New to TR - Workouts Barely Going Over FTP, Too Easy - Doing Plan Builder Wrong?

I’ve been riding consistently for a few years now, outside and on Zwift, and finally dove into the TR podcast and training plan recently. I did the ramp test and ended up with a calculated FTP of 240. I finished with a heart rate of 169 ('m just under 30), so I don’t think I had much left to give, and it seems reasonable and about what I expected.

The workouts in my training plan BARELY break over that 240 FTP mark, even the ones weeks out on my calendar. I’ve only done a single workout post-ramp test thus far, but that was so easy, I got concerned and looked forward on the calendar. I have major time constraints from Feb. 15th-Apr. 15th, so during that time I intend to switch to the 30-45 minute time constrained plan and ride 6 days/wk. I set the plan as a low volume, new to interval training, plan end date of Feb. 15th, with training for gran fondo. After April 15th, I have plenty of time to train, and am planning to do some ~centuries late summer.

Is my FTP maybe inaccurate? Did I build my plan in an illogical way or that the algorithms don’t like? Please help! :slight_smile:

FYI I’m on a Kickr in ERG mode, and I did a spindown in TR before the ramp test, though I didn’t warm it up first.

Did you start with the Sweetspot Base plan?

I have done SSB Mid Volume twice, finishing up SSB Mid Volume 2, and here’s my anecdotal experience:

Yes, in the early days of the first one, the workouts do feel quite easy. And I can totally relate to you, looking at a lot of the workout profiles they look extremely similar.

However, do not underestimate how much is hidden by the graphs. What seem like fairly subtle changes in % of FTP and duration actually result in very different experiences on the bike.

Workouts like Geiger and Tunnabora feel VERY different from something like Kaweah… I can knock out a Geiger without feeling much of anything, but by the end of Kaweah I’m fighting against ideas of pausing the workout. Looking at the workout profiles is completely different from actually nailing it on Saturday/Sunday after 4 other training sessions during the week, and with no rest/backpedaling.

Finally, don’t underestimate the aggregate effect. Workout 1 of week 1 feels quite different from your hard Saturday ride on week 3 or 4.

1 Like

Yeah it’s on SSB low-volume. I probably wouldn’t have any issues managing the mid-volume, but figured it’d be better to stick with what I know I can hit 100% from a schedule standpoint, and fill in with Zwift rides and running.

The first workout was Ericsson-1, today is Baxter for 90, then Goddard, Monitor, Antelope, etc. I’m happy to just follow along and trust TR, but just want to make sure I’m not missing something significant, and waste the last few weeks before I’m time constrained.

Most endurance training happens below your FTP. You work way below it for a long time(90+ min) or just below it for a moderate time (10+ minutes with short rests between efforts). This lets your work longer at those intensities, also known as ‘endurance’.

1 Like

SSB1 is mostly getting used to things on the trainer, there’s only really Warlow and Palisade that go above FTP, so don’t worry about not being pushed. SSB2 is when things pep up, you’ll get one VO2max workout, one Sweet Spot and one threshold.

By the time you get halfway through Build you’ll be looking back at SSB1 with glazed eyes. :grin:

6 Likes

Embrace the process, add in a MV plan workout or some endurance work if you want an extra workout (I think that’d be preferable to hammering zwift ride). The intensity will come, enjoy not smashing your head against the wall.

2 Likes

Thank you everyone…that’s all very helpful!

The workouts should not be genuinely easy though - if that was your first experience doing a ramp test I wouldn’t be surprised if you get an FTP bump just with a bit of practice at doing the test.

2 Likes

You had about 20bpm left to give (old math of 220 minus your age = max HR). If this was your first ramp test I think you stopped too early, perhaps when you felt that was all you had, not when your legs stopped, which are two different things. Also did you remain seated or stand? If you stood, then the results will be inaccurate (although to be fair, normally inaccurate as in test high).

If you do a smidge of YouTube searching you’ll find the TR team doing group ramp tests. Watch one of those and ask yourself if that was as hard as you went?

As you are still in week one, spending anther half hour retesting might help you in the long run, but do remember that not every session is a hammerfest, and nor should it ever be.

2 Likes

Can only echo what others have said and at 55 my ramp test max HR was 182 - you may not have an idea of what your max HR is but from riding on zwift and outside maybe you should? Many have said that you won’t get near to your Max HR on a ramp test but you should get close. The idea is to keep the cadence steady, if on ERG, and keep going until the central governor pulls the plug for you - believe me it won’t be a conscious decision.

here’s the link that @handynzl mentioned https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWHgMzpvH7c

Edit - misread post re youtube videos. :joy:

If you want to see how hard some go there are also ramp tests on there where nate and others have done them live - you can see how hard they go.

There is no doubt that over time you get better at taking them and as they don’t wreck you too much you can easily do them again.

And completely agree with @roadbiketrevor wait for Kaweah - my personal “Eleanor” workout. :scream:

You’ll probably get a big FTP bump next time you take it and it gets possibly nearer the right point each time…

Enjoy.

At the start of every ramp test I prop a bucket on the front wheel - just in case :grin: :partying_face:

1 Like

Was thinking more of this actually :slight_smile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDlXDFqTeVw

1 Like

When I stopped on the ramp test it was more because of leg exhaustion than lack of oxygen. Note, I did it entirely in the saddle, like I had read. However, I do a lot of climbing out of the saddle, so I’m not very used to doing big power in the saddle. Sounds like a second ramp test would be well worth the time and effort.

During today’s Baxter workout I upped the intensity to 110%, and it was still easy. HR peaked at 135 and averaged 114. I could’ve done almost all of it breathing through my nose.

How often do you find yourself adjusting the intensity, and is that even a good idea, or more of a sign of inaccurate FTP estimate?

Regarding theoretical vs actual max HR, I find with cycling I have a very difficult time breaking 170bpm. With running I’ll often get to 180-190 if I’m pushing at the end of a hard workout. Looking through my recent big cycling efforts, I barely, if ever, have broken 170 bpm, even at the end of a big AdZ push, as well as Ven Top.

I guess I’ll give it another shot and go until my legs literally give out without me telling them to haha.

Thanks again.

1 Like

Not everyone’s failure on the ramp test will be the same, mine’s usually because I’m breathing like John Hurt in the chest buster scene from Alien! You stop when you really can’t go on for whatever reason.

Baxter is a pretty easy workout TBH - I’m aiming to keep my HR in Z1 for the whole duration, 90s away ATM.

I’ll adjust the intensity by a couple of percent if I’m feeling strong or weak on that particular day but usually I’ll leave it as is. I wouldn’t be rushing to change things just because. At the moment it sounds like you don’t know what the various intensities should feel like. It takes a while to hone in on that.

Give it time, your next ramp test should be better executed because you know better on how to do it.

Baxter is supposed to be easy - it is a recovery / endurance creating workout. I think that you are either a little under-tested as I mentioned before but perhaps also looking at workouts in isolation, rather than part of an entire plan. The first week or so of base is just getting you warmed up and prepping the body. As you progress the workouts increase in intensity, and incorporate your fatigue levels to induce a training effect (improvement) in your body. Once you move out of base and into build you will certainly not be wanting to up things by 10% :stuck_out_tongue:

Haha sounds good. Part of the reason I got into cycling was from years and years of never being able to stay healthy running, often because of overtraining. I definitely have trouble holding myself back, and not just pushing myself on most every workout. Maybe some structured training via TR is just what I need :slight_smile:

The Base 1 plan will be mostly sub-FTP, except for 1, maybe 2.
The Base 2 plan, which you do after Base 1, will add more intensity, and will break into higher zones briefly.

No base plans, from any coach or coaching service, starts you out with above FTP work.

Depending on where you’re coming from, in terms of fitness, it may be easy. If you’re coming from a true off-season, then it won’t be. If you’ve already built base, then it would be easy, and TBH, I would skip Base 1 and go to Base 2 and Build.

… if you’ve already started base work before doing TR …

2 Likes

If you have seen a higher HR running, then you stopped too early or you have to work on muscular endurance. Baxter is however an endurance workout. And should not be a measuring stick. It should be easy.

Wait for Monitor and see how you do (assuming you are on sslv)…it should be challenging, but not super hard. If that one feels too easy Re-test.

1 Like

I’m scheduled for Monitor on Thursday, we’ll see how that goes.

+1

Part of the planned structure is to build up for this. Part of the reason many people see big jumps when just starting out. You’re actually building endurance, and part of that is building the personal pain tolerance (IMHO) and the endurance to hold power longer.

IMO, the FTP was set right, just let it go through. You’re dealing with percentages anyway, and the Sweet Spot is a range, a pretty big one at that.

It’s not always about the number.

Rarely. I know my HR zones and where things lie, relatively, as well as being able to judge my level of fatigue going in (to adjust what I expect to see before I start the workout). But, I’ve been doing this for a long time.

Part of training is learning how to test. Just roll with it instead of worrying about a number.

2 Likes

also @kvwesely welcome to the community. Good luck with your training block and thumbs up for a huge gain on your next planned/scheduled FTP test as part of the program!

Now you can look forward to meeting some of the more “notorious” workouts like Kaweah, Mary Austin, … Any others I’m missing? :smiley:

1 Like