Cat 2 Getting Back in Shape After Several Years

Hi…i’m a former USAC Roadie Cat 2 (guess I still am…they are going to have to pry that upgrade away from my cold, dead, hands) who hasn’t raced or trained consistently for past 5 years or so. Prior to that, I trained and raced A LOT…like 25-35 times a year. Lots of 15-20 hour weeks, etc. That formula doesn’t quite work for me anymore!

I’m currently in my mid-40s and have been riding but it’s been purely for pleasure and enough to try to stay in somewhat decent shape. Busy work schedule, family life, other hobbies, etc have taken priority over fitness so I really like the economy of time TrainerRoad offers. I finally got the motivation to train and make fitness a priority again so here I am.

Even though I raced Cat 2, power/weight has just never been my thing. I’m the most average Cat 2 there ever was and had to work my butt off for podiums and results. I think at my fittest, I generated 320 watts for 20 minutes and was 180 lbs so right around 3.5/3.7 p/w. I had gotten much lighter (161 lbs all time low) but power always struggled and I always get sick.

I’m shooting to get to 180-185lbs this spring and to get to at least a 300 watt threshold (back to 3.67 p/w). I will actually focus on a handful of crits and a local mountain bike series. Nothing too crazy but enough to get back on IT.

Right now, I’m in the middle of SSB Mid Volume. My Ramp Test that I did on 11/5/19 gave me an FTP of 226, probably an all time low testing wise. I had been coming off a cold the week prior and had absolutely zero hard efforts in my legs for month prior…just fun riding. I’m also 200 lbs which I’m currently working on and seeing progress. I know as my FTP increases I’ll get more efficient burning calories.

I’m already feeling stronger each ride and am typically very motivated and recovered for each ride. I’ve switched to a vegan diet and eliminated all alcohol. I know those moves are playing huge roles, among other recovery methods. After week one, I inched my FTP to 230 after I increased final reps to 102% during the Thursday sweet spot workout. After week two, I inched up my FTP to 235 after positive weekend rides and a solid Tuesday. Given that I have about 20 years of cycling in my legs, I’m hopeful that my FTP will rebound quick.

I’m torn about continuing inching up FTP week to week OR taking another RAMP test to confirm FTP boost. I’m more inclined to inch up FTP weekly watching how HR and RPE respond to power but I also don’t want to train at too low of power in case my body is REALLY responding well.

I’d love to hear others input on what next steps should be and what FTP increases I should feel comfortable manually changing.


I’d be a bit reluctant to keep inching the workouts up on a weekly basis unless I was positive my fitness was actually increasing at the same rate, opposed to just my body adjusting to the plan and efforts that were foreign to me.

I just finished SSBMV1 and I noticed the workouts getting easier each week, so I merely operated above the prescribed targets by feel and didn’t touch my FTP setting. At the end of the plan, I retested and was 15w higher in FTP.

Keep in mind, there is no harm doing you SS session a little lower in the zone, in fact you may getting better adaptation this way due to increased motivation and compliance sticking to the plan.

I came into TR a couple of months ago in not quite the same situation, but similar in the fact that I’m a former Cat. 1 racer, who hasn’t done structured training for years, but I have still kept my riding hours up and not gained much weight.

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I don’t 100% remember verbatim what Coach Chad said in the Podcast but I think it went something like this.

‘The muscle itself might change shape but the muscle nucleus remembers.’

The guys were talking about high level athletes who never seem to lose their form. I think, based on the discussion the TR guys had, you’ll both be seeing positive improvement at a pretty rapid pace.

As @Ian747 said, I wouldn’t look to increase FTP week-on-week. I’d retest halfway through the plan, if your HR and RPE are nowhere near. Just keep in mind that you do have to get back to where you once were. I don’t doubt it’s doable but it might take a season.


Thanks…good advice.

Additional ramp tests or not, I don’t think it’ll make a huge difference to your long term goal either way, so I wouldn’t stress over it.

What I mean by that is that progress is going to be a logarithmic curve, and right now you’re at the steepest part of the curve. Slight increases in effort this early on may help you climb that curve a little more quickly (moving along the X-axis quicker will push you higher up on the Y-axis), but as the curve flattens out, you’re eventually going to end up at the same point in roughly the same amount of time.

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