Road to 4w/kg, what does it take?

It is not a vs. More like the meaning of reaching one’s full potential.

  • I start riding
  • first my vo2max starts to increase. To a lesser amount my “threshold”
  • my vo2max reaches to my ceiling. I realized my potential there.
  • I keep riding
  • my threshold gets closer and closer to my vo2max
  • soon I peaked there too. No more threshold for me. Here all ramp tests, 8 mins, 20 mins etc. All that bs is done measuring me.
  • I keep riding. Because why not. I am not disheartened by same test results all the time.
  • I can stay at my threshold longer and longer. Over an hour sometimes. See where do the phrases like “a long time”, “~1 hour”, “35-75 minute” come from.
  • I stagnate there too. No more vo2max, no more ftp, no more tte for me.
  • But I keep riding. Because I am thick like that.
  • I start repeating my ftp for my tte (almost) twice in a ride. No more I am done for the day after an all-out climb.
  • I now can do 2 or even 3 days like that. 2-3 big climb around ftp, around my tte. 2 or even 3 days. I am dead at the end but doable.
  • Years has passed now. I clocked over 8000 hours. Can I improve? Not according to usual bs out there. I am peaked 5 years ago. According to them I reached my potential and stagnated ever since my 2000th hour years ago. I kept riding only for the love of the sport
  • I did my first stage race in the mountains. I defended myself for the first 3 days, not losing much time and staying in top20. Destroyed most of the competition on the days 4 and 5 getting into top 10. Last 2 days were bad. I faded badly, making it to the finish at 14th place.
  • Came back for more the next year. This time I fade much less on the last days, finishing a respectable 8th.
  • My vo2max and ftp are the same for the last 8 years. But I have learning disabilities. So keep riding.
  • This year I clock my 10.000th hour. I do that stage race again. Finishing 9th place. Unlike previous years I feel pretty good afterwards, taking the family for a trekking holiday.
  • Now, I reached my full potential. Only way is to go down.

Looking at it from this reality lens many things make more sense.
Why pros do not care about ftp?
Because they hit their max on that front years ago.
Why it is a big deal to win a grand tour at an very early age?
Because it is supposed to be the last step to climb in performance ladder.
Why is it suspicious for a pro to gain watts at major efforts (ftp)?
Because they should have peaked around their neo-pro years. It is not normal to improve vo2max or threshold after clocking 8000-10000 hours. Weight too should be stabilized by now.

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This graph is the biggest boost my bike self-image has gotten in a long time! (Until @vermix came back and squashed my positive vibes…)

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Right? As a 50 year old getting into the best shape of the past decade or so, this thread has been a real roller coaster thrill ride.

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This is really interesting, thanks for sharing it. If it’s not too much trouble, can you share a rough idea of how much your training volume changed (TSS/wk, or hours/wk … whatever metric you have handy).

Will also be curious to know whether your gains “stick” even after you reduce your training volume post-covid.

That is the chart for women aged 40-50.

The correct chart for men aged 40-50 is below:

The peak is 2.75-3 W/kg

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It sure was, dammit! So sorry about my error. I have corrected it and added lines for reference in my post above. Thanks for point out my mistake so I could fix it, @univox . :+1:


I am tagging some users who were involved in discussion based upon that as a notification of the correction:
@Vernix, @firemunki , @rebeccamcshane , @TRusername , @cartsman , @pkwell , @FergusYL

  • I suggest a revisit of my updated post above and the corrected graph that notably changes the outlook from my previously mistaken summary based upon the women’s version I posted initially.

  • This proper pic moves that mid-point up 0.5 w/kg to a 2.75-3.00 w/kg range and changes the overall framing of the topic a fair bit IMO. Sorry again for the mix-up that lead us down the wrong path.

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Not bad still. Just at the lower band of average so still happy! Goals still seems a suitable target too.

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Hmm I have the below from VeloViewer, 2019 vs 2020 time totals shown below:


You can see where lockdown kicks in pretty clearly there… You can also see how much more consistent the gradient is compared to 2019.

2019 was a particularly bad year for work travel for me, although my annual total was pretty much the same as 2015-18. I more or less doubled by time-in-saddle in 2020 and 2021 (507 and 521hrs) compared to previous years (around 240-280hrs). That’s 4.6-5.2hrs/week up to 9.75-10hrs/week.

This is my all-time monthly bar (since 2012, although anything pre-2014 is not really relevant I just couldn’t see how to stop VV from showing it). Upward arrow shows lockdown. I think it very clearly shows the week-on-week consistency though - 40hrs a month is about 10hr/week, and I was hitting that consistently. Before that it’s really variable.

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What I find interesting is that people seem to float in an FTP range. I started doing FTP tests in 2017.

My first FTP was 175 and the range for a couple of years was 175-200. That is between winter-summer peak.

By 2019-2020 the range had drifted into the 200-220 range.

I did a new tempo training build this year and the range has been 220-250. This has been the largest single uptick in wattage in a single build cycle.

I can hang with a very tough crowd on a hard hitting group ride at only 2.7 watt/kg. Being that I’m 56, weight challenged a little but still fitter and slimmer than 99% of my age bracket, I’m pretty happy with what I’m doing.

The frustration is that I can’t really say what extact training led to the upticks in FTP. Just more years of consistent volume? I’ve been riding all my life and raced in my 20s and then took long breaks from real training and riding. I’ve been more serious for the last 7-8 years and doing structured training for the last four.

I’m ok with the fact that I have never been a genetic outlier and will never get to 4w/kg in my 50s and beyond.

That makes more sense now. Maximize VO2, then maximize threshold, then maximize TTE to reach your peak potential. I’m guessing very few people have been able to put in the training to do that, congrats!

:rofl: As someone in my 40s this correction makes me less impressed with where I’m at right now but also more hopeful for my future!

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This is interesting reading - at the back of my mind I thought I’d like to get to 4w/kg.

Lowest weight I’m getting is 74kg though as I have some upper body muscle I don’t wish to lose (I’m 5’9) - so I need to get to 300w ftp on a ramp test.

Last one was 244w ftp - I reckon the next one at the end of next week / start of next should see an improvement but I’m not sure how much. I’m hoping for 260 but we’ll se I guess.

Done SSBLV supplemented generally by 2 mtb rides a week and minus one of the 3 turbo sessions. I’m 41 and a reasonable mtb’er. Turbo training on a proper scheduled plan has made a big difference to my climbing capabilities and I hope to boost this further over the next few months.

As a masters racer (53) i can tell you its a struggle to get to 4.0wkg. I’ve hit it in my 50’s a few times and now below it a 3.8ish. I think the OP should have no problem but the older you get its too easy to shed power and gain weight.
I’ve been a life-long cyclist (raced throughout my adult life) and it must be bad genetics because i just can’t hit the much sought after 4.0

in my mind…when one says one is a 4 w/kg cyclist, that’s the performance one can easily achieve without killing oneself or on a great test day …Almost like you are slightly above, and you would have to greatly alter your training to go below. I think any other way is just ephemeral form.

I’m sitting at 4.3w/kg at the moment. 313 FTP and 160 lbs (72.5 kg). I’ve only been riding hard for 2 years and doing structured training for a year.

However, I do what I consider a LOT of volume and stay consistent. I ride 6x a week, for at least 1.5 hours. 5 structured workouts and either a long ride or race on the weekend with one day of rest.

I’ve also lost 20 lbs at the same time.

Not sure what my limit is, but I am still getting faster. I am 43 years old. 6’0 (183 cm).

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I’m with @varmstrong but with only one year. I got back into cycling in early 2021 (thank you, Zwift!), and anything north of 100w was a real effort.

I’m 172cm, 64kg with a 2.8w/kg (180w) FTP (down from 76kg a year ago!). I’m on the bike 6x a week with a cycling coach, mostly indoors due to family/work and time commitments. Usually 1-2 hours and 4+ on the weekends.

My real goal is on sustained climbs. My goal is to get to a 6-hour century (where century has between 10k-12k of climbing). I’m at 7 and change right now.

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For me being super skinny is definitely genes. I’m 185cm and 68kg in my best shape, but I have ZERO upper body mass and very narrow bones and my joints are very small.

I disagree. We’re all different, but I don’t think 4w/kg is that easy. Who I know most about is me. I’ve been playing sports since I was 8 years old. I am now 44. I’ve played at a high level at American Football, which I played for 25 years. I’ve been riding for 10 years, serious training for 4 years. Did 12 hrs/week last year and I am now at 3.4w/kg. I am at the front of B grade and could probably hang in A grade. I need 60 more watts to get to 4w/kg. It would take a miracle to get there.

I agree with all of that, apart from your conclusion :smiley:
I would think the more someone rides, the more serious they are, thus the more likely they are to put in large hours indoors in their striving for performance gains. Just my conjecture though.