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.

2 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!

1 Like

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.

4 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: