Pushing vs pulling up FTP

I know this may sound like a dump question, but are there basically two ways to increase FTP, name pushing and pulling up your FTP?

If that’s true, which method solicits the most increases or does it depend on the individual? I mentioned in a prior post that my FTP basically stayed the same for about 3 months while running through SSBLVI, and didn’t experience any increases until two weeks into SSBLVII.

But recently, I was watching Tyler Pearce (Vegan Cyclist) doing 20 hours a week for a month on basically endurance and some SS, but he boosted his FTP up by 5%. I’m nowhere near Tyler’s FTP so shouldn’t that mean that pulling my FTP up would be easier than him? Isn’t my aerobic “floor” lower than his and therefore more readily raised?

Thanks all!

you basically want to do both in phases. fill the house and raise the roof. You can determine which by looking at your FTP relative to your VO2max http://storage.trainingpeaks.com.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/pdf/WKO4-Building-FTP-TTE-and-Stamina.pdf

1 Like

That’s a super good illustration for me, thank you. It’s been super frustrating because I’m back (again) on SSB1 after another round of illness and I’m easily going 2-5% over the prescribed workout intensities, but my FTP is not changing.

Based on the “fitness house” illustration, I guess that would mean that my aerobic house is now too small for me and I need to bump the VO2Max ceiling. But given my super low VO2Max of 42.08ml, I’m guessing this is going to be a loooooong process to raise the roof.

how are you determining your ftp?

1 Like

Also consider fitness is a point in time and Tyler has been much higher than where he is currently at. It is much easier to get back to a level of fitness that you have already achieved because your body remembers. I think it’s probably likely that highly trained folks like Tyler fluctuate between seasons and that gaining 5% after an offseason is relatively easy. I even recently lowered my FTP after 10 weeks off and saw a 6% increase after a single phase of base. That 6% increase put me right back where I was before the off period.


I’m doing the ramp test. I haven’t done a new ramp test since starting restarting SSBI again a couple weeks ago.

Both work but both work differently for different people I’m sure.

I started 2019 doing the TR plans and definitely saw some significant FTP gains. I was very untrained at the beginning of the year but I was pretty strong 2012-2014 so it wasn’t as if I had never done this before. My FTP went from 230 - 275 from January to July. From there I felt like I was tired frequently and didn’t have the ability to ride long rides at bigger wattages. When I would crack I would really blow apart. The gains were also slowing considerably and I felt like I was fighting for a few watts here and there rather than making large gains.

In Sept I decided the “pull from the top” just wasn’t going to cut it anymore and I stopped doing any intervals above my FTP. For Sept, Oct and Nov I didn’t do any interval work above threshold. I did a lot of tempo/endurance riding and just tried to be consistent. I did some 2x20’s but topped out around 90% of FTP (by memory). I did ride hard on the weekends at times so there were moments when I would be doing maximal work but nothing structured. No threshold work, no V02 max work, pretty easy trainer sessions for the most part.

This tempo/endurance block had a major impact on my fitness. Despite not doing any VO2 max work or any pain filled trainer sessions (108% of FTP, 120% of FTP, etc.), I have basically reset my power curve for every data point past 2 minutes. I tested yesterday and got an over 20 watt boost to my FTP (meaning the start of push up work ~280 FTP to yesterday ~302) doing only push from the bottom work on the trainer and outdoor rides.

The best part of it for me is I feel like I have a much greater capacity to train after doing so many long rides on the weekends. So now that I’m beginning to incorporate some V02 intervals into my training I don’t feel completely blow apart by them and I’m able to train again the next day.

So I think VC is onto something as I am a believer in the whole big base theory. I think for someone starting out that doesn’t have the ability or desire to sit in the saddle for long rides, it’s much better to pull from the top to maximize the value of shortened sessions. As an athlete gets more fit and can handle more volume, that volume really can move a rider’s FTP higher despite a lack of over threshold work.

And then of course the cycle continues because now I will go back to adding in some V02 work and trying to pull my FTP higher to peak around my A races this season.


Thanks for the reply. I recall hearing about something similar, and frankly I’m not complaining about where I’m at. I started cycling mid-2018 with a FTP of about 200, started TR May of 2019 with FTP of 231. So after about 7 months of mostly SSBI, I raised my FTP by about 14% while it took about a year to get that increase without structured training.

Ramp test is a measure of MAP(~VO2max power) and then assumes a percentage of that is your FTP, and SSB1 is mostly SS which is only pushing on your FTP but not raising the roof, so its no wonder your FTP is not going up even though you can do the workouts at a higher intensity than prescribed. Doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve butted up against your VO2max ceiling though

1 Like


Yes, I noticed that even a two week stint into SSBII caused me to raise my FTP by almost 2%, while three months in SSBI saw no change at all in FTP.

Does this mean I should skip SSBI and go right into SSBII?

sure, sounds like you MIGHT be at upper end of gains from pure sweet spot work. Your power at threshold is a balance of aerobic capacity and anaerobic capacity. My best gains in sweet spot happen when I’m doing outside riding and naturally working the anaerobic system. However I don’t have the strongest anaerobic system, so thats not too surprising. You might be one of those that would benefit from some vo2/anaerobic work during base.

If you know what threshold feels like, it would be more interesting to compare 5-min power from ramp test to your self estimated FTP (by feel from SS and/or threshold). Doing that, I’ve seen my fractional utilization as high as 90% (FTP / vo2max-5min-ramp) which makes me an outlier. The normal range is 78-85%. Right now I’m around 85% and doing some vo2 work every week to complement my current focus on sweet spot.

More info from Coach Chad:

1 Like

7 months! :crazy_face:

Maybe time to move on.

Progress through SSB2 and Build and see where you end up.

1 Like

Missed that! Agree that 7 months of mostly SSB1 is waaaayyyyyy too long to focus on sweet spot.

1 Like

Yeah, if you went out and rode 20 hours per week in zone 2 you’d probably see a bigger bump than Pearce.

My story is similar to that of Stringwise. Last year my training seemed to be stalled. I’d do an intense workout and it would bury me. I’d do a hard week and then be so exhausted that I’d need to follow it with an easy week.

I decided to do an old school traditional base. I rode 10-13 hours per week with the majority of rides limited to 70% of max HR. I still did my Saturday group ride which probably includes 20-30 minutes of threshold and about 30 minutes of sweet spot.

I did this for 12 weeks. Around week 8 I broke all my Strava PRs by about 15%.

After my 12 weeks of base I started throwing in some tempo and SS intervals plus some Strava KOM chasing but I never stayed on the intervals with any rigid regularity. I just kind of enjoyed the fitness to the end of the year. At the beginning of December I got a Strava top 7 on an uphill gravel segment and I’m not a climber (at all). It totally blew me away.

More than FTP, doing 10-13 hours a week of long/slow gave me a ton more endurance and stamina and I was recovering much faster from rides.

My FTP progression went 225 - 250 - 275 over this period of time (April to December).


Thanks, I keep redoing SSB due to illnesses and injuries that keep me off the bike for over a week.

I vaguely seem to recall you are masters age, is that right? If yes have you heard about Friel’s Fast After 50 book?

I’m 41, is that masters age?

masters but not yet Fast After 50 age! Repeating SSB-1 for awhile might work for some, for a limited amount of time, but most will benefit from progressing thru the different phases of TR base-build-specialty.

1 Like

I think there is basically only one story here…you can’t compare SSBLV which is less than 3.5 hours a week with riding 20 hours consistently. 20 hours a week is probably 1000+TSS unless it is all easy LV is 200-250 simple as that. If you have time to ride more you will get faster whether you push up or pull up your FTP :grinning:

1 Like