New here - Questions about FTP, SSB2 vs specific plans and more

Hi All,

A fan of the podcast, blog and of course the app, but first time on the forums. I’ve done my fair share of reading/listening and trying to soak up what knowledge I can, but am still a novice and have some questions about training.

  1. I recently finished SSB1 and took the ramp test, unsurprised to see a 5% decrease in FTP. I know FTP is only one dimension, and have been able to measure improvements in endurance, sustaining my aero position, cadence and more. Am I right in assuming that bigger FTP gains are to be made in the more intermediate plans (like SSB2, Build plans) where v02 max and anaerobic work is more frequent?

  2. I moved onto SSB2 now but have a couple of cycling tours lined up for Summer (subject to the pandemic). Are there other plans that would better suit preparation for multi-day big rides, than SSB2?

  3. I know this is subjective, but I’m normally above the recommended 85-95rpm cadence at 100rpm. I don’t have cadence sensors yet, so this higher cadence is partially to compensate for what looks like erratic and inaccurate cadence measuring on part of my trainer. My form still feels very composed, but any reasons to dial it back?

  4. Linked to the above, I recently did Baird -3. Instructions advised not to up the gear on the sprints if using ERG on a smart trainer. I was spinning way too much just to hit the power targets. Ended up shifting up and hitting 140rpm on those sprint intervals. What’s the best guidance for this? I wouldn’t sprint in a lower gear in real life, so the gear change seemed more ‘natural’ to me.

  5. My biggest struggle right now with indoor training are saddle sores from consecutive weeks of TR, the only solution being taking an extra day off. I recently switched to the carved version of my saddle (Brooks Cambium C13) and feel much better, but any other tips asides the obvious? Not found an economical rocker plate for my budget, wheel-on, trainer.


  1. You might be right. SSB is not designed to increase your FTP. Build is for that. Though a lot of users report bigger gains on SSB than Build. With treshold and VO2max work SSB2 definately gives you a better opportunity to increase it.

  2. MY two cents is if your base is not strong no other plan will fit you best. But you didn’t specify your riding experience expecially the 2-3 months before SSB1.

  3. You did not specify the trainer you have. But smart trainer even the wheel on ones have equivalent of cadence sensors. Though they might not be really accurate they give you a rough figure to work with which is ok. When you ride at 100 RPM you transfer the workload from muscles, to cardiovascular systems. Decreasing a bit the strenght endurance of ssb. Does 100 RPM feels comfortable or not? If yes it can be ok.

  4. Some trainers have power ceiling and floors that force you to change gear. Especially the wheel-on ones. So going from 40% to 120% of your FTP will require you to change gear. For example I’m on a tacx vortex I ride on the 42 cog 11-28 casette. I have to get my gearing to 42-28 to make sur I don’t go above the target at 40% FTP. But to hit the target at 120 I have to change gears at least 4 times if not 5. That’s pretty standard for the cheaper trainers. Otherwise either the power takes forever to settle in the target or never reaches it. What I suggest you do is do a test at like 40% of FTP. At lets say 90 rpms. And find the gear range the allows you to hit the power number without going above. Experience will tell you what gearing to choose for different targets.

The other thing you can do is to use your trainer calibration app to figure out what power numbers it gives you at a given gearing for a given RPM. For an example on my trainer 42-28 at 90 PRMS is 70 watts. 42-23 is 76. 42-20 is 85. 42-17 is 100. 42-15 is 120. 42-14 is 130. and so on. And then calibrate your gearing selections around that knowledge.

  1. I had the same problem. I did 2 things. Lowered a little bit my saddle. And since it was abit tilted downward I made tilt a llittle bit upward or perpendicular to the seat post. No more saddle sore or irritations even on 2+ hours ride. second thing experiment with shorts. Thay make a huge difference.

Hope this helps.

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  1. Some people find relief from adding thick rubber or foam mats under the trainer feet. These can give more freedom than a hard floor and help relieve the saddle pressure. Depending on your budget and skills, I may have other suggestions for simple and cheap rocker options.
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  1. SSB1 felt very manageable but not easy. Week 5 was tough as I began fasting (Ramadan), which probably impacted my Ramp Test results too. In hindsight, I think I already had a good foundation which SSB1 improved.

  2. The months leading to SSB1 were a mixed bag. Dec/Jan had my strongest rides to date, Feb I had an accident and was idle, and in March I eased back into routine, before being locked down and switching to indoor riding - mostly high effort 1hr sessions on Zwift or RGT until I started SSB1.

  3. I’ve just done an analysis and the higher RPM occurred during Week 5/6 (so while fasting) and endurance sessions. I may have compensated for the muscular weakness by switching to a higher cadence.

  4. My trainer is a budget, Elite Novo Smart, a Halfords (UK retailer) exclusive unit. I’ve done my research and it appears to be based on the Elite Qubo Digital Smart. Pretty certain my trainer has these ceilings, as I often feel capped until I change gears, I’ll look into this.

  5. I’ve been playing with saddle tilt, as I noticed my front riser block puts the wheel slightly higher than the back, which helped. I have a yoga mat under the trainer, which is no way thick enough to offer some movement. My budget and skills would both be pretty low @mcneese.chad - the trainer set me back £160.

Thank you both, some useful info and tips.

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This is one option of what I call a “Floating Plate Rocker”. Essentially a flat deck, supported by springs (tennis balls) and nothing else. Just strap the trainer to it for safety and you are good to go:

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Wow. Way simpler than I expected. I could manage that. Thanks.

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One quick way to get “some” movement for rocking is to take your yoga mat and fold it up to get as much “thickness” under the support legs/feet of your trainer. It will give a bit more movement.

Also most people build their own rocker plates, I did and spent just over $100 to do so (but I used pillow bearing blocks and 11" core/yoga balls for mine). There is a budget one made from 2x4 and door hinge hardware floating around with a drawing along with a parts list. It uses some felt/foam pads to adjust the “spring” tension so to speak. Look it up (I forget what it’s exactly called but somebody else might remember and post a link).

Edit: I found it and it is here:


Depends on several factors. Plenty of people see good gains doing sweet spot and longer aerobic endurance work. Then time to raise the ceiling with vo2 work. At some point you plateau.

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Update on my third point/question on cadence.

My wife bought me the Garmin Speed 2 and Cadence 2 sensor bundle as a gift. Did my first ride with them on today doing Petit, comparing with a Petit session from two weeks ago.

The result? I was spinning at what I thought was my now familiar 100rpm, but the cadence sensor was registering 95. By the end of the ride, the two averages were 98 (before) and 94 (after). Not a big difference, but happy to know my over-compensation was justified.

Here’s a comparison of my graphs from both rides, one with just the trainer, the other with the Garmin Cadence Sensor 2.

What was giving cadence before? Looks fake.

My turbo trainer, the Elite Nova Smart. Did search for a way to calibrate it thinking it might help, but didn’t find answers.

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