Realistic FTP goals?

Hey there :slight_smile:

Former competitive athlete (not cycling), spent my 20’s eating burgers, drinking booze and smoking.

I am on year 2 of regularly cycling… Last January I bought a smart trainer and used Zwift for workouts and was not really following a structure - was just rotating between sweet spot workouts and interval work. After 1 month I went from an FTP of 295w in Jan '19 to 318w Feb '19 (20 min FTP test both times). The work felt really hard after my FTP hit 318 so I will not rule out the fact it may have been overestimated as much as I don’t want to haha.

I rode a lot spring/summer 2019 - more than I ever have before as it was the first time that I viewed cycling as my main sport. Before it was a fun hobby that I did 3x a month while focusing on other sports. In late August '19 my second child was born and I was only able to ride once a week until November which is when I planned to begin TrainerRoad.

So I began my TrainerRoad journey in November looking to get my first real offseason structured training in. I began with SSB1MV at FTP 292 (Ramp test) which was disappointing as I thought I would be stronger… I finished the 6 weeks and my FTP was 301. I completed the 6 weeks of SSB2MV and my FTP is now 315.

I have just finished week one of short power build and am feeling strong, no workouts and not a single interval missed. I am really determined to squeeze every bit of gains out of this build phase…

So when this offseason was set to begin… I figured my FTP would start around the 319 I last tested at in 2019 but began about 25W lower so should have possibly re-calibrated my goals but I didn’t… I want 350 and the dream is 400. I know that the most significant gains are made within your first 2 years and am looking to take advantage while I am in this window.

Do you guys think 350W+ FTP is possible by the end of build? Has anyone found gains in their specialty phase? - from what I read, SSB and build are where the FTP gains are found so I am feeling a bit pressed in this current phase to get while the gettin’s good.

A bit about me:

34 years old.

I will never quit on any workout unless my body fails/injury occurs. I intend to be mentally stronger than others. I am willing to put in the work.

I have studied diet/nutrition extensively so that area is great.

With a 2.5 year old and 6 month old, my sleep could be better. I do prioritize getting solid rest but it is not optimal at this time. I’d guess that 7 hours of sleep is my average.

Fun facts: I went from racing at 190lbs in 2019 and am already down to 175lbs. I am 6’ and have a goal weight of 165/170lbs come May 2020. I definitely realize that I am walking a fine line of fueling/recovering properly while having a caloric deficit.

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I don’t think concentrating on specific numbers is helpful or motivating, I think concentrate on being consistent, following the plans, working on your nutrition, sleep, recovery etc and then you will be able to get to your genetic potential.

Whatever that number ends up as is less important than how you feel about that number :slight_smile:

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Agree. Focusing on an FTP number is just to boost bragging rights. The number is a training tool, nothing more. If anything, aim for a specific W/kg

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I assure you that my intent is not bragging rights as it is performance. Other than this forum, I have never mentioned my FTP to anyone and have no intention to… I am currently at 4 w/kg and want to get as close as I can to 5w/kg which is why I am working hard to bump my FTP while bringing my weight down.

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That diet sounds like my 20s minus the cigarettes!

295 to 350 in short order sounds rather optimistic.

Also, what they said! It’s just a training number. Do you want a rude awakening? Go and try and ride an hour at your FTP to confirm the number. Most people can’t do it. They can generate the power on a ramp or 20 minute test because of their anaerobic contribution but they don’t have the endurance for a full hour.

Besides the FTP number there are other areas of fitness to work on. There are all the sub threshold power numbers under the curve. Optimizing fat burning. How strong are you after 3 hours on the bike? Are you fading or can you put in that last hard 20 minutes to be with the leaders at the end of the race. Can you sprint? When the group speeds up and you are doing 400 watts for a minute, can you recover and stay with them?

If you made to 400 watts and 165 pounds, that puts you at 5.4 watt/kg. I think that is pro level. I think it usually takes 3-5 years to hit your genetic peak assuming you do the training so since you are just in year 2 I’d try to enjoy the ride.

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In which case this thread may provide you with inspiration:

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Thanks for that reality check! I really enjoyed your post. And I never said cigarettes :wink:

I do realize that the point of a lot of this training (thanks to Coach Chad’s blurbs in the work outs) is to train yourself to get closer to riding at FTP for an hour so without risking a blow up - I’ll pass on the rude awakening this time haha

I appreciate you bringing different aspects to focus on - my 3+ hour butter burning is likely weak because it is untrained. My races are around 1.5-2hrs and being a father to 2 babies, life only let me get out on rides of that length a handful of times. This spring/summer I am definitely planning some big days in the saddle. Stoked! The sprint part is where I feel at home, so that part of your question gives me some confidence. My ramp test on Wednesday (Feb 5) had me hold 380W for 5 minutes, 395 for 3min, and 410 for 2min.

Yeah, those numbers are pro level and likely out of my reach especially at my age but I like the idea of setting the bar high and ending up somewhere that I know I did my best to achieve.

Thanks for letting me know it takes 3-5 years to hit my genetic peak - that will leave me hungry as these 2 years close out.

Thanks again.

As a heavy rider who races mostly on flats I will need to disagree :wink: for me W/kg means nothing, pure raw power on the other hand actually makes a difference and aiming to achieve a specific ftp makes sense as a training goal

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In 2019, between 15 weeks of TR and a full season of riding outside, I tacked on 50w to my 20 minute power (275-325)
In the first 8 weeks of TR this year, I gained 4w so up to 304 FTP

The gains definitely trail off the longer you train. I’m also 5’9" and 175lbs so not build like a cyclist as much as yourself.

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Right on man! You’ve shown some solid gains. You are a cannonball right now and have tons of potential if you can shed some kg’s. Easier to drop some weight then grow your FTP anyways at your point anyways. Unfortunately for me, aside from a few kg’s, I cannot drop down in any further and have a happy wife haha. So increased FTP watts are my only way to keep climbing the ladder.
Cheers!

It really depends on how much time you can devote to training. I’m 35 and also have a family with small kids and find that the most training I can do in a week is 12 hours. Most weeks it’s 8-10. This has generally led me to cap at around 325w.

We also have similar power numbers. My last ramp test was in August of 2019 and I went 5min @ 396w, 3min @ 415w, 2min @ 424w at the time I was just a hair over 4w/kg.

I don’t see why you can’t hit 350w, that’s a number I have in mind as well and I think it’s totally doable. Again, it comes down to a couple of things: 1. Can you be ultra-compliant in following plans 2. Devote the time 3. Recover and fuel properly 4. Stay motivated 5. Enjoy the process

Without knowing your genetic potential it’s impossible to say, but I wouldn’t be surprised if 350w is within reach. 400w on the other hand, you might need a coach and a lot more focus to hit that number, if it’s even possible.

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I’m left leg dominant and my power jumped up 8% by switching from a dual sided to a single sided power meter.

:upside_down_face:

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I don’t think it’s impossible, but you will probably need more volume to keep progressing at some point.

I spent most of my 20s and 30s in much the same way with a year or two of cycling here and there. Mostly just focused on work and family.

In the fall of 2018 I got back on the bike and used TR HV plans through January 2019 when I started spending more time on zwift. My first ramp test was ~270w if I’m not mistaken. By March I was around 320w and my hour power was ~310w.

This is where the gains slowed down in terms of FTP, but my shorter duration power got much better throughout the summer. I had been all diesel in the spring. I peaked at FTP 340w in August and then just rode outside and raced zwift a lot for fun to let my CTL drop back to a reasonable level to start rebuilding after a week off the bike in November. I ended 2019 with a bit over 600hrs of training and over 400hrs indoors.

After a few months of Z2 riding, freestyle SST/Tempo and the odd zwift race, I’m sitting at 355w and just hit 20min(375), 5min(436), and 1min(670) PRs again. So I’m well ahead of last year, and ahead of what I’d expect based on my CTL and training. I’m hoping to maintain similar volume to 2019 or even slightly increase if I can make the time.

Point of my long winded post being, you may need more volume than TR MV plans if you want to hit 350w, and even more if you want good longer duration power for more endurance focused events. I’ve got my 3hr power right around 300w and 290w for 4hr. Hoping to put that to use in some gravel races this year.

FWIW I’m 39yo 6’2” 157lbs and have a wife, four young kids, a farm and a day job. I typically train six days/wk, try to get 7hrs of sleep a night, use WHOOP to track HRV/sleep and eat a ton of food.

Good luck, and most importantly keep it fun. If you don’t it’s not happening. You’ll hear a lot about discipline, but my approach is that if it’s not enjoyable it’s not worth doing…

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All good advice for the OP. The “practical” genetic potential is the “real” limit…which involves time. I went high volume polarized last June and the six year plateau looks to be over. I will never ride the way I did pre polarized again.

That said…you pack quite a punch Mr. Tanner. I’ve decided to follow you on Strava if you don’t mind…and maybe I’ll comment on a ride here or there going forward. I don’t know how you manage 600 hrs with a full family and other commitments but that’s some boss-level stuff in itself. For me, it looks like I’m going to be just a hair short of 600 hrs by the 6/12 first anniversary doing polarized. Basically you are currently where I want to go…but I’m a bit shorter at 5’ 10"…and a bit lighter at 150 - 152 lbs. I’ll just leave it there so as not to derail the thread too much.

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Amazing progress. So what does a typical week look like with an approach like this? I’m looking to switch things up from the typical TR plans/workouts and try something a bit different.

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Thanks for the kind words @vrusimov. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve probably got better than average genetic “potential” but volume definitely becomes the challenge when you want to maximize it.

I’m fortunate to have a flexible job. My office is 125mi one way commute, and I typically try to limit trips to twice/wk and do the round trip drive so I don’t miss time with family and training very often. Other days I just work in a ride where I can and get long rides on the weekends.

@Ian747 Lately a typical week is something like:

M- Off
T- Z2 and/or short zwift race for 2hrs
W- Tempo/SST or z race 2hrs
Th- Z2 2hrs
F- Z2 2hrs
S- Z2 with “stuff” 3-4hrs
Su- Tempo and or z race(s) 3-4hrs

I tend to move things around as needed but try to get 3 days with some work and 3 days Z2. I use TP and the PMC but don’t have any specific structured work in there, just keep an eye on CTL and TSB. Also worth mentioning I use zwift races as they suit my needs. I do pretty well in the As and a flat course is basically a tempo/z2 ride with some bursts if I sit in the group, so not killing myself. Once weather improves I’ll be outdoors for the weekend and one day will be closer to 5-6hrs and the other just Z2. 4-5hrs is plenty on the trainer and I’m pretty happy if I’m reasonably comfortable at 4wkg for a 3-4hr tempo ride.

I’ll probably get smoked in some early season road racing, but holding off on more intensity until this summer. I’m targeting gravel worlds in August and hoping to make it to masters nats in July.

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You are a beast! Awesome stuff. I really appreciate the long winded post and the time you took to put it together.

Great food for thought regarding upping my volume. Life (wife) has me at the max amount of time I can dedicate currently but will push to do HV plans starting next offseason. I think my short term goal is to hit my ideal weight while getting my FTP as high as possible for June - still shooting for 350 (ideally will keep it climbing throughout - getting a PM for outdoor use).

2 questions:

  1. Did you get any gains during the specialty phase of TR? Or should I accept that what I am at after the build phase will likely be what I enter my season with
  2. How are you enjoying the WHOOP? I almost went with it but some reviews scared me off…

Thanks again for your input and sharing how you became stronger.

I am only training at 6-8 hours a week so I think that on my next off season, I will need to use a HV plan as Tanner mentioned above. That is probably the key for me… I will log big hours this summer to prepare myself for the increase in hours put towards structured training come November. Now that I see that I am at 315W, a number that will likely increase by the end of my build phase getting me closer to 350, and am not doing HV which is what most people do to get to 350+… I am feeling pretty motivated to see what I can accomplish.

Thanks for your vote of confidence! I’ll keep you all posted at what my FTP is at when my build is done in 7 weeks.

Please do. I’m hoping to be around 340w heading into the 2020 CX season (September-ish), but am currently recovering from hernia surgery so I’m not riding at the moment. It would be fun to see what kind of FTP gains we can make this season.

Another thing I forgot to mention is strength training. This is also an important facet of your training that can lead to bigger FTP gains.

Good luck this season

In regards to you getting lower results than you thought you should when you’ve tested using the ramp test, have you ever backed it up doing a 20 minute test in the same week? I find that I test 10w lower on average when I do the ramp test. I’ll do a 20 minute test the next day and usually perform better. It would be interesting to see.

I find this odd seeing that would suggest a lower vo2 power in comparison to sustained efforts, but my vo2 power during racing is usually higher than the rest of my power profile in comparison.

What is also interesting is that I would struggle and sometimes fail the high intensity workouts when using the 20 minute test result. I used the ramp test result for the build phase last year and got through the intervals as you should. I think maybe it might be good to do 20 minute test coming into sweet spot base and then use ramp test for the higher intensity plans. For me anyway. Of course everyone is different.

Uh anyway sorry for hijacking your thread :sweat_smile: