Lack of progress

Hey everyone! So I have been cycling for a little over a year now and last fall I got an indoor bike trainer (kicker core). Around then, I started doing some power-based training. I started with an FTP of a little under 200. I did some zwift training plans but heard that those weren’t really the best so I tried out a polarized plan I got from dylan johnson on training peaks. Found that the volume was too much (I am in college right now) so I decided to try out trainerroad. Looking back I know that this switching is bad, especially cause I would stop riding for like a week or two before switching so I could start “fresh”. A little under a year later and my FTP is basically the same (204 test yesterday). I have been doing a lot of riding and I feel faster (could be because of upgrades I’ve made to my very heavy bike tho) and I don’t know if there is something that I am doing wrong. Do I have a consistency problem? I was fairly consistent over the summer with the plan that I had going but didn’t see any improvement. Is sweet spot training not for me and I should give a lower volume polarized plan a shot? Would love some insight from y’all, here is my profile/strava for training details:

Well, it’s probably a little bit of a lot of things. Consistentcy is one thing I notice. Taking an FTP test after essentially a week off the bike probably isn’t ideal. Your FTP is literally changing every day. That doesn’t mean it’s going to regress every day, but I think you want to test it when you have some momentum. You also have some fairly erratic week volumes. Some weeks nothing. Some weeks 10 hours. I’d guess that neither are probably good for you. Consistently doing 6 hours weeks would probably help you more until you are fit enough to do consistent 10 hour weeks, which you may not be able to do if you are busy. Last, seems like very little structure. You are doing outdoor workouts, but I can’t really tell what you are trying to do. Some weeks are all endurance. Some weeks you have running. Some weeks you have a VO2 Max, but very little Threshold. I personally don’t think endurance is that helpful at low volumes. It’s necessary in low volume plans, but I do think you need at least 2 hard workouts per week and I think that needs to include VO2 and Threshold mostly, with some periods of SS between higher intensity blocks. You seem to be fairly classicly stronger at VO2 than at Threshold, which is pretty common for beginning cyclists, so I think you need to start working on extending the duration of your Threshold intervals. You’re not going to get anything about of your 1.6 level Threshold workouts. I’d rather see you drop your FTP further and do something in the 5-6 range.


Just super quick look, but you mention being consistent and this is what I see on your TR calendar for the 4 weeks leading to this ramp test:

  • Week of 24th: 3 rides early in the week that are not associated with the ones at the end of the week.
  • Week of 31st: A single 1 hour ride.
  • Week of 7th: 4 rides, which I question the loading since the remaining rides showing as skipped were intended as a recovery week of low intensity
  • Week of 14th: A single ride after a full week with nothing.
  • Week of 21st: Test Wed with nothing before, which is over a week with only 1 ride.

Without diving into the Strava side to see if you actual did “TR Workouts” for those outside rides, the 4+ weeks above are not what I would call “consistent”. There is likely much more to dive into here, but that for sure looks like a weak point to me.

At this point, I question if you are really “following a plan” in the sense that matters here. It looks more random than anything to me.

ETA: digging further back you do have some density of training in one period, but the details of those matter in terms of doing actual workouts and following the prescriptions vs unstructured rides. That’s still not clear without a deeper dive into Strava which is less easy. Even with that one period I meant, the leadup you had to the recent ramp test is far from ideal and could certainly lead to a decrease in fitness that may have been attained prior that that 4+ week stretch of inconsistency.

4 Likes Welcome to TR & the forums! You’re going to love it here! :slight_smile:

Yes, you have a massive consistency problem!!! :slight_smile:

If you want your FTP to go up, do this:

I don’t know how you got / picked the WOs you have scheduled for the rest of this week.

Delete them / do whatever rides you want for the rest of this week, but make sure you keep it all low intensity and low-ish duration so you are going into next week super fresh.

You can do this today: Throw Sweet Spot Base Low Volume 1 on your calendar to start next week, and stick to it like glue. I’d recommend setting your FTP at 195 - 200, not the 204 you got, but up to you. As some have said, it will fluctuate every day. Having it set just a couple low, you’ll kill WOs and advance. Having it set just a few too high, you’ll fail VO2s, get discouraged, etc.

Answer the surveys honestly, using the definitions here: AT: Easy vs Moderate vs Hard vs ... [Pass / Success Survey Responses] - #307 by mcneese.chad

Add in outside rides as much as you want as long as you don’t impact your ability to complete your WOs. If you’ve got the fitness to do a 2 - 3 hr extra ride on Thu night, no problem, as long as you still hit your Friday WO and can call it Moderate or Hard, not Very Hard or All Out. [One VH per week is OK, but not ideal, especially at first, when you’re learning what true fatigue, and getting into a hole, feels like.]

At the end of the block, you can run AI FTP Detect or do a ramp test if you prefer, but I’d recommend not doing either, and going straight into SSBLV2. Do the same; stick like glue, answer surveys, extra rides only so much that they don’t stop you from hitting WOs as Moderate or Hard.

Then run AI FTP detect or do a ramp. [I prefer using Smith -2 to figure out what my FTP should be set at.]

Then go to Build, and then Specialty.



Hey there,

Welcome! If you want to get faster, you’re in a great place!

It looks like you have been putting in a good amount of time on the bike over the past several weeks, with the exception of really only a few, which is great!

Looking Back at Your Training History

The main issue that I’m seeing right now is the structure of your rides. It looks like earlier in the year, you (like many of us) spent a good chunk of your training time inside on a smart trainer, which is a really good way to train, but as you transitioned into more outside riding, your structure mostly disappeared. When you want to truly progress at a good rate, it’s important to apply the proper types of training stress to your systems, which interval training does really well.

I’m seeing a lot of unstructured outside rides that are paired with TrainerRoad workouts, which can definitely cause some issues. If you tell the software that you’ve completed the prescribed workout and you haven’t followed the intervals closely, you will not have applied the proper training stimulus to your body, and the software will continue to progress you to harder workouts. Essentially, the workouts will continue to get harder, while you’re not getting any more fit. If your workout is scheduled to be outside, any ride that uploads to your TrainerRoad calendar will auto-associate with that workout. If you ever need to break an association, simply click on the activity on your calendar and then click the “Associated with:” workout and select “Mark as unplanned activity” as shown below. Feel free to reach out if you ever have issues with this.

Successfully Executing Outside Workouts

It looks like you have a power meter on your bike, which is awesome, but it’s really important to use it in the right way in order to unlock its training potential. Outside Workouts are a great way to take your training outside if that’s where you like to ride – just make sure that you’re following the workouts as closely as possible and only matching your rides with a TrainerRoad workout when you’ve actually done the corresponding work.

All of the riding that you’ve been able to do outside sets you up really well for knocking out Outside Workouts successfully. It really helps to know your area and build routes specifically for certain types of workouts.

  • For longer & harder intervals, it helps to have a decent gradient to push against; otherwise, you can end up moving pretty quickly and running out of road. You may have heard of “hill repeats” before, which is when someone puts in a hard effort uphill, turns around and recovers on the way back down, and then heads back up the hill to hit the next interval. This can be done as many times as needed to knock out all of the efforts in your workout.
  • Longer Threshold & Sweet Spot Intervals are best done on even terrain if possible, i.e., long climbs or steadily flat terrain.
  • Endurance rides can be done in most places as long as you have adequate gearing, and you’re able to keep an eye on your power and stay in the appropriate range (this is super important for Endurance rides. It’s better to go a bit easier on these than push too hard and end up with a Tempo/Sweet Spot workout).

Most importantly, though, keep in mind that you’re outside and not on the trainer. It’s not worth risking your safety just to stay on the power target for a few extra seconds. Be alert and keep your head up!

Moving Forward & Getting Faster!

As far as how to move forward, I see that you’ve just applied a training plan to your calendar via the Plan Builder tool. This is great! I highly recommend Plan Builder to our athletes as it takes the guesswork out of building out your calendar. You’re starting off with a Base phase, and you’ve just taken a Ramp Test, which is exactly what I’d recommend for your situation.

One thing I’ve noticed is that you did select High Volume for your plan, which I’d just like to mention is pretty intense. I find that a good portion of our athletes actually respond to their training much better when on Low or Mid-volume plans. It appears that you do like to ride outside for fun (without structure), which is totally fine and the reason most of us ride bikes anyway. For that reason, I’d suggest that you bump your volume down in order to leave a little breathing room for these types of rides. It’s going to be way better, in the long run, to start the Base phase with a little less work on your plate in order to get a feel for following a structured training plan consistently and then slowly add in volume via more workouts, unstructured rides, or other activities if needed as you see fit.

Getting on the right plan that works with your lifestyle and sticking to it is the name of the game here. From there, I think you’ll be happy with the results!

Feel free to reach out to any of us here on the forum or through if you have any questions along the way — we’d be happy to help out some more!


Thank you so much everyone for the amazing responses! Firstly I would like to clear some things up that I probably should’ve included:

  • For the past few weeks I’ve not been following the plan as I’ve been busy with travel and social rides.
  • My hometown is in New Hampshire, which has a lot of hills and can make some rides (like endurance) hard to maintain.
  • I go to school out in Rochester, New York where the roads are much flatter and make it easier to do intervals. Hopefully, my outside workouts should be more structured compared to the ones that I did at home over the summer.

This is my plan based on what some of you have said:

  • Switch to a moderate plan using plan builder and stick to it. Then, once I find that I can maintain that consistency for like at least 3 months, ramp up the volume.
  • Do some more intervals inside. I have a trainer here with me at school and should mix in some more rides on the trainer. Doing some of them inside would also help me fit it into my busy schedule.
  • Focus on doing outside intervals correctly. Part of this is also making sure that my rides aren’t longer than expected (e.g. 2hrs and 30min instead of 2hrs).
  • Make sure that social rides aren’t associated with workouts.
  • Answer the survey responses.

One question I have is how do I change the volume of the plan I am currently doing? Do I have to delete this plan and then make a new one? For now, I can just make a new one but in a few months if I feel ready I feel like it would kinda suck to have to restart my plan.

Also, should I restart my trainerroad career? I haven’t been using the platform correctly and I don’t want my training to suffer because of this.

Thanks again, everyone!

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Overall, I think you picked up on some great areas for improvement and have a good action plan now. Great work and best of luck on the next phase.


I’ll qualify this by saying I did not look back through your calendar. I would HIGHLY recommend doing a Low Volume plan and add on extra endurance rides. You can still get plenty of hours in and the LV plan gives you three harder interval session weekly. Use TrainNow to add in extra rides above the 3 or set up reoccurring endurance workouts so they are on your calendar.

Looking at the comments above consistency should be your number 1 focus. Going into MV from what your last month looks like is a recipe to have a set back.

5 Likes just in reply to your plan going forward, a couple small points:

I’m going to double-tap one thing I said, that @Buckethead also tagged onto; strongly recommend LV instead of MV, nailing every WO, on the trainer, and then tacking on extra outdoor rides as you can.

You can absolutely do extra intervals / training outside, even try for some TR WO targets, as a model, and that can be valuable. But strongly recommend against actually trying to hit your TR training plan WOs outside. You can do some digging in this forum to see all the difficulties people have doing this.

Bottom line you’re talking about holding power targets, and even +/- 2-4% can have a huge effect, and make a WO not nearly what it was supposed to be… = hinder your progress.

Some people are really able to do it successfully, apparently. No clue how. I’d need a slightly uphill slope that went on forever, and never had any stop signs, lights, etc.

IMO, if you do LV and hit every training plan WO 100% accurately on the trainer, then add in extra WOs / training / riding outdoors, that’s great. You’re moving forward through your training plan properly, and not missing anything, with some extra work on top.

If you do MV, and try to actually execute your training plan WOs outside, missing the targets all over the place, you’ve got no accurate benchmark & training load that is steadily moving forward.

But take this with a block of salt! Some people do TR outside… apparently:slight_smile:

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I’ve used TrainerRoad for 4 months (SSBLV1 and SSBLV2), and the lack of “real” progress was frustrating. I must admit though, the lack of progress is likely attributed to my inconsistency. However, I had tried to look for information on here or Reddit but never found useful results/advices. Please bear with me with my questions here —

Using the Plan Builder, SSBLV1/2 were suggested based on my schedule. While I was able to complete SSBLV1, SSBLV2 workouts were noticeably harder. I have started to fail workouts around week 3. At week 4 and 5, I had COVID and didn’t get on the trainer at all. Once I recovered, the workouts were too difficult. The plan continued onto the Sustained Power build phase and I couldn’t complete anything there. My mentality just also fell apart by that point, which led me to quit the platform the next day. However, I had also encountered some life changes during the two SSB phases. Instead of committing 4-6 hours/week, I could only ride at most 3 hours/week during SSBLV2, and was only doing the workouts late at night (10 or 11pm). Late workouts = late bedtime = not enough sleep (5 hours). I also did not follow any diet regimen so I probably don’t load up properly before workout nor refuel properly after workout. These factors (lack of hours, rest, diet) likely halted my progress, but I surely can’t be the only person of such tight schedule right? How can I possibly stick to TR LV plan when I can’t even commit to its minimum required hours?

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I understand the frustration, but the reality is that your situation is less than ideal. Minimal training time coupled with sickness, stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition and such are all impediments to progression. It’s hard to expect any training plan (TR or otherwise) to give much return on training with the hurdles you have experienced. This seems more like an issue of life getting in the way and is one that may not be easily handled from what I read.


It’s an aerobic sport and one of the main drivers is training volume. You cut your volume from 4-6 almost in half to 3. After covid, you should have just pedaled easy endurance until you were feeling better and then you should have retested your FTP and started again rather than moving straight into build.

Still, I think one can be reasonably “bike fit” on 3 hours per week. By bike fit, I mean that you could head out on a 2 hour Sunday ride and be fit enough to enjoy it.

I also think that on super low volume, your FTP will probably stall out relatively quickly and then you’ll be on basically maintenance. IMO, we all will get near our ceiling in 6 to 8 weeks of training (noob gains) and then after that it’s going to be tiny gains going forward or trying to improve certain aspects of our power curve.

For example, I took 8 months off the bike last year but kept generally fit with rowing, running, and lifting. Coming back to the bike, I got back 80% of my old FTP in one month and 90% back in three months. Now, I’ve hit my plateau at 90% because I’m riding about 5 hours per week instead of 8 hours per week like I used to.

Another driver of training is frequency. On such a low volume, you might move the needle with some shorter rides added in. I’m personally a fan of even 20-30 minute rides.


@midshiptom I sincerely feel for you, that sucks! I will try to help you out and get you back on track! I’m about 90% sure we can get you super happy on a TR plan and making rocking progress!

You mention SSBLV, but you also mention “Instead of committing 4-6 hours/week, I could only ride at most 3 hours/week during SSBLV2.”

Is it possible you accidentally loaded SSBMV instead of LV into your calendar?

LV plans are 3 WO / wk; 60, 60, and 90 mins. The MV plans are more like 4 - 6 hrs.

Have you done any digitally controlled [on a smart trainer] structured training before TR ?

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It’s an aerobic sport and one of the main drivers is training volume.

Another driver of training is frequency. On such a low volume, you might move the needle with some shorter rides added in. I’m personally a fan of even 20-30 minute rides.

Indeed, I am now riding indoor with a different mental approach. I’ve come to terms that the volume I put in is mainly enough to maintain fitness rather than getting faster. Ironically enough, I have been laid off and have been able to ride 8-10 hours/wk (Rouvy and outdoor) for the last few weeks. Of course that’ll be reduced to super low volume once I work full time again, but I am feeling stronger now than I was grinding in TR 2 months ago.


Is it possible you accidentally loaded SSBMV instead of LV into your calendar?

It was LV. I was more committed at the beginning of LV1 so I added in some impromptu sessions here and there, plus LV1 WOs weren’t too intense that I felt I could ride more. It’s something I read here, you’d rather add sessions to LV than to delete/skip WOs from MV.

Have you done any digitally controlled [on a smart trainer] structured training before TR ?
Negative. TR was my first ever structured training on a smart trainer – although I just learned (yesterday!) that it’s better to ride in small chainring in ERG mode. I mostly used the big chainring in TR, that spiral of death was so, so real.

My previous job involved a lot of numbers and graphs, so having to stare of TR WOs with more numbers and graphs after a long day at work felt mentally exhausting! Currently I’m on Rouvy free trial, it’s a really nice change of scenery since I had worked 100% remotely the last 5 years that I sometimes don’t see the “outside world” for 2 weeks straight. I’m hoping to return to TR once I sort out my life in a few months, but thanks for the support and encouragement!

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@midshiptom right on. Sounds like you’re on the right track.

I would recommend redoing SSBLV1. Will never hurt, and only benefit you in both the short & long run.

From your TR experience so far, are you highly confident your FTP is set correctly in TR ?

This would mean you’ve had 1 - 3 weeks successful WOs @ 100% program adherence, with zones feeling how they should. This requires you knowing how those zones should feel…

One big thing to bite into accepting is that your TR WOs weekly should be Easy to Hard, with max one VH every 1 - 2 wks. If you’re rocking 1 - 2 VH / wk, or even one All Out, something is off, and you’re headed for a hole unless you correct course.

The below chart was made by @mcneese.chad, and is the definitive way to answer the surveys. Print it, or save it somewhere.

You can see that the delineations between each level are very well defined, and easy to know 100% which level you were at.

Let me / us know on the FTP thing, will go from there. If you’re not confident your FTP is set correctly, there are some steps we can help you w to fix it right up.


From your TR experience so far, are you highly confident your FTP is set correctly in TR ?

I was skeptical about AI FTP but decided to trust the process. During week 4/5 of SSBLV2, I had to lower the intensity to get through the last 1-2 intervals, otherwise I suffered from the spiral of death. Even though I felt stronger by the end of SSBLV1, I sort of knew there was no way I could ride at the detected FTP for 1 hour. That was when I had a lot of VH / AO workouts until I manually lowered FTP by 10%, then the intensity came back down to Moderate - VH.

The refined intensity chart is very helpful! I definitely had a lot of sessions that were above my head toward the end, but I also wonder if I should have done the workouts with fresh body/mind. Unless it’s the weekend, I was usually starting WO late at night.

Hey there! Glad to hear training is getting back on track for you.

Reading your above posts, it really does seem like your previous schedule was hampering your ability to follow a TR plan successfully. I think the fact that you’re feeling stronger now is probably most likely because you have more time to get good sleep and recovery in on a regular basis.

If you do wind up coming back to TR in a few months, starting up with a Low Volume plan would probably be the move. You could also use Workout Alternates to find sub-60-minute sessions that might fit into a busier schedule more easily should you need to work around those constraints again.

Consistency is key when looking for progress, so if it’s possible, we’d highly recommend carving out a slot of your day to prioritize your training sessions. Starting a workout late at night after a long day and right before bed is not a winning combo – to me, that sounds like it would lead to burnout super quick.

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@midshiptom I’m strongly convinced AI FTP doesn’t bury people. People use TR incorrectly, and bury themselves with AI FTP. Huge difference.

Comes down to ‘Could’ vs. ‘Should’.

Ok, so you could finish the WO, if you really kill yourself, like race day MAXXX level type effort, almost barf, dying for minutes afterwards, legs dead for 1 – 4 days later. And then you can correctly call it VH. Should you?

It is super easy to bury yourself in TR, bc the feedback isn’t instant, like when you lift too much on a bench press. You know right away; you feel pain. In TR, you don’t feel it while it’s happening; there is no negative feedback. You feel fine, or even great going super hard!!! And you feel great after, for a few days, or even weeks.

If you keep doing near race day efforts ever day, and telling TR it was just “Moderate” or “Hard”, you’re telling the system you are that strong. So it will keep upping the difficulty levels, and your AI FTP.

In the background, excessive fatigue & muscle damage / exhaustion build over days or weeks, into a hole.

Learning to read your body, know what the zones should feel like, and pushing as hard as you can repeatably is the key.

You’ll hear dozens of times people saying “Consistency is the key.” In structured training, “consistency” doesn’t mean having Very Hard or even Hard days every workout, upping the difficulty steadily week over week, and having 100% program adherence for a month or two. That is irrelevant. And unsustainable!

Consistency means being able to look back after 6 - 12 mo and see damn near 100% program adherence; nearly never missing rides. And this comes not from “sheer willpower, fighting through the pain” or anything like that. It comes from not overdoing it, so that you can keep coming back to the bike day after day, being fresh, and kicking butt!

Restart w SSB LV I, and make sure your WOs are Med - Hard ideally. One VH per 1 - 2 wks is OK, but not ideal. And it’s better to accidentally have an unexpected ‘Easy’ than to have any AOs.

Regarding your actual FTP now: If you have a handle on it, just go w it. This would mean you’re succeeding on all WOs.

If you’re failing or going VH often, or for any other reason you are concerned it’s way off, nailing that down first is important.

Fast & easy way is to just bump your FTP down 5% and keep going. Within a week or two, you’ll be back on track, from the surveys & AI FTP.

If you get good results from a ramp test, you can do that.

I score poorly on ramps. I’m naturally a time trialist, and very poor at supra-threshold efforts. So I tap super early on ramps, and my ramp score sets my FTP way lower than it should be for SS & threshold.

If you’re strong suit is 110% FTP, 300% FTP, up to all out sprint, ramps will probably do great for you.

If you’re like me, I find there is nothing better than Smith -2 to test my FTP. Doing that WO tells me with 100% confidence what my FTP is / should be set in TR.