Is there an FTP limit per person?

Listening to the podcast and reading various articles there seems to be a consensus that your ultimate peak FTP is based on your own physiological limits.

Just wondering what the science behind this is? It would be good to work out my own personal upper limit. But also to set realistic training goals. I currently am 27 and about 3W/kg and 58kg. I would love to get to 4W/kg but is that realistic? I guess its down to hard work and commitment but I could never get to 6W/kg for example

Any advice would be great.

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Almost everyone will be more limited by life factors rather than physiology. Very few people will get close to their true genetic upper limits.


My general rule of thumb is that the majority of people can get to 4w/kg.

It’s a function of your Vo2 Max, your efficiency and one more factor…it’s either lactate clearing or muscle type…or something like that, I forget.

The book “Faster” talks about this a lot. It seems like we’ve never had an athlete that is max in all the attributes it takes to be the best cyclist. If we did that person would DOMINATE!


@Nate_Pearson thanks that’s really helpful. Sounds like an insightful book, definitely need to check that one out.

I’ll aim to shoot for 4! Love the podcast by the way, keep up the good work.

Sagan or Merckx in his hayday can’t be far off!

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I believe if you hit the genetic mega lottery your FTP would be around 900 or something like that (if I remember from the book correctly). If you read it and find that line please update this thread.

This is all theoretical of course! I think there were like 26 genetic markers that you could optimize too.


Awesome. Yeh I’ll get a copy and start working my way through. Will update here the peak theoretically and the genetic markers.

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Wait…that would make TR workouts insanely punishing!
I’m sure Coach @chad dreams about concocting a 3 min 1,000 watt interval. :skull_and_crossbones:

And this:

Oh great. Guess I’ll have to settle for being only a Tuesday World Champ. In most cases 2 outta 3 ain’t bad…

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Genetic mega lottery. Probably the closest you could come is to clone Eddy Merkcx.

Here’s a good website that talks about this - VO2max, efficiency and duration you can hold at a given % FTP (which is influenced by ability to clear lactate).

This article indicates that VO2 max is largely determined by genetics.

The best indication of what your potential might be is to start training - If you see big gains in your first few months, that will give you a different signal vs of you see limited gains.

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I’m curious say I used to weigh 200lb (90kg+/-) now I’m 165 (75kg+/-)

If that arbitrary 4w/kg puts me at 360 vs 300 what changes in the body physical state that allows that to happen?

Say if I had the same training and diet, although one is carrying same lean mass except 35 lb more fat.
Because muscle composition more or less are the same, would vo2 or lactate clearing differ from heavier person with same lean mass?

If so why don’t we get fat then try to keep power while we lose weight if the adaptation of vo2 or lactate if faster that way? (Bro science watts bulk method)

PS who’s the author for the book “Faster”. I search that title and guess what it shows way too many random book :wink:

I read the book a while ago, but from memory blood volume was a key marker as well. Normal people have something like 5 or 6 liters of blood, but others genetically have more, up to 10 or 11 liters. That’s makes a huge difference to the amount of extra oxygen is floating around ready to feed muscles.


Here is the book:


Great book. One of the better ones to mix a story with some useful “science”.

Wouldn’t worry about the genetic markers. Thinking about what your limits might be will do more to limit you than it will to help you win. It’s like Jim Dietz said about rowing: there are competitors and racers, competitors will work hard and go to their limits, racers don’t think about limits, only the race.

Brad Huff won national crit championships, on top of a track omnium championship, with a measured VO2max of 60ml/kg. He had sports scientists telling him he shouldn’t be able to do what he was doing.


Michael Hutchinson wrote ‘Faster’… a very informative read.

If I remember rightly, VO2 max is largely genetically determined, and isn’t particularly trainable. What is trainable is the duration you can sustain just below VO2 max.

We are all going to hit a genetic limit as to what we can achieve in terms of raw numbers, but surely riding is more than that? There’s the personal journey to achieve our very best as individuals. If someone is looking back saying “I could have done no more to get to where I am today” than is that not a bigger success than the person with the massive FTP saying “If only I’d done this”…


All I know if I was 27 I would set no limit. In my mind at that age you are full of the opportunity to get to and beyond your genetic potential with consistency and hard work. Might sound like some type of motivational talk but this is coming from someone who didn’t start riding until this year at the age of 43 and I wish I had the motivation at 27 that I do now. Stay consistent, train smart and you can take it as far as you want


I like this type of advice.

It’s a too-common belief that VO2max (aka aerobic capacity) isn’t trainable. I recently spent 10 straight hours with some of the top coaches and exercise scientists in the world learning about aerobic and anaerobic capabilities, lactate/pyruvate dynamics, how one system influences the other, and how tremendously trainable both are, especially aerobic capacity.

Suffice it to say, VO2max is highly trainable, but like so many things, it has a ceiling. As you approach it, gains become far more minuscule in nature, but it’s still alterable.

And yep, there’s a huge genetic factor that determines the height of your capacity (you get this from your mom, by the way), but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s very trainable, and therefore detrainable.

I bring this up to point out that it’s self-limiting and a bit of a cop-out to just pin your performance capabilities, or lack thereof, on a low VO2max when it’s both trainable and isn’t the only thing that influences performance and impressive results (see Brad’s less than stellar VO2 measurement above).

Ride lots of miles, VO2max improves. Routinely engage in properly formulated and progressed HIIT intervals or sprint training, VO2max improves. Lose or gain weight, relative VO2max changes. Sit on the couch for a couple months, VO2max declines. Point being, it’s trainable.


AND!’s not the only thing that determines performance. You can make up for it with great efficiency or a whole host of other things.

And at our age group level, you can make up for a lot of it by just training smart (cough cough TrainerRoad) and pure grit and determination.

Just like someone said above someone with a 60 VO2Max won crit nationals.