Frustrated with lack of progress

For a “couch potato” 2.3 Watts/kg at 105 kg… Is pretty impressive.
I’m, by no means, a couch potato. While I’m not fit I rode around 4-5k this year, before starting my TR plan (Mid Volume).
My ramp test - never did one before- score 133 FTP at 94 kg… (I’m 51 yy, 1,75 and I need to drop around 25kg)… While I was expecting better (and it will get better…eventually) as far as I feel stronger and good, enjoying the whole thing at the same time, I don’t give a fxxk :joy:

Strees affects the body and the performance. TR uses the TSS number to quantify the stress coming from your training, but life off the bike is plenty of stressors which can equally affect your performance…

So, and I’m wild guessing here, it might be that your supposed* lack of progress is not related with the training itself but with other stressors.

*A step forward, even a small one, is a step forward and it will get you closer to your destination ( goals, dropping that weight, increasing your power…)

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First, good job on all the training. Your consistency is impressive. How much weight did you drop? The 6kg?

It sounds to me like you’re doing ok. Dropping weight while keeping the W is considered progress.

FTP Gains often get slower after a while, but you still get fitter (more stamina, …). Physiological adaptations that don’t always show in FTP tests. I bet if you had a test course outside you would see considerable progress.

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You’ve had a 0.4 wpkg increase over 12 weeks and your disappointments? What were your expectations?

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For somebody who has been sedentary for half their life, I consider that a really good start.

Ok. Good choice.

Not knowing anything else, mid vol was a good choice. Now that you know a little more, sounds like it’s time to make an executive decision and move to a low vol plan. This is not a defeat or any type of negative reflection on you. Just give it a try. I bet you rebound in a couple weeks and become really satisfied with the gains your making.

Don’t be frustrated! You’re probably making gains you just need some additional recovery before those gains become obvious. People get real fast on low vol plans. As your endurance builds you can move back up to a mid vol plan.

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So…since the start of September (3 months) you’ve lost 6 kg and gained around 2% (5 watts-ish?) on your FTP

Honestly this is pretty terrific. That rate of weight loss isn’t sustainable long-term, and even maintaining your fitness with that type of ramp rate should be an accomplishment you’re proud of

If you want to build the watts side of the w/kg balance then you need to fuel more and go for a slower weight loss rate. You can’t have both things :slight_smile:

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I understand you are frustrated but you are doing well. As others have mentioned rest and recovery play a role. While you may have time for a mid volume plan that isnt always the best choice. Your body still needs to adapt and the adaptations come over time from your consistency. You shouldnt feel so tired from a workout as you describe nor should you be gasping for air. I would suggest you are pushing yourself and if you take it a bit easier the adaptations and improvements will still come without the effects that you are experiencing.

When I read your post, I just thought “Lack of progress?!?” You lost 6 kg in 6 weeks and are off-the-couch to 2.7 W/kg! That’s great. If you keep up the weight loss alone might get you above 3 W/kg, even with a 0 W increase in FTP. Given your current weight, even a 0 W increase in power at a substantial weight loss will make you faster — and this is the ultimate goal, isn’t it?

Look, progress takes time. During yesterday’s workout Coach Chad told me that it takes 6 weeks for the body to process the stress of a strenuous workout. So your body is just starting to adapt to the stress from the workouts. Roughly, the time of work you put in is proportional to how long gains last.

Like the others, I do agree that you should consider dropping down to the low-volume plan, because recovery is really, really important. You can do that in Plan Builder very easily. Going 0-mid-volume is probably too much to handle if you haven’t done sports in 20 years. Adaptations take time, so you should not expect to see massive gains very quickly — unless you have had a history of doing lots of sports.

So my advice: start easy with a low-volume plan. Be consistent and don’t give up even if the needle does not seem to move much. Don’t think of guys with 5+ W/kg, the top-1 % of TR users (which are not representative of the general population!). Start with process goals such as “this season I will complete a low-volume plan” or “I will lose 10 more kg with a stretch goal of 15 kg.” Goals should be easy, not hard. Err on the side of easy. Don’t think “I lost 1 kg per week, I will keep that up for 6 months.” After your body adapts to the new stimulus, you will reach a new plateau — and that’s normal. But only then are you ready to take the next step (e. g. nutrition, sleep). Don’t worry, you are not alone in this journey, we are here.

Lastly, let me mention that there are fitness gains that are not reflected in your FTP. For example, rather than being able to ride for 1 hour at 80 % FTP, maybe you can now do it for 2.

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The fact that you are on your bike and bettering yourself is deserving of a pat on the back as it is.

As others have said, it seems as if rest and recovery are the main sticking points - massage, stretching, Z1 rides where you are ticking the legs over etc. Maybe try swapping around the time that you train if it is affecting your sleep? What is your post ride recovery diet like? Things to think about anyway.

Time on the bike is something that needs to be mentioned too. Your body adapts and becomes more efficient as the years of riding accumulate. One day at a time. One foot in front of the other. One pedal stroke after the other. Accumulate those KM’s but be kind to yourself and recover well - physically and mentally.

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You haven’t paid enough dues/suffered enough physically to be disappointed in your gains. Stay consistent and above all else trust the process. Best of luck.

Congrats on the improvements, I would take the FTP increase and weight loss as huge positives.

From here I’d assess your weekly TSS, it’s easy at the beginning of a training black or week to plan to hit big TSS numbers. If you’re drained by the end of the week, probably best to switch out some higher TSS workouts for equal duration workouts with an endurance focus.

Congrats again

Wait, did I start this thread? I started TR around the same time as you, and I’m also 42 years old starting off at >100 kg and about 2.3 W/kg. And I also haven’t seen the gains that I had hoped for/expected when I started. There’s already a lot of really good advice in the replies above, but I’d like to add that even though I haven’t seen the FTP gains that I’d like, the indoor training has helped a lot. When I’m outside I can hold higher intensity for longer than I could before starting structured training. I know that if I stick with it (and do better than I did in November!) the other gains will come.

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I think one analogy from computer games is that you have a power bar and a life bar. The power bar (roughly) corresponds to your FTP. Raising your FTP gives you more punch. But the life bar is equally important, especially if you haven’t done sports in a long time. In all likelihood it is quite short. The panting the OP told us about is IMHO an indication of that: his life bar was depleted.

Gains in the life bar department are much more subtle to measure, but you will feel them when you ride outside, especially with others.

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You might be pushing too hard too fast and frying yourself. Your gains are good. In what sounds like about 12 weeks your FTP has gone from roughly 241 to 267, a 10.6% increase, and you’ve manged to lose 6kg / 13lbs at the same time. But, you sound worn down.

One thing about focusing on weight loss, make sure you are still fuelling properly in advance of all but your Z2/1 rides. I’m on that road right now myself and I know I tried doing SSB rides fasted for a while and they were rough, really really rough that way. Then thanks to the TR podcast, I heard that was a big no-no and I started eating properly in advance of those rides getting a good mix of carbs/protein/fat. After that they were hard, but I went from feeling like I was dying at the end to them being a good hard.

As for the whole low volume versus medium volume plan, I’ve heard them say a couple of times on the TR podcast, that if you are coming off the couch regardless of the time you have, start with Sweet Spot Base Low Volume and build from there.

So, if I were you from a rest, recovery, mental freshness perspective, I’d give some serious thought to lowering your intensity/TSS. I’d personally go with Sweet Spot Base Low Volume 1 and 2 (for 6 weeks each), then Sustained Power Build Low Volume (8 weeks) and then Century or Rolling Road Race Low Volume (8 weeks) and during all that for additional time in the saddle and calorie burn if you are feeling good, gung ho, and strong, add in one or two days of Z2 with the likes of Pettit, Whorl, Townsend, Gibbs, etc., depending on you feel. If you want to stay with the Medium Volume plan, at the very least, think about swapping out your Sunday ride for one of the above until you feel stronger.

First, I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to read this thread and reply. What a great and positive community!

My expectations when I started TR were that I would get faster and that my FTP would increase (in absolute numbers as well as W/kg). While I am probably faster, my FTP has stayed the same for going on two months of 6 - 7 hours per week of challenging workouts. It feels as if I could have achieved the same result with easier workouts as long as I spent the same amount of calories for the weight loss.

Some of you have mentioned nutrition as an area of improvement. I am still trying to figure out the optimal balance between calories (weight loss vs. fuelling needs) and carbs (great for cycling, terrible for diabetics).

While I am frustrated, I am not discouraged. My plan is to finish the Base 2 phase, continuing to shave a few TSSs off Sunday workouts if the preceding Saturday was too challenging.

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You said you haven’t done sports in decades. Give it some time and be patient with yourself. Plus, have a look at this graph: 2.7 W/kg puts you right around the average of all male TR users — and you’re doing that practically off the couch. You are not as slow as you think. Imagine what you’ll be like in a year with, say, the exact same power numbers, weighing another 10-12 kg less. You will feel that when you are outside, especially when you are climbing.

One thing about nutrition: when I am in my off-season my cravings shift towards unhealthier food. And when I am in training, I actually want to eat healthier food. So just training will get you into a virtuous cycle. I don’t know what your diet is like, but two easy ones are sodas and beer. I share a bottle of beer with my wife about once per week. Of course, sometimes I drink more when I am out with friends. But other than that, I have cut back on that. Sodas are 100 % gone in my life, unless I am riding outside and need the energy.

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I searched “metformin and exercise” and it was very interesting to learn of a recent study showing the two combined will counteract each other in some people.

Also a quick search of “type 2 diabetes and exercise” turned up this consensus statement from the American Diabetes Association:

Personally I would be talking with my doctor about getting off the meds, and focus on diet along with cycling and resistance training. However I really don’t know anything about the topic other than reading a few key articles as mentioned above.

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Have you noticed improvements in your cycling other than wkg and FTP?

My n=1 is my FTP did not improve during build phases, it increased in the prior and following SSB phases. But I think the builds (and base) helped me improve as a cyclist in other ways: punching hills at pVO2max seems to just happen now instead of being intentional, improved fatigue resistance (climbs @pVO2max after 3000kJ), average power PRs from 5min - 4.5hrs this year. I hit a PR FTP in January and it has declined a little bit, but the rest of the year has seen improvements that let me more effectively use that power in more situations.

My perspective is that cycling is a sport of seasons and years. Its difficult to not look month to month and wanting to see those numbers and metrics increase, but it takes years of consistent riding to build that aerobic engine. What you’re doing now is building the foundation for improvements you’ll see years down the road.

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LOL, it took me 11 months of consistent training just to get to 2.5 watts/kg. You got to 2.7 watts/kg in 13 weeks! It’s all a matter of perspective. Best of luck to you.

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First of all great job with the consistency. That’s what really matters, especially when you are getting started.
I’d say forget about your w/kg’s, that measure doesn’t really matter much anyway. Focus instead in your nutrition and sleep and in how you are feeling. Do you feel stronger? Do you feel that certain intervals are getting slightly easier?

From your post, it tells me that you have been rating the workouts as hard or higher than that, so TrainerRoad is doing the right thing in keeping your FTP almost the same and maybe giving you small increases at specific levels. This is the right way. Trust it.

In addition, Medium Volume is for advanced type of athletes. You should be doing Low Volume and if you have extra time do some cross training (weights, running, etc). Cross training will help you more right now than the additional two indoor workouts per week.

Finally please stop worrying about your w/kg’s. I cannot stress this enough! Improve those watts (which is what really makes you faster) and just get stronger overall.

Also, workouts will never get “easier”. As they say, you only get stronger and workouts adapt to that.

Good luck!

I read your thread because I’m also frustrated by my progress, but feel a bit more optimistic after reading the feedback of others. I wanted to mention that I don’t consume sugary gels etc., but have found something call Superstarch that was formulated for diabetics. I’ve been really happy with how I feel using it - stable energy without spikes or crashes. I have a sensitive stomach and it is fine for me as long as I avoid ones with stevia.

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