Going from 4w/kg to 5w/kg

After a little over 2 years on TR I finally crossed the 4w/kg FTP barrier today at 286 watts and 71 kg. Most of my training has been on the Mid Volume Half Distance Triathlon plan (since May 2021), which has me on the bike anywhere between 4-6 hours a week, with another 4-6 swimming and running. I’ve gotten quite comfortable with the bike volume and feel like I can tolerate more hours on the bike.

My question is, is it possible to reach 5w/kg (genetics aside) on a Mid Volume or Mid Volume + plan? Or do I need to make the switch to a High Volume plan. Hitting 5w/kg is a tall task and doing so on only 4-6 hours a week on the bike seems like a much taller one.

Any suggestions/advice would be much appreciated!

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Yes, just lose 15kg and you’ll be there /s

Just train consistently, eat high quality foods in the right amounts, take sleep as serious as training, have fun and the gains will come. Obviously if you hit a plateau you’d have to change something whether that be a different training philosophy or just adding more intensity or less intensity and more endurance

Some people might need to up volume others might not

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A couple years ago I decided to take a break from tri and focus on biking. I came into it after not having touched a bike for about a month prior:

298 (3.79 w/kg)
------- SSB LV1 + extra 120 min endurance ride/week -------
316 (3.99 w/kg)
------- SSB MV2 -------
324 (4.07 w/kg)
------- Sustained Power Build MV Part 1-------
328 (4.16 w/kg)
------- Sustained Power Build MV Part 2-------
331 (4.2 w/kg)
------- SSB MV1 + extra 60min endurance ride/week-------
337 (4.29 w/kg)
------- SSB MV2 + extra 60min endurance ride/week-------
343 (4.4 w/kg)
------- SSB MV2 part 2 + extra 60min endurance ride/week-------
353 (4.5 w/kg)
------- General Build part MV 1 + extra 60min endurance ride/week-------
350 (4.5 w/kg)
------- General Build MV part 2 + extra 60min endurance ride/week-------
353 (4.6 w/kg)
------- 40k TT MV part 1 + extra 60min endurance ride/week-------
360 (4.7 w/kg)

This trajectory occurred over an 11 month span and was pretty much all mid-volume (MV) +. I didn’t quite make it to 5 watts/kg before switching over to ironman training. I think if I gave it another season (and cleaned up my diet to lose 2 kg) I think I would have made it. I might give it another shot this spring after the Boston marathon.

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Is it possible to reach 5Wkg FTP on a mid volume plan? Yes!
Is it possible for you?
No one knows.

I have reached 5Wkg FTP within a year of structured training, on a 8-10hr a week plan, and haven’t really improved on that front since.

I have however become a better cyclist since, being able to hold power for longer, recover faster, being able to access power when needed during races, and being able to push through pain for longer.
All of which have made me perform better in races, which is what I am after ultimately.

I am telling this because we all have a physical limit, which we might or might not reach. I believe mine to be 5-10% beyond where I am now. But that doesn’t mean I am 90-95% of the best performing cyclist I can be.

Improving FTP is a great way of becoming a better cyclist, but it’s just one way to do so. Many people focus too much on this single number, which might matter less than you think.

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100% it’s possible to reach 5w/kg on Mid-Volume. It’s very much genetics dependant and how close to your upper limits you are.

If you’ve reached 4w/kg off Mid-Volume Tri training, you may be benefitting from the aerobic conditioning brought from the other two disciplines. Or you might be able to leap further ahead on the bike by focusing your energies there.

For a measure of caution, in terms of expectations, I’ve averaged 15hrs a week this year, up from about 10-11 last year, and haven’t moved much further beyond the 4w/kg I was at this time last year.

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That’s awesome progress in only 11 months! I always forget about the kg side of the equation but I think it definitely would’ve been possible.

It’s tough the triathlon handcuffs you a bit in terms of bike volume, but maybe a bike block in the off season would be a happy medium between triathlon and only cycling.

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By SSB, you mean SSpot Base or Build?

Impressive by the way!

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Sweet Spot Base

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Im closer to 4w/kg now on a LV plan but when I was on a MV plan I was just over 5w/kg. I am about 61kg at the moment (47 yo ) back then I was probably 58.5kg (44yo). So IME its possible for you @pcarelli with a bit of work.

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I went from 3.7 W/kg (277 W) to 4.7 W/kg (348 W) on MV plans. I’m currently almost 42. I do pad my plans with endurance workouts, but I usually average about 8–11 hours per week. Going to 5 W/kg would likely be very hard for me, because of life stresses. If I didn’t have a job, I’m quite confident I could do it. Probably 4.8 W/kg is doable at present, I let myself gain some weight at the beginning of the pandemic to boost my immune system. If I lost 2–3 kg I’d be close to 4.8 W/kg last season’s peak FTP.

The limiters are definitely time and recovery. If I had unlimited time, I’d put in long, low-intensity endurance rides, timed so that I can recover.

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No

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Not with that attitude

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And you know this how? I’m closing in on 4.8 W/kg At almost age 42 on mid-volume and I’m not the only one. 5 W/kg is in the cards.

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It also depends how you define w/kg. I have got to 300W FTP on a ramp test on my kickr snap in the 50/17 gear and 270W on the 36/17 …which I use to avoid the flywheel inertia not reaching the wattage floor on recoveries. However, they are both on the road bike. I did 270W for a 30 mile road bike TT in October for75mins so I could probably do 275W for an hour with a number on. On my TT bike the best I did last year was 254W for a 25m TT. I use the Kickr powermeter for turbo work and Favio pedals outside. I suppose what I’m saying is there are lots of protocols and maybe we should just focus on improving as w/kg is just a metric and can be effected by how you test and what you test with. That said I weigh 61kg so about 4.4W/kg on a road bike and about 4.1 on a TT - for a full hour race which is the only value I would use really.

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I’m racing in B grade this year, and despite having lower FTP and training on a lower volume than 2 years ago. But, I’ve got more matches in my races, and I can ride more conservatively when I am tired.

W/kg isn’t everything.

True (and good for you), but don’t make the mistake everybody on the “ride slow to ride fast” discussions make. It is at least half of the thing/equation. Endurance + threshold (at a healthy lean weight).

Discussions of endurance often dismiss FTP. Discussions of W/kg often dismiss the ability to simply ride longer or repeat efforts. I’ll take 4.8 w/kg with genetically realized potential for endurance over the other way around any day.

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I do believe light people have the most things in their favour in a sport that revolves around beating physics.

But as a contrived example-
I’d rather be able to do a legitimate 300w for 120mins at 75kg but have ‘just’ a 4.5w/kg FTP than have a calculated 5w/kg FTP of 300w at 60kg and only be able to do 250w for 120mins……

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At the end of the day, most definitely. I have posted more than a few times how after some initial newbie gains to FTP, almost all of my fitness gains in the last 3 years (especially 2020) came from riding almost 100% endurance and long tempo (with incidental unstructured intensity). What I usually don’t mention is the equally important (maybe more important) changes I made to diet and lifestyle. Eventually getting down to 71-72kg (~4.5 w/kg) would have never happened on the meager riding hours and diet from 2017-2018.

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besides that, mrs lincoln, how was the play?

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I don’t know what level of racing you have done, and what kind of terrain, but in my experience I’d way rather be 60kg with a 300w FTP, than 337 FTP at 75kg.

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