FTP Flat Through Build Phase - Any Ideas?

I recently completed 8 weeks of General Build Mid Volume only to see my FTP increase by 2 watts. I was under the impression that the biggest gains in FTP occur during the Build Phase, so I was a little disappointed. Does anyone have any ideas what may be preventing me from realizing more substantial improvements? Details below:

Physiological Details: Age = 33, Weight = 142 lbs / 64 kg, Height = 6 foot, Watts/Kg = 3.5.

Training History: Riding bikes for ~4 years, seriously training with TR since August 2018. Completed Sweet Spot Base 1 and 2 Mid Volume and General Build Mid Volume. Initial FTP was 207 at the beginning of SSB and improved to 230 by the end of SSB (11% improvement). Generally stuck to the plans and completed the workouts without turning down the intensity or skipping intervals. Seem to struggle more with high power and VO2Max.

Diet: Vegetarian for 10+ years, but get enough protein from other sources. Eat pretty healthy - mostly veggies, grains, beans, etc. Have always struggled to put on weight, even before giving up meat. Diet is probably a limiter for me. I don’t count calories or pay attention to macro nutrients. I never “fueled” for a ride or ate during a ride until I heard the infamous Amber podcasts, at which point I tried to eat a lot more before and during my rides, but that probably only applied to 2-3 weeks of training.

Rest: I probably sleep about 7.5 hours a night and feel rested. Lifestyle is not extremely taxing other than the training (desk job, no kids, etc.).

Complications: 1) I do ~50% of my training in a hotel gym on a sub-optimal bike. It has a power meter, which I would estimate is within 10-15 watts of my power meter at home. I use RPE and heart rate to compensate for the “perceived” differences in power readings, and try to save the more dynamic workouts (with lots of changes in power) for when I am at home. 2) I got sick during the first rest week of General Build; took a week off, then resumed with the rest week.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but I would greatly appreciate any insight on where to go from here to break through this apparent plateau. My own guess would be - more focus on diet, VO2Max work, and maybe strength training. Thoughts?

Thanks!
-Tom

How easy or hard were the workouts nearing the end of General Build, such as Kaweah and Galena +1? And were those ones done at home? Maybe you under performed on the ramp test. Play with the intensity of your next set of workouts to determine if it’s accurate.

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Did you get a bump in SSBMV2? (assuming you did that first)

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The workouts at the end of General Build were hard but I was able to finish most of them. Ansel Adams + 4 was one of the few workouts that I straight-up failed. I couldn’t do the last 4 sprint intervals and just sat on my trainer until the endurance work started. Baird Peak was also difficult and I was playing mental games with myself to not give up on the last 20 minute interval, but I made it. Generally, I was working out Tuesday and Wednesday on the road, and Friday-Sunday at home.

I might have been able to hold on for another 5 seconds on the ramp test, but when the watts went over 320 my days were numbered.

Yes, that was my biggest single increase over the course of all training with TR (219 --> 229). I remember the workouts feeling easy at the end of SSBMV, even the ones that are notoriously difficult. I actually turned up the intensity on Mary Austin.

This is probably the answer. A full week off the bike followed by a rest week is a lot of detraining, especially in Build.

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Thank you! That gives me some hope for future improvements.

Wow you are light at 6 ft. I wouldn’t sweat it, and remember everyone gets sick and loses time in their training. Keep grinding.

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I’m quite light at 165lbs for 6’2".

I think for us (skinny guys) any imbalance can really be a limiting factor. Have you tried something like pistol squats just to see if both legs are about the same?

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Interesting point. I’m pretty sure I do suffer from imbalance issues. As a former runner, I frequently had one-sided injuries (e.g., IT band). I also have a pedal-based power meter which consistently reports a 53/47% power balance skewed to my right side. Sounds like something I may need to address… Thanks for bring that up.

I had a similar experience last year, I think due to a delayed body reaction to the training stress. I only increase by a few Watts, but 4-6 weeks after I finished build I gained more than I expected in Speciality phase.

It might be the tiredness of build leaving you a little flat, the gains might still be on the way soon provided you keep working hard and reduce the TSS and up the intensity as so happens in the next phase.

I’m just on week 8 of build myself and might see this again.

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Good to hear, thanks! Hopefully the same will be true for me. I’m moving into Specialty today. First race ever coming up in March. I’ll only get 4 weeks of Specialty in before then, but I’m not too concerned about peaking or my results in the race. I’m just hoping to put up a good performance relative to my capabilities and to get out there!

Also, in some cases the popular notion that Build should bring greatest FTP gains may now be off - pre-dating Sweet Spot base prevalence.

See this post in an older thread by Coach @chad:

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This actually describes my experience almost to a T. I definitely feel fitter after Build, I just didn’t see an increase in FTP. I’m not sure how much to read into this, but I use a Garmin Forerunner 935 to record my rides and my (estimated) VO2Max increased by 3 points during Build. I know I shouldn’t read into it too much, as it isn’t actually measuring oxygen uptake, but it does seem to suggest increasing fitness. Thanks!

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Would be great to see some big data from Trainerroad on what people typically see coming out of each phase. Those new to structured training and those not and so on.

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