Fitness is stuck after a big level 2 block

I’m 45, been non stop level 2ing it for the last 3 months and I am stuck, zero improvements for the past month. Been doing a zwift race on Saturday for the past 3 weeks. Almost exact same 20 min max every time. I guess it’s time to add some V02 Max intervals right?

Time to change something. VO2 would work, threshold would work, sweet spot would work. Or add more zone 2 volume. But if your training stays the same you will plateau.


How are you measuring “improvements”?

I did 15-20 hours/week of zone 2 last spring/summer during lockdown before UK TT started again - my endurance improved massively and I felt good out for 4+ hours on my own. My FTP dropped from what it had been in March after a winter on TR SSB/SPB but it did wonders for my sanity. Now back on TR and my FTP is rising again BUT I feel I can repeat intervals much better and have much more fatigue resilience than last winter which I think is the residual benefit of all the zone 2. Use to get it when I ran as well…I could start my marathon long runs at 16miles even if I hadn’t run that far since my previous full marathon the year before…so zone 2 will benefit you even if your FTP isn’t rising.


What is level 2ing?

I was assuming it was zone 2 basic endurance - i.e riding for extended periods@60-75%FTP :grinning:

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Watts over every time period.

yes lots of level 2.

Good to know. Yes my endurance has improved since doing lots of zone 2 but I have plateaued now. I think I may do a SS block.


I’ve done Z2 almost every day through the fall. I’ve got no racing or group rides so I’ve just been maintaining fitness and riding outside when weather permits (not much).

I’ve been working on a SS block (90-95%) extending my TTE. I just got sidelined for a week so I need to get back on it.

After I’ve extended TTE, I’ll test and see if I’ve made any gains. Then I’ll move into extensive intervals (above FTP) and see if I can pull it up from above.

How much is “lots”?

I do the opposite as most it seems. 5-1 hour rides a week from Nov to March then switch to somewhere between 5-8 hours of Z2 commuting to work a few days a week.

I just can’t do long trainer rides.

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As I’ve mentioned before, I started riding again for pleasure when the pandemic hit. It was all level 2, maxing out at 60 hours per month. My FTP only went up about 15 W.

You probably carried a pretty high FTP to start with.

How much would it have gone up if you cut the time by 45% and did SS FTP and VO2 intervals instead?

I actually have no idea which will work better.

Even better would have been to not cut volume but still add intensity. I was riding for pleasure, though, not training - been there, done that (got the t-shirt).

If that’s your only metric of improvement, then yeah, you’ll probably be disappointed.

I hear you on that. Although that’s also my biggest limiter. Once I can get outside all pretense of “training” goes away for me. My volume goes way up but I maybe do 2 trainer rides a month from Mar through Oct. My goal is to do at least 1 but striving for 2 dedicated and focused interval rides a week on the trainer to help my fitness keep growing a bit.

We’ll see.

@awoffinden FWIW because there are so many differences due to prior training and other variables so here is another perspective. Hit 260W FTP in June and then went into my off-season with a lot of resistance training and not much cycling. Tossing out the first two months of base (Aug/Sept), and just focusing on the 4 months of mid-base from October 1st thru the end of January:

  • riding ~36 hours/month
  • went from 220W to close to 260W
  • using HR zones and simplified 3-zone intensity distribution its been 83% low-intensity, 16% mid-intensity, and 1% high-intensity
  • lost 8 pounds and my goal is to lose another 20lbs
  • I’ve only been cycling for 5 years and about fourteen yrs older

So not all zone2/level2, but around 80% of my riding has been at that level and the rest a smorgasbord of other intensities (tempo, threshold, vo2, anaerobic, sprinting).

One thing I learned from doing TR’s traditional base 1 & 2 over 2 years ago - doing it outside with some added intensity was a lot better than just doing zone2.

So 4 months of mostly endurance riding (Polarized) and you got your FTP from 220 back to what you were at previously in June? What did you do to get your FTP to 260 the first time?

Are you still doing long endurance? Do expect that your FTP to actually improve doing this or is it really just maintenance?

I wouldn’t call it polarized. Did the FasCat 18-week sweet spot plan to get to 260 (more info here: Polarized Training vs. Sweet Spot (Dylan Johnson video) - #526 by bbarrera). It’s still below what I accomplished by loosely following the CTS Time-Crunched approach, but better than TR approach (on 8 hour/week budget).

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I don’t have numbers yet but I was analyzing my mini SS/FTP block. I did 30, 90, and then 45 minutes per week of SS/threshold on top of a lot of Z2. This block got cut short because we had to travel out of state unexpectedly. I took an active rest week and did hiking, walking, a little slow running, a lot of stretching and body weight exercises for a week.

Today I did 45 minutes of SS. It felt pretty easy - like my FTP has gone up 10-15 watts from the mini block.

I’m starting another mini block and will do even more time in zone and then I’ll test again in about a month. It will be kind of exciting if I can get a 10-15 watt bump every month for a while.