With all the Covid-19 situation, my country in complete lockdown (not even outdoor solo activities allowed) and no races in sight I’m thinking of setting a different kind of goal, a metric goal if you wish: raise FTP to XXX Watts. Here come the questions:
With 64kg, a current FTP of 262W (4.1 W/kg), a history of 3 years racing half-IM races (average-low level… 5:15h) and a season preparing Cape Epic 2020 (a.k.a. the race that never happened) with a coach raising my FTP from 236 to 262 in 6 months:
(1) Is it realistic to set “FTP=300W before 31 dec 2020” as a goal?
(2) Which is the best path to follow? From previous posts I’ve read, it seems that Sweet Spot Base + Sustained Power Build is the recipe. But, when should I add planned periods of none to very low cycling? (It is impossible to maintain fitness all year round). I’m currently in week 5 of SSBMV1 after 2 weeks of tapering for non-Cape Epic
“The best way to rise your FTP is to ride at FTP”
Is it realistic? Nobody knows. For me Sustained Power Base did not improved FTP, 3x week threshold work improved FTP, TTE and stamina. But maybe VO2 max is you celling. Maybe try SSB and then VO2 max block + block of threshold riding as a build phase.
As a vanity metric, where everything is scaled around FTP, you have to be good at everything for it to be meaningful. Thus, your focus should be on your weaknesses, because that’s likely what’s holding you back.
As a 40-70 min power metric, your focus would instead be on Sustained Power + 40K TT.
The first thing to think about is what type of events you want to do in the future are. Then think of what the demands are. Your ftp is certainly decent yes it could be better but I dont think it would be your biggest weakness in a race. Have you done a power profile test, that would be for more beneficial than raising your ftp then working on your power profile curve. Nobody wins just because they have a high ftp it’s more to do with your 1 minute and 5 minutes effort. There are more goal than just ftp to do
If I were you I would just be focusing on consistency of training, regardless of the plan you choose. Your FTP shouldn’t be the focus. Chasing a number, and especially using an inflated FTP to set training levels is a great way to burn out.
I won’t say it’s impossible, but from my experience, going from low 4 to close to 5wkg requires quite a bit of training volume executed consistently. Once you get over 4 the gains typically slow down and over 4.5 it seems to get very challenging for a lot of people I know.
What are your splits for your HIM? With that wattage, you should be breaking 5 hours. I weigh a bit more than you, have similar FTP. I am a crap swimmer and OK runner (~1:40 run split) but have gotten under 5.
I’d look at your position and equipment as well, not just your FTP. Since you are on complete lockdown, working on your swim and run will probably be difficult, though (unless you Abe a treadmill)
So I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t focus on a specific number as it’s a vanity thing, as I decided to be in the same boat as you for this year. Same scenario I’m focusing this year to bump my level as much as I can. Some focus on FTP, some on W/kg, nothing bad in that in my opinion if it will help you get faster and fitter.
Anyways, looking at it differently, starting of with a baseline 236 you will need to increase your FTP by 27% (in total) to hit 300. That is a lot in a year - but 100% doable, so it might be touch and go and will definitely be influenced by your genes first and foremost. Consistency in your training, a good diet and a good recovery will be key as well so you will need to nail that down as well. Myself I found that magnesium shots aid with recovery, pop one before going to bed after a hard evening workout and my legs are so much fresher the next morning. Don’t know, might help you as well
Also, being 64 kg you will have it easier if you gain a bit of weight if you are focusing on raw power and not W/kg. Fat guys like myself have it easier in this respect
When it comes to plans, I would say focus on all sides of the spectrum. If your vo2 is holding you back then there will be no point in hammering sustained power. Go for a broader approach, it will also help you be more responsive in all situations during races.
As en example, myself I decided to go this way…
SSB MV1 > SSB MV2 > General Build MV (currently) > SSB MV2 (really enjoyed this block, varied in the workouts, did give me a nice FTP boost so I will do it again) > Short Power Build MV > after that I don’t know yet
You and I are very similar metric-wise. My FTP is currently at 270 watts and my weight at 65 kilos. This places me also at 4.1 watts per kilo.
My goal for this year is to hit 290 to 300 watts. My way to go about it is to repeatedly cycle through SSBHV1+2/HDTBMV (added volume) and SPBMV (added volume). Running is down to 1.5 to 3 hours per week. Swimming even lower.
My January baseline was 260 watts. So this approach has already earned me 10 watts. Presumably, another 5 watts by the end of next week. So I figure it should be doable. Only question mark for me is the addition of a team member in July. Anyway, not knowing about your personal life inluences and constraints, I figure it should be doable.
I will only focus on the goal setting part, I’m not qualified for the number crunching and plan setting.
I think a valid thing to do in goal setting is differentiating the process from the outcome.
You are in control of the process, you can train consistently, and at a certain intensity.
The outcome might, or might not come.
Setting yourself an FTP goal might not work out.
However, If you set your goal for 2020 is to train x times per week, for y number of hours, and to accumulate z TSS, then it’s something you’re in charge of.
Also, I’d advise incorporating non cycling goals into your objective. Sleep more, eat better, stretch, do some foam rolling.
These are other elements that are in your control that should contribute to deliver an outcome close to your heart.
Chasing FTP improvements ruined me. I would have better race results than people with much, much higher FTP’s… but I still felt like a looser. My FTP tops out in the pathetic range every time I decide “this time has to be different”.
Now I just ride. I’m a TR sub just because I love the company… I don’t actually use it hah. Turned out my natural abilities are in strength sports…
The odd part is I have had VO2 lab tested and it’s pretty high (4.5L/min @ 145lb) but my power output is pathetic with that o2 use. I must be the least efficient cyclist in history. I sweat buckets and can heat up a room better than a space heater.
Of course that I cannot control if I be able to reach 300W - it is the same like wanting 70 VO2 max. I am riding a bike for a 7 months so going from 201 to 270 is WAY over my expectations, now it is only a “bonus” Going for 300W is outcome and I am trying to achieve it by changes in training - so processing goals. I am not racing (because there is no point with my stats and skills) so this type of goal is always nice to have.
I set a goal of hitting 4 w/KG (~270w) by May 1. It ain’t happening…did a ramp test 2 weeks ago and had 250w. Thought it was low (I suck at VO2 efforts) so did a race up the Alpe on Zwift the next day…255w for an hour (and ~270w for 20 min, which equates to ~255w for an hour).
But I have been riding for 30+ years…realistically, I am probably pretty close to my genetic potential. But the process has improved my overall fitness. I am nailing my workouts (set at 260w FTP) and even going higher than target wattage for many workouts. I can hold longer VO2 max efforts and I can ride tempo and SS all day long (always a strength for me).
I’ll shift my 4 w/kg goal to later in the year and still try to hit it, but as noted above, it is a vanity thing. The process has made me a better rider…FTP is just a number at a specific point in time.
Wow! Thank you all for your answers. I appreciate them. Really valuable info.
I am, in general, OK with my performance on the bike but feel that, while I have a “good” power:weight ratio and good results on 5min efforts, on the flats or very low gradients (1-2%) is where I suffer the most due to my low FTP. I agree with you @Aaron_Wright when you say that nobody wins just because of a high FTP and 1’ and 5’ efforts are more important… But I lose contact with tête de la course easily because I suffer on the flats (we have no Category systems in Spain and even small races in remote towns are really competitive).
With no races in sight, I thought it could be a fun challenge to focus on it. I know it is a vanity metric but, in the end, it will contribute to improve my rider profile and help me suffer less again bigger / more powerful riders.
I loved those answers about “focusing on the process” (@Tanner1280 , @holybinch , @Power13 ) because I’m currently reading a short book titled “Chop wood, carry water”. Long story short, it is a tale about a western (and impatient) boy that wants to learn the ancient art of Japanese archery. He moves to Japan to attend the best archery school and his sensei teaches him lessons to make him love the process and forget about goals and outcomes. Nice read.
In any case, as I already mentioned, I have been coached for the last ~8 months and following the process. I noticed a bump in the first months during base & build phases (236 > 260W) but plateaud in the specialty phase (262W in the test I performed 4 weeks ago). I have no problem following the plan and rarely do I question it. My mantra is “think like a bumblebee, train like a racehorse”. And I followed what my coach dictated 100% of the time (and enjoying it). I was just wondering what the best path to follow is if my goal is not a race but develop my FTP. Reading your answers and doing an introspection exercise, I feel like sustained power build or TT is the way to go.
Currently I’m not doing triathlon and have focused my last two seasons (well, I don’t know if we can call this a season) on marathon running and cycling. Those times (half IM ~5:15) were from 2018 when I didn’t even have a PM on the bike. My level was very poor and bike splits fell somewhere around 2:50h.
Spain as well, mate! Born in Madrid but living in Barcelona and dreaming about the day all this comes to an end!
I had a feeling your weakness would be the flats. I’m a similar rider to you probably at around 66kg and an ftp at 297 so my ftp is fairly decent but on flats I can struggle as I dont have the raw power so I need to be smarter and think how can I save my energy where can I hide I the pack and let everyone else do the work. How could I reduce my drag and make myself as invisible to the wind. You’re probably burning matches at ti.ea you dont need to which cost you. Think of when you set off in a race you have a box of matches and you only have so many and you need to use them wisely so every time you go above 600 watts you’ve burned a match that you might not of needed to simply if you had moved up before the effort. Then if you’re nearer the front at that point possibly wouldn’t need to make the effort and anyone coming past you could potentially use them to move back up and save your matches again later on. In a race remember nobody can hold 400 watts for ever and it will ease. If you’re struggling remember everyone around you is too even the guys that have higher a ftp they just probably know its going to end soon and manage to dig in a little more. There is no shame in get dropped we’ve all being their . I was in Spain in benidorm calpe area cycling before the world went nuts brilliant roads and what makes cycling so good. Arr you part of a club, is it possible when we go back to normal to do things like a group training ride that would help you a lot also doing sweatspot then every 90 seconds sprint for 15 then back on the gas at sweetspot and keep repeating for about 20 minutes
Kool, Me Too but I think we still have a long way to go.
Well like I said I´m looking for some TR Groupworkout Training partners. It looks like we will have some opportunites to link up if your interested. Same time zone and country makes it easier.
Entonces si tiene interés seguirme por STRAVA J-O Barber /
Esta semana entreno recuperación mañana y el viernes muy tranquillo bajo TSS. Y el lunes 20 de abril una prueba de FTP y después tendré mucho flexibilidad.
Hope to hear from you.
this might be the reason not to build all the way until December 31. Then you’re cycling off when you really want to be cycling ON before Cape EPic 2021; or assuming some other event you have planned around then.
Chasing the metric usually ends up being unfulfilling for athletes, so instead of just FTP, look to improve as all around cyclist. IDK just my thought. Chasing FTP # sounds super exhausting week after week.