I have a long term goal to try and pass that line but, after catching a winter bug and being set back a month, I am looking to get re-inspired.
I’m curious if for most athletes that break that line it was an “easy” thing or a multi year process of slow but steady progression. As someone who came to cycling later in life I’ve gone from totally untrained (probably ~1.7w/kg) 3 years ago to peaking just under 4 last season but I can feel improvements won’t come quickly for me any more and I’m wondering how realistic a goal it is.
How did your path to super high w/kg look? Was it like first time you tested you clocked really high, say 4w/kg, and worked it up from there? (Kinda like Jonathon’s 18min 5k) Was it cycling since you were young and by the time you cared to test you’re already super fit? Or was it a slow steady multi year grind? If you have any graphs to share that would be super valuable to me too. Thanks.
I think it’s wrong to focus on 5w/kg riders here, but asking a different question is how long does it take to reach your potential. Depending on who you ask, it’ll take either 20,000 mile or 5 years of focused training to reach your potential.
I am very close to being 5w/kg. 4,96 to be exact (on good days). I am young just turned 24, I started cycling when I was 21 on a fixed gear and I was sloooowww, but after just commuting hard to work/uni everyday I got a cycling pc and strava when I was 22 and started training and bought a roadbike soon thereafter. My first FTP test then with basically no structure and just doing what I thought was right pegged me at 290 watts and 75 kg so 3,8. After that it has been a slow and steady climb with some downs because of a broken collarbone. This being my 3rd summer of training and second season of racing I am excited for whats to come.
Last season for my A race I was ~4.75w/kg, that was due in large part to weight loss – it was the lightest I’ve ever weighed. I only did 5hr/wk training but it was very specific so as soon as I stopped that training a decent portion of my power vanished.
This season I’ve done a lot more “correct” training (~10-12hr/wk) still with 4 months to go to get down to race weight as well as build more power. If everything goes well, I should hit 5+w/kg.
No where near 5 W/Kg but I would say that being light will be a key contributor. If you are 80Kg then you have to be putting out 400W at FTP which is world class. If you are 60Kg then its 300W which seems more likely. I was at 4.49W/Kg (275W at 61.2Kg), there is no way that I can lose more weight (I’m 5’10") and being 61.2Kg for any length of time felt and looked unhealthy. I am confident that there is 10-20 Watts in the tank though maybe not enough to get to 306 to hit 5W/Kg.
As others have said it is good to have goals and targets but concentrating on the process and the training that will help you most in your events will likely serve your needs better.
I’m aiming for 5 w/kg (big stretch) this year but to be honest the power at threshold is not the only indicator for me as most of the events I do are much shorter, so for instance my 5 minute power is something that is a good barometer for me. Also, I’d say that the National Hill Climb Championship (October) is on a longer course (12-14 minutes effort I think) I’d really like to be in my best possible shape for that despite there being much shorter events (90 seconds to 4 minutes) preceding it.
Digressing here but for the spring and summer I’m focusing on FTP and getting close to that 5 w/kg a lot as I will be doing road races and crits, those are not won on FTP but it’ll sure help.
2 years ago, 300w FTP - 72.5kg = 4.1 w/g
October 2018, 298w FTP (but better short power) 66.2kg = 4.5 w/kg
My aim this year is to get to a 311W FTP (415 best minute power on the ramp test) at 65.7kg = 4.73 w/kg
Current FTP is 284 at 67kg, lower power than normal because of illness leading into the test and slightly higher weight as I’m not focusing on it, so:
To get to 5 w/kg I believe I’d need to 445w on the ramp test at 65.7kg. That’ll be a tall order, I’m hoping TR can help me get there.
I started riding in Sept 2012 from a base of nothing! Didn’t do that much proper riding until late 2013, bought my power meter in March 2014. Then in 2016 and 2017 I was mainly focused on time trials (10 mile and 25 mile) so my training was very specific to that. My FTP would have been 300W mid/late 2016 (a few more kilo’s on board!). My FTP hasn’t changed that much from late 2017 to now as I haven’t focused on it. (more interested in shorter efforts).
When I was doing 10 mile TT’s my power went up from 275W (19m:47s (pb) to 22 minute time range) to a high of 298W so it was more about how I got that power down, or applied it than to purely raising it.
I was able to get a couple of the guys that I made out programs for to 5 w/kg.
They had a few things in common:
VO2 max of 70+
At least 5 years of 600-700 hours of training/year
It’s genetics + work.
It’s possible that a rider could get to 5 w/kg off of 400 hours of training a year or less over 4-5 years, but they would have to have a big capacity – capable of 5.2/5.5, but just not riding very much.
Note that the above assumes a rider that has been riding for a few years just for fun, then decides to start structured training and up their volume. Obviously, a very talented rider with years of high volume behind them could maintain 5+ w/kg on not much training.
I’ve averaged 5.5 hours training per week the last 3 years.
I have no years of high volume and certainly not talented! My only dietary discipline was cutting out chocolate and treats “at work” from May to October.
I do train a ton (for a 52-year old – but, I have no kids and have a couple hours before my wife gets home each day), but my dietary discipline now means I make sure I eat at least two handfuls of chocolate every 24 hours.
Not at 5 w/kg, so not sure it applies - I usually sit around 4.7-4.8.
I rode without power, no racing, no training for two-ish years and built a decent base during that time.
When I first started training with power my first FTP test put me at around 325 watts (around 4 w/kg at the time). I fairly quickly (3-4 months) progressed to an FTP around 360 watts. That has roughly been my ceiling for FTP for around the last 2-3 years and I’ve seen w/kg increase slowly as I’ve dropped weight
I’ve also tried to maintain my ability to do sustained TT efforts (FTP) while improving my medium duration power for road racing - my 60 second-five minute power has been my focus the past few off seasons
I’m currently at 5.08 (FTP: 305 and 60 kg), so yeah I actually made it
It’s definitively a multi-year process.
My first FTP test about 5 years ago. FTP 235 for 67 kg. I had some newb gain very fast simply with structured training. Made it to FTP 260 and lost about 5 kg in 6-8 weeks.
Going from FTP 260 to FTP 305 was a 4 years grind. I gained about 10 watts per year, not more. And I now weight about 60 kg, which is my race weight. I have highly regular and routine lifestyle. I train about 6.5 hours in the winter and 8 hours in the summer. That’s it, hope that help.
Nicely done. I think unless there are reasons that have held you (meaning everyone) back then 10W per year is attainable and sensible growth. It will obviously stop at some point but if you’re going for more you’re likely upping the load too quickly.
My n=1 will have to disagree with the first two points especially.
Last year I made it to 4.8 on maybe 100 hours of training — after many, many years of not training/racing. This year I’ll do maybe 400 hours and I’m pretty sure I’ll hit 5.
As Coach Chad has mentioned, VO2 isn’t that great an indicator of performance. It’s also movable — higher when you’re fit/when you’ve trained it than say in Base.
I’d say body weight is the major factor in a high w/kg. It certainly is the easier of the two to control.
As well, w/kg is a very specific metric, important in very specific situations. If you are doing 10km 8% climbs, w/kg will rule supreme. In most other circumstances straight watts wins the day.
Perhaps ask yourself Why? are you chasing a predetermined number? What’s it going to do for you? Personally, I’m shooting for the biggest FTP/highest sustainable power I can create because that’s what my goal demands; w/kg is merely a byproduct of that.