FTP drop during build: Fatigued or lack of progessive stimulus and does VO2max block lead to "overtesting"?

I am 39 year old male road cyclist (71 kg) who started using TR and doing structured training about two years ago. This year I have been pretty consistent with my training, starting SSB MV in the beginning of Jan with an FTP of 274 watts (ramp test with Assioma pedals on an Elite Turbo Muin). By the start of General Build MV on 1 st of April I tested at 308 w, but increased my FTP manually to 314 w after the first over-unders workout was way too easy at 100% intensity. The threshold and over-under workouts the following weeks of build still seemed quite easy, but I was struggling with VO2max workouts. Based on suggestions in this forum I therefore started a two-week “Coach Chad’s VO2max booster plan”, which seemed to improve the VO2max interval side of things. I therefore restarted General Build MV, tested at 306 w (8 w drop), did a week of workouts and felt I had not had a proper recovery week, so I took that and restarted General Build MV again. This time the ramp test gave me whopping 325 w FTP (best ever test)! Since then I have been following this plan, usually with the Sunday sweet spot workout swapped for a longer club ride and with an extra unstructured outdoor ride per week. Since then the threshold and over-under workouts have been a fair bit harder than earlier this year. My last ramp test had me drop to 314 w and I am now at week 7 in build struggling a lot with my threshold and even sweet spot workouts that usually both have been relatively easy for me to complete. I am convinced that I would see a further FTP-drop if I took a ramp test today.

As additional info, my TSS 6-week average has been quite consistent and between ~550-590 since mid-April. There’s been no change to my stress-levels (generally very low) and amount of sleep (7-8 hours per night) during this year. My diet is relatively carb-centric with plenty of whole-grain, vegetables and fruit, and I fuel well (regular food before and carb drink during workouts) for all workouts of sweet-spot intensity and above.

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My questions for the TrainerRoad Forum hive mind are therefore:

  1. Is my FTP drop(s) more likely to be due to fatigue than lack of progressive stimulus (a presumed lack of stimulus because of more unstructured Sunday club rides often replacing the 2 h sweet spot workout during Build)? I generally feel really well in my daily life - apart from when I ride at sweet spot intensity and above, then my legs start complaining :wink:
  2. If my issues are due to fatigue, should I just take a recovery week now and start up SSB MV again (I was just one week short of finishing Build)? My first races begin in mid-August and the last one is at the end of October.
  3. Would a VO2max block boost FTP to an unsustainable level when testing using a ramp test (because it relies more on VO2max work than a 20 min FTP test), and could this be the reason for my all-time best FTP after the two-week VO2max block, followed by the drop during Build?

Sorry for the long post and thanks a lot in advance for your replies! :slight_smile:

Best regards,
Kasper

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If you are not out-right failing the workouts, I would just finish the build and then ask yourself these same questions again after the recovery week at the end of the build. You basically have just one more week of hard workouts!

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I failed the 2 h sweet spot workout Aniakchak outright yesterday - only got to the third of the four intervals before I called it quits… And only got through the 1.5 h threshold workout Kaweah the day before by backpedaling multiple times during the last couple of intervals.

That sounds to me like you are in the right place actually. Build is suppose to take you right to the ragged edge of what you can do and force you to deal with failure (or at least the possibility of failure). Starting over now will IMHO rob you of an opportunity to learn some important things about yourself. An opportunity that you worked hard for these last 6 weeks. So instead of looking for reasons to not complete this build, look for ways that will get you through the remaining 5 workouts. I know you say that you are getting plenty of sleep and nutrition is covered but perhaps you still have a couple of more tricks up your sleeve to get your body (and mind) through these next workouts? I find that knowing how (and when) to to “turn it up to 11” is a pretty vital part of the TR plans as well as knowing when to take a break.

Here are some of the things that I do when I fear that I might fail an upcoming workout or workouts:

  • Already foam rolling once a day? Do it twice or even better get a sports massage.
  • Getting 7-8 hrs of sleep every day? Try a power nap in the middle of the day.
  • Eating and fueling well? Add another snack or few hundred calories of my favorite food. Pay attention to timing.
  • Add another fan. Turn on the AC (if available).
  • Oil my chain.
  • Wear my best bib shorts.
  • Put on the “I only use this music for when it is really tough” play list.
  • Start counting pedal strokes, chanting mantras, make up stuff.
  • VO2Max intervals: Switch to resistance mode so that I can overshoot-and-fade an interval while hitting the target average (e.g. the upcoming Ansel Adams and Kaiser workouts)
  • Lower intensity by 5-10%
  • Downgrade the workout to next easier variation.
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Eat more carbs.

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good chance your “vo2 booster block” is at least partly (or mostly) responsible for the jump in aerobic capacity. The question I’d ask myself - with ramp test estimated FTP could I go out and ride at threshold for 35-65 minutes?

308 vs 314 vs 306 - these changes are all in the margin of error and nothing to look at, or be concerned about.

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I also would suspect combination of VO2 max booster and ramp test. I am repetitive with my suggestion - try longer test like Kolie Moore test to establish your FTP for sustainable workouts. Honestly if you could not finish Kaweah without backpedaling and you have problems with SS your FTP is too high, or you lack muscle endurance (assuming that there was no external factors like room temperature, tired muscles from some hard workotus and so on).

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Thank you for all your replies! I assumed that I was fueling properly regarding carbs, but seeing some of the numbers quoted in this forum (5-10 g/kg on high-intensity workout days) I am not so sure anymore…

Regarding the accuracy of the FTP from the ramp test - especially the 325 w all time best one - looking back I realise that did manage to do 322 w / 319 w (NP / average power) on a 40 min outside all-out effort five days earlier, so while not a full hour, maybe that FTP was not too far off. Will be interesting to see if a similar/more extensive VO2max block will have the same great effect further down the track.

I will up my carb intake and lower my FTP or workout intensity a bit and get through the last week of Build before getting a recovery week and hopefully not see too big drop in my next test.

Thanks again and happy riding!

Cheers,
Kasper

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My undergrad ex fizz textbook says up to 12 grams per kilogram.

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What is this 2-week plan?
Where can I find it?

Basically a couple of weeks with workouts having progressively longer VO2max intervals. Try this thread: Short intense period before starting base? Chad's short FTP boost plan
and bbarrera’s post 23 in this thread: VO2 % reduction - whilst still acquiring the right intensity and training effect