Plateau in training

Curious how people have gone through plateaus in progression on TR.

I’m 37 and have been back in road biking after being away for a bit. I’ve been using TR for about 1.5 years. I’m generally on the trainer ~10 hours/week. During the winter, I’m on the bike 6 days/week, while during the spring-fall, I run 1 day/week for roughly 9 miles to cross train/keep some running fitness up for when I travel/etc. I only have the time for 1-2 outdoor rides/week, but when I do them, they’re generally in addition to my TR rides.

Currently, my FTP has auto-detected at 302 and I weigh 165 pounds, so about 4 watts/kg. What I’m struggling with is that I’ve been wavering between a 280-302 watts/kg for the past 6 months or so. Sometimes it goes up, sometimes it goes down. It seems like every few months I get up to 302, and then my harder threshold/VO2 workouts (IF of .9+) become impossible, and I hit a wall. Has anyone figured out a way to get past this?

I’m on a medium volume plan. I cut out all squats/deadlifting in the past few weeks, thinking part of it might be overtraining, but I still failed my workout this morning. Super frustrating.

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So many variable could be at play. Can you link and allow access to your TR calendar?

Following, Am in exactly the same boat. Get to just shy of 300 then injury or illness drags me back down. Then get back up to just shy of it again then rise and repeat. Best auto detect got me was 296w and at that point I did a 25min effort and held 316w but that was my pedals and they read a bit higher than my trainer. I have always have had a target of doing the ramp and getting 300 haven’t quite felt like I have it in me to take it on.

10 hours a week is a lot for us “normal people” but not a lot in respect to the sport. To take the next step you could benefit by doing more. Not sure of your training plan, but also extending duration of tempo/sweet spot can really help as well.

All that said, .9 IF is very close to a race effort. In my opinion it is hard, if not impossible, to train with such intensity indefinitely. For me, I respond better to pushing the bar up (by training at or just under FTP) rather than pulling it up (lots of high intensity). But that’s me… and everyone is different of course.

Other factors we don’t like to think about are limiters such as genetics, age, etc. From what you posted seems like there is still room for growth though!

Keeping your workouts diverse and mixing up the stimuli is key, but let’s not forget about giving recovery the spotlight it deserves. It’s crucial for making those gains and avoiding burnout. Exploring other methods like tracking your Heart Rate Variability (HRV) can offer some insights too.

Right now, I’m using the Fascat app and their training plan. It’s like having a personal coach in your pocket, analyzing your training stress, HRV, and even your sleep patterns to keep you on track.

When you’re tackling those high-intensity sessions, consider kicking ERG mode to the curb. It’ll make crushing those workouts a whole lot smoother without risking hitting a wall halfway through.

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Would be happy to, although I’m not sure how to do that.

Yup, agreed. Back in my glory days ( :grinning:) I was a competitive rower, and part of it is going back to learning how to push myself in those longer intervals. The yo-yoing up/down with my FTP is getting annoying however.

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Going to copy-pasta a similar answer from another thread:

At 36 years of age, I faced a similar plateau:

  • Initially, my FTP settled around 4 w/kg.
  • Despite 9-10 hours of mixed training consistency, I hovered between 4-4.3 w/kg for 2 years.

My breakthrough came with:

  • Increased riding time: 10-15 hours/week for 3 months.
  • Prioritizing sleep: Ensured at least 7 hours nightly.
  • Strategic dieting: Maintained a 200-300 calorie deficit daily, aiming for double my body weight in grams of protein. At 67 kg, I’d target an intake of 134 g of protein daily.
  • Adopted a polarized model focusing on anaerobic training, avoiding zones other than upper threshold and VO2 max. Previously, I adopted traditional training approaches of sweetspot, threshold, you name it.

The result after 3 months: FTP bumped from 4.2 to 4.8 w/kg.

Note as of 4.29.2024: what is not noted above is that I was riding a lot in January-June of 2023, and then was sidelined with a pretty nasty injury (I’ll spare you the details, but I hit a deer on a descent when I was going about 50 mph). That said, I had some solid base fitness going into the 3 month period where I made all the gains (despite the injury setback) that also propelled my progress. I’m in a position now where I’m at 4.2 w/kg at the moment, and I know I have to build a pretty big base (again) to build into that 4.8 w/kg number.

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How are you feeling with 3 intensity days per week? It could be worth considering a switch to a Masters Plan, where you’d have 2 intensity days per week instead. The extra hard session would be replaced with more endurance riding, so you could maintain a similar volume, but the decrease in intensity may allow you to recover more for your remaining interval workouts.

Outside of that, how has your life off of the bike been? Are you sleeping/eating/hydrating well? Are you able to relax pretty often, or is your life more stressful? All of those factors can impact how you’re feeling during your workouts on the bike.

I checked out your TR Calendar I will say that it looks like you’re very consistent in your training, which is great! I noticed that you haven’t had a true break from training in quite a while, though. I saw some periods where you weren’t training as much, but a break from training completely where you’re just resting up on the couch instead of riding/running can do wonders to help you reset and break through a plateau. Generally, we recommend taking a week or two off to rest and recover once you complete a full training cycle of Base/Build/Specialty – or about 28 weeks.

Taking a break will help you shed off all of your fatigue that’s built up from months of training and you’ll come back feeling much fresher mentally and physically. I noticed your A race for this season is in September, so right about now would actually be a great time to rest up and come back to training fresh.

Hope these thoughts help you out – feel free to let me know if you have any additional questions!

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I know I’m turning 38 soon, but I’m not sure I’m ready to call myself ready for a Masters Plan. :disappointed:

I’m in a fairly intense job and have a toddler at home so sleep can be hit or miss at times, but I try to get at least 7 hours each night.

I’m leaving on vacation in a week and was considering bringing my running shoes, but maybe I’ll think about just taking it easy.

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Totally hear ya on the nomenclature – ignoring the title of the plans though, it still might be worth considering! I’m 28 and there have been times where I’ve capped my intensity days to 2x/week and found success with it. :slight_smile:

A vacation sounds like the perfect time to rest up for a bit! I think taking it easy would be the right call.