Progression levels went down twice after adjusting FTP twice

Last monday I did a ramp test and accepted the FTP of 255W it gave me. This caused my progression levels to adjust downwards (and I understand why this happens).

The next day I did a 20-minute FTP test and again accepted the FTP of 244W it gave me. This again caused my progression levels to adjust downwards, at which point they are all pretty close to 1.0.

In hindsight I wish I just dismissed the FTP value the ramp test gave me, but I was not yet experienced with Trainerroad at the time so had no idea what it would do.

I have no clue what my progression levels were before the two FTP changes as I am just starting out with Trainerroad (but I do have a good year of activities with power data in there, so they were populated and some were actually maxed out).

With most of my PL’s at 1.0 now, I’m afraid I am not working close enough to the edge of my capabilities right now so have been picking “stretch” workouts last week, which bumped some of my progression levels up a fair bit. I am not sure how far to take this though, and don’t want to get burned out too soon. What would you more experienced Trainerroad users advise me to do in this situation?

Also, as a related discussion about the product itself, should my progression levels really adjust downwards if my FTP drops?

May want to open a ticket with they may be able to reset your PLs.

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Thank you - support request submitted!

I think this is TR being very conservative.

That depends on how TR interprets your FTP history. Maybe it sees a big, sudden drop in FTP and interprets this as your fitness tanking.

Why? Do you have any indication that it was incorrect? Have you done workouts to validate that FTP? Or the second one? Or are you just “picking the lower number”?

E. g. if 120 % VO2max workouts in the PL5 range are easy, your FTP is too low. If 4x10 minutes at FTP is easy, your FTP is set too low. Etc.

Part of it is me picking the lower number to err on the safe side of things, but also I suspect the ramp test is overestimating my FTP due to me leaning towards the anaerobic side of the spectrum. For example, 5 x 4 min @ 120% FTP efforts are indeed too easy but any treshold type stuff or longer intervals is really hard.

If I go by the FTP number the ramp test gives me, VO2Max work feels better (as in, barely able to finish) but anything below that feels crazy hard or downright impossible.

This could also be due to me not having much experience with them or not really knowing how much I should be suffering while doing them, but I’m hoping to sort that out or at least know the answer to this after a few months of using Trainerroad / doing treshold & sweet spot work.

That’s the wrong approach. You shouldn’t pick what is safer or easier, but what is correct. You should not blindly trust the results of the ramp test or any other FTP test, but build experience by testing the FTP numbers.

Here is what I do and what is working for me. When I am unsure about the result of an FTP test, I do

  • 1 threshold workout (e. g. one of the easier 4x8 minute threshold workouts from the polarized plan)
  • 1 VO2max workout (again, I’d stick to PL4ish).
  • 1 outdoor ride trying to climb by feel in different power zones.

Of course, if you do an easy threshold with plenty of rest between the and you fail spectacularly during the beginning of the second interval, there is no need to test further. Another thing to keep in mind is that with experience you can tell whether you are slightly over your lactate threshold or not. Because you can finish (perhaps after training) 4x8 minutes at 102 % or 105 %. But with the threshold workout you should pay attention to whether your breathing changes and when. Running out of steam a little towards the end is nothing to be concerned about, these workouts are supposed to be hard.

With time, you build experience and can apply your personal correction factor to the result of the FTP test. E. g. if you know that your ramp test spits out an FTP that is approximately 2 % too high, then take the result and subtract 2 % off of it. You can delete earlier FTP test results on the website, so the ramp test result won’t pollute your timeline. But if in doubt, repeat that.

I did just that a few months ago when I toot a 4-week break as I traveled through Europe. Usually, I don’t need to touch the results of the ramp test. But this time, AI FTP and the ramp test disagreed by 15 W. I have done enough ramp tests to know that I felt fine, but the number seemed suspicious. So I did those three workouts, and I figured out that my FTP hadn’t changed as much as I had expected, just my endurance had decreased a lot.

My recommendation is that most people stick to the ramp test for two reasons: (1) It is an all-out test and (2) pacing is not important. With the 20-minute test, pacing is an issue, and if you have paced too conservatively, you will test low.

However, both use heuristic factors to deduce your FTP from your tested power numbers. And this factor has a statistical variation — one size does not fit all.

Knowing how to pass time in the hurt locker is a learned skill. If you tell a regular, untrained person to go as hard as they can, it is quite likely they will stop way before their physical capabilities would force them to. It feels super hard even though they are nowhere near their max. Have a look here; you can skip to about minute 10:48 till about 15:00.

Overall, since you said the VO2max workout felt hard, but doable at the higher FTP, I’d go back to that and start testing with other workouts.

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