Can FTP drop 40W in 6 months?

TL:DR FTP dropped 40W after 6 months no cycling. Sound reasonable or should I retest?

At the start of the year I increased my FTP from 251W in Jan to 266W in April, both on a 20min test outdoors. Over the summer, life got in the way and I’ve done very little riding which led me to starting my first TR plan proper, SSBHV1. I done the ramp test (my first time doing it) and I was down to 226W - I was anticipating a drop but does 40W sound right?

After struggling quite a bit to be comfortable on the test and the first few workouts, I dropped my seatpost about 8mm and since then I’ve been coping well - workouts have been hard, but never in a “cant see me completing this” kind of way.

So its nagging at me that maybe I should redo the ramp test.
Does this sound reasonable? or should I trust the result and go with it? Particularly as its the High Volume plan.

If I do go ahead with an early retest, any recommendations on how to incorporate into the weekly schedule e.g after my rest day.

Last point just to say how good this forum and the podcasts are!

40w after6mos off doesn’t seem unreasonable at all…in fact, my first reaction was “only 40w?”

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If this is your first TR plan, going straight to high volume seems, at best, ambitious. Unless you’re used to big blocks of structured indoor training, you risk serious burnout. I would start with low volume and supplement extra endurance rides or, if you have experience of structured training, maybe complete mid volume with 100% compliance before going for High Volume.

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It is worth remembering that the purpose of testing is to set appropriate power levels, not to set the maximum possible number. 40W after a summer off seems reasonable for your capabilities RIGHT NOW. The good news is that it is a lot easier to rebuild FTP after time off, than it was to build it initially. So rather than retesting now, I’d suggest just rolling with that for SSB1 and retesting in a few weeks when you have rebuilt some fitness (noting that testing is the first workout of SSB2).

I also agree with @zwillis1 suggestion that going from nothing for 6 months to HV is likely a bit much for your body to handle. LV with some extras, or MV with 100% compliance is probably a better way to go.

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A few things to unpack here:

  1. Yes, a 40W drop in 6 months is entirely plausible. You should gain a good chunk of that back fairly quickly though. It’s generally quicker to regain lost fitness than gaining new fitness.
  2. Bit confused as to which test you’re now doing - 8 minute test or ramp test? They’re different! But switching from 20 minute test to 8 minute/ramp test would also potentially account for some FTP differences. Though usually it’s the other way - people often test higher on a ramp test than a 20’ test, partly because it’s a lot easier to execute well as you don’t have to pace yourself
  3. Jumping from 6 months of being mostly inactive into a HV plan is unlikely to end well. Would start with a LV or MV plan and then supplement with extra cooldown or additional endurance rides if you feel good and have the time. The HV plans are super hard, and that volume creeps up on you, particularly SSB where you go 5 weeks before a recovery week.
  4. You don’t need to retest to change your FTP. Just manually adjust it if you feel the workouts are within your comfort zone. E.g. put it up 5W and see how you go, then adjust again if necessary. As per point 1) you’re likely to be regaining some of those 40W pretty rapidly, wouldn’t surprise me if you gained 15-20W in a single Base plan, so bumping FTP up manually a few times based on feel is probably a better approach than retesting every couple of weeks.

For context I went through something similar a couple of years ago. Moved family and job to a different continent and the accompanying stress (and a bit of illness) cost me 40W in 4 months despite me actually cycling fairly regularly during that period (the bike box came with me every step of the way, the indoor trainer was in a container ship for a couple of months!). Did the test the week after we finally moved out of temporary accommodation into our new house and had our container delivered which meant I had my pain cave setup. That was the point at which the life stress dropped considerably and I started doing more structured training again (though didn’t attempt any HV plans…). I’d regained 25 of those 40W a month later. 6 weeks after that I was pretty much back to where I was before, a couple of months later I was hitting new PRs.

Woops, sorry I’ve edited the post, it should have just said ramp test.

Nice to hear you went through something similar and the FTP came back quickly, good work mate! It’s amazing what mental stress can physically do to the body.

I thought about adjusting the intensity manually but I think that will make me overthink things more, particularly make it easier for me to bail on a ride if its getting tough.

Tbh I chose the HV plan based on the time I had to complete it, but since then I’ve seen a lot of comments on here that HV can be too much, I’m coping for now (maybe another indication my FTP is set low?)

How far into it are you?

Two hours today of Hunter and that will be week 2 complete. Still relatively early days I suppose

As others have said totally reasonable, it depends on ones endurance background and genetics. 40W isn’t that much in 6 months, I’d maybe even expect a bit more but then it also depends on how active you are in everyday life as well
I was ill for six weeks in Feb/Mar and lost about 25W (I did manage to do one or two sessions in a few of the weeks when my illness wasn’t at its worst, just Zone 1 and low zone 2) but the good news after 8 weeks back training I got the lost 25W+ back in fact I gained 5 watts (wasn’t a TR plan though, although I used the TR app.)

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Thanks mate, that makes sense. As much as I want to retest, a big part of me just wants to trust TR and let Coach Chad do his thing. Alot of people are saying the FTP will likely bounce back which is good to hear

It’s not about how much time you have available, it’s more about how much you can handle. The SSB HV plans include something like 6-7 hours actually working in the SS zone each week. That’s a lot of work to adapt to and recover from, and the fatigue is cumulative in my experience, keeps on piling up throughout SSB1 and 2 as every week you’re spending more time in zone, working at a higher % of FTP, getting less recover, etc and eventually it becomes too much for most people. If your FTP is too low then that would make it more doable, but then you’re not really doing SSB, you’re doing more like Tempo Base!

Exactly! This is my concern, that I won’t be getting anywhere near the benefit I should be if I’m not actually at sweetspot. Tbh, still in 2 minds whether to retest or plod on and complete these 6 weeks first

Do you have and use a HR monitor? That can help give guidance regarding fitness improvements, correctly prescribed power zones etc.
On the other side of what Cartsman wrote, if you are one of the people that the Ramp test gives an inflated FTP number for then SST becomes Threshold interval and burnout normally happens eventually.

If you zones are out it is better to almost always be slightly under rather than over especially if doing more volume.

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I lost 30 W in 2.5 months after completing Crit Specialty until starting a Sweet Spot plan. I did some racing for a couple weeks after the Crit plan while also doing the Century Specialty for 6 weeks. Then I needed a bit of a mental break from the bike for a month so I just did outdoor weekend rides for fun, mostly solo. Got 10 W back in the first 8 weeks so far. Worth noting I switched from the Ramp test to a 20 minute test.

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Very possible.

I dropped 20W in one month of no riding. I did regain most of it in 4 weeks.

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I lost more than 20w after 6 weeks off the bike following a crash and back injury. So 40w over 6 months seems pretty good actually! The good news is that it seems to come back quickly. I’m back to my July FTP now and feeling great.

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