Does adaptive training work properly if ftp is too low

I did a ftp test when I wasn’t feeling very chipper and it dropped 17 points. Now I feel better and the workouts seem too easy. So AT thinks I’m crushing the workouts and keeps adapting to more difficult workouts but still at the same FTP so none of them feel very hard. It won’t let me do the FTP estimation because it hasn’t been 2 weeks since the last test. The lazy side of me doesn’t want to do another FTP test and just keep on with workouts as they are, but my conscience is telling me that I’m cheating myself. So my questions are, will adaptive training ever figure out that my FTP isn’t quite right and adjust for that? Also, am I doing myself a disservice by proudly completing workouts that don’t challenge me very much?

  • Not exactly. AT is about evaluating your workout completion, and adjusting the pending workouts on your training plan to keep you pointed in the right direction (progressing your work load) in an effort to hit the training phase goals of that specific plan.

  • It does not do anything specifically related to evaluating your FTP. That is the place where AI FTP Detection reigns.

  • Hard to say without more info.
  • How exactly are you rating these unchallenging workouts?
  • And based upon that, are any pending adaptations to your plan leading to more challenging workouts?
  • Beyond all that, it depends on how much your FTP may be off. A 1-3% might be no big deal. 5% or more could be an issue. Not sure we have any real data here other than considering relative wattage and percentage deltas with respect to training zones.
  1. You can always do a manual FTP adjustment if you have a reasonable estimate of how much higher or lower it is. There is no fixed requirement to test or use the FTP Detection.
  2. It’s possible to “hack” the FTPD by deleting your most recent FTP change(s) in your account settings to get around the 14-day limit.

Without spewing a bunch of my own info, I have been training with what I was pretty sure as an FTP that was marginally too low for several phases this season. I left the FTP alone, manually made a workout swap to a harder one in a couple of cases right at the start, made sure I was rating workout surveys appropriately (Easy until they got to what felt “Right”). Based on that the progression from AT got me gains in FTP and other zones despite being “too low”. I’d rather train with an FTP too low vs one that was too high. So, if I can’t have it “perfect”, low is my choice.


Thank you The other Chad for responding so quickly to my questions. That helped give me a better understanding of how the AI works. I took your advice and deleted my last FTP test and will go with what I had before I took that test. It seemed a little high at the time because of illness and life stress issues but with the training I have done since then it might end up being about right. If not, another ramp test can be done.
Thanks again for your explanations.

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Chad provides good background and knowledge all the time. Even more simply, ATs goal is to advance or progress your level of training even if you FTP estimate is too low, and to adjust downward if its too high.

I took a miserable ramp test and dropped WAY further than I expected after a layoff. So I started replacing “productive” with “stretch” workouts on a pretty regular basis. Then I retested and I’m way closer to where I feel I should be, but my PL levels dropped to 1.0, so I’m back to “upgrading” workouts on a regular basis.

When will it all even out, I’m not sure, I haven’t been consistent enough since AT became a thing to find the real equilibrium. I’ve got faith that the suggested/planned workouts and adaptations along with my “bro-science” or “knowing my own body” are aligning nicely, even if imperfectly or somewhat haphazardly from the overview.

Having clean workout progression/levels makes it much easier to apply my “knowing my own body” than simply finding the same scheduled workout with a “+1” behind it.

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If you deleted the latest entry you probably now have more than two weeks since last updating your FTP. Which means you can use FTP detection.

@mcneese.chad knows his stuff.

I’ll only add that TRs system seems built around bias towards training with an FTP input that is too high. This gets into some contentious debate, and I don’t mean to go there - but what I will say is that there is a high margin for error if you set your FTP too high. The caveat is that at times, if you are too aggressive, you have to be honest with yourself and not let your ego get hurt if you don’t complete a workout at Rx or switch to an easier one than recommended.

At the end of the day though, the best thing you can do is a workout. It doesn’t need to be optimally hard. Don’t go hard more than 3x per week (if you don’t know what hard should feel like, check chart @mcneese.chad put together for survey responses), and 1-2x per week may be best depending on your life stress. The more workouts you do, the more you learn and the more you can work with the system rather than deferring to it. What you want to avoid is non-functional over-reaching. And our immense toughness as cyclists often makes this counter-intuitive.

One more comment. After I deleted the last FTP test I tried the FTP detection. It increased it by 23 watts. That seemed a little two high which is why I went with my previous FTP which was 7 points lower than what the ftp detection gave me. I completed an hour over/under threshold workout today and it was hard but it didn’t kill me. It felt about right. I think if I went with the detection number I might have had to reduce the intensity a little. So I’m happy with where I am now. Thanks everyone for your input.