Cycling and swimming

Hi guys,

So here’s what I would like to ask you guys:

I started cycling in March 2020 and since November 2020 I started being a TrainerRoad user and started with a low-volume gran fondo plan. So I’m doing three Trainerroad workouts a week and sometimes I add an additionally recovery/ endurance workout.

At the beginning I saw big improvements in my FTP. I started at around 166W and my FTP has been around 210W since 1,5 year. Last October I started a new year of the Gran fondo plan. Currently, I am in the second week of the first Build phase. Besides this, I began swimming again since last summer after a long period off.

My average week looks like this (bike workouts are based on this weeks build phase):


  • Swim 1 hour - Endurance (intensity: low to medium)
  • Strengh training - 30 min


  • Bike VO2max 1 hour


  • Swim - Tempo interval or threshold (intensity: medium to high)
  • Strength training 30 min (if I have time)


  • Bike Threshold 1 hours


  • Restday


  • Swim - Endurance (intensity: low)
  • Bike - Recovery/ Endurance (not every week)


  • Bike Sweet Spot 1,5 hours

So here’s the thing: I feel like I am plateau-ing with cycling. It doesn’t seem like I am improving at all. HR is always around the same values for the same watts and AI FTP is always around 210 lately. I think the FTP is correct because the workouts can be very hard. I would very like to improve my FTP again, but I don’t really know how. What I am doing right now does not really work in my opinion. Still, I am kind of maintaining my fitness, so I’m not losing any fitness either I guess.

I am just wondering if this is for me? Are my workouts to intense? I also added hard swimming workouts in the week so is the overall week intensity too high? Do I have enough time to recover?

Some facts about me:

  • I am 25 years old. Currently in Med school and doing side jobs (so kind of busy life with a lot of worries.
  • Length: 1.69 meters.
  • Weight: 53.3 kg.
  • Max HR (during FTP test): around 202 bpm.
  • When cycling 105 W my HR is around 135-140 bpm.
  • When Sweetspot I like cycling at around 170 bpm.
  • Threshhold is around 178-182.
  • VO2max is around 180-185.

Do you have any tips on how I can improve my cycling and my swimming (for the swimmers around here). It just feels like there is a lot of high intensity within my week. When I look at my boyfriends’ workout schedule (he is a triathlete), he has a lot more endurance, but also way more volume and less intensity. Should I go for a more polarized approach?

At 3.5 watts per kg you are a pretty fast recreational cyclist especially considering you only ride 3.5+ hours per week. There’s a cat 1 masters female rider in my club and she absolutely smokes me going up a hill at 200 watts compared to my 250 watts. It’s very likely that you are maxed out the gains you can get from very little training.

I think your analysis is correct. Your training is threshold and vo2 heavy with little endurance miles. You would likely see gains with less intensity and a lot more endurance training but that requires more hours. Most fast amateurs are riding 8-10-12+ hours per week. But you are also in medical school so you have to have priorities.

I wouldn’t be down on yourself. It sounds like you are doing great. But sadly, one can only be so fast on 3-4 hours per week.

I think your main hinderance at the moment is cognitive overload. The workouts may be giving you some form of stress relief, but trying to study for med school, plus working means you are probably skimping on proper fueling and SLEEP. Are you training for something specific? If not, consider dropping a few workouts or shortening them and replacing them with meditation, stretching/bodywork or just an an additional hour of sleep here and there

Thank you for your response!

Yes I think you are right about this since I do so little endurance training! 3-4 hours per week is not so much…
I think I’ll try to consistently add a 1,5 hour endurance training (Z1) on the bike instead of the recovery bike I did sometimes. I will try this and see if it is doable for me with my agenda. Maybe in the summer (when I have more time) I might add another additional ride throughout the week. Getting to cycle outside in summer helps a lot with that.

Thank you for responding!

I think I am kind of okay with sleep. I try to get at least 8,5 hours per night. Sometimes I sleep 9-9,5 hours a night (this is excluding the time I spent in bed).
However, I do sometimes struggle with proper fueling. On the bike I think i’m okay, but I could eat more sometimes during the day.

I’m currently not really training for something specific. Overall, I would like to be a better climber (I love climbing in the mountains).
I think it is always good to make time for some stretching/ bodywork, I’ll keep that in mind, thank you!

What jumps out at me is the limited training time for the bike….3.5 hours a week for most riders is basically maintenance.

You are attempting to balance a lot…swim, strength and riding. At some point you are going to want to figure out what you want to prioritize. If your main goal is to improve on the bike, you’ll need to dedicate more time to it….so either sacrificing some swim or strength training (or just finding more time in general)

One option is to take your rest day and add in low Z2 miles…that will help build an aerobic base but not add too much stress overall.