Should I See More Gains?

I’m sure this has been discussed constantly but, more of a venting opportunity.

I have been riding for 10 years, I’m 37 years old, 5’8” and weigh 145lbs and male. My friends and I love to ride hard and long throughout the year and I love to climb. We do our local Tuesday night crust and Wednesday XC races during the summer. I’ve been on TR for a year consistently and love it. I started out with an FTP of 199 in Jan 2019. Over the course of the year I got it up to 220, I felt my fitness was getting much better as I was able to hold wheels and drop my friends on the climbs around here. (We are all pretty great climbers). I took some time off in Nov from the trainer but still have been riding outside. I started back up with SSBLV1 in Dec and have moved onto Build (per the plan creator, I have a race Jan 25). My ramp test on Dec 1 was 195 and yesterday it was 203, that’s a good increase for 1 month back on the trainer. I just feel like I’m not seeing the gains I should be after a year of following the TR plans pretty diligently. Maybe I’m a smaller guys so my FTP can’t get as high? I’m averaging 6-7hr/week, is this too little? My friends don’t do any structured training and I feel they are always just a bit more in shape then I am.

I have a Cycleops dumb trainer with a Stages power meter. Should I invest in a smart trainer like a Wahoo KICKR or Elite Direto? I feel like I shouldn’t be hovering around an FTP of 200-220. That feels low for riding 333 hours this year.

Maybe I need keep grinding and I’ll see more gains this year. I’m expecting a baby in May so there will definitely be a hiccup in my training in the summer.

Thanks for reading.

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The FTP numbers do sound a bit low for your age, but the big question is, are you achieving what you want when you get on the bike outdoors? I don’t really trust the absolute calibration of power meters and the like, so if the number you saw was 400W, and you were still doing exactly the same outside, would you be happier?


The simpliest answer and solution is to ride more. Even if you added few additional hours per week of z2 riding, there would be a considerable improvement. Not necessarily in FTP but also in ability to generate power at the second half of rides.

To give something to think about, pros are riding 25-30 hours/week. If you want to get at least somewhat closer to your genetic ceiling you should think about getting the volume to 15 hours range over few years. The thing is, with your provided training history, you still have 10 years of improvement even considering that you are not getting younger. Endurance takes years to develop and with 6-7 hours you have done in the past, its clear that there is ton of potential for improvement.

  • Increase volume either by adding more easy mileage or choosing mid or high volume plan.
  • Look into strength training (especially in winter, early season)
  • Commuting by bicycle might be a consideration
  • Look up training as parents or similarly named theme regarding new baby coming.
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Volume is probably the key constraint. Be patient with yourself with the baby. Expect a setback or stagnation and be Ok with it. The baby is more important!


In some cases it’s simply a matter of increasing your ability to suffer.

“HTFU” is often used jokingly, but from time to time should be taken seriously.


A Smart trainer is more “good to have” than anything else. If you could invest in more time on the bike that will probably be more beneficial.


That’s an interesting perspective and at times I thought about this. Do my indoor trainer numbers matter when all things considered the results allow me to go and smash outdoors?

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It sounds like I need to add more time on the bike. I really thought 3 days of intervals during the week and 1-2 hard days outside was sufficient.

I’ve long felt like commuting would pile on too much fatigue, 8miles each way, maybe I could add 1 commute day a week or I could add some endurance work after my workouts for 1/2 hr.

My outside rides are definitely hard. We hammer pretty much for 3-4 hrs and we have some significant climbing here in NorCal. Even our “chill” rides end up full gas. Haha

I could absolutely add some strength training but, this is where I start to get overwhelmed. I don’t know how I’m supposed to get all this done!

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Absolutely. I guess I feel with my fitness and how I stack compared to those around me that my FTP should be higher.

Tom Danielson would have my head for my FTP woes!!

You might not be recovering sufficiently…

”I really thought 3 days of intervals during the week and 1-2 hard days outside was sufficient.”

I’d suggest looking at your intensity distribution and potentially scaling some of your 7 hours down to Z2. 3 days per week of intervals/hard days is about all the typical body can absorb. Sometime I can push some extra threshold/sweet spot work but I have to monitor my recovery very closely.

Try going through your next training block with only 3 “hard” days per week and see how you respond.

Also, how’s your diet? There could be some easy watts under that rock as well.


4-5 hard rides a week is piling on too much fatigue. I would consider 2 hard days and 3 easy days with a few long rides sprinkled in.

Less intensity but more quality when you do it and then you can handle more volume.


I could be doing to much thinking it’s better for me. A big challenge of mine is convincing my riding partners that full gas all the time isn’t always the best.

My diet is good. I eat mainly whole foods with a good distribution of carbs, protein, fat. Some alcohol but not a lot. I’m wondering if I am not eating enough. I’ve always had issues with eating less for weight purposes.

What others said, and in combination… Expand your time by an extra 2-3 hours a week, but no more than 3 hard workouts a week, max. Consider dropping back to 2, even…

Thanks all! Down to grind and put the work in. Gonna try to refine things and get some new results.

Learn to embrace the long, slow ride. Long slow miles build aerobic capacity without a lot of stress.

At the risk of repeating my earlier comment, let me repeat my earlier comment :innocent: What is there in your real-world, non-indoor training that you want to improve? I wouldn’t sweat the absolute value of the FTP as reported by your indoor trainer. Most people find that their outdoor power figures are larger than their indoors, there are several threads on the forum on that topic.

My outdoor numbers crush my indoor ones. I cannot set a personal record for power on the indoor trainer, but I do when outdoors on a different bike, different power meter etc.

If instead of numbers like 200-220 you got 300-330 or 400-440, would you be any stronger outdoors? Focus on what you want to improve in the real world, not the score in the game. Think that’s air you’re breathing on the trainer? :cowboy_hat_face:

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big question but maybe you aren’t rested enough at time; with Tues night hammerfest and Wednesday night race, PLUS doing TR workouts, you’re probably tired and hitting TOO much intensity that is not directly related to building FTP.

I’ll almost guarantee the Tuesday night ride isn’t helping that at all. You’re getting tired but not faster.

Could also have plateaued from too much of the same thing over and over.

Also, if you aren’t specifically working vo2max to push out the ceiling, you’re missing some FTP improvement ability.

And yes, more hours is better in many cases, but even jumping to 9 from 7 would help.

Happy to look at the big picture with you if you have data in Training Peaks. hmu


I’ll caveat that I haven’t stuck to the plans as much as I should, especially rest days, or slept enough (two of my big process goals for this year)… Despite a fairly static FTP over the last year, I’ve definitely been stronger and faster on the bike. I don’t race, but often when the head goes and I feel weak with the group, I get home to find PR’s all over the place. I know it’s said often, but FTP is only one measure of fitness.

I’m reading your posts here and having all kinds of lightbulbs myself. I am a bit younger than you (24) but we are the same height and similar weight (5’8" and 135lbs). I have similar power numbers to you as well and part of the issue I’ve noticed myself is that being lighter, I have to be a bit more intentional about efficiency and aerodynamics on the flats as my raw power output is 20-50 watts lower than my more average build riding buddies. I too love climbing and feel that I can climb quite effectively, but I’ve often wonder if I pride myself a little too much in being light. One of the key things I’ve done lately to be able to go deeper is fueling properly. It really does take a lot of calories (whole foods ideally) to do the kind of work and intensity that we do as cyclists. I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my ability to go deep in workouts and on the road in general by making sure I’m eating enough (read: a lot). My weight doesn’t really fluctuate all that much even with this relative increase in calories since I’m pretty conscious about eating clean (vegan most of the time). It really isn’t super sustainable being at “race weight” for more than a few weeks imo.


It is true that being light will reduce your real top end power but you can still increase it. I am an ex runner (2:47 marathon - so have a decent engine). I stopped running and started time trialling in the UK because I was getting to many niggling injuries and nothing beats trying a new sport for that pb feeling whatever your level. I weigh about 61kg so about 134lbs and I initial struggled to get the power down in races and my HR was low (151 max). Since I quit running and started using TR it has increased a lot from 236 -295W on the ramp test and I can now do sub 55min 25 mile time trials (27.5mph). I have focused on volume SSBHV last year - a lot of VO2max work and plenty of o/u sessions - plus 3-4 hour outside group rides. I am now 51 years old so there is plenty of time to improve…and as you say climbing allows me to drop nearly everyone. There are small guys in the UK who are my size riding 46min 25 mile tt at well over 30 mph so it can be done (although granted not as many as there are big guys doing the same thing!) …so remember it takes years not weeks and months to get there - if it was easy everyone would be doing it! Don’t worry about weight though if you train hard and eat right it will take care of itself :grinning: