Baby Step to higher FTP?

So I was thinking about how you don’t realize when your kids grow in front of your eyes because it happens so slowly on a daily basis yet you can notice the difference when you see the pics from a year or two ago. Then I wondered why I can’t do the same thing with my FTP?
I was thinking that you can raise your FTP every 1st of the month by 1-2 watts. The difference in the workout is insignificant and negligible. A 1 watt increase would amount to 0 difference in endurance and 1 watt increase in target of SS and higher. Really, that’s not even remotely in the realm of error rate of the power meter. 2W increase is the same.
By doing the plans that you do, and doing the workouts with fidelity, one can increase the ftp by 1-2W each month. At the end of the year, that would amount to 12-24W increase.
The caveat would be that you can’t increase the FTP if you get sick for a week or can’t finish your workouts more than 90% of the time. This would also bypass the incremental jumps of ftp where for 2-3 weeks after a new higher ftp, you struggle with the big jumps in target power.

Is there a reason not to do it this way? What is the flaw in the logic? Or did I just have an epiphany?

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First problem, assuming you are following a TrainerRoad plan, is that progression in workout intensity and/or duration is already part of the programs. There is already a ramp rate from week to week, set with the foundation of testing your FTP on the designated start of each plan (as well as within some plans that span 8 weeks).

The ramp rate is planned by Coach Chad from his research and experience, with an aim to adding the “right” amount of stress over time to drive the desired adaptations. Adding more stress (via bumping FTP manually) on top of the existing ramp in stress, may lead to more stress than intended.

It is all variable, but you are suggesting a change that may well be counter to the plans in place.


performance increases are NEVER linear. they may seem so. but never are.


This MAY work with a programme which is just SS/endurance like SSBHV1/2 or traditional base (although I wouldn’t fancy Tallach+4 at the end of HV2 with a marginal FTP). BUT it is a recipe for disaster with the MV/LV plans where there is a lot of o/u and VO2 max work - I did some incremental FTP increases last year on HV - this year on MV (11 hours/week made me ill!) I wouldn’t go near McAdie/Palisade/Fang Moutain +2 with a bumped FTP - let alone Mary Austin/Leconte/Spencer+2 …recipe for an absolute melt down I would suggest! :face_vomiting:

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The bump in ftp is so small that it wouldn’t be the factor in the failed workout.

Let’s say your FTP is 200 for simplicity sake.
70% is 140W
90% is 180W
120% is 240W

Bumping it 201 or 202 would give target powers of 141, 181, and 240. That’s hardly a change at all. The training load difference is almost 0 in the short term.

  • OK, devil’s advocate, if it’s so small to prevent failure, is it even enough to provide gains?

As mentioned above, we are not machines and do not necessarily respond in a direct and linear fashion. The change you are suggesting is smaller than the tolerance range of many power measuring devices, not to mention the greater variability that we have in our pure existence (food, sleep, stress, etc.).

I just see it as more work than the potential return, if you look at the broader picture. This is not “simple math” in the sense that more always equals better and the input equals the gains. The research into things like ramp rates and progression are far more complex than “add a little all the time”.

I’m not saying it can’t work, because maybe it might for some people. But I highly doubt it’s the holy grail of training that we are all missing.

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I have asked this very same question myself, then I settle on this:

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I actually do this but my increase is by 3 watts and it has worked. Mary Austin etc have been tough but they would have been anyway.

The reason I tried it was the ramp test can be a lottery depending on heat, whether you are fed and watered correctly and I had seen improvements from 3 watts to 14 watts. The 6 weeks after the big improvement were very unpleasant.

I came from a strength training background and we added 5 pound for small lifts and 10 for the big lifts per month and by the end of the year the improvement was a lot of weight so same theory on the bike.

Just try it and see if it works for you. Nothing is set in stone and there is no right or wrong.

Hope this makes sense.


Fair points - if it is only a watt or 2 then it won’t make any difference - if it is 4 or 5 that is quite enough to put you in the red zone if you are above threshold.

The whole point is that you don’t notice a difference. But when you look back at the end of the year, your ftp is about 20W higher.

The reason I thought of this, is that for the past 2 years my ftp has been stuck between 260-270ish. Just like @Sneaky said above, I can’t tell if the ramp test result was because I wasn’t physically optimal or too tired, or stress or no motivation to suffer an extra minute, etc.

I’m gonna give this a try and see how it goes.


Please report back. Could be interesting to hear the results.


Linear progressions work for some sports for some period of time. Typically for people early in their training journey when gains come fairly quickly and max testing is not reliable. In part because testing is a skill in itself and partly because ability (strength and skill) is changing rapidly so the estimate is outdated rapidly.

At some point you run out of head room or plateau on linear plans. In Weightlifting that is where you move to different forms of programming to find new gains. Typically those gains are smaller in magnitude and take longer to achieve. Similar to what happens in endurance sport strangely enough.

In cycling, if you follow good programming, like trainer road, you are already increasing work by adding time at specific intensities week to week and resetting the targets (hopefully higher) with each 6 to 8 week block and each new test. For example the Vo2 Tuesday’s progression in SSBMV2 or the over/under Saturday’s in SSB1.

Adding small additions of 2 watts is well within the error of the power meter or trainer so probably not helpful (compared to micro plates Or the 2.5 pound plates in weightlifting).

That said… perhaps some are over reliant on test days while others feel they have an FTP underestimate. There is nothing wrong with bumping up your targets to see if you can hit them. Nothing wrong At all with giving it a go and seeing if it works for you. Report back with results!!



As others have said, let us know how you get on. Would be good to hear back in 3/4 months time :+1:

I started this exact thing in June. I have raised my FTP by one every two weeks. Have followed the high volume SS and Base plans with adjustments for weekdays when the ride is more that 90 minutes. Goal event is in May so currently in SS base 2 and will do sustained build and century plan. Started at 284 and hopefully will be at 308 for the event. Currently at 299 which is higher that I was at the event last year. I do not like testing so I periodically do Lamarck to make sure everything is on track. It might not be the most optimal way, but I have enjoyed the slow steady approach. I am 55, 6"6"" and 201 pounds, not the ideal makeup for a fast rider so I am only competing with myself.


Just wanted to update on the progress.

January started at 260W. Started retraining after recovery from my IM in Nov. workouts were tough but didn’t do anything crazy. Got going at the end of the month.

February 263W- the first 2 weeks I was doing fine and then I got very sick. I think i had covid when I think back to the symptoms. One of the weeks was rough but then I did some aerobic stuff.

March 265W- the 1st week I was recovering from illness. Workouts felt tough but I didn’t fail any of them.

April 267- really started to get my legs under me. Lots of riding and started to feel pretty good and workouts started to feel easy towards the end of the month.

May 270W- went up 3W and did McAdie yesterday followed by an hour at 160w. 270 matches the highest ftp I’ve ever had. I did test once at 273 but I couldn’t do the workouts afterwards so had to adjust it back down. But I am confident that this microloading method will work


I had to restart my workout plan exactly because of what @Sneaky pointed out. Big jumps in ftp (even when I dilute them in 2 or 3 weeks) are my main cause of failure.

I did a bike detox, reseted my plan, retested (-11 Watts), and I’m adding 1 watt (0.3% of my ftp) a week or two.
Currently on week 3 of the plan, I’ll see how it feels and try to recognise the signs before overreaching my ftp. Also if I test a lower ftp I’ll accept that value, if higher I’ll keep my weekly progression - no more ftp bumps! And if they happen are negative which makes things easier = more plan compliance.

I’ll probably have to re-think when I reach the building phase, but at least I’ll reach it with a proper aerobic base which a felt I was missing.

My question for those with more knowledge of training and physiology follows this line of thought:

  • FTP is a functional estimate of power output that occurs around MLSS (maximal lactate steady state)
  • Workouts based on training zones based on FTP target certain power zones to elicit a certain physiological training load, response and adaptation.
  • Testing with a ramp test, 8 min test, 20 min test, etc. are used to estimate FTP.

Since your FTP in TR is an estimate power output at MLSS, then manually raising (or lowering) your FTP in TR without testing could eventually lead to your TR FTP differing enough from your ‘real FTP’ that the workouts no longer elicit the desired physiological response and adaptations. For example, if your TR FTP is too high, then a threshold workout might be at 105% of your ‘real FTP’ and that workout is really more of a long interval VO2 session. A SS workout might be closer to 100% of your ‘real FTP’ and thus more of a threshold workout. Thoughts?

For me, FTP increases aren’t linear and raising my FTP in TR would eventually push the power target in workouts outside of the zone that would produce the desired training load and adaptations.

All correct. There’s nothing wrong with raising FTP manually periodically, I certainly do it, but performance improvements aren’t linear. I think at some point your FTP should be testable, whether in one of the formats mentioned or a race or hard sustained effort/climb. If you manually raise your FTP by 1W each week and never test and now you’ve got a 300W FTP but can only sustain 260 in a 40KTT, you’re doing a disservice to yourself, risking injury, burnout, or simply undermining actual progess. Over a long enough period, the manual adjustments should be based on something, and backed up by successful performance of very challenging workouts intended to be done at or above threshold.

Most experienced athletes know their bodies well enough to manage it by feel; the challenge is when ego gets involved and all objectivity is lost.


So I am raising it 1-3W per month. The whole idea is that the ftp bumps are so small that are not palpable Monty to month. Only when stepping back to look at the overall year can you see a big leap. Adjusting the ftp is higher (Or lower), can be done by someone who is experienced. Probably the most common scenario for that would be someone coming off a big layoff or injury where you test lower but the gains come back quickly.
However that is not the goal or the intention of the baby step program I’m doing. The idea person to try this is someone who has been doing TR for a several years and have plateaued their FTP gains and are just seesawing between about 10-15W of FTP. In order to do this, the most necessary component is consistently working out every week. Long SS workouts, Vo2’s, over/unders, long tempos, And long rides are pretty much on a weekly template. And for the most part of your hitting your workouts abd staying consistent, that’s the best assurance that your ftp Is pretty much at the right place.

About to do something similar.

Over the last few months I’ve established I gain a consistent 4-6 watts every 4 weeks.

Don’t think I’ve ever not completed a workout and yes the workouts do ramp up slowly of course but I get through them just fine.

What often bakes my noodle is could I be doing a little more and getting a little extra benefit from each workout?

My plan going forward is to add 1 watt to my ftp each week and see how it goes.

Im hoping this results in a teeny-tiny extra 2 or 3 watts in my next ramp test, which is obviously miniscule but playing the long game that would mean an extra 20-30 watts per year.

Should probably state for clarity I’m a relative beginner with only 2 years on a bike.