Low FTP, give me hope

I’ve always been slow on the bike. Even after training all spring/summer in 2012, I rode a metric century (w/4000 ft of climbing). Finished, but in the last 10% of riders.

Just dusted off the bike a couple months ago, went out, still slow. So I got myself a Kickr Core and TR.

Ramp test says 118 FTP, 1.12 FTP/kg. (Yeah, weigh good much too - working on that) So no wonder I’m slow. Couldn’t wait for the training week to start, so I did Tunnabora -4 this morning just to see what it is like.

But I keep reading about all these “started at 235 now I’m 285 FTP” stories and I’m looking to hear about someone who started at <120 and actually made significant gains. Preferably well up into the 200s, where it seems like I’d need to be to go fast enough for a full century, which I’d like to do some day.


Dude, think about this: the sky is the limit for you! Lots of guys that first test at 250 or something have actually been riding really hard for a few years before starting structured training. These riders are closer to their potential, and it can get discouraging when your FTP is going up 10 watts a year. You’re the opposite, your FTP is about to skyrocket and weight is going to shed off! This also has some crazy side effects, your going to feel so awesome all the time and be brimming with confidence after you smash through workout after workout. And a year from now when your FTP is over 300 you’re gonna look back fondly on this time of gains and fitness exploding. I’m actually a little jealous!


biggest thing is not putting too much into the stories you mentioned where people take already high FTPs and make them higher. All well and good but it’s about your journey, where you start and the process that takes your fitness higher and higher with your weight getting to a level you’re comfortable with that fits your goals. No need to be super light and just getting fitter will help you change your body composition so long as you have healthy eating habits. Sort of comes when cycling becomes more a lifestyle than a hobby. You be you and do your thing, the watts will come with dedication and consistency.


When I first started, I think I was around 150. 28ish? Male. Wasn’t even in bad shape, cardio has just always been harder for me to improve at.

If I stick to training, I can move up past 200 on a LV plan, and I’ll try to add more riding when available to accelerate my progress a bit. I’m a single dad though, so long additional rides are pretty much not allowed. Backed off once for 2 months to work on resistance work, and lost 40ish off my ftp from 220->180.

Still trying to make progress. I don’t expect the same numbers that some others quote. Especially with a sedentary job and having no history of sports anything previously(math & chess team, now I’m in software engineering).

I make progress, just at a slower pace. And I’m totally ok with that. If I wanted faster, I suppose I could prioritize it more, but there are other important things in my life too.


I know it’s hard - but try not to compare yourself to others. There are always people out there more naturally gifted than you and this is your journey

Remember to focus on the process here and less about the end FTP number. Focus on hitting your workouts, your power number, doing every interval tho it’s gonna suck at times.

Be proud when you have a calendar full of completed TR workouts. Consistency is key here. Make that your goal. And like some said the watts will come naturally from that.

Good luck!


Started cycling as a 36yo overweight slob, who couldn’t ride up a local hill without getting off the bike and walking.

Fourteen months later, I was 20 kilos lighter and was doing 200+km rides with 4500m of elevation.

Three years after that, I was a 4.6w/kilo rider, racing A-grade

Two years ago I pulled my back and was off the bike for a year and a half.

A year ago, my FTP was 2.3w/kilo.

My current FTP is 3.4w/kilo.

The key in being an athlete is perseverance, in which you navigate the ship across the ocean called Entropy without giving up whenever those waves of Disorder hit you particularly hard.


I am a recovering fat guy and workaholic. I started riding MTB after my doctor gave me a serious warning. I started riding trails regularly and I lost about 35 pounds. I am still a back of the pack guy with a low FTP but it is improving. I started TR 6 months ago went from 195 FTP to 236.

I also think the real battle is in the kitchen. Pouring the coals on the trainer made me lose focus on the diet a little bit. When I stick to the program I feel like I am always hungry. So that is my focus for the next phase.

Most of all don’t think about other people other than your previous self. You are starting from a different place than everyone else, so focus on your own improvements and don’t get discouraged.


Bought my first road bike 2 years ago, no fitness or athletic background to speak of, just really like riding bikes. Looking up some of my old efforts I bet my FTP at the time was in the same neighborhood as yours.

Spent the first year just logging miles having fun. Lost about 40lbs. Got faster on my local routes (14ish mph to 17mph). Knocked out a metric century but it murdered me.

Second year built on that base more. Signed up and completed a couple 100 milers. Made some friends and got into group riding a bit. Followed some basic workout structure (speed ride, steady ride, long ride). Increased my solo speeds from 17mph to 20mph. FTP was probably around 220-230 around this time. Signed up for TrainerRoad to get stronger in the Winter months.

Now I’m in my third year, feeling stronger than ever. Ramp tested FTP is a hard fought 274 (3.3 w/kg). Cracked a few Strava top 10s in my area and even got a KOM (on an admittedly lightly travelled segment haha). I look back at some of my earliest rides or segment times and it seems crazy how much faster I am know.

Anyway, all this is to say keep at it and have fun along the way. Noob gains are plentiful and addictive!


My first ftp test was 99. I’m up to 220 on my last test.


I don’t know whether others’ success stories motivate you or not. Or if motivation is the issue here, or if you need anecdotal evidence that training works…

… or if you are just seeking validation and public forgiveness for your low numbers…

If improving your performance is really your goal, here is what I can suggest:

  • educate yourself on physiology. read all those papers on training adaptations and understand what needs to happen on the cellular level to make you faster
  • strength training and hypertrophy. Don’t worry about fiber types for now, just try to have more of them. Those mitochondria need a place to live in.
  • hormones. Aerobic adaptations are in essence protein synthesis, which happens when your hormones are in check. Lifting weights, proper diet and sleep should help with that. For this purpose track your fatigue (HRV etc.) because when your CNS is fatigued (usually due to intensity) hormones start acting weird and you waste time training.
  • aerobic training. Any aerobic training induces growth of mitochondria: long slow or sweet spot, just pick your poison. Stalk some of the fittest endurance athletes on Strava (amateur or pro) and you will see the kind of hours required for different levels of performance.
  • intensity. High intensity (time in VO2max) speeds up necessary changes in CVS: stroke volume, capillarization, plasma volume, etc. However, too long time at high intensity leads to H+ ion build-up in muscle fibers and catabolizes (destroys) protein. Have a look at the Rattlesnake workout in TR. Similar short-interval workouts help reduce risk of catabolism. For this purpose consider doing only base training.
  • recovery and nutrition. Take a good look at what you eat and drink and how you spend time. Ditch alcohol, sweets, sugar, bread, fast food - everything of that sort. Gorge on fresh vegetables and greens. Get your carbs from whole grains and fruits - sources of high fiber. Sleep as much as possible.
  • consider doing multiple tests to understand your own physiology and what is stopping you from progressing. Blood work, VO2, lactate - seek professional help to guide you through.

This list is neither complete nor is scientific, but summarizes my learnings. In the end it all depends on how bad do you want it.


Anecdotal evidence that it works even when starting from so low would be motivating… but the rest of your list is great and really deserves its own easily-findable posting. Might have some questions on the details of a couple of those after I can fully digest it.

And that’s just the sort of thing. What was your 2nd test, do you remember?

Not entirely sure where you’re getting this from? A Century is more in the mind than the legs. You don’t need to be fast or have a certain minimum FTP. The most important things are that your training, recovery and nutrition match your desired end goal.

If you want to do a Century FAST, yeah, you’re going to need to be in tip-top shape but if the goal is to DO a Century, well, you’re halfway there. You’ve placed your marker in the sand, now focus the mind and remember that you’re the only thing that can truly stop you achieving that goal :+1:


I started cycling in september 2018 (a little less than two year ago)

During the week I would do some workout on a stationnary bike at the gym and it had power data (didn’t know if it was accurate but looking back I think it did give me a decent estimation).

So when I started, I barely managed to hold 140W for 20minutes. So maybe a 130W ftp (1.6 W/kg at 80kg)

A little less than one year later, after getting a power meter, in june, got a 200W ftp at 70kg (almost 3W/kg)

Right now, I’m about at 280W ftp (4W/kg) and I keep improving.

Keep training, you won’t know how high you can go unless you try !


Everybody has already chimed in with great advice and perspective shifts, so I’ll just add these:

  • Try to think in terms of relative improvements, not raw wattage increases. 235 → 285 is 21%; 118 → 200 is 69%. You’re targeting a 3x improvement over the guy at 285, even though your raw watts are lower.
  • Genetics gives some people a leg up and not others, and power meters and trainers can be allllllllll over the accuracy map. Keep that in mind when you compare yourself to other people, and try to focus on your own improvements against your own baseline.

Likely that this post isn’t exactly the inspiration you’re looking for. But it’s clear that you want to improve. I reckon it’s incredibly courageous of you to share with us your current stats, and that’s a sign of your commitment to improving. You’ve done the hard bit - signing up to TR and committing to a plan. Finding the motivation from within (i.e. setting yourself goals and holding yourself accountable to them) is the next step. All that’s left is it to smash it :facepunch:t2:.

Grab a pen and paper, and answer the following questions with as much detail as possible:

  1. What do you enjoy about cycling?
  2. Why do you want to be faster/be stronger?
  3. How fast do you want to be?
  4. When do you want to do the full century?

When I’m feeling down about my ride, I think back to why I love this sport and am instantly motivated to get back on the bike. Also, I give myself rewards for hitting goals. This has helped motivate me to push harder and harder. Past rewards for me have been a box of Clif bars, a power meter, a TR yearly subscription. Can’t wait to reach my December goal - I’m getting myself a bike repaint!

Also, please be kind to yourself. I used to beat myself up for ‘being too slow’, and this sent me to the hospital about 2 years ago. I had been dropped on a group ride, and was in a negative headspace. I emptied the tank to try make it back to the group, but couldn’t make it. When we hit a big descent, I thought, “I’m way too slow. But here’s my chance to catch up!” and zoomed down as fast as I could. Next thing I remember, I woke up dazed and confused on the side of the road and was whisked to hospital. I now realise that it wasn’t “I’m too slow”, rather, “they’re too fast”. Two very different things.

I’m excited to read about your progress in the FTP improvements thread in the coming months. Keep on at it!


I restarted with off the couch FTP of 99 mid July of 2019. Tested at 128 on August 19, 2019 after doing part of a Zwift program. Raised my FTP to 168 by end of 2019 with TR workouts. Now I’m sitting at 191 watts. All testing was done using TR’s ramp test. I’ve also gone from 214 pounds last July to 175 pounds currently. The most important factor I can point you towards is consistency. You will have good days and bad days. Stick with it. You will have good weeks and bad weeks. Stick with it. You will have good months and bad months. Stick with it. Recognize that making large gains takes time and can only be reached via consistent work through all the ups and downs. Approach it with the end game in mind. Best wishes.


I am quite certain that there will always be riders that are faster than me. This is just one reason why I don’t compare myself to others. I have been successful at increasing power while lowering my weight. Today I am a little faster than yesterday, this month faster than last month. With that in mind it does not matter if my ftp is 125, 225, 325, or even 425. I find the improvements motivating and that us all I monitor, not others.

Find motivation in improving yourself, focus on that and that alone and you will find the improvements you seek.

Waste time and energy looking at others, their results, their power, their training schedule and feeling like you are not up to snuff doesn’t get you closer to your goals.


FWIW I started at 126w and I’m now at 220w after 18 months of structured training. I’m 55.


I weigh 105 kg (working that down, slowly). I’m thinking supported Century rides. At my current pace, I can barely make a metric century before the course is swept. A full? I’m riding the sag wagon. So I need to be “fast enough”