Newbie to the game. FTP and training

I’m in my early 40s and bought my first MTB a couple years ago. Loved it. But holy…I was out of shape. I’ve done a lot of lifting and considered myself in shape but jumping on the bike and blasting climbs just wrecked me. I’ve definitely seen improvements but wanted to get some thoughts from the pros here.

I did the trainerroad FTP test yesterday and ended up at 158. I see other people saying they “just jumped on the bike and ended up getting 250 or 300” or whatever. Is my 158 bad? I weigh like 175. I did all this on my kickr bike. Actually just started one of the training programs today on the Trainerroad app.

I dunno, I feel weak, especially on the climbs. Steep terrain and my heart rate spikes and never goes down. :frowning:


Lifting is different than cycling.

I think I’m correct(?) that lifting is anaerobic while cycling is aerobic.

Your FTP is what it is (blame your parents!). The best thing to do is just start training and see where you end up. TR is a pretty good place to start.

Have fun!


I wouldn’t worry too much about your FTP to start with- generally the newer you are the faster the improvements, so just riding frequently will yield some pretty huge improvements in both your power/HR metrics and how capable you feel on the bike.

Also worth remembering that a lot of people have been riding for a while before they take a FTP test or start training ‘seriously’. IMO you’re looking fine for someone without a background in endurance sports, especially if you have more muscle mass from lifting. (And while lifting alone might not translate to FTP that well, it will set you up well in other ways especially when it comes to mountain biking- many of us could actually stand to do some more strength training! :joy:)


I started earlier this week I’m 33 and my initial results on the ramp test was 93. So you’re more of a natural at this than I am.

For myself, at almost two decades older than thread poster, the tipping point is 5 days a week and 6+ hours. The more hours the bigger the gains. And I was a desk jockey for most of my adult life.


Rule #1: there is always someone who is faster than you. Don’t let that discourage you. You’re not doing it to compete in the Tour de France. IMHO you should focus on yourself. Especially when your FTP is low, you can expect larger gains. If you are well-trained, you are fighting for gains of 10 W.

Rule #2: Have fun. Try to find things that you enjoy and try to get better at them. Getting into (aerobic) shape takes a long while, so don’t expect to rock a 300 W FTP within 6 months. Stay realistic, stay consistent.

Rule #3: Start small, but be consistent. Start with a low-volume plan. If you have more time, energy and desire, add simple endurance workouts using TrainNow. They seem simple, but they will pay off big time.

Rule #4: Sleep. I turned 40 this year. And ever since my daughter was born 3.5 years ago, I started to gain a whole different appreciation for sleep. Aim for 8 hours and settle for no less than 7. This will improve so many things in your life. (I’m still struggling with this one.)

All other things will follow naturally. When I am training, my desire for fried food is greatly diminished and I crave vegetables. If you are drinking soda, stop doing that. That’s such an easy one if you want to lose weight and eat more healthily.


You’re certain that no guy with a 2 w/kg FTP and a strength background has never made it up any hill ever?


1: there is no such thing as a bad FTP
2: 158 is totally fine for a beginner and if you follow a training plan that will steadily grow. Since you’re totally new you’ll probably even see quite a big jump in the early part of training.

I don’t think optimal training or volume is really that important at this point- if you’re a beginner just riding regularly will be a stimulus above what your body’s used to, so being on any plan that gets you on the bike a few times a week will most likely be more than enough to see improvements. Get comfortable on the bike, have some fun, everything else follows from that. :slight_smile:

Also, if you’re planning to continue lifting there are a bunch of threads on how to balance that alongside training which may be of help!


First of all, welcome to the TR community buttpaste!

Don’t let your FTP level get you down - use it for motivation to improve, which you almost certainly will, over time. When I started cycling two years ago I signed up to TR and my initial FTP after performing a ramp test was 210. I then made steady progression, had a big crash and was off the bike for six months, retested my FTP and came out at 120. Steady improvements over the past year or so and I am now at 302 and feeling like I can best that on an upcoming ramp test. I also came from a weightlifting background so don’t let that lull you into a sense that you won’t be able to climb, you might end up with the most powerful sprint legs on the block!

The forum is a great wealth of knowledge so browse through and ask questions! Good luck!


Some great advice above.
As others have said start steady and you will see gains. There are many threads on FTP tests and it’s only there as a best guess to anchor your training sessions to. :grin:
Sometimes it stays static but you will notice that you are getting better at, say, longer intervals at a certain power. It can go up and down for a number of reasons and above all it doesn’t dictate your worth as a human being or indeed a cyclist.
:grin: We’ve all started somewhere and some forget that from time to time.

Eat well, train smart, rest and you’ll see gains but it never happens overnight. Over weeks and months yes…

If you’re in the Northern hemisphere heading into the back end of this year is a great time to hit the trainer and work through a plan ready for next year. You know - when it’s just too crappy to go outside.

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Hell yea! Awesome. So many great responses here!

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Don’t worry about your current FTP. I was in the same boat as you when I started with TR in march 2021. My first ramp-test yielded a result of only 125 (1,7 w/kg at my weight at the time). I felt completely deflated and worthless.

But I took the bull by the horns, trained consistenly three times a week on a low volume TR-plan, changed my diet, lost weight, gained strength and above all gained confidence.

Fast forward six months. My current FTP is 210 (3.10 w/kg at my current weight). And finished with the best of the bunch in a group ride last week. I’m 49 years old now and I feel better than ever before.

Stick with a plan, be consistent, try to maintain a healthy life style and have fun. And you’ll be amazed with your progress by the end of the year!


It would help to know what power meter he is using. 158 watts is meaningless unless it’s somewhat accurate. If it’s virtual power then all bets are off. A short ramp test might also be meaningless for an anaerobic rider with a weight lifting background. There are a lot of variables.

There is also learning how to test. I predict big gains for the second test based just on having gained some experience with the first test.

It may be that you struggle with the test itself and didn’t push as hard as you could (should?)

Also FTP as an absolute number isn’t that useful when comparing individuals: if two riders have an FTP of 180W but one weighs 60kg and one weighs 90kg then they aren’t equal. It’s why FTP is often quoted in Watts/kg, the 90kg would need an FTP of 270W for things to be equivalent (they probably wouldn’t be equal since the bigger rider would have greater air resistance, etc.)

You say you are on a plan. Read the notes for each workout, they tell you what it’s about and how you should feel, i.e. over-unders should initiate a burn in the legs during the overs, etc. If all the workouts feel “easy” then you should retest.

I used the trainerroad app, ramp test, and my Kickr bike.

There are a lot of good responses in this thread and I’m planning on sticking with the training program. It’s been so smokey from wildfires in my area over the last couple months it’s been really hard to get out and ride so I’ve been on my Kickr quite a bit. I think a structured program will help.

When I stopped pedaling on the ramp test I was at 204 watts and my heart rate was 192. I honestly don’t think I could have gone another minute. I chalk a lot of that up to poor cardio. I never spent any time on it until I got my bike.

My first ride after getting my bike a couple years ago was a 10 mile route on a mild fire road. 5 miles out to a bridge and 5 back. About 800 feet of climbing with 3 short steep technical sections (lots of rocks). So, this first ride, I was a mess and had to stop…I’d guess 8-10 times and it took an hour and 15 minutes to get to the bridge. Coming back was great…all down hill!

This year I’m averaging that same route from the trailhead to the bridge in 35 minutes with no stops. So I’ve seen a huge improvement so far. I’m hoping this training program will help with endurance and power because every trail I ride has anywhere from 500-3500 feet of climbing over all types of terrain.


‘Fitness’ is VERY mode-specific; lifting weights doesn’t really transfer to riding an MTB but neither does running, swimming, rowing, etc. The good news is that your strength base will help you on the bike and you’ll probably get a lot faster (higher FTP) pretty quickly. Just stick with it and try to get on the trainer or outdoors 3 or 4 times a week.

Everybody is different, and everyone responds differently to training. My guess for untrained FTP in 2014 is 180W, based on 3 months off the bike in 2019. I was able to increase FTP to roughly 240W by “simply” going to gym Tue/Thur and doing all-out/max-effort high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Plus an outside ride or two around town. The gym work was intense and truly all-out. My cardio was poor after almost 30 years of being a desk jockey, those gym sessions really hurt. Before TR I was able to push it to 280 by doing long century rides in the mountains and weekly Wed night “race rides.” Structured training on TR saw it drop a bit to 250W, and I learned that doing more frequent intense efforts and longer (2-5 hour) easy rides will push ftp into 260-270 range. So don’t be afraid to experiment and learn what works for YOU.

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Well, that was just an example. I’m usually on the bike for 1.5-2 hours.

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