Realistic FTP improvement with TrainerRoad. Un-fit 40 years old male. Already cycled for about 4 years. Minimum structured training exp

Hello everyone. I understand it’s probably been asked a million times, yet everyone is different, so would love to hear some fresh inputs/ideas.

My goal: 3w/kg FTP (around 200w). I’m currently at ~2.2w/kg (144w) according to my first RAMP test 5 weeks ago.

My current plan: I picked a Gran Fondo discipline (not sure which one I should choose for FTP boosting, but I know my endurance is not great). Low intensity. Just done my first Base phase. Currently 3 sessions a week. 1+1+1.5 hours.

My question:
a. How long do you think it’s realistic to reach my goal? 6 months? a year?
I set that goal as I believe it’s a base fitness before I can go out train with ppl. Still easily get dropped on the road. For a 40 years old, I feel 3w/kg should not be so difficult to chase yet my improvement is quite slow. Am I too aggressive?

b. Is Gran Fondo discipline as reasonable discipline for FTP training?

c. Normally how long after training you start increase intensity? I know it’s probably by “feel”, but it’s a bit difficult to translate “feel” over Internet. Any suggestions?

d. I’ll talk about more about myself more below, but for someone doesn’t have much muscle, would you suggest me to do weight training first before seriously train on bike? My physio always said the reason I got injured is because I don’t have muscle to protect some tendon (not stretch enough is probably another one). Or train on bike should be fine before I want to push for better performance.

A bit about myself:
40 years old. 183cm/65kg. Max HR probably 180. Slim no muscle, bad flexibility, easy to get injured build. :wink:
Never seriously trained before cycling. Playing basketball when young. Mainly half court (i.e. not used to run at all).

I’ve cycled on and off for 4 years. Am definitely better than i first started (20km rather flat beach riding kind of killed me). Got the power meter about 2 years ago.

One major improvement I felt was when I started commute to work. Short but a bit hilly. Exhausted EVERY DAY. Did feel I improved, but not tracking the power as my commuter doesn’t have a power meter. Reduced due to weather and work.

Also did a 3/4 months Sufferfest training Q3 2019. It was intensive in terms of frequency. I followed it through with some light weight training and yoga (everything they offered). My FTP did go up from 13x to 15x according to their 4DP test.

However I got injured after 2 weeks after the 2nd 4DP test. Not sure it was mainly by overtrain or my bad posture on sofa for extensive time. Anyhow, my right leg never had issue but then having some weird puling feeling every time I tried to ride. Took 3 months off the bike. It’s better, but still not as normal as before.

Had been fitted by a professional fitter. So that part should be ok even if not optimized. It’s so difficult to pinpoint the root cause. My fitter said it could be nerve and I should try MRI it. My physio said my saddle can be higher a bit, he feels it’s my hip angle is not enough and keep pinching the tendon (hip flexor?)

I’ve also even injured my Achilles tendon by running around my neighborhood about 3 years ago. A bit hilly, but I injured by myself from 1.5km to 3km jogging over couple weeks. I blame to my flexibility. So I make sure I stretch after every training now.

My recovery is slow too. Not sure if it’s normal for 40 years old, but I do feel the fatigue for the above mentioned all out commute, Sufferfest, and current low intensity base training. The TR base training is still quite manageable as I feel energetic (most of the time) when I need to do next session. Hopefully not getting injured again.

Typed way too much. Thanks for reading till the end. Basically a 40 years old dude doesn’t want to feel old but have a fragile body. :slight_smile:
Would like to keep training and get faster. Doesn’t plan to compete in any near future. The FTP goal is set for me before I can get a new bike haha. Still riding a 2nd hand TCR.

Hope all is safe and happy training!


Computer says “Yes”.


thanks @Rosscopeco. Great article. At the early 40-50 group, hopefully I can still move to the right side of that bell.

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This might be worth watching :+1:


thanks @PusherMan. I think I’ve watched this one. It’s not that relevant to me though.
a. They are fairly fit before testing FTP
b. They also said they don’t know. :slight_smile:
that’s why I would like to get some inputs for my specific case.

Not being funny and really hope you achieve your goal…but nobody can answer your question. You are unique, as am I and everyone else. You will respond differently to training that I will, and the next person etc. People can give general advice, but it will be v general. At the end of the day, why does it matter…if I say 6 months it means nothing, maybe you get there in 3 months, maybe in several years. All you can control is commitment and consistancy - stick with those and you will improve! Best of luck!


Just to make sure. Did you start from the base phases? I would recommend Sweet spot 1 & 2.

Welcome, if you do the training and build up gradually then you have every chance. Cycling is much less taxing on the body than running.

Just make sure your form is ok, don’t develop bad habits, stick to the plan. Definitely start in base and potentially do a double dose of base to give your body more time to adapt to training.

Put a little focus on nutrition, nothing crazy but make sure you are eating properly to support the training. You shouldn’t be smashed after a short commute.

The above should fit with what you’re trying to achieve and targeting 3w/kg is not shooting for the moon. You’ll get there!

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My N=1:
M48 @76Kg.
I also started running in 2015. Previously done virtually no sport since i was young, and that was surfing, so maybe good aerobic training but no legs.

and i hover about 310-330 ever since.

Saturday, Oct 14, 2017
Friday, Jun 30, 2017
Tuesday, Nov 8, 2016
Tuesday, Nov 1, 2016
Wednesday, Sep 7, 2016
Friday, Jun 10, 2016
Friday, Apr 22, 2016
Wednesday, Mar 2, 2016
START: Thursday, Feb 11, 2016

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What power source are you using? Those numbers are amazing.

This is measured on both my Kickr Snap and Vector 3 pedals (and Stages PM for a while). There is a pretty good correlation between them.

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I started cycling when I was 40 having not even owned a bike since college. My n=1 experience is 1 year is a good time frame. For reference I’m 6’1" and 175 lbs (170lbs on race day). At my peak in 2019 (September) my FTP was at or above 300 at a weight of about 175 lbs for a 3.8 w/kg. I think the best w/kg I saw in 2019 was 3.85 when I weighted 168 lbs. Below are my first year FTP results starting with TrainerRoad which resulted in 100+ FTP gain:

Jul 9, 2019—295
Jun 22, 2019—290
Jun 16, 2019—287
Apr 9, 2019—293
Mar 14, 2019—287
Feb 12, 2019—282
Jan 15, 2019—276
Dec 18, 2018—265
Nov 20, 2018—250
Oct 23, 2018—260
Aug 6, 2018—235
Jul 11, 2018—193 (Started TR and 1st Ramp Test)


Hey RCC. That’s awesome! You’re gains have been huge.

I’m not sure what a realistic improvement might be, as stated above, it’s all very individual. Important to note that progression won’t be consistent or linear - you’ll have plateaus from time to time. You are looking at a ~40% improvement which is quite a lot. Be patient, you might be able to hit 3W/kg but if you want to stay there then you really need the base to support that.

Also don’t just focus on FTP, work on your weaknesses as well, see the various “Why are XXX so hard?” threads. We all struggle on something, don’t just push the ceiling, pull up the floor as well.

I’d stick with a repeating SSB pt2 and a build plan rather than look at a speciality plan - they are really for putting the icing on the cake so to speak. Don’t just wait until the Ramp Test to modify your FTP, it might be that you find all the workouts easy (or hard) so be prepared to adjust things by a couple of percent.

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Quite frankly at this point increasing FTP and intensity shouldn’t be your focus. Much better goal would be to build your aerobic engine, and growing the fun you have on your bike. FTP is a by product of aerobic engine and not the reverse. Trust the process. To move from plan to plan you might have to go through several round of base to be able to sustain the workload of say ssb2 or build. I did 3 rounds of SSB1 to be able to complete SSB2.

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Im 41, about your slightly heavier than you (but way shorter). Im sitting now at 3.47 (according to the last ramp test).

When i started this i was at 2.95FTP. It has taken me 9 months to hit 3.47. My power has gone up 15% in that time.

If you follow the plans, you will get where you want and probably sooner than you expect. The main thing is consistency and picking the right plan for your fitness level.

I personally think a great starting plan for anyone is the sweet spot low volume, It is only 3 times a week, but you can complement the indoor rides with some easier rides or commutes.

Good luck on your journey!


The way I would do it is TB 1-2-3 lv. Double up with SSB 1-2 lv. And build LV. Add the occasionnal long sunday ride during SSB and build. And when you feel like it 15 minutes of z2 riding at the end of short SSB and build workouts whenever you feel like it. It might get you to 3/4 to 100% of your goal in 8 months provided you don’t injure yourself and don’t get sick.

Your goal is realistic. I’m at my second year on TR. My FTP was 110 in september 2019 after 8 weeks of complete inactivity after a surgery and weight 70kg. I’m at 151 FTP and 59 kg now. And hopeful i finally found my training rythim and routine so I’m on my way to 3 w/KG by september. Got ill a lot over the last two years and I was coming back from a stroke 2 years prior to starting TR.

Got this progress just from base alone. TB+ SSB1 two times + SSB2 lv + SSB 1 MV.


yes. I start from Sweet spot 1 &2 low vol


Some great points above and I will add a few thoughts.

  1. Your weight will be big advantage as you keep at it and see FTP gains. You don’t need to be 3 W/kg to ride in groups. Depending on where you live, there are often groups of older cyclists or beginner cyclists that are well below 3 W/kg.

  2. TB LV can be tough indoors. I would consider SSB LV I and II x 2 with one longer endurance ride substituted or mixed in, preferably outside. More base will also be easier on your body as you get stronger as you will not have as much VO2 and other hard efforts.

  3. Coach Chad (@chad) has a great video on a basic strength exercises for cyclists and there are other good resources in the TR blog on weight training. I would add strength slowly and over time it will pay off.

I can’t comment on the time you will need to get to a 200 W FTP but would encourage you not to chase a number. Trust the process and there is a lot to cycling fitness other than FTP.

Good luck!


Hi Leon,

We’re almost twins in terms of age, background, and progression, but I’ve trained a bit longer than you (just started TR in January 2020). I’m 49 years young. I have never done any endurance sport in the past.

Like you, I decided to pickup cycling as my sport of choice. And I just did it in April 2019 by buying my first road (actually gravel) bike. Last year, I did mostly solo ride, enjoying riding my bike more and more, as well as, riding in Zwift a lot.

Early this year, I decided to signup with TR and just finished the sweet spot base 1 and the build phase. All mid-volume. My ftp was 163 in January. Last week, it was 181. I’m 5’10 and weigh 145 lbs. So with my new FTP, that put me into 2.75 w/kg. My goal is to increase that to 3.0 w/kg by the end of the year. Not much progress number wise, but I could feel that I’m faster on the road and I could suffer much much longer compared to before.

Everyone is different. I know I’m not genetically made to excel in endurance sport, but I really enjoy the process of improving myself (torturing is a better word for it). My goal is to be able to ride with the local group A someday (22 - 25 mph average speed). Currently, I am part of the group B (18 - 20 mph). I don’t race but I enjoy riding in fast groups and long solo ride.

I got a lot of good advice from the fellow cyclists here. The one that I think is very valuable is to trust the process and to be patience.