I’ve been training for 6 weeks with Trainer Road - a low volume plan and I’m in the Base 2 phase. I’ve done most of the workouts, apart from one week where I rode outside twice instead (much higher TSS though I didn’t get power data), and my taper week where I only did 1 of the 3 taper rides, due to family issues. I did my ramp test today and my FTP has decreased from 128 to 122. Tears were shed.
I’m a 60 year old woman who until June last year wasn’t riding much at all - Crossfit twice a week and a daily walk were all I did. Then I got a Peloton, and up until Christmas 2019 my FTP increased slowly, particularly when I joined a group in a 8 week power zone training plan. However, I think (though didn’t test) that my FTP did drop off again when I had a lower TSS January after that.
I then installed power pedals and wanted to try a proper training plan to make bigger gains. I joined TR, and my first ramp test gave me an FTP of 128 (which considering the Peloton underestimates my power by around 20%, was indeed a fair drop). I found this TR plan pretty easy compared to PZ and PZ Max rides on the Peloton, but long and boring, especially the 90 min ride.
Then I did another ramp test today and got the result of 122. 6 weeks of training, and all for nothing, just wasted time. Surely I should have at the very least maintained my FTP with this level of riding? This, and the fact that I lost fitness (rather than maintained) after Christmas with just a lower stress month, makes me believe that I am just not able to get fitter in the way others do. Is it my age? Is it possible to improve in one’s sixties? Is there something obvious I’m doing wrong?
Firstly, you haven’t wasted your time and I very much doubt you lost fitness. A drop of 5.5 watts is negligible so don’t think you have suddenly got less fit.
My understanding is if you have enough intensity with enough volume, there will always be some adaptation. It may not be what you want but something will be adapting no matter what your age.
My first question would be:
Did you repeat exactly the same conditions as your last test? Same time of day, same fuel, had the bike being calibrated? Did you do the test on a Peleton bike? If you used a bike with a chain, was the chain lubricated?
Was the temperature close to the same or did you at least ventilate and cool yourself down on the test?
Lastly, did you push as hard? The difference of 5.5 watts could come down to how you felt on the day, your stress levels or your sleep.
It’s that close a call.
If you found the plan easy, did you push yourself a bit harder so it felt like a push? A Ramp Test gives you an approximate but it isn’t exact so some fine tuning is often needed depending on how you find the intensity of the plan.
Long rides are dull but very useful so those 90 min rides would have done you good.
Sorry for all the questions but need a bit more info first.
As I said - you haven’t lost fitness so really don’t worry about that, no matter what your test says
Well done for cycling and commitment.
I agree with the comments 5.5watts is not huge variation and many things impact the outcome of the ramp test. I would say Nothing beats long Zone 2 rides for building a strong base to Build on. The book faster after 50 by Joe Friel points the way that High intensity is the way to maintain a High FTP as we get older there is a Natural decline due to various things too much detail.
If you can fit in 1 long ride per week Z2, the others should be Threshold/Sweetspot efforts and VO2 120% efforts. Keep doing that for 6 weeks No breaks, this will give you a base to work from. If you can extend the time on the bike on the days that you have set aside to train on all the better.
Dont look at this as wasted time.
The ramp is a very hard wo on its own. And it doesnt work for everyone.
Did you completed every workout as planned (no reduction of intensity) ?
How is your room ventilation and cooling?
Did you finished your ramp test the first time or did you quit early?
What about the second time?
You age MIGTH have something to do with it. Recovery will take longer than you were younger… thats just life.
You can definitely still gain and I dont think you are doing anything wrong…
I disagree that you have lost fitness, since FTP is just a number that can change day to day.
Another issue is, have you lost weight? I have been using TR exclusively since December. My ftp has gone up 12w but in the mean time I have been losing needed weight. I would encourage you (as others) to continue. There is way more to cycling than ftp. Your ftp might remain the same but your endurance is greater, etc. Lots of variables.
My ramp test FTP fell constantly when I use to use that test but my sustainability seemed to have went up with training. After my ramp test started to fall below the values I held at the same time for 20mins, 41min, 55 mins and 1h I started to ignore it and eventually switched to a 20mins test.
Don’t be disheartened, whilst a ramp test suits the majority of people within a bell curve it doesn’t suit everyone. I think generally with folk who punch a high FTP, it will over predict and for people like us who push a low FTP it’s the opposite it’ll underpredict. Also whilst I believe the 20mins test is more accurate, its only more accurate if you get the pacing right, otherwise it can be way off too. Roll on AT and tests can be disregarded
There’s a concept of ‘anchoring’ in behavioural finance - basically we subconsciously use some irrelevant data point as our fixed frame of reference for everything. For example - the first time you see a price for something you’re interested in, that’ll be your reference point, and prices you see at other stores will feel ‘cheap’ or ‘expensive’ based on that first price you saw.
Five watts is noise. There’s no guarantee your first test was dead-on accurate; it could easily have been off by five watts either way. You might subconsciously feel better at a ‘five-watt gain’, but it’s not really any different - key is, you’re only still just six weeks into it, and you’ve shifted to a base plan. You’re just at the point where you’re building your base, this is when gains start to happen!
Also worth pointing out - as noted above - FTP is only one (one-dimensional and in some aspects flawed) measure of fitness. Definitely don’t view FTP alone as the end-all and be-all of your fitness. Good luck with your training!
PS: For longer, less-intense workouts I put on Netflix etc to help the time pass…
67 yo here. My FTP always goes down in the winter when I’m doing SSB. It climbs after build, and especially after a summer of TR + hard group rides and longer outdoor stuff. Progress isn’t linear, but it keeps going up…
Without looking at your data there are several possible reasons you might have maintained or lost fitness. You may have decreased training load, you were doing HIIT on Peloton and HIIT fitness is easy come / easy go, etc., etc. In addition 128 vs 122 at 5% difference is close to margin of error, and could be accounted for simply because you were 100% on the first test and not on the second test.
Are you training for an event, or just looking to improve general fitness? What does “getting fitter” mean to you?
Take heart it isn’t uncommon. I’ve taken 5 tests this training season and have seen increases only on 2 of them and every so slight decreases or flat results on the other three. As others say, other aspects of your cycling strength are growing but they are not as simple to sum up as that golden measure we call FTP.
Below are some tips and ideas that may help.
Pay attention to your nutrition. Make sure you are fueling your workouts. Supplemental carbs before and during workouts is a good idea, even for “butter burners”. Protein to follow up after your workouts I find too can make or break you. Make sure you get that in especially as the intensity of the sessions increases. Your diet off and away from the bike I’m sure you know what proper nutrition is – stay close to that. Not to say you can’t ever go to Popeye’s – just keep it in reason.
Rest and recovery – strive to get the sleep you need. I find proper nutrition and proper sleep go hand in hand, mess one up and the other gets “janked up”. When I sleep poor I have less food discipline and when I neglect my bike fueling and post-workout recovery protein I sleep poorly. Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Try to keep away from using devices close to bedtime.
It sounds like you were working the Traditional Base program? My biggest gain in FTP came after the 3rd block of traditional base mid-volume. I had a bump after block 1, stalled after block 2 (or slight down) and then made the big leap to PR territory after the 3rd block. After two blocks of SSB Low Volume have stalled out and am coming up on my first test of short power build. Regardless of what is happening with FTP I can see my fitness is coming along.
I’m glad to hear this I had good gains working traditional base mid-volume, stalled on sweet spot base and am in the first rest week of short power build. I’m looking forward to the next ramp test this coming VOTuesdayMaxx.
$0.02 here… The ramp test rewards the “over” FTP performance which is where you came from in an intense On/Off style group workout (generally Peloton group workouts skew that way). You switched to longer, but less intense workouts, right? When that happened, you changed the skew of your performance in the “over.”
Your body is likely just resetting/recovering from the consistent high intensity overload, and you will likely respond well when you hit the “build” phase of any TR plan. That, and had you tested with a longer protocol FTP test, you likely would have seen less drop, as a 20 minute protocol is only a hair over FTP, while the ramp REQUIRES a minute at WAY OVER FTP for its estimate.
Don’t get discouraged. Ride consistently, you’ll improve.
As far as I know the conditions were the same - except possibly it was warmer yesterday - but I do have a fan. In both cases I beat myself up afterwards for not doing another minute - my heart rate wasn’t at max (177). Although it was at 170, and I didn’t think I could do another minute.
Hi, I completed most workouts - there was a week on unexpected good weather where I went outside, but my TSS was much more. I did skip two rides on the taper week, but hoped that would just improve my test.
I didn’t complete either test - I thought they just keep going until you have up or died?