Does losing weight necessarily result in a direct FTP drop?

I know that it’s very common knowledge/wisdom that people with higher body weight have an easier time producing higher watts, even if they’re fat/overweight, which is why W/kg is the only thing that really matters.

I’m in the process of losing a lot of weight (I have 60 more lbs to go to get to my goal weight) and am currently working on SSBHV1. I did Peloton for a couple years before getting a Kickr and jumping in to TR (I know, I know).

My question is: Is there something intrinsic to body weight that makes higher watts possible (I’ve heard people say heavier legs pushing on the pedals, etc) and should I expect a gradual decay of FTP as I continue to lose weight?

I have to ask the obvious question here…how are you handling high volume? How far into it are you?

No, your FTP does not have to drop if you are losing weight. You might be getting stronger while losing weight. Someone like myself who’s 6’2" with about 8-10% bf and weigh about 167 lbs, if I were to lose 10 lbs then there is probably a better chance I would lose some watts, compared to someone new whos losing 50 lbs and just starting to get in shape.

Also need to jump in with what @earena said, asking about the HV. I would not choose that as a first time person on here.

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I just finished the first week. Mon is rest day for the second week so we will see how it goes. With quarantine going on, I have a lot of time every week so figured it’s probably the only time I’ll be able to do the HV plan.

It’s not about the time, it’s about the intensity. Last year I got though SSB I & II but the build totally fried me in the HV plan. I am an experienced rider, who’s decently strong and I wouldn’t do HV again, just add time onto rides that are zone 2 to up hours.

Well, my personal, uninformed recommendation, especially if it seems your main goal is to drop weight, is to do low volume, and supplement with as much endurance and even zone 1 ~50%ftp rides as you have time for.

I was not exactly untrained when Instarted TR. I started with mid volume, and realized THAT was too much for me my first year. Not to say you cant do it…but I would be shocked if you were able to jump right in and be successful at high volume.

The other consideration, is I dont think the HV plans are even that conducive to weight loss. Theyre tough, with a significant amount of intensity. That doesnt really pair well with restricting calories IMO.

Like I said…this is just me…but I personally would just focus ob the 3 workouts on LV, fuel for those, and then focus on cutting calories/weight in between those workouts while riding a lot of low intensity hours.

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Thanks folks for your advice. I really appreciate it.
I think I’ll see if I can get through this coming week and if I start to hit a brick wall, drop back to low or mid-volume and really focus on restricting calories.

The high volume 2 hour sessions definitely make me HUNGRY (I don’t use any sports drink while I’m on). I get off the trainer and grab whey protein, peanut butter, and pita bread immediately.

I think those two hour workouts would be easier if you took in a lot of those calories while riding.

For reference…I did Eclipse yesterday. 90 minute workout of 3 x 20 sweetspot. I took in 480 calories worth of gatorade/maltodextrin, or 80 grams/hr of carbs. It makes a difference IMO. And you wont feel like you need to attack the peanut butter jar with a shovel afterwards.

I think it is also worth noting that I think this stuff is a journey for most people. I’ve been training seriously now for about a year and a half now…and I think I am JUST now getting a handle on what training fatigue should feel like, and how to properly fuel for workouts. I used to really, really fade in any workout that ran longer than an hour. 1 hr to 1:15 in, I would just start to struggle. Consistently. Fueling made a difference. Now I can feel good at the end of a 90 minute hard effort, and feel like I can go rideore outside after getting off the trainer (where I used to just be wrecked the second unclipped…). Part of that is fitness I’m sure. But not all of it.

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So thus far the takeaway I’m getting from this thread:

  1. There probably isn’t some intrinsic thing like heavy legs that makes higher watts easier for heavier people (for reference I tested at 316 FTP but that’s only 3 W/kg)
  2. The fueling/calorie restriction balance for HV is probably very very tricky so it’s likely wise to cut back to MV and put more emphasis on calorie restriction and zone 2 time
  3. Done carefully I can probably preserve my FTP but HV is probably not a good avenue for weight loss
  4. Shouldn’t be afraid to bring my Cytomax bottles for 1.5hr+ rides on the trainer so I don’t become a peanut butter monster after
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Hah yea I’d say that is correct.

Also, nice job on the 316! That’s strong!

And sorry, to answer your initial question properly…I think the ftp losses associated with weight loss are largely associated with muscle loss. I would assume that even when fit and light, you’re probably a pretty big guy. That larger amount of muscle mass and limb/lever length is what correlates to higher ftps…not excess fat. And when you have more fat to lose, my impression is that it is easier to lose fat without ladge muscle losses.

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Thank you very much for the thoughtful and insightful responses! I think I will take the advice here and switch back to mid volume but supplement by adding on zone 2 work and being particularly mindful of my calorie restriction.

Is Pettit the recommended avenue for adding Zone 2 work?

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Totally agree with this regarding the muscle loss. I’m naturally a big guy, 6 ft 4 in. around 165-170 Ibs. Tested at 365 watts last summer at 170 lbs. I then intentionally lost 10 pounds. Felt like total garbage at this weight. Gained the weight back and what do you know, I was back to my normal self. Recently did 382 watts for 20 minutes @ 170 pounds. So, apparently my optimal weight is 165 to 170. Just goes to prove that losing weight won’t necessarily make you faster.

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You definitely don’t want to starve yourself just to lose the weight. Fuel your body and continue the workouts and you’ll be down to your desired weight in no time!

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Just for the sake of trivia, I’m 6’1" currently 230 (down from 285) shooting for 170. For years I was into weight lifting (almost exclusively squat, bench, and deadlift) and did zero cardio. Then shifted from weightlifting to Peloton for 2 years as well as road biking. My 20 min FTP test on Peloton was 350 but we all know Peloton’s power calculations are fuzzy math.

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it doesn’t really matter on flatter courses like in the Spring Classics. Raw watts is what really matters where I ride. If you ride hilly or mountain routes, then yes W/kg is more important than raw watts.

No. Your FTP is determined by a number of factors related to cardio fitness and muscle metabolic fitness. Same height and 15lbs less, have left on some weight while putting on muscle. My kids were home for spring break and they swear I’ve lost weight, but in fact I’ve put on ~10lbs so that is the power of redistributing / body comp. I’m about to work on cutting weight. In the past I’ve been able to gain FTP while dropping 10 pounds (0.5 to 1 pound a week) by doing 6-10 hours a week and a lot of intensity (sweet spot, 1-min max efforts, 5-min vo2 efforts). Regarding what works, everyone is a bit different. I’ve always eaten healthy, one of the keys for me was to increase protein intake to avoid loss of lean muscle mass. And lift weights. I’ve needed to consciously fuel the work, to avoid losing weight too fast. Hope that helps.

A good comparison here (as a former weightlifter myself) is the bulk/cut cycle in bodybuilding. Is it possible to gain strength while losing weight? Yes. Is it easy? Absolutely not. That’s why people bulk and cut in cycles, it’s far simpler and often more effective than the other option, which is a tight rope. It’s very very frustrating to be trying to walk this right rope, and see neither gains or weight loss.

I would recommend you prioritize either weight loss or ftp gain, and would probably recommend going for ftp gain. I think at your weight, you can still fuel your workouts and see some weight loss, albeit at a slower pace. As long as you fuel your workouts and don’t do post workout binges, your body composition will adapt to the new stress. It doesn’t take much, maybe 200 calories an hour. Dieting and operating at a caloric deficit during high intensity training is recipe for failed workouts.

In terms of HV or MV, I think that might be something to reexamine as well. The consensus here is that it’s better to smash a lower volume plan, than to barely succeed on a mid or high volume plan. My approach (YMMV) is to take the low volume approach, but add 3-4 outdoor Rides and strength sessions. This way I get tons of riding in, but only have 3 mandatory hammerfest’s.

The consensus is also to focus on sweet spot, but I’ve had a lot of luck going with more of a traditional base approach. For context the first plan I did with TrainerRoad is SSB-1 High Volume. For example:

^^^ read the last paragraph. To be clear, if you’ve been doing a lot of volume then don’t jump into Traditional Base low or mid volume and expect FTP increases. One of the advantages of Traditional Base is that it is relatively easy to add strength work.

The other plan that looks interesting for adding in strength work is the Full Distance Triathlon plan, because its built around doing additional work (running and swimming).

Food for thought. There are a lot of factors to consider, and its really hard to provide specific advice without doing a deeper dive (what a coach would do). Hope that helps.

FTP and weight loss are not linked.

Weight loss often causes poor fueling which manifests in what appears to be a stagnant (or negatively trending) FTP.

My own personal experience is that with the exception of sprint watts, my power numbers have gone up at pretty much all durations from 60s-6hours even though I’ve lost 60 pounds over the past 5 years.

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I don’t have the experience lots of people here have, but given your FTP and sounds like youve been riding a while (Even if it was peleton), I don’t think you have to be scared of the HV. I was doing I think like 5-6 hours a week for the last 18ish months, and started TR on the HV plan. I’m through the second week of the second base phase and doing fine. I’m struggling with the sweet spot work, but it’s unrelated to the volume. As long as you are getting plenty of rest and can listen to your body and reel it back if you need to, then I say go for it.

Definitely get in calories on your ride tho!!! I can’t tell you how huge a difference it has made in my riding by taking in at least 200 calories an hour on my sweet spot workouts. Before I would never have anything no matter how hard the ride if it was under 90 mins, over that and I would maybe have a gel. Now I’m taking a gel every 30 minutes and I have a bottle of tailwind (in addition to water), and I’m so much stronger, and recover so much better. The other day I had a 90 min aerobic ride were I was zone 2 the hole time, so figured I wouldnt eat anything, cuz what was the point. Oh my god, I forgot what it was like post ride, I was far hungrier the rest of the night than I would be after a much harder, much longer ride. They mention it a lot on the podcast, and it’s sooo true, DON’t DIET ON THE BIKE! I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’m able to stick to a much healthier diet and not binge now that I’m fueling during rides.

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In 2019 I went down from 72 to 65 kilos while growing my FTP from 186 to 270 watts.

I followed at first the mid volume plans before upgrading to the high volume plans. I also added 2-3 hours of weekly running. I experienced the workload to be sustainable and beneficial.

I don’t see why it wouldn’t also work for you. Though make sure you pay close attention to your body.