Best training plan to raise FTP?

I am getting back into cycling after being off for about 3 years. My goals this year focus on getting back into shape and increasing my FTP. I may sneak in a race or two later in the year but raising my FTP is the focus for 2020.

Which training plan would be best suited to raising FTP (steady state? Road race rolling hills, etc)

Thanks!

SS base 1 then 2 and then build

There are several build plan options. Which build program?

Do your first two base periods first.

If you don’t have specific goals that contradict it, the general build covers general situations. Sustained power is good if you’re worried about FTP because you want to go long.

Really, building FTP by itself is not a very goal-oriented plan. Better to have a clue of what sort of riding you want to do. And if you don’t have a specific idea in mind, just stay generic.

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I would say SPB - it’s the one I use as a time triallist - although I modify it…lots of over unders/super threshold and VO2 max…hurts though - especially anything at 108% FTP - these are quite long and so tough. VO2 is a higher power but mercifully much shorter!

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FTP will increase over time so long as you can be consistent in your training.

Subject to your fitness level coming in, you should do some form of base work be it Steady State / Sweet Spot or a form of traditional long n slow base. Without that then your gains will not be the best they could be.

Once you get through base and if all you want to do is pump up that FTP then look at the MTB specialty plan for Gravity (downhill and Enduro). This is pretty much all VO2 work and only 8 weeks long. Then move into a build plan.

If you want to gradually pull up your FTP, then follow the base build specialty order.

I was happy with the results from SSBMV2+SSBHV1+SPBMV.

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I’d like to point out that SPB could be either Sustained or Short Power Build.

Many people believe the best Base Build for FTP is SSB1&2 - Sustained Power Build. Chad has said on previous podcasts that a lot of people could benefit from simply doing Base then Sustained Power until 4W/kg before specializing.

All that said, the answer to this question is, “whichever plan you will stick to with great compliance and consistency,”

I would start with Sweet Spot Base 1 and 2 and then pick whichever Build looks interesting… then I’d go back and do Sweet Spot Base 1 and 2 again, then another build and then see where you’re at.

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A friend of mine told me to try base then short power and repeat. I’m not a racer I do enjoy riding with friends. Just wanna increase my FTP as well.

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I’ve done all three build plans now, and saw bigger gains from General and Short Power than Sustained. That’s probably because short power is something I haven’t historically trained in the past, thus I’ve got room to grow there. YMMV based on your background and training lifetime.

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My hypothesis, and I’m going to admit up front I have zero evidence / studies to back this up :grin:, is that for most people, the actual plan focus doesn’t matter. What matters is:

  • Compliance to the plan
  • That the plan ramps volume / TSS over time
  • The plan has appropriate for you a doable active to rest work ratio - e.g., 3 weeks active : 1 week rest, 2:1, 4:1

It is only as you get towards your genetic potential / or if you “A” event has specific requirements (e.g., cross / crit racing where being able to go over your threshold repeatedly and recover is important) that plan design really matters. I think too many of us (and I’m putting myself in this bucket) act like we need to optimize our training to get the last 1% - 5% improvement, instead of being honest and saying we still have 20% - 50% (or more) improvement if we would just do the basics:

  • High plan compliance year round
  • Don’t use a vanity FTP number - realize it’s better to use a slightly low number for FTP than a slightly high number for setting training zones
  • Eat well
  • Sleep enough / be mindful about recovery
  • Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum
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Assuming consistency, the biggest factors are volume and intensity. A lot of evidence for pyramidal and polarized intensity distributions will deliver better results. So do more hours of aerobic endurance than anything else.

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Two observations:

  1. Assuming consistency: I think this is a key assumption. My hypothesis is that for most of us, consistency is really the driving factor in improvement. Followed by an appropriate ramp / overload rate. And that plan type is a distant third. And that too many of us aren’t really consistent. Which is why I’m really hoping that TR introduces a robust “consistency” metric.
  2. I would challenge the “a lot of evidence” part, given that all of the studies I’ve seen have very small sample sizes and very short duration. Plus the metrics that most of the studies I’ve see use (e.g., TTE, VO2 max) aren’t very robust / shown to correlate with actual performance. Anything short of ~100 people per training methodology randomly assigned for less than 2 years is garbage (yes, that is a strong word). You can’t figure out if training style A is better than B with small groups for short periods of time. The issue with short duration studies is that a specific training methodology might produce a better short term benefit for the metric you are looking at, but performance gains could easily fizzle out over the longer term

With platforms like TR / Swift / Strava / TrainingPeaks it should be possible to run very large studies for long periods of time relatively inexpensively. But this would require researchers to get away from certain biases (e.g., studies need to be done in the lab, measurement has to be “gold standard”, etc.), and learn to adapt to very large cohorts with noise (e.g., my power meter might not be perfectly accurate).

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Yes but with large enough sample size noise dissappears. Of course I am now talking about useful data and not another study for more points from scientist :wink:

Honestly if TR could perform analysis on the level of WKO, create smaller buckets for types of riders and their PDC and then adjust the plan to their needs (with ability to choose work on the strengths or weaknesses) it would be more than enough for every user.

Believe what you want? Impossible standards you’ve set for a study. I’ve experimented a good bit, and wasn’t consistent this spring but blew away 2018 and 2019 TR SSB base results. Pyramidal training works in my experience. I have base plans from 3 different well known coaching companies and they are all pyramidal with a lot of aerobic endurance.

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Please correct me if I’m wrong but seems like I remember a podcast talking about your ceiling.
I think I remember them saying “ sustained “ trains you to work at your ceiling and “ short power ( VO2 ) trains you to break your ceiling. So it seems like this combo might work for increasing FTP.
SSB 1&2 then sustained
then the next round would be
SSB 1&2 then short power

Repeat this until you achieve your goal

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Any

Just my N=1 for curiosity and comparison.

I’m doing a bit of an adapted program at the moment. Focus on FTP but also TTE and a bit of VO2 peaking for a few weeks around Christmas.

TR General Build HV - 1hr endurance sessions swapped out longer ones.

After that, 3 weeks of Zone 2 (sweet spot) but with progression sessions that I’ve designed or the ones from the More Sweet Spot group on TR. Also included 1 x over under session a week at 90/105% FTP.

Endurance low TSS week after that.

After that 3 weeks of Polarized training with VO2 sessions I’ve made on the TR workout creator. Works out to be 85% Zone 1, 5% Zone 2 and 10% Zone 3 in the block.

Endurance low TSS week after that which leads into the Christmas break and the two week period that I’m targeting.

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