'?

This has been a topic of discussion during some of the podcasts & I’m intrigued by it. What is everybody’s experience? Do your gains come in a linear fashion or do you work away for many weeks with no detectable gains then have a whopper of a gain at some point?

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For the higher volume that I’ve been doing for the past year, it took around 9 months and multiple blocks targeting the same system to see the substantial increase that you might expect. I’d get small increases at the various durations, but then finally got a bit of rest and then boom.





pretty much the same here (started traditional base in Sept 19), although I’m not doing anywhere near the volume as Steve.

In the last 90 days I’ve seen a lot of power PRs vs 2018/2019, here is 2018 comparison:

And 2017 was high water mark for me, with newbie gains and a lot of volume training for a double century. Right now my FTP is 260 and in 2017 it hit 280, and yet I’m already starting to see power PRs vs 2017:

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One year of TR, no gains so far :frowning: …guess that means its not linear at least…

‘Fits and Starts’ for sure.

I have never seen a big (10+ watt) increase, regardless of which phase or workload volume I’m in. What I do tend to see is my body quickly becoming accustomed to the type of work I’m doing. I’m not complaining as this works really well for me. It has enabled me to work on my RPE and I’ve got pretty good at gauging which zone I’m working in and how it feels.

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Small gains at the start of the plan, 3 watts, when i got 1 watt after 6 weeks… i thought must be something else, sleep, recovery … But, then 9 watts, 13 watts, then another 11 watts… That was the resut of doing TR 5 times a week for 6 months, no breaks, no failed session. Even on the tough days… Hurt it out. Just waiting for the races to start again.


I love that WKO chart so simple…

Same here, small gains and then boom… Typically after a rest period which I should probably do more often.

Hitting the bike again next week after 3 weeks off from surgery so it’ll be interesting to see how things go!


@splash I don’t think it’s an indictment of you or TrainerRoad if, after a year of consistent and diligent use produced no gains, we say it’s not working for you. Try something new. Yikes. Not every training regime works for every athlete.

Oh, I’m not blaming Trainerroad, I’ve learned a lot of useful things and it seems to be working well for a lot of people. But I have to admit that I can’t help being a bit frustrated that I myself don’t seem to make any real measurable progress. I am actually trying to change it up by doing more volume again outside, I was going to do that a few months ago, but covid but a stop to it.

I’d say I’m more linear- that being said, i’m fortunate to be in a position where I can maintain my training load very consistently.
I’m also a younger/newer rider, so it will be interesting to see if that pattern continues once the gains become a little harder to come by.


First year of TR was 104 watt gain (July 2018 - July 2019: noob gains). Second year so far I’m only back to July 2019 FTP. Will see what the next couple months brings.

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Neither unfortunately!

Not linear, but at 45yo and with nearly 30 years of training fairly consistently for various endurance sports, my days of getting a “whopper of a gain” are also in the dim and distant past. My FTP tends to stay in a fairly narrow ~20W range which tracks my training volume over a period of several months. I.e. Getting to the top of that range requires ~10hours/week of good quality training over several months. The good news is that those decades of training allow me to stay around the bottom of that range with a fairly minimal maintenance plan. Adding more volume beyond 10 hours/week doesn’t really bump the FTP any higher but does give other improvements e.g. I recover from hard efforts more quickly, I’m stronger at the end of long rides, etc.

I can make noticeable improvements in specific fitness in a shorter timeframe (4-6 weeks) by focusing on a particular part of the power curve e.g. shorter power for crits, or TTE at threshold for a TT. But usually to the detriment of other aspects of my fitness. So at this point in my life it’s more about maintaining the fitness I’ve got and fine tuning it towards target events, rather than making big fitness gains.


Not linear for me too. Increase almost stagnated in 2018 (5-6watts). But last year i added 20 watts and this year also 15 watts up on the LV plans. I’m a TR users since 2016 and loving it.

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Interesting, most people seem to see the opposite, bigger gains in the beginning. Did you change anything from the approach in the first year?

Didnt change a lot. Trying to follow the plan but i’m flexible. The first 1.5 year i also had some gains (30w or so). But since 2019 i’m getting better/fitter. For me the key is to stay consistent, it always takes a lot of time for my body to respond.

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Same for me and I’m 47.

Normally have dip post season maybe -20w on ftp and small dip mid session, holidays / easing off a bit before ending the season strong. Gains are small while in a block or two or training but then by design or being force to significantly reduce training stress for a few weeks its PBs galore.

Overall ftp hits about the same high (although +5w this year for the first time in 5 years) but as the years roll on, I can maintain a higher percentage of ftp for longer hours at a time i.e 3 - 5 hours

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With an R² = 0.974 I would say my gains are shockingly linear. Slow but steady.

EDIT: after a quick check, a logarithmic trend line fits even closer with R² = 0.994… which, I guess, means my gains are actually slowly leveling off :sob:


I will have a much better picture at the end of next season after 2 years of working with TR (planned), but in general in comparison to last year (where I had no real proper structured training) I kind of have it in a linear-ish fashion (minus the winter dip, though that was 8 weeks fully of the bike).

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In my experience, it depends on what system I am training. In base when I am almost exclusively in Z2+3 I see gradual improvement in long power (2+hrs) then when I start to add in more tempo and VO2 I will see the 1-2 hour range come up. This all without any meaningful change in FTP. Then as I try to maintain volume in Z2 while swapping my tempo work for SS/Threshold and start to push my VO2 intervals longer I got an almost immediate bump across the board. It took two months of hard work without any intermediate gain and required an extra half week of recovery after the second month. Now training with my new FTP I am getting all time PB’s and feel like I have “momentum” in my training (feels like more gains are on their way).

TLDR: I worked for 8 months to get a 5% FTP bump with no intermediate gains in FTP but constant improvement in other durations.

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