FTP plummeted and I'm not sure why

I took my last FTP test in the summer of 2018 and it was a solid 195…not bad for this 50-something, 120# woman. (See, you never know who you’ll find hanging out on Trainerroad!) In trying to hit the 200 mark, I started implementing some sweet spot training and down, down, down it went. I’d say I’ve lost about 25 watts since last summer and although I’m slowly bringing it back up, it feels like it’s taking forever to do so. I really feel that part of this is mental; I’m not able to suffer like I was when my FTP was at it’s peak. How do I develop my mental toughness again? Looking back at last year’s TP calendar, I see that I was doing HIIT work 2 X a week, something I got away from during my several weeks of SST. How much does anaerobic work add to your maximum aerobic capacity? From what I’ve read, doing sweetspot and 2 X 20’s seem to be the ticket to raising your FTP.


*cries in lower FTP, lower age, and higher weight*

But seriously: You were at 195 a year and a half ago. What’s your training (and FTP) history since then, and when did you start on the sweet spot training you’re doing now? Are you using the same systems to do the measuring (same power meter/trainer, same indoor/outdoor environment, same testing protocol)?

Would you mind sharing a link to your profile on TrainerRoad? If it is currently private you’d have to make it public for us to see it

Without knowing what exactly you’ve been doing for the last 15-18 months it is hard to answer your question

Same PM, trainer, indoor, etc. so no change there. FTP is generally around 185, 195 was my peak for last year. In years past, it has been as high as 201 and as low as 165. I’ve been riding for over 30 years, but only measuring power for the past 3-4 or so years. I started the sweet spot around the time I was at my peak power and it seems that every month my power would drop. I’m frustrated and my training has been wicked inconsistent. I used to be able to just power through threshold workouts pretty easily, but now…not so much. These days, I ride between 10-12 hours a week with one long ride a week, (maybe 3-3 1/2 hours), one (crappy) 90 minute threshold workout, and a 60 minute HIIT wo. Looking back at my TP calendar for '18 and leading up to my 195, it looks like I did a couple of days of HIIT and less threshold. That seems to be the only thing that’s changed. Well, except the fact that I no longer feel so strong! I swear, some of it is mental and I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t even feel like I want to do a threshold test because I don’t have it in me. Maybe I’m just getting older?! IDK. It’s certainly not the end of the world, but very frustrating.

I’ve been going through something similar over the past year. 'm down from 305 3 years ago to 265, when I tested 8 months ago and I’m sure it went lower, I just stopped wanting to test. I’m in my late 50’s so a bit of it may be age related decline but I really think its a result of not properly tailoring my training to my age and digging my hole deeper instead of getting out of it. In looking at my data, I really think its come down to the fact that for various reasons I’ve been doing few and fewer longer rides and way fewer group rides and then I’m trying to make up the missed training effect from that combo by doubling down on structured workouts. My TSS is not that far off my best years but its more leaning to intensity vs zone 2 volume. That is just not working for me and I think it is part of being an older masters athlete. The intensity tears up my old body and it sucks all the fun out of riding a bike. I’m tired all the time and don’t want to ride which leads to inconsistency, which makes me want to do more intervals to make it up and the circle repeats.

I’m trying a new program i started a few months ago and I’ll carry this approach through my base for 2020. During the week I am doing 3 1 - 1.5 hour rides - 1 sweet spot workout, 1 with zone 3 sets and one steady state zone 2 ride. On the weekends I am doing group rides or, if the weather’s bad, Zwift group rides and occasional races. I find these fun and it lets me self regulate my intensity. If I feel good on a group ride I can mix it up (but not too much). If i’m not up to that i can cruise in the pack. No bar graph is judging me :wink: So far it seems to be working. I’m having more fun and being more consistent. Eventually I’ll start working in supra threshold intervals as the base winds down but for now I’m enjoying my riding and my fitness is coming back.

I’m also doing a bunch of off the bike strength and conditioning work too. This is helping me on the bike but even more, its really motivating and a mental boost. I really feel I am accomplishing something. One big issue with FTP is its never what you want it to be and making it your single focus is an extremely depressing way to train. My FTP may suck but my planks are improving!

Follow a TrainerRoad plan and see what happens.

Although there is flexibility in the plans, tweaking should be kept in check.

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Really think about how you feel and if you need a little break from the bike. Have you taken a week or two off since summer?

In June I got my FTP up to 285 and as of this month my Ramp test came back in at 265.

I did some big ass races in June and July so after that June assessment I didn’t bother to test.

Then in August I took a break and then finished the month with some outdoor rides. Nothing crazy and nothing indoors. In Sept / October I tried to keep going at my old FTP but was doing crap work. So I retested and am not getting back into the groove.

During the summer I’ve noticed that I was pretty inconsistent with the training and then I took a transition period which included not only a significant drop in volume but also a break.

I think it’s pretty important to get that transition and lose some of your FTP gains so that you can get back to work and punch through to the next step. The way I look at it is that we should be striving to have a sort of rising saw tooth curve over time. You want to take a few steps forward, but then every now and again take a step back.

But, to maybe more succinctly answer your question, or perhaps more accurately offer a hunch.

TR workouts are a big time saver. But you need to be very consistent with them. You need to make sure you are getting Coach Chads Time in Zone per week. I think that for these to be successful you have to comply fairly rigidly with the plan or else you get little to no gains.

With traditional training I suppose if you ride enough or more than enough, at some point you’ll get all the good endurance work in there. Sure you’d have some trash miles, but you could make up for it eventually. After all you’re going to be on the bike a lot in zone 2.

With sweet spot training however, you’re looking at a condensed time period, but you need to make sure you’re hitting the nail on the head because you aren’t going to do enough time for you to make up for junk time/miles.

Anyway good luck. You are far from the only person on this forum who’s having this issue. It takes time to figure things out.

have you made any changes to your diet?
are you doing your sweet spot session early in the am before eating? that can make sweet spot more demanding than it needs to be and maybe it is pushing your limits too much. Just wanted to mention it. You also mentioned you thought it could be mental, that is very possible and if your depressed or down for a period of time you won’t train well, I deal with mental health issues and they do impact performance as focus can be a nightmare at times for me at least when I am going through a tough time of it with my mental health issues

Has anything changed in respect of

  1. Trainer
  2. ERG mode on/off
  3. Gearing
  4. Cadence
  5. Testing protocol


Yes! Absolutely a depressing way to train. Sometime I feel like throwing the pm out and training using PE. The numbers can drive you crazy. LOL…good going with the planks and good luck with your new training plan.

That’s good that you took a break. I definitely think that FTP goes up and down, It was so much work just trying to keep it at 195. Maybe it was unrealistic to think I could keep going higher. Maybe sweetspot is what I need right now. The threshold sets aren’t going that great. Good luck to you on getting back at it!

No changes. I always eat a good breaky on days that aren’t z2 workouts. I wish I could blame it on that. Don’t feel depressed at all, which is good! Sorry to hear that you deal with issues, it does take a lot to power through things. So wtg for keeping at it.

Nothing has changed as far as I know. I’m always good at recalibrating my pm before each ride and keeping the same tension on trainer. Always pump up my tires. Some days I just don’t have it.

I am not that far behind you. I like your plan. A few years ago I read Friel’s fast after fifty. It does tend to drag on but the biblography he provides is priceless. I have dipped in and out of that. The key points that come out of it all are that aging athletes need to shift things about a bit:

  1. Rest more (Duh!): I am trying and struggling with finding a rhythm with this LV, 2+1 rather than 3+1 on the TR plans and rest weeks. It has been derailed by illness the last month or so. My strength training has also gone out the window too. For me it looks like an either/or situation for now.

  2. Add strength training to compensate for muscle loss.

  3. Rebalance the diet in favor of protein over carbs. (Got this sorted)

  4. Go to polarized training: This is a biggie and TR is not really geared for that (3 hr + indoor rides :nauseated_face:), nor is my life. So I haven’t tried that yet. Although a window might be opening for next year so I will try it. That would put one day a week for progressive VO2Max (TR) and the rest of the rides at <60% FTP (LT1), outdoor with zone discipline. Easy to do where I live… it’s flat.

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@robinm1369 besides being male our profiles (50’s, riding for decades, 13 years with power, 10+ hours/week for years) are similar.

I believe the answer is basically on the recovery side of the equation. SST can be deceptively fatiguing and I can’t tolerate the same weekly TSS when SST/threshold workouts are added in.

It wouldn’t surprise me if you took a taper or week nearly completely off then retested very well. Just a hunch. Cheers

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Hey Landis. I think you might be on to something. I’m actually coming back after a couple of weeks off due to surgery in August. So…maybe I’m asking little too much from my body. I’ve had a couple of weeks when my TSS has been around 750. I think I’m trying to make up for lost time, which probably isn’t the smartest way to train. Maybe I’ll dial it back a bit.

@simonicusfacilis. I think polarized training is a great idea. (And certainly more rest.)

Thanks to all for helping me to see what should have been apparent.

It certainly sounds like that was more or less the way you used to train anyway before coming to SST. One point I would lean on a bit is the rebalanced macros in your diet. For me that was major. YMMV.

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