Help loosing power. Need advice and perspective!

Hey everyone I could use some advice. From a background perspective I got back into cycling this year after several years off. I am certainly not new to interval training so I knew what to expect coming into this year. Starting in March I started a low volume base plan, and completed Base II, Build I, Build II. I started this year with an FTP of 143 and testing end of September at 233. I noticed at the start of cross season that I was not able to keep up and after some review felt like my biggest weakness was muscular endurance. So instead of moving into my specialty phase I started back in base II. During my ramp test for Base II I tested at 222 watts. Thinking it was just a fluke I left my ftp where it was and started my base plan. Unfortunately I cannot complete these workouts and this morning took the ramp test again and tested at 198 watts.

Looking for perspective here, what do I do? My current plan is to accept that my ftp has gone down for some reason and stick to the base plan at the lower wattage and see if I can start to build my power again. While this super sucks, the biggest bummer is that this has happened right in the middle of cross season and I just seem to be getting slower and slower.

Any advice is appreciated. Thank you!

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Dont have any answers but i feel you. Started TR two years ago at 218, built up to 265 in 5 months, didnt realise i had dug myself into a hole, ftp dropped to 233 over a weekend, built back up to 258, another hole, crashed back down to 230 around december last year. Took a few weeks off and started training very conservatively, built up to 243 with more focus on recovery and workout nutrition. After my A race in may earlier this year my FTP has gradually been dropping despite being consistent and compliant my FTP has dropped a few watts every ramp test and sitting at 225. Its frustrating to have been super consistent and not be any further along (objectively on the FTP number alone, i know theres so much more than only the number) than when i started.

My best guess is that the training plans are too intense for me to physically recover enough week on week to have positive adaptations. I am trying the polarised base plan to get more practice riding threshold, the monday and friday workouts are super easy and i get to focus on only the wednesday efforts. Lets see how that works out after a few rounds of the base plan

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Having done/had similar experiences the best bumps I had in FTP were where I did a whole base, build and speciality phase. I think base is preparing you for the build and then build gets the muscles to increase in strength.

So I think maybe without the build phase and associated training stimulus you won’t get those gains.

Someone who knows will be along shortly as this is just my guess… :grin: :+1:t2:

I’m going to start my next training season so maybe able to confirm in about 4 months. Couple of years ago I was up to 302 now around 265. Not tested since covid - probably a lot lower now.

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without seeing your data and more background info, I’d say that perhaps this was a sign you needed a mid-season break. My own personal experience is that TR fitness can be brittle fitness. By that I mean laying down a base of aerobic rides is more important (for me) than following TR progressions.

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Probably not what you wanted to hear but with such a big bump in FTP and not lowering it first off you have maybe been overtraining sending you into a downward spiral. You might be lucky that just taking a break resets things so you can build again but more sustainably.

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are you fatigued?

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What jumps out to me is that March to October is a long time.

I think that with TR, people sometimes miss periodization.

I’d bet that super serious cross racers aren’t giving it the full beans all spring and summer and then do a season of cross. They probably time their build-specialty blocks to coincide with peaking for cross season.

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From the sequence, and it’s guessing without proper training history:

  1. You have left higher FTP despite testing lower. It’s a recipe for digging a hole.
  2. Your FTP is from ramp test, that is based a lot on vo2 work max and anaerobic power. Without proper aerobic base, you can have shift toward anaerobic contribution to your efforts. From the description your FTP could be overestimated by ramp test. With proper FTP, even with poor muscle endurance you should not have much problems with finishing workouts in the plan. I assume SST and suprathreshold workouts were the problem? If so - overestimated FTP is the first suspect.
  3. Now, due the points above you are simply tired and you are digging a hole bigger and bigger. Rest, return gently to training (z2 work), ramp the intensity. Do long FTP test - ride for 30-40 min or till to exhaustion. This is your FTP.
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Something similar happened to me in my first round of TR. I made really good gains but then I got into a fatigue hole during the build phase. I took a month off structured training and just rode outside, and ended up much stronger for it. In hindsight I think non-functional overreaching can happen quite easily in the TR plans, especially because we tend to just grit our teeth to just finish the interval or the session.

I actually checked out your post because I’m in a similar situation again, having just moved to an area that is very hilly and where my daily commute is up a steep hill. I did a ramp test yesterday and found my ftp dropped 60 W (!) since August. But this time I have a better sense of my fatigue so I’m not too worried and I’ll just train at a lower intensity until my body has caught up.

So my advice would be to really step back a bit to allow your body to recover. Do you check your RHR? And how’s your sleep? Both are good indicators of fatigue for me.

Sorry - I just re-read your post and realised you’re also racing. I still think reducing your load overall would help. Can you do fewer races? Or take a break for a bit and then re-start racing?

Not abnormally so I do not think. I have been noticing it a bit more sluggishness in the legs, but nothing major.

Thank you all for the perspective. I think the consensus is I am pushing myself into an overtrained state. I guess what sucks about that is that I have only been doing a low volume plan :(. I will take the good advice given here and take a couple/few weeks of rest, and then maybe start back with a low volume polarized plan. I do appreciate those that took a few minutes to read and respond.

Thank you!

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Low volume doesn’t mean low intensity. It just means that you spend less time on the turbo but the workouts are still pushing you.

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