Gain Weight to Improve Power

Has anyone had success putting on some pounds to boost their power? I am 5’8" and 142 lbs, and hit 251 on my most recent ramp test (so roughly 3.9 w/kg). I am making good progress (189 --> 251 FTP in 2 years at 5-6 hrs per week), but I realized that w/kg doesn’t really matter since I live in a pretty flat area. It is crazy to see peoples FTP around 350, knowing that I would need to be 5.5 w/kg to get there.

My thought was that this fall/winter I could try to put on 8-10 lbs through squats and deadlifts and if I can keep myself around 4 w/kg, that would mean a 15-20 watt bump in FTP.

Keep training like you would if you were trying to maximise W/kg but eat more. Pay attention to: being fuelled for rides, eating during rides (carbs always, protein for longer rides), eating for recovery.

Sure, get strong with heavy squats and deadlifts, but getting swole with higher reps won’t help your FTP.


My guess is that more volume (i.e. time per week) would result in more FTP gainz than lifting or gaining weight. Lifting would probably make you a more well rounded athlete though. You have had good increases over the last couple of years, when that slows down you’ll need to up the training stimulus, either with more intensity or more volume or both, but eventually it will top out.

I think the real problem is that you need to move to an area that is more attuned to your body type. :rofl: In that type of terrain everyone is probably talking about improving their w/kg and getting down into the 140s and you are already there!

My perspective is that it is a matter of perspective. The physically smaller but high w/kg riders tend to want to get bigger and put out more raw power. The physically larger tend to have higher raw power but want to get smaller to improve w/kg. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Personally, I’d take that extra 1-2 hours you’d spend lifting, add it to your current 5-6 hours /week and see what gains you get from that. If you can bump to 10+ hrs / week that would be even better. 2 years ago I had a huge bump in fitness because I switched from riding outside almost all of the time to riding indoors during the week and outside on the weekend. It is more time efficient for me and I could get the same or slightly more saddle time in and better quality (no wind, traffic, traffic lights, etc.).

Fat dude here.

I’m going to say cycling fast is about watts/kg especially on hills. So you’re going backwards. I’d die to lose 40 lbs.

You want more watts? Work hard, recover hard.

That said I find muscle helps protect injury, gives you protection from falls, etc. Building your back up if you have a sore back, build your core if you have stabilization issues, etc.

yeah I live in a flatland and its all about raw watts. The local boys were out crushing it last night and anyone in lead group was minimum 275W for 10 minutes. I’m doing strength work right now, hoping it helps with the push to 300W ftp by Jan/Feb 2021. That said, in the past doing long z2 / aerobic endurance rides + sweet spot is what drives my raw watt gains.

I have been forgoing the planned weight loss I did last season. I now weigh 1.5 kg more than before (73 kg rather than 71.5 kg), and my power has been going up (currently my FTP is 317 W). But I’m doing this to decrease the likelihood of getting sick to be honest, and not to get stronger.

On one of the last podcast, Coach Chad said that he had one of his best seasons when he weighed a tad more with a lower specific power, and he felt he had more matches to burn. So FTP and W/kg isn’t the only determining factor IMHO.

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I’m in a similar position to wiscokid - 6’0" 153lb, and have always had trouble gaining muscle and power. I’ve been having a lot of success with TrainerRoad in the last 6 months though, mostly as a result of consistency in getting on the bike 4-5 times a week.
I would suggest that weight training and other strength workouts would help, even some running as it’s very time efficient, but remember to fuel generously.
Progressive overload in your riding will build more strength and FTP, as long as you are not skimping on your fueling.
It might feel as if you are eating tons, but if you are exercising regularly I don’t think you would put on too much weight if you are only 148lbs now.

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Also, independently of gaining power on the bike, some form of weight training to balance out the very one-dimensional load we put on our bodies with cycling is an excellent idea. While it may or may not make you a faster cyclist, it will make you a fitter human being :+1:

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I am currently in the exact same boat, trying to gain weight to make it a tad bit easier to get those watts coming. And it is bloody difficult… :exploding_head:

Since starting TR in January I lost 8 kg (currently at 86). Mostly simply through doing the workouts and burning through calories. My ideal weight though where I feel the most comfortable is around 90, but trying to gain weight has become really difficult. I eat like a pig (in terms of amounts) but the scales have only just stopped from dropping.

Typical calorie count during a MV plan as below, but still not enough. This is just to maintain my current 86kg. Not sure if I have to eat even more (which at this point would be ridiculous) or start going to the gym or something.

MON 86 2580 3876 1060 236
TUE 86 2580 3415 641 194
WED 86 2580 4091 1239 272
THU 86 2580 3282 0 702
FRI 86 2580 4669 990 1099
SAT 86 2580 3799 2369 -1150
SUN 86 2580 3800 0 1220
- - - - TOTAL 2573
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Wow 275 for 10 min is actually something reachable for me. I guess I need to move from the Rocky Mountains to the Praires!

@tomski86 I know how hard that can be. A few years ago I was lifting weights and wanted to put on muscle. I was basically force feeding myself.
Ate my main meals and then had two 1,000 calorie shakes (whole milk, peanut butter, banana) and then sometimes would be eating a giant spoonful of peanut butter again before bed. I ended up going from 142 to 162 in about six months.

I’ll stick to the plan right now and try bumping up the hours a bit if possible. I’d like to get up around 10 hours a week, and think that would help. I guess I’ll try that and see if I can approach 4.5 w/kg.
I used to be a runner, so now I just want to see what my potential is on the bike. Had my VO2 max tested at 69 on a treadmill, but that was 10 years ago now.

Yeah that is basically starting to sound right in my case :joy: The thing is that I could probably easily gain the extra 4kg by eating junk food but that would defeat the purpose. As I started to focus only on healthy ish food then the amounts of it needed went through the roof. Kind of makes you notice how crap the average standard food has become nowadays :stuck_out_tongue:

I always wanted to do a proper lab test but couldn’t get around to do it in the end. Some average algorithm currently is giving me a value of 63, but that is exactly that, some random algorithm. :man_shrugging:

It didn’t work for me, my weight went up and my power went down.

I think you are taking the observation that larger/heavier people tend to have higher FTPs and trying to apply it in on individual basis which imho is a little confused.

Weight is probably not the key variable at play - more likely muscle mass and muscle composition.

@willball12 that is why I said I would attempt to put on muscle through squats and deadlifts, therefore increasing my muscle mass. I wouldn’t just eat more cheeseburgers to try to gain 10 pounds of fat.

My thought is that there are 90 kg guys at 360 FTP, which is only 4 w/kg. Where for me to be at 360 FTP would require me to be near world class.

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Made me giggle :joy: like 4w/kg is like something really low :stuck_out_tongue:

But I do know what you mean, case in point myself, 362w @ 86kg, so basicallu just over ‘only’ 4w/kg. Big watts but I would get annihilated on a hilly course :joy:

But you will be a lot faster to the hills :wink: I am currently sitting at 305W (4,52 W/kg) and I would love to see 10-20W more - for the flats only. In my area w/kg do not matter as 100km ride is usually something like 150 m in elevation and longest climb in 60km radius is 5 min long :stuck_out_tongue:

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I get what you’re saying but larger people have more muscle mass to begin with and probably a different composition of muscle fibres.

You can change this sort of thing to an extent but bodybuilders won’t necessarily have a huge FTP because they have a very large muscle mass.

I failed to mention the 30+ minutes before that, and it depends on how much help you get…

I’d think about it in a slightly different way. Aim to increase strength rather than gain weight. Easy to gain weight - eat more, but you likely won’t increase strength. Increase strength and you will likely gain power, may gain watts, but may not affect w/kg.

We walk a fine line of balancing optimal weight for each of us as individuals and what is right for one is not for another! Although I love the polka dot jersey more than the yellow, I’ve made peace with the fact I’ll never be a pure climber!!