FTP Regression: Any Idea on what I can do/change?

I started doing the workouts in January and my FTP keeps on dropping in spite of training about 12-hour weeks: five workouts on the trainer on weekdays and a long ride on Saturday mornings.

Wednesday, Jun 3, 2020 - 250
Monday, Mar 16, 2020 - 256
Monday, Feb 24, 2020 - 262
Monday, Jan 13, 2020 - 281

I have followed the plans that was generated: sweet spot and then builds. I believe I did two cycles with a two week recovery between.

Anything to look into to try to sort this out?

Some background:

  • I used to train a lot in my late 20s et early 30s and peaked at about 320-340 FTP or about 5 W/Kg
  • I started to train again two years ago, now in my 40s and went from 175-ish to 275-ish FTP in about 18 months or about 4.25-4.50 W/Kg using my own plan (generic week without much periodisation of 1 VO2Max workout, 1 Threshold workout, 1 Sweet Spot workout, and 1 Long Ride with a recovery week every third or fourth week)
  • I started TrainerRoad at the beginning of the year. I am following the plans but I keep on testing lower and lower
  • The number of workouts pre and post-TR are the same: 5 indoors, 1 long outdoor ride; Covid didn’t change my schedule since I was already working from home; my sleep and nutrition are about the same; and I didn’t gain or lose significant weight

Thanks in advance for any feedback or ideas to figure this out.

Which testing method are you using? Ramp, 8min, 20min etc…? Have you changed any part of your indoor setup since you began testing, such as the bike, your position on the bike, or the trainer/powermeter?

If I’m reading your post correctly, you’ve completed Sweetspot Base 1&2 and at least one Build phase. Correct? Which Build phase(s) did you do? It also sounds like you have good plan compliance so I’m wondering if you’re able to complete all of workouts being prescribed? Do you struggle with or skip any particular types of workout?

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(If you make your TrainerRoad account public we can look at your training calendar and history and see if anything stands out.)

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I just made my account public. (Is that public to all on TR or to all-all? :smiley: )

I did all my TrainerRoad tests using the Ramp Test and my set up hasn’t changed in the past six months.

I have some 20-minute all out efforts. I rarely do one-hour efforts.

I have made my account public if you know how to access it:

  • Looking at my Career Chart, I have done two cycles of base + build ending in early March and Late June.
  • I don’t remember the name of the Builds but something like Sustained Power and Specialties would be Climbing Road Race. I am essentially interested in going faster up climbs in my area ranging from 15 minutes to 90 minutes.
  • I typically find sweet spot workouts easy and often struggle with VO2Max workouts (and adjust them to 95 or even 90%). I rarely bail on workouts but sometimes adjust for time e.g. on Monday of this week I swapped Mills +3 (1:30) for Mills +1 (1:15) same intervals just less padding at the end.

My immediate thought is that you’re super consistent where Sweetspot is concerned. The issue might be that you seem to find a workout format that you like within the Sweetspot range, then you repeat that session with an additional interval. You’re increasing duration, which is good, but you’re not really challenging your system. You’re already very good at Sweetspot.

The Ramp Test does seem to favour those with good VO2 credentials and as you say, your most recent VO2 & Over/Under workouts have seen reasonable drops in regards to percentage of FTP.

If I were you, I’d really consider adding additional VO2 work to the schedule. Possibly even draw a line under your current plan, search the forum for Coach Chads VO2 Progression Plan and get some of that work under your belt.


(Disclaimer: I don’t actually know what I’m talking about.)

I agree with @PusherMan. Couple other things I notice:

  • Like you said, you consistently turn down the intensity on work over threshold. For over-unders in particular, that means you’re not getting the intended training stimulus, assuming your threshold is set correctly. I’m wondering if you’re assessing too high and all your “sweet spot” work is actually happening at threshold, and/or if your threshold is a relatively high percentage of your VO2max.
  • You’re doing high-volume plans and then adding hard rides on top of them, and you’re not only rolling right past some of the scheduled recovery weeks, you’re replacing scheduled endurance/recovery rides within hard weeks with sweet spot and threshold work. That’s a lot to ask your body to recover from. You get faster when you recover, and if you’re not recovering well, adding hours will just dig yourself deeper into fatigue.

What’s your nutrition like?


Just flicked through your career, you appear to be doing all your work under your FTP from May until the past 2 weeks, where you then did some work over FTP but then dialled it back with Mills and Fang Mountain, and then again this week with Mills and Avalanche Spire.

Are you modifying the plans to avoid the over Threshold work? I think that is the main issue here. You need to be working over your current threshold to grow it, dialing it back under threshold will lead to what you are seeing.

I’d suggest dropping down to Mid Vol, making sure you hit ALL the sessions and all the intervals, use the extra rest days to make sure you hit the prescribed workouts.

Even Base should have had workouts over Threshold, ie Mid Vol Base

and build has a load of them, ie Mid Volume


The ramp test essentially ends with a 6min+ threshold->vo2max effort. Since you’ve dialed down basically all threshold workouts to sweetspot territory I’m not surprised you’re testing poorly. Whether it’s because you’re not recovered properly, or just not ready to suffer harder efforts I couldn’t say. Could also be a cooling issue?

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Have you thought about just going back to your own self-made plan?

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So a couple things that I noticed looking at your profile were:

  1. You turn down the intensity on most rides that goes over FTP. Is there a reason for that? Too fatigued, your FTP doesn’t scale to VO2, etc…

  2. I know HR can be funky and individual but on your Ramp test in Jan your max HR was about 179bpm while on some of your others it didn’t break 170. Do you think you’ve been fully recovering between phases and before your ramp tests? Have you been pushing to absolute failure on your subsequent tests?

  3. I noticed that a couple days before one of your ramp tests you did a 4.5 hour 0.72 IF outdoor ride. That’s a relatively fatiguing ride and could have impacted the test.

Just by looking at your calendar I would probably guess that you are just fatigued. Based on the TSS chart above the calendar there are only 3 clear recovery weeks since Mid-Jan (one scheduled recovery week included a 225 TSS 4+ hour ride so the week’s TSS ended up at 570). I think you might just be running yourself into the ground a little.

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I used the Plan Builder though. But I see your point.

So, for a Base phase drop one of the Sweet Spot sessions and replace it with a VO2Max session instead of waiting for the Build and Specialty phases to start working at those higher intensities?

And get more/better rest and recovery.

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I eat relatively he[quote=“ellotheth, post:7, topic:40125”]
What’s your nutrition like?

I eat relatively healthy.

Typical day would be:

  • Breakfast: very large bowl of oatmeal with dried blueberries, walnuts and/or almonds, large spoon of peanut or almond butter, sometimes I add honey if I am craving something sweet. I once calculated it at about 1,500 kcal.
  • Lunch/Dinner: pasta/rice/quinoa or the like, fish or meat, veggies; fruit and/or ice cream for dessert

I once tracked my calories for about a month. It’s been a while but I am probably still close to the following ratios: 50-60% carbs, 15-20% protein, 25-30% fat.

I hardly drink coffee unless I am exceptionally tired or I want to do an all out effort on one of the hills around me. Maybe once or twice per quarter.

I am following what the Plan Builder generated: sweet spot then build (the last two weeks).

I have been doing the high volume versions because it’s what the Plan Builder gave me. I didn’t realize that the mid volume had more intensity/variety in them. Maybe that’s the ticket.

I started with TrainerRoad because I was plateauing… but maybe maintaining is better than regressing. :smiley:

I like the platform. It’s just frustrating to be going backwards…

Took a quick look at your calendar, IMHO there are too many hard days and not enough aerobic work. My suggestions are:

  • go back to your own plan
  • review the info in these videos for ideas on improving your own plan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Wk0f-Bsw3E and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZEBfZdR4ws&t=698s
  • try to mesh the ideas in the videos above with TrainerRoad low-volume plans (which likely means dropping 1 of the 3 TR days)
  • for more ideas consider buying a stock plan 8-12 hour/week plan from a well known coach on TrainingPeaks
  • if you have Strava premium, checkout the free plans from CTS which is a well known and respected training company
  • hire a coach
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I think it’s partly natural strength/weakness. I remember my teammates talking about the pain in their legs and going past it: I never felt that burn. Once I reach failure my legs just stop working. On the flip side, I didn’t fade as much as they did on longer efforts. It was true for running, swimming, rowing, climbing as well but I only bike those days.

Power profile courtesy of Intervals.icu. I started to train again mid-2018 and the eFTP for 2019 is my first TR Ramp Test on 1/13/2020 (TR pegged me at 281, Intervals.icu at 275 - slightly difference algorithm I suppose) so six months ago. TR currently pegs me at 250 and Intervals.icu at 248.

eFTP from Intervals.icu with current season starting in february

Power Graph from Intervals.icu with current season starting in february

I pushed to failure. Maybe I am not recovering enough as you and others have hinted. I think for the last one in June I had almost a taper.

That’s a great point. In terms of perceived difficulty, my Saturday long rides feel super easy - certainly easier than the weekday workouts. But maybe there is deeper, less perceptible fatigue.

Another great point. I feel well rested after three easy days and so I thought after six days I could do a long ride. But maybe I don’t anymore. :man_shrugging:

I would certainly try this approach.

Pick something reasonably easy to start with, such as Baird +1 or Bluebell. Use workouts like this to build your VO2 confidence.

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What are you eating before/during/after the workouts? Are you fueling or fasting?

That’s mostly a base-phase distinction. Sweet Spot Base High Volume is like 10 hours a week of sweet spot and nothing else. The Build and Specialty HV plans are almost exactly the same as their Mid Volume counterparts, with mostly extra endurance time. You’re doing a lot of riding outside, so MV might be a better fit: focus on fueling and recovery so you can nail the intervals, and have more wiggle room to do what you want outside.