FTP changes when going back to base

This is my second year using TrainerRoad but my first year after I finished Specialty Phase I just enjoyed riding outdoors and when I resumed structured training I had a substantial drop in FTP which I expected although not as much as it did drop.

This year I did a base, build and specialty again but in order to avoid the huge drop decided to go back to base again for the summer and do as many rides as I could with outdoor workouts. I started in January with an FTP of 238 and when I re-tested after specialty to start base again it was 272.

Today after 6 weeks of base my FTP has dropped down to 265. I was a little disappointed but was wondering if it is normal to see a drop when returning to base since there is a drop in training load?

There are other factors that could be playing a roll as well. Some rides outside were with my wife on the weekend and since she is not as fast I end up riding at lower power when with her. And then lately there have been some career changes that have definitely left me feeling a bit more fatigued.

So questions are:

  1. Is the drop normal when going back to base from completing base, build & specialty?
  2. Should I carry on with new FTP or try and complete workouts with old one?

Yes, this is normal. Assuming you are doing either a LV or MV base you have no VO2 workouts so you will lose some of your anaerobic contributions from that system. This would be especially evident if you are using the ramp test to determine FTP. As you also said, a drop in TSS and an increase in life stress could both be contributing factors.

You should carry on with your new FTP. Going forward with too high of an FTP could lead to burnout. Also just because you type an FTP value in TR doesn’t make that your FTP. Your FTP is still your FTP no matter what you have it written down as.

Starting a new progression at a higher point then last year is already a win in my book. Don’t get too discouraged by the lower number. As you train more it should increase and for your second year of training it should rise back up beyond your previous high. Remember that training is not linear and you can’t just alway get better and always train more. Sometimes steps back are required in order to take a larger leap forward.


Thanks for the reply and advice! I know that it’s not reasonable to assume that FTP can just keep rising but just wanted to check in and see if the logic I was using to explain my drop made sense. Thanks for verifying that it does. I will carry on with the new FTP.

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Yeah base training isn’t really meant to raise FTP. But rather to develop aerobic fitness and a larger ‘base’ in order to build more intensity upon in later training phases which should then lead to a higher FTP. Sounds like you are off to a good start!
This is why in the personal record on TR you can use “Season Match”. So you aren’t always comparing your current fitness to your best fitness but you can compare your fitness now to where it was at this point in your previous base.

That’s a good point to remember actually about season match. I’m definitely fitter than last season and hopefully next season will be even better due to no long breaks from structure.

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This is exactly what I needed to come and confirm/remind myself of today. I did my first ramp test at the end of SSBHV1 this morning and it had dropped so much. I have also been doing some TB workouts (Fri/Sat/Sun) of equal planned TSS because I have the time on those days. So I have really not been using anaerobic contributions in training. I also used the TR ramp test for the first time. I didn’t realise it was different and had been using the zwift test for the last 18 months or so. I considered testing again tomorrow using that, but have decided against it. It would be more out of curiosity I think, than really add any value.

The week before I started my TR plan I tested at 199 with Zwift (and kind of kicked myself for not putting in a couple more pedal strokes to hit 200, d’oh!). This morning using the TR test I got 177. I know my FTP is higher than that and if I train with that I will be under-training, so I have split the difference and gone with 188. The 199 result came off the back of a few local CX races (NZ - we managed to have 3 before covid restrictions came back in) and the training I had done for that. I was definitely going well, but the fitness felt a bit fickle so I decided to give a full base/build/etc plan a go for a MTB event in March.

It’s tough to go backwards, but it does make sense. I know this stuff and I know the science behind it and it will be working as it should. I’m planning on sticking with SSB workouts for part 2 except for the occasional group mtb ride. We always hear and read about FTPs going up and up, but not many people talk about a drop in FTP as part of the process (only when it’s a result of illness or injury or some other significant factor).

So, sticking with it. Trusting in the process! Training starts again tomorrow.