How I ended up slower

Last summer I was riding about 3 days a week, unstructured. I’m using Strava, and have a history for number Strava segments on the trails I often ride (mountain biking). Over the winter I started using trainerroad, and I worked hard all winter. I expected I’d be faster on the trails in the spring. I wasn’t. My ftp increased, my progression levels got higher. So what went wrong? It took a little while to piece it together. I found I was hitting PRs on relatively flat segments. But I’m slower on the climbs. I gained 10 pounds. I’m stronger, but apparently not enough stronger to carry an extra 10 pounds up a climb.

I can see that I’m definitely stronger. Not only am I hitting PRs on flat segments, I’m hitting them at the end of hard rides. Just not enough stronger to carry the extra weight up a climb.

I’m not sure what your point is. Are you saying Trainerroad made you gain 10 pounds? You still may be faster overall if your are riding flat routes primarily as weight isn’t usually as important as power. What is your goal? To be a climber?


So your title is missing half your performance summary?

  • How I ended up slower (on climbs) & faster (on flats).

Seems you gained and lost in two notable ways, which is important to recognize. Looking at that result, along with the specific plan you & AT used is important as well. It may correlate to the experience you have in the different situations.


Two things come to mind when I read the OP post…

The two worse metrics IMO to compare yourself to in cycling is not only Strava segments but mountain biking course/trails/segment.

Both of those are so dependent on so many variables.

That being said are you “slower” on a MTB climb or a more controlled road climb?


Climbing slower and weight gains are for real. Its why we have W/kg metric. On the flats its a different story, and its about raw watts.


I was at a relative low for my weight in October, and was my fastest. I think I took making sure I was getting enough calories I bit too seriously, and gained weight. I don’t have a great historical record on my weight, but I’m fairly sure I was about the same weight as I am now in spring of 2021. The riding over the summer/fall resulted in the reducing my weight. Now I’m watching my calories my carefully. I don’t want to under fuel my workouts, and I don’t want to eat more than I need.

No doubt there are many variables, but I’ve run many many trails. There’s little doubt that I’m climbing is slower, I’ve yet to come in close to any of climbing segments. Faster on flat sections, and often down hills.

What was your goal and/or expectations with respect to power, flats, climbs and such when you started this process?

  • There seems to be a reasonable amount of good here (higher FTP, faster flats and your “definitely stronger” comment), but it almost seems you are focusing on the negative of more weight and slower climbs.

  • It might be valid, but it’s hard to say without context of your objectives here.

As they say, “What gets measured gets managed”, so lack of tracking weight along with a focus on food (carbs fueling workouts) sure can lead where you are. Like anything, keeping an eye on multiple aspects is probably useful (even necessary) to keep on target with a specific goal.

Stuff like raw power, power/weight, power PR’s, Strava stuff and the like are all useful in building a fuller picture of your fitness and any comparison to the past.


Training on the trainer gets you…faster on the trainer. If you want to ride faster outside you need to ride outside, where there are hills. It is not surprising that If you stop ridding hills you won’t be as good on them.

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There are a number of climbing calculators online that will tell you the impact of weight and other factors on climbing speed.

My goals were vague. I have no intention to race. Just want to get faster on my local trails. I’d really like to get stronger on the climbs.

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  • Agree to disagree. I have done predominantly indoor TR workouts and am still hitting power PR’s, winning races and overall quite capable outside.

  • There is a need to direct that indoor training properly, and assumes a person has relative ability outside and is not trying to add significant skills or abilities. But I firmly believe that an indoor focus need not detract from general abilities outside.


Good news is if you are stronger and able to drop the little weight you will be faster! I have had friends gain weight on the trainer while getting stronger. I think it could be because TR and trainers are so much more efficient that you are more hungry when finished or they don’t fuel like they would outside causing poor eating habits after or they are in a nice AC room not sweating as much from heat.

Non-the less you have done the work and seen what is happening at this point - just some fine tuning now.

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Even with that broad goal, I think it’s possible to improve here. Clearly, neglecting to keep an eye on weight, and the general aspect of power/weight is notable. Considering you are aiming towards climbs specifically, it is the right thing to keep in sight in the future.

Along with that, looking at the specific plans you followed and how they might (or might not) address your actual power needs on the trail is important. The particular Build or Specialty Phases you followed are worth review against your actual power needs. Maybe there are better choices for a next round?

Thank you for the link. According to that, using my best effort from this year, and best from last fall on a 1 mile climb, it looks like I’m generating a bit more power now, just not enough to overcome the weight difference.

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Little doubt. I feel like my choices last fall weren’t very informed. I definitely have more insight into better choices now.

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Lose weight, climb more, add more hours, and be consistent. It is not really that difficult and mostly have fun.

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Then I think you are pointed in a positive direction. Each and every day we follow this path is about trying things, evaluating the results, and then trying to learn from that to make better choices in the future. Rinse & Repeat from here to forever :stuck_out_tongue:

Taking the moments to actually review and consider like you are doing is an absolute win in my eyes, and I applaud the effort here as well as being open to feedback :+1:


In my own defense on the weight gain, I made several changes to my diet that added calories from recommendations in the podcast (adding more protein, more calories during the workouts, and more immediately following the workout). Pretty sure it was too much of good thing.


If you gained lean mass I would keep it. It is much harder to grow muscle than to shed it.