Going from 189 FTP to 220 as a beginner

Hi, I am 52, male, 5’9", 159lbs, and have been riding for 14 months. I began using TrainerRoad about 3 months ago and have gone from an FTP of 158 to 189 in that time. To get to that 189 I began with 6 weeks of Mid-Volume II then 8 weeks of Sustained Mid Volume Build. To keep up with fast group rides I think I need to get to 3.0 wkg, a 220 FTP. Is it reasonable to expect this kind of improvement at my age? Any sense of what a realistic time frame would be to achieve this? I can afford to train about 7-10 hours week. Thanks!

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I’m 50, 76 kg and 228 FTP resulting in 2.99 w/kg (that’s close enough for me to 3.0). I’ve been using tRainerrOad for two years bouncing back and forth between low and mid volume. I’d say it’s entirely plausible to get to 3.0 w/kg. Give it time.

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must… not… edit post… :stuck_out_tongue:

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:rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:

My gift to you having to man ‘The Threads’

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Everyone is different and I don’t want to talk an absolutes, but I think with commitment and consistency a w/kg in the range of 3.0-3.5 is reasonably achievable for most people.

Can you give more detail on your success criteria? You say you want to “keep up” with the fast groups. Does that mean you’re getting dropped now? If so, why are you being dropped? Do you just blow up half way around? Is there a climb during a part of the ride that blows creates a gap you can’t make up? Do you just want to finish with the group, or also be able to contribute at the front too? What makes you think a 30 watt increase will make up this difference?

If you share your profile data, I’m happy to have a look at your training over the past few months and offer any insights I can see.

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I think the short answer is… Yes. Absolutely. It’s reasonable.

I’m 48, and started using TR last year at age 47. I went from an FTP of 200 to 232 in 4 months. Then I had a major crash that kept me off the bike for anything but maintenance for about 7 months. I dropped back to a 200 FTP when I tested again in January, and had gained weight to about 200lbs (90kg).

Now my FTP is 260 and my weight is 180lbs (81kg). That was on a less-than-perfectly-consistent mid-volume Sweet Spot Base/Sustained Power Build/Century plan.

I had a significant amount of unstructured experience prior to joining up with TR for the past 12 years, so I brought some form and fitness into it.

As for the time frame you can expect, there are simply too many variables to guess. Just keep consistent with the training, eat well, sleep well, and the gains will come! Don’t cheat yourself by trying to rush it. Keep it fun, and keep it something you look forward to doing.

Like others have said, I think it’s totally obtainable with a little patience and dedication. I’m 47 and started TR just this Feb. Before that I’ve been cycling for 4 years as a recreational cyclist and bike to work commuter so I had “some” cycling fitness. Little did I know. I started with an FTP of 168. My little goal was to reach 200 by Dec. Finished SSBLV 1 and 2 and SPBLV. I ended up with an FTP of 206. I stuck to the plans pretty much but sprinkled in some extra workouts in between which kinda made it almost like mid volume plans which is why this time around I’m starting SSB again but in mid volume. Goal for me this time is to get to 3.0 w/kg. At 169lbs right now I’m at 2.69 w/kg. Also doing all this while being a type 2 diabetic so all this talk about carb loading means nothing to me as I have to really be careful with my sugar and carb intake so as not to raise my blood sugar levels too high.

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I think that it it possible. I am 59 and my FTP is about 270 or about 3.5 W/kg. I don’t think that it is at all unreasonable to work at significant improvement from where you currently are. BTW. I first got a power meter when I was 47 and in those days my FTP was about 340. I had been riding, without a power meter, for about 25 years at that point. So, given that you are a relatively new cyclist I would expect continuous improvement as long as you put the work in.

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No clue about typical FTP gains but sport improvements in general. If you gained 31 watts in only 3 months of time than this should not be your maximum :sweat_smile: another 31 watts should be only matter of time and I do not mean years

My honest advice would be to focus on the process and not get hung up too much on the numbers, and certainly not just FTP. 3W/kg is probably achievable for most healthy people that put the work in, but not everybody, and if you can get there how long it takes depends hugely on a bunch of factors including genetics, sporting history, lifestyle factors (sleep, work stress, nutrition, etc), limiters (injuries, flexibility, strength, body composition, etc). I’ve known people with great genes or backgrounds in other sports (typically something like swimming or rowing) who are at 3W/kg or higher pretty much the first time they get on a bike. And I’ve known people who have taken years to get there and learnt a whole lot about themselves and the training process on the way. Neither you nor any of us really know where on that scale you sit, so any suggestions as to how long it might take you are guesstimates at best, and in most cases will be based on a sample of N=1 (i.e. how long it took us).

I think if you can learn to enjoy and take satisfaction from the journey and the process rather than on hitting a certain number in a certain timeframe you’ll have more longevity in the sport and are less likely to get disenchanted if you find a goal is taking longer than you hoped. You’re also likely to learn there are a whole bunch of other factors involved in hanging with that fast group ride. Handling, positioning, aerodynamics, short duration power needed to hang on for accelerations and short climbs, ability to recover from hard efforts and go again. I know triathletes with great FTP who struggle in fast group rides because they can’t cope with the surges and aren’t that efficient in group riding. And I know experienced roadies who almost never get dropped on a group ride, even when it’s their first time back on a bike in months and they’re 10kg overweight, because they’re extremely efficient in a group and are always in the right place. E.g. I did a fast 75 mile group ride last week with 10 people, based on a quick look at their Strava files, average power varied from 162W to 248W.

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Absolutely!
I’m 48 with an FTP of 327 @ 75Kg. I’ve only been doing this about 3 years.
Keep doing what Coach Chad tells you and be consistent and you’ll get there for sure.
Also be sure to optimise nutrition: Garbage in : Garbage out.

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N=1, but I will say that getting to 3 W/KG definitely made faster grouper ride more possible more me (19-21 MPH pace). I have been riding for 3.5 years, and 2.5 with TR. This winter/spring after following base/build I and training right at 7-10 hours a week, and was able to get my FTP to a comfortable 205w at 5’ 11" and 70 KG @ 45 years old. At this level of fitness I was solid mid pack on long endurance/gravel events and good on the A- pace group rides.

You can do it!

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Thank you for your thoughtful reply Julian. Right now I get dropped everywhere but particularly on climbs (our first climb is a 4 miler @ avg 7%). I’m huffing and puffing, HR @ 95%, when everyone seems to be on an easy gran condo. I just don’t (yet) have the sustained power to even grab the wheel of the guy ahead of me—he’s a half mile up the road! On the flats, again, I just don’t have the basic horsepower. I’m a Kia amidst a bunch of M3s.

At the very least I would like to finish with the group, even if I’m the last across the line. Being able to pull would be wonderful. I landed at 3/wkg because I thought I heard on one of the TR podcasts that that should be a ‘reasonable’ average FTP for a group ride. But I’m in Northern Cal, which has a lot of fast amateurs and semi-pro racers.

Have opened my profile data for you to peruse.

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Thanks dvicci! Great advice all around.

Such awesome advice cartsman, tyvm!!!

They are all getting an optimal aerobic training session, you’re getting suboptimal training and mental burnout…Riding with faster riders occasionally is fine, but what you’ve described above is not good for your riding at all. In fact it’s likely making you worse!

TR aligns to your fitness, which is one reason you get great gains out of it. I’d encourage you to find a slightly slower group ride - there’s no shame in it - until your fitness improves. :sunglasses:

Ok, so I took a quick look at your training history. Some initial observations:

  • A lot of people who bemoan “I’m not getting the results I want” when you look at their training history, they’re just not putting in the work. When I look at your history for the past couple of months I can see that you’re doing pretty consistent work. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays appear to be your “work” days and you throw in some additional rides now and again. Keep this up. Every week, 3 tough workouts. During the workout it should feel hard but doable the first half, the third 1/4 at some point you want to doubt your ability to finish the workout and then the last 1/4 you gut it out and do it. That’s basically a perfect hard workout profile and will drive adaptations.
  • You’re 3 months into structured training. In that time you’ve gone from 158 to 189. That’s a 20% jump in FTP!!! Congrats. Even if you’re still tailing off the group rides, I bet you feel stronger and more confident with that extra boost. It’s just a matter of time, stick with it and you’ll eventually have an engine that will keep you with the group and eventually driving it.
  • Sometimes you’ll have days that you’re not quite feeling it. Finishing workouts might feel impossible. I see in your history a few workouts that aren’t completed. Maybe you’re 30 mins in and you can’t quite make it. As much as possible, put in the time. If you’re struggling, dial down the intensity. If it’s just not happening, maybe do an aerobic ride. But getting your FTP up is about doing the work. You’re better off doing 100% of the duration at 95% of the intensity, than doing 40% of the duration at 100%.
  • In terms of training plan, the FTP builders for the riding you describe will be Sweet Spot Base and Sustained Power Build. If you’re just trying to build FTP over the next year and not for a specific date, I would recommend just repeating those plans. SSB1 --> SSBII --> SusPowerBuild --> SSB1 --> etc. Basically skip the Specialty phase. You can’t do too much base. What you’re training your body to do is increasing how much work you do over longer durations.

Some tactics to try now:

  • If you want to stay with your group, try to ride maybe 2/3 back. Far enough back that you get all the draft benefit, not so far back that the accordion effect is hitting you too much and not so far forward that the group is being disrupted by you not pulling on the front.
  • When the climbs are coming up that you’re getting dropped on, move forward. As you’re struggling up the climb the group will go past you, but maybe at the top you can get back on. Give yourself the extra minute on the group to stay with them. If you’re on the back at the start of the climb, you’ll get gapped straight away.
  • Stay with the group as long as possible. Similar to my comments above about training duration, the longer you are staying at “group intensity” the more improvement you’ll gain. Note where you get dropped this weekend and then next weekend try to make it further down the road with the group. Set goals with yourself to improve incrementally. As the weeks go by, you’ll eventually finish with them.

Fitness is the ultimate equalizer. You can’t buy it, you can only put in the hard work and earn it.

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THANK YOU. Grateful for the insights and advice. Ride on!

Educate me, because I was looking at the maintenance plans…how did your FTP drop if maintenance was done. Not being an ahole here…your response might make me do a change of course in the “off season” @dvicci

@dvicci said he crashed and was only able to do “maintenance for 7 months”. He didn’t say he was doing “Maintenance Plans”. Taking a look at their ride history it looks like after the 232 FTP adjustment (I’m guessing this is when the crash happened), they were off the bike for 6 weeks and then the next 6 weeks were easy rides (Dans, Taku). A later FTP assessment dropped to 200 before getting into things again. So, I’m taking it that in the post-crash period it was easy spinning for short intervals, rather than short soul-crushing intensity that you see in the structured Maintenance Plans. This is just looking at the TR ride history, so I could be wrong.