New to TR- initial observations - plus what am I doing wrong?

Greetings from a newbie

Bit of background to frame my questions:

I’m a novice and relatively unfit beginner to cycling. Just started (4 weeks or so into) my TR membership (albeit a 1 year+ TR podcast listener) - no previous structured cycling training experience whatsoever. Been riding a road bike for just around 2 and half to 3 years - started with a cheap hybrid then enjoyed it so much I took the plunge and bought a proper road bike in the summer of 2017. No riding experience before that apart from as a kid. (I’m 46 now). Strava estimated my FTP as 220-ish about 2 years ago. I bought a power meter (Stages Gen3) from my bike in September last year and shortly after that did a 2x8 minute road FTP test - came out at 289. A further road FTP test showed 320 in January and a 20 minute road test in March showed 322. Around May I tried the TR Ramp test on my friend’s Wattbike Atom and it came out at 332.

I’m 6’3 and 98Kg (215lbs) at around 22% Bodyfat. I’ve dropped from 268lbs when I first got on a bike about 3 years ago. Mileage and volume wise I haven’t done a lot - albeit this year has been my biggest - I’m likely to exceed my 5k miles target by around 800 miles - I only did 3400 in total last year in comparison.

My power curve (from the Stages data) is disappointing for my bodyweight. Peak numbers this year are Peak-1716, 2s-1530, 5s-1330, 30s-966, 1min-726, 5min-428, 10min-372, 20min-339, 1hr-261, 2hr-234. This compares unfavourably W/Kg wise to my cycling friends of a similar age - in particular the numbers beyond 20 minutes where I feel I am particularly weak in sustaining any power - I enjoy short blasts probably because my weight counts against me less in those circumstances.

Goals wise - I recognise my biggest limiting factor is my bodyweight and my goal in this regard is to get back to what I was around 7 years ago - which was just over 14 stone (198lbs / 90kg) at around 15% BF. without losing any power.

I am also aiming to realise improvements in my sustained power through the TR programmes - which was one of the main motivations to joining up.


  • Structured training is so much more challenging than I had expected
  • TR podcast has helpfully explained and answered many questions I may otherwise have had
  • TR forum seems to be a mine of useful (and friendly) information
  • The constant peddle pressure required from ERG mode is taking me a lot longer to get used to than I anticipated - and feels a great deal harder
  • The Wattbike ATOM seems to work pretty well (so far) with the TR App on my iPad mini - albeit I’ve succumbed to the spiral of doom a few times and ran out of gas when my cadence dropped too low :grin:


I put my 332 FTP in from the ramp test I did last May - mainly as it seemed sensible to use the TR based number and plus although I’d done a number of short course Crits (mid pack finishes at best) and tough (for me) climbs over the summer and felt my power and fitness had gone up, I wanted to begin super-cautiously.

I then (after experiencing the first efforts on the Wattbike in ERG mode) reevaluated this and opted to drop my FTP to 310 after feedback from friends that generally they had all also experienced indoor numbers being lower than road numbers across the board - but 300w indoors still feels like 350w would on the road to me so I’ve had to use the intensity control to drop the numbers again - I seem to cope better with shorter intervals than longer ones. The ‘intensity’ is set to 100% for all rides on the Wattbike - not sure if this is what it’s supposed to be but it seems logical?

My question is - is this normal for someone in my relatively unfit state or am I doing something completely wrong? Connected to this - would I be better to simply reset my FTP to a lower number again (say 295 or 300) and then just take it from there, or stick with it and just flex the intensity when I am feeling like I’m going to fall off the pace?

My concern is that looking at my TSS scores historically (TR took all my old ride data from Strava) the TSS for the 4 weeks I have been on the SSB LV plan is significantly lower than I have had before. Or do I need to just accept I may have to go backwards a bit in order to then go forwards in terms of fitness?

My Strava ‘fitness’ score has dropped from 63 on 08 September to 46 now - should I be concerned or is this just a meaningless number?

I ride on the trainer during the week and had intended to keep Weekends free for an outdoor ride however the weather and other circumstances have limited this so I’ve only been able to add in a road ride a couple times since starting the programme.

Thanks in advance

I am not the right person to answer all of your questions, but i might be able to give a clue to some based on reading a lot of forum threads.

If you are really good at short high power efforts your ramp test ftp might be an over estimate. You should retest and adjust down if the workouts are unbearable. Are you doing a program?
Edit: i see now that you are on ssv lv, so thats good :slight_smile:

You can read a lot of articles about tss, but as far as i’ve read, a lot of “newbs” come from high tss riding outdoors and think they can manage the same tss when doing high intensity workouts on the trainer and eventually burn out.

Also, i wouldnt worry about w/kg. Are your cycling homies also big dudes? Im 81kg, and if i’m doing the same type of training as my 65kg friend, i can’t expect to reach the same type of w/kg for most type of efforts (at least not ftp)

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I’m not sure you’re as unfit as you claim, you’re simply a lot bigger than most of us. Your raw numbers are pretty great imo!

If I was you I wouldn’t worry so much about w/kg and just focus on nailing your nutrition and workouts.

You’re pure power numbers are nearly double mine! Yet, I still have you by +1 w/kg at almost all times. So if it’s flat, I doubt I’m any faster. Heck, I may even be slower.

When you get to the 20min + numbers, I always take those with a grain of salt. Do you know when you last did a 60 minute TT type effort where you didn’t have to coast? If you haven’t done that in a while I wouldn’t put much faith into the 60 minute numbers.


Your FTP based on this years best 20min effort would be 322
Your FTP based on this years best 60min effort would be 261

So for trainerroad workouts you would properly lie somewhere in between.

Do a new ramp test - this will tell you what your FTP should be on your current setup (trainer, fans, powermeter etc).

Remember that the FTP is just your baseline for the program you follow. If you can’t complete the weekly rides it might just be too high…

Also outdoor TSS is in my case is always way more than indoors. Indoor workouts have so much more quality and I can’t do the same stress.

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Follow low volume to a T. Complete SSB1, SSB2, Build, and Specialty, all the way through. Add an outdoor ride each Sunday.

Reevaluate after completing the full 28 week program. If dissatisfied, you can look back at what you did and tweak for better results next time.

If you veer off plan, randomly start substituting workouts, and don’t get the results you’re looking for, then you’re back at square one with no usable data.

As for weight loss, worry about that later. Building FTP and losing weight don’t mix. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to lose weight when you’re in maintenance mode.

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More fans (300W means another 1100+W of body heat to dissipate). Or, maybe power meter calibration differences between indoors bike and outdoors bike?

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Great - thanks to all the responders for your insights.

Taking all of this in the round, I shall be:

  • dropping my FTP to 300 for the last week and a bit of the current SSB LV1 plan
  • doing the ramp test at the start of the SSB LV2 plan as directed and taking FTP from there
  • not worrying about TSS (compared to previous outdoor rides)
  • letting the weightloss take care of itself

@gcarver - Fans wise … I have a fairly big floor fan and a secondary smaller fan off to the side. May need to consider adding in another. Good point (and obvious - why didn’t I think of that immediately?) about the power meter on my road bike reading different to the one on the Wattbike. Especially after listening to the most recent TR podcast all about power meters! :smile:

@Benjamin_Reynolds - 60 minute TT effort? - to be honest I don’t think I’ve ever pushed hard and constantly for 60 minutes - even on a 45 minute +3 laps Crit there were a number of periods of much less effort. I’ve done plenty of longer rides but in those there won’t have been a component where I pushed hard for a full hour non stop - so a good point that if I haven’t done it before then I’m not going to be used to it / any good at it :grin:

Thanks again everyone for all the pointers - really helpful

“I’m an new unfit rider and my ftp is 320”.

I wish I was as unfit as you are :smile:

Don’t have much to add to what the others have already said, just that you’re not as unfit as you think you are. Those peak, short, power numbers are quite impressive I’d say. If you say you have trouble with the longer sweet spot efforts, you know what you could work if that’s what you want to get better at.
Done SSB1 and 2 outside this summer (first time structured training as well) and what the programs do really well is bump the difficulty and intensity really gradually.

@PhydomiR - thanks - that’s very generous of you to say…

I really don’t ‘feel’ that fit - especially in comparison to my peers - I think my excess weight helps with the short power so it’s likely an inaccurate representation of what I am really capable of.

I’m going to knuckle down and push through the SSB 1 and 2 and see where I get to - just tried the lower FTP setting for this morning’s session (Tallac) and it felt much better - challenging but not impossible :slight_smile:

Thanks again :+1: