Rate of FTP increase

Where do you live and what type of climbing are you talking about? If you are 100kg and climbing against guys that are 68kg and you are literally going up mountains, you probably just aren’t ever going to catch them (without losing weight/muscle).

If you are however going up rollers or gentle climbs and you get to 3.5w/kg you will be a monster and inflict a lot of pain on your friends.

How long it will take is somewhere between soon and never, literally. How many hours a week are you willing to train? 3 hours a week? You probably will never get there. Locked in on a high volume TR plan from base to specialty, proper sleep, proper nutrition, you might get there fast enough to really surprise your friends. That full cycle is roughly SSB 1 - 6 weeks - SSB II 6 Weeks - General Build - 8 Weeks - Climbing Road Race - 8 weeks, so 28 weeks for one complete cycle. Be willing to commit to that and see how close you are.

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Results do vary week to week and month to month, but the principles of how to get faster are pretty concrete over the long run.

  1. Structured training beats unstructured training
  2. Eating to fuel your goals beats eating to satisfy your appetites
  3. Discipline beats motivation
  4. Regular recovery beats overtraining
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Absolutely you can increase your aerobic capacity, suspect you’ll find that the work needed to build that capacity will naturally cause you to shed a fair bit of that weight along the way as well! Put the work in, see where you end up. I had a friend at university who was naturally a fairly similar shape to you, 6’1" and mid to high 90s kg, all muscle, freakishly powerful, gravitated to sports like rowing and rugby. Over the subsequent ~25 years he got into cycling, then triathlon, then marathons, then trail running ultras. Still got wide shoulders and a barrel chest but he’s about 80kg and super lean now.

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Thanks!

I live near a mountain with a 7 mile climb of about 6% average gradient. I know I’ll never be fast up this climb, but I’d just like to be out of the granny ring and not feel like I’m dying the whole way up. I’d like to be able to enjoy the scenery and spin.

You make a very good point on the training routine. I’m on SSB1 low volume, due to time constraints I can’t really go more than this.

Thanks! That gives me hope, I know I’m never going to be a lightweight but hey, maybe 90kg is within reach! And isn’t TR’s Pete Morris in this category as well?

As others have said, your rate of performance gains is going to be totally unique to you. But for context, here is a chart of my improvement over time and the TR plans I used.

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Also keep in mind that your two FTP tests were done with different protocols, so a 20 watt increase may not really be that (could be more or less).

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I don’t recall his exact weight, he’s said it several times on the podcast. He’s definitely ‘heavier’ though, but it should be noted he’s trying to max out power to kill it in crits. Even with his enormous FTP (from memory it approaches 400w at peak) I he’s get handily dropped by Jonathan on a 7 mile 6% grade. With that kind of climb weight is going to be a significant factor, physics just isn’t helping you here. If cycling has become more of a priority the weight side if the equation probably deserves as much reflection as the power side. For your long climbs 90/315 is as good as 100/350 and likely faster to achieve.

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Thanks and good point on the ratio. Do you remember any podcasts about what Pete’s training regimen is?

+1 for this. I’m exactly the same FTP as a year ago following the same plan protocol but I am a FAR BETTER cyclist today (climbing, short power bursts, etc.) than I was last year. Not even by a little, by a bunch.

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For fun, a quick example: Here is the bike leg from my duathlon race last weekend. My FTP is up a bit this season, but the prior 3 years were all very close. I’ve done this race 4 years now (same course, same power meter, and only a different bike this season). I made a season for each race day to make comparison of each specific race day possible.

The chart shows the current 2019 race in red, and the others in blue (2018 dark blue, 2017 medium blue, 2016 light blue).

Based on my FTP progression (or minimal bumps), there wasn’t much to expect. But my performance in each race shows a marked increase in power over time.

  • I got more fit each year, as seen by the continued increase in the 10 minute and above range.
  • I got WAY better at pacing, largely from the incredible coverage during the big TT phase years ago. This is seen in the more “flat” power profile in each season (less slope on the left side means less spikes and lower peaks for those spikes).
  • My Variability Index improved massively from year to year and was a whopping 1.01 this year (about as good as it can get with rolling hills, headwind on the out stretch and tailwind on the back stretch.

So, this one race shows more than any single FTP test result could hope to show.
As I said, there is much more data to mine to see your progression.

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KI think the best podcast to listen to would be this one:

But, pulling out some details from your situation:

  • No A event you’re preparing for (at least not one stated)
  • Key training is for group rides
  • Limiter is sustained climb of 7 miles at 6%
  • Limited time to train

So, based on this information, a reasonable training plan might look like:

  1. Sweet Spot Base I - Low Volume
  2. Sweet Spot Base II - Low Volume
  3. Sustained Power Build - Low Volume
  4. Skip Speciality and go back to 1.

What will make the biggest difference to your gains will be moving from a Low to a Mid Volume training plan. When you stop getting dropped on the climbs then you might look at a different Build plan, perhaps General Build to develop your top end a bit more.

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Really impressive, Chad!

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That’s a really good point!

Sometimes it’s hard to quantify what’s going on at different points on the “actual” power curve. It’s one thing to say you have an FTP of X, but it’s an entirely different thing to be able to ride at that number during a race. I remember during my first year of TR that I gained maybe 40 watts in FTP, but I gained damn near 80 watts on my five minute power.

For me, I made a huge step from 2017 to 2018, but so far from 2018 to 2019 I’ve yet to really make any break through gains.

However, when I click the seasonmatch button. I am still slightly ahead of where I was at in 2018 this time of year. So there’s hope that I’ll hit some PR numbers this year.

Interestingly, from 2017 - 2018 I was doing low volume. I switched to mid volume for the 2018/19 winter and made no progress. Recently I switched back to low volume and feel like I’m on the verge of hitting some gains again.

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  • It is better to nail a lower volume plan than come up short in a higher volume plan.
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Definitely! I think with the mid-volume plan I was doing too much high intensity and my body didn’t recover enough for the next workout. I’m still riding about 8 hours per week, but I’m only doing 3.5 hours of high intensity work. That’s similar to how I had done it in 2018. I like to just do Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday hard. Then on Wednesday and Sundays I like to do chill mountain bike rides.

I think I also spoke a little too soon on no 2019 progress, I managed to hit some PRs in the 30 - 60 minute range on my training ride tonight!

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A rider’s FTP may not dramatically increase, or may in fact decrease, but if the rider has shifted his metabolism from carb burning to fat burning, then the rider will be able to hold a higher percentage of their FTP power over long durations at a lower heartrate than was previously achievable. This would be a boon for long distance road racers and triathletes.

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On the flats absolute power matters while on climbs power-to-weight becomes more and more important the steeper the gradient is. At 100 kg you are weighing much more than the other riders, so instead of solely focussing on your FTP, I’d also get that body weight down. I went from 86 kg to 72.5–73.5 kg within 1 to 1.5 years without sacrificing much. I could have lost weight more quickly, but instead of adopting a weight loss diet, I wanted to eat more healthily and consciously.

So if you keep your power the same and just get down to, say, 85 kg, you’d have a much higher power-to-weight ratio and be able to hang with your riding buddies more easily.

Also, you should keep in mind that not everyone can reach 350 W, so if you single-mindedly focus on your FTP, you may set yourself up for failure.

If I were you, I’d go a different route: it seems to me that you want to train to be able to ride with your riding buddies and not constantly having to catch up with them, especially on the climbs. So if that is your goal, I’d try to reduce your weight slowly. Aim for about 1 kg per month or so, nothing extreme. Weigh yourself every morning after you have peed and log that number (I use Apple Health). Your weight may fluctuate a lot, depending on what and when you have eaten, and whether you have had a bowel movement. Only look at weekly, or better, monthly averages. And lastly, stick to a training plan. Sticking to a lower-volume plan religiously is better than a not sticking to a higher-volume plan, even if you do more training with the latter.

Oh, and in the meantime, you can do something about that gearing. Grinding is not just bad for morale, but also bad for your knees. You could get gearing for an “adventure crankset” (46/30) and perhaps replace your rear cassette with an 11-36 SRAM or 11-40 Shimano cassette (although you will need an extender for the rear derailleur). If you only have money to do one, I’d say try a 11-36 SRAM cassette, you might be able to fit it even without a rear derailleur extender.

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As a lot of research and some personal experience shows you can loose some endurance capacity and rebuild it very fast. It’s a different story with strength. You don’t loose it too fast but gains take years to show as you know with your background in powerlifting.

People tend to gain fast when they start training but the rate slows down after 6-12 months.
Experienced cyclist would be happy with a 1% improvement. You may see a 5% or even 10% in some cases but not for long.

FTP is one thing and 5-10 minutes max power on the bike is another. The second one used when climbing at max effort. With a body weight of 100kg you will always be at big disadvantage compared to a 70kg rider.
If you loose muscle mass you will also loose some strength. Something you probably don’t want to happen.

Tactical cycling may be a good idea. Race to the front of the pack and gain 50-100m on the rest and let them come past you on the climb. You’ll still be last but not as far back :wink:
Then sit back in the draft and recover.

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I did first FTP test after a break in season 2018.
After this, I have done SSLV 1&2 Sustained Power Build and half of the Century Plan.
Now it feels like that the FTP gains have stopped. I have even gained 2kg in the progress so w/kg has gone down few decimals.

I have done all the exercises indoor until half way to Sustained Power and after that some indoors some with the new edge workout mode from TR.

Is there something I should do differently or should I be happy with the few watts increase between the tests?

Gained watts seem pretty good but I’m still under 3w/kg with weight around 82-84kg