FTP topping out...?

How do you know when you are topping out, at least temporarily, on your FTP? Chad seemed to have a pretty good inclination with Nate progression last season that he was at his peak…

Ramp Test for my Build Phase put me at 292. I had a pretty good 1st half of my sustained power build phase in terms of consistency, although it started off a bit rough with a ski trip and sickness that pulled me off the bike for ~10 days right at the start. I backed up to the begging and essentially restarted the plan with my 292. Workouts were incredibly tough, and I had a few bails on the tough V02Max workouts–the longer sustained sub-threshold stuff was still doable, and I actually liked them. Ramp Test for the 2nd half put me at 293, which I thought was an “off day”, but was reconfirmed 2 days latter by the same result on an “on day”.

I effectively started training in earnest in October, going through the SSB plan with a repeat of SSB2 in January. My FTP at the start was 242, which was off of a peak of 273 in June. I am following the mid-volume plans. I recognize 50 watts is a nice pick up, as is the current 20 watts over last season’s peak. However, this has me wondering how much more I can reasonably expect to get, and if a change in plans to focus more on a polarized approach might be in order–i.e. to raise the floor, if the ceiling is set?

I’m in the same boat. I had a 37W (16%) increase in tested FTP in five months, my first time with TR. my FTP is slightly above my highest road tested FTP from four years ago (my all time high). My theory is that I have butted up against my current ceiling, not because I can’t go any higher, but because my foundation is not strong enough at this higher FTP. I trained SSB1 at 232W, then was doing Sustained Power Build at 270. It was crushing me. Years past, I trained mostly subthreshold as a long course triathlete, so extended time spent above 250W was rare for me.

With my schedule and situation this year, I’ve decided to go back and retrain SSB at 260W (tested today), and build the floor more solidly to push higher in build.

I don’t think you need to necessarily change Training philosophy to polarized (I personally don’t think it’s appropriate for most regular folks with jobs, families, etc., JMO), but maybe some time “making the baby fat” will help the “baby grow taller.” (I have a newborn, so the baby analogy makes a lot of sense to me!)


I have no real data to back this up, but it’s always felt like FTP progression follows a logarithmic growth curve. You see huge gains in the beginning and end up working your ass off for a percent or two of improvement.

Anyway, FTP isn’t the end all of fitness, so there are other ways you are getting faster even though that one metric may stay relatively static.


Similar fitness season ceiling concern as well. My experience since starting TR in July 2018 has been big gains in the beginning, then fighting for every percentage. However, I’ve seen fitness gains aside from FTP increases, such as the ability to hold higher power for longer, recover faster, then repeat. I ramp tested my FTP at 287 on January 15, 2019, but the workouts were too hard and eventually I was failing and unable to complete workouts. So I lowered my FTP through GBMV and by March 2019 I was able to reach and complete those workouts at that same 287 FTP. I had to reduce my FTP and build it back up (from sustained power to general/short power).

I have increased my FTP by 100 watts in 9 months, so I’m assuming I’m approaching my yearly fitness gain limit as well. However, if I can maintain or slightly increase my FTP for race season, while dialing in specificity for my “A” race, then it’s all a fitness gain even if it’s not represented in a new FTP. I’m just trusting the process and staying consistent.

“A” Race - September 21, 2019 [MTB 100]
??? - August 13, 2019 [XCM Specialty]
??? - June 11, 2019 [General Build MV]

293 (+2%) - Apr 9, 2019 [SSB 2 MV]
287 (+2%) - Mar 13, 2019 [SSB 1 MV / last 4 weeks]
282 (+2%) - Feb 12, 2019 [General Build MV]
276 (-4%) - Jan 23, 2019 [reduced because of failed workouts, FTP too high]
287 (+8%) - Jan 15, 2019 [General Build MV]
265 (+6%) - Dec 18, 2018 [Traditional Base 3 MV)
250 (-4%) - Nov 20, 2018 {Traditional Base 2 MV}
260 (+10%) - Oct 23, 2018 [Traditional Base 1 MV]

XCO Season Peak/Last Race - September 29, 2018
235 (+21%) - Aug 6, 2018 [XCO Specialty}
193 - Jul 11, 2018 [Started TR]

To provide some context, I currently weigh 77kg (169 lbs), so 3.82 w/kg.

Good stuff, by stepping back to SSB1 I’m hoping for the same type of progression you’ve seen:

232 - SSB1MV
247 - SSB2MV
263 - Sustained Power Build LV pt1 (no issues)
270 - Sustained Power Build LV pt2 (many bailouts)
260 - SSB1MV

If I can push back up to 270 (maybe higher?) and train SSB2 or a build effectively there, I’ll be quite happy.

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How long have you been riding?

For reference, I started riding in 2010 and got my first powermeter in 2011. First FTP test I did put me at 260W. Now 9 years later, with focused training for 4 of those years I’m at 340W.

I think I went from 260->325 in the first year, but have been clawing my way up to 340 over the last three.

I’ve been riding for 2 years exactly. I bought my first bike ever in late March 2017. I had recently turned 40 and I needed a new sport and mountain biking looked fun. I was previously a CrossFitter for 8-9 years, then took a couple years off not doing much but playing pick-up basketball. Kinda had a midlife crisis and needed a hobby. So I found MTB through some friends and fell in love with riding, racing XC0 and MTB 100s.

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I’d be curious to know what kind of fluctuations you have experienced over those three years. I get the sense that many of us are far too worried about short-term losses in fitness and lose sight of the bigger picture.

This has been my progression. Some inconsistencies last year; but training for this season kicked off effectively in December, but with more focus starting in Oct thru Nov. Lots of SSB work for ~ 5 months off/and then more progressively on. Note that last fall was a period focused on weight loss, but by the time January came I was focused more on fueling for workouts and slipped a bit on weight. I would argue this is some plausible evidence that fueling was not likely an issue, and that I should have been in a net anabolic state.

There was a 10 day disruption right at the beginning of SPB1 where I might have lost some fitness. My plan is to continue through SPB2 and see how the next ramp goes. :

Ramp Test Max 1 min AP Test Time Max HR eFTP Weight w/kg FTP % %/Wk w/kg % %/Wk Prev. Plan
02/02/2018 324 19:24 179 243 202.4 2.65
03/23/2018 359 20:21 179 269 197.5 3.01 10.8% 1.5% 13.6% 1.9% SSB1
04/27/2018 365 19:31 178 274 200.1 3.02 1.7% 0.3% 0.4% 0.1% SSB2
05/09/2018 342 17:59 177 257 199.2 2.84 -6.3% -3.7% -5.9% -3.4% SSB1
05/31/2018 339 18:50 178 254 202.2 2.77 -0.9% -0.3% -2.3% -0.7% SPB1
06/21/2018 350 20:31 177 263 199.1 2.91 3.2% 1.1% 4.9% 1.6% Random
07/24/2018 323 19:49 176 242 198.2 2.69 -7.7% -1.6% -7.3% -1.5% Random
10/03/2018 334 20:34 177 251 186.5 2.96 3.4% 0.3% 9.9% 1.0% SSB1
11/20/2018 343 19:28 177 257 186.5 3.04 2.7% 0.4% 2.7% 0.4% SSB2
12/16/2018 364 20:39 179 273 186.5 3.23 6.1% 1.6% 6.1% 1.6% Random
02/22/2019 389 21:14 179 292 191 3.37 6.9% 0.7% 4.4% 0.4% SSB2
04/09/2019 391 19:37 179 293 192 3.37 0.5% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0% SPB1
04/12/2019 390 19:36 181 293 192 3.36 -0.3% -0.6% -0.3% -0.6% Confirm