Off the couch FTP versus plateau FTP

What are your experiences?
I had some years cycling break and started on my FTP hill 2016 completely off the couch.

  1. off the couch FTP was around 160 Watts

  2. after several consistent years with 8-10 h/ week I plateau around 310 Watts

My weight is always around 75 kg.

Has anybody else made some testing after a long training break?


1 Like

That’s a very impressive improvement. How old are you? I’ve been doing structured training since 2009 (though cycling only since 2020) and I’m pretty much at a perma-plateau, or managed decline :laughing: since I’m getting older.

I am now 50 very soon, but started cycling races with age of 13.
I am not quite sure, because I had no powermeter in the 90th, but my FTP must have been 350 in the age of 22. (I know only my VO2max was 71 at that time.)
I think with 50 years it is no more possible to get that high.
Now the way is only downwards from decade to decade.

Well things don’t slow down that much, you just don’t see any PBs anymore :cry:

I started with powermeter in 2020 luckily. So there are still PRs… all before is history:-)

My off the couch was somewhere around 200 watts. I’ve never really been truly off the couch though, more like off my 15mph commuter bike rides…

Plateau pretty consistently around 290ish ftp. I’m thinking maybe I’ve been consistently overeaching in workout intensity and burnout before my fitness really exceeds this point. I’m trying to be a little more slow and steady wins the race this year…hopefully that gets me north of 300 for CX season.

1 Like

What do you mean by off the couch. As in, before you ever trained for endurance sports in your life, or if you stopped cycling for a few years and picked it back up? They are very different starting points

That’s how I understand it - he started cycling at high level in his teens and continued into twenties. Then long break. Picked up training again in 2016 in his early forties.

1 Like

Correct, because of kid, house, work… 3 years no cycling at all. But you are right, legs lungs and heart remember the performance in the teens and twens very good. The rise of FTP was very fast.


I’m kinda in the opposite boat. Did several years of structured training and plateaued at 270 this past year right before I majorly herniated a couple discs in September. Was completely off the bike until February when I finally decided to have microdiscectomy surgery. I’m just now at the point in my recovery that I’m able to do a couple z2 rides per week. Plan to do an FTP test in the next week or two. Not looking forward to it…lol.

I raced in the 90s. I estimate that my FTP was around 325-350 (4 watts/kg) based on a 1 hour climb we used to do every year. (I can now model it decades later with modern tools.) I picked up serious riding again in my late 40s. I peak at about a 250 watt FTP. This last year I took 8 months off the bike though I stayed in shape with light running, weights and rowing. I’ve progressed:

Feb 170 watts
Beg March 180 watts
Mid March 192 watts
Late march 199 watts
Today 215 watts

I’m on a rest week this week and will do a test next week. I wouldn’t be surprised to see 225+ watts. So, it seems like I can get back into shape in about 3 months.

1 Like

Yes, VO2max declines over time so you’ll never be as fast as in your twenties but >4W/kg FTP at your age is very strong anyway.

My experience on off the couch is that it all depends on the individual and it’s impossible to look at your untrained FTP and draw conclusions on where your potential is. Too many factors.
I was very unfit in my early 30s - not sure what my ftp was but I remember my first ride was 8 km at 25km/h and I nearly died at the end. It took me 4 years to loose 40 kg and get to 330FTP at 71kg.

Personal issues in 2019 and 2020 meant a long break from training - FTP went town to 240W at 81 kg. Now clawing my way up since December and nearly at 300W again. Hope to be 5% stronger by the summer and I think it’s realistic.