Stagnant FTP, need advice on next training block to get my top end up

Hi TR Folk,

I’m hoping you all can help with this issue. I’ve been a long time user of TR and love the plans and training sessions. However despite an early bump in FTP back in the day (say from around 230 - 255ish from 3 to 2yrs ago) despite a lack of consistency and strict adherence to the structure, my power numbers have since declined somewhat and I’m currently sitting at around 241 (this years’ high was 248).

I’m a 50yo male, with a history of some amateur racing as a young man but only back to cycling really since 2007ish (and structured training around 2014). My weight is now just below 67kgs which is a drop from 73kgs pre-Xmas mainly down to lockdown and a change in diet and no after work drinking!

Last year (2019) was not a great year training-wise due to some family issues and my heart wasn’t really into cycling but despite that my training was fairly consistent and I managed some decent numbers. This year however I have really enjoyed my training and was feeling great after SSB1&2 pushing my FTP up from 238 to 248. However after following the Build phase from Plan builder (I was due to go to the Alps for a week so set that as my event) my FTP fell and I completed my speciality phase on an FTP of 241.

After speciality, and as our Alps trip was cancelled, my wife and I went to stay in Portugal for 3 weeks in an area thaty we visit often and that is quite hilly (climbs of around 5 - 20 mins at rougly 6 - 10% with the odd beast hitting over 20%). Although it was at times mid-30’s and insanely hot I felt really good on the bike and managed to beat (in some cases by a long way) some old PRs on Strava that I have had for a long time.

So, I can see that the training has made me faster (although undoubtedly being 7kgs lighter has made a massive difference) I note that on quite a few of the climbs where I beat my previous time my actual average watts for that climb were about 5% lower than previously.

I’m back in the UK now (but heading back to Portugal in mid-Sept). I’ve been doing some easy rides this week to recover from the 500+ TSS weeks we’ve just had, but I’m intending to start a new round of training next week.

My thoughts are to go to BUILD again. I think my aerobic engine is working fine although we could all do with more mitochondria! Therefore sustained power build might make more sense if I’m going to be spending more time climbing and on longer rides (I’m a pretty poor Cat 4 racer and can’t see myself pursuing a racing career at my age), however the thought that I’ve hit my limit around 240 - 250 FTP is quite depressing and I’d really like to grow my top end as well before nature takes over and starts pushing me backward. I’d hate to think I’ve hit my limit at 50 (with a garmin estimated VO2 Max of 57 on a good day), and as I’m showing roughly 3.7w/kg I’d love to push up and over the 4w/kg number.

Sorry for the long post, but I guess my ultimate question now is, assuming no illness and maintaining a regular commitment to training, what training block do you think would be ideal next for me (bearing in mind I have a week reasonably hard riding in Portugal starting in 4 weeks) to elevate my FTP but maintain my ability to ride at threshold or there abouts on shortish climbs (and how might you structure the next few weeks to build in the week away).

Thanks in advance guys; you always seem to generate interesting and thought-provoking advice and content.

Cheers, Jack

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Start back at base.

Firstly, if you’re struggling for improvements, then skipping base and going straight to build isn’t going to help things. And secondly, I’d rather have my hard week of riding in Portugal during the base phase than the build (assuming you want to maximise enjoyment whilst there).

If things are stagnating then the stimulus needs to change. You could

  1. increase volume and do more endurance work
  2. decrease volume if you’re struggling to get enough recovery time
  3. try plans within the base-build-speciality structure that address your weaknesses.
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Thanks OMP,

That could be an option, although of course it feels counter-intuitive to go ‘back’ to BASE when you’re seeking gains in FTP and more power. Perhaps the right thing to do is to not go all the way back to SSB1 and start at SSB2 so it doesn’t feel like a complete reset on the progress so far. In fact, that also would work out timings wise as I’d get the first 4 weeks of SSB2, then a hard(ish) week of riding in Portugal and a rest week programmed in at the end.

The puzzle then would be what to do next? Maybe go for General or Sustained BUILD perhaps.

Very helpful, thank you.

I think it would be a mistake to suggest that base is somehow a step backwards. Base helps develop your aerobic system to provide the foundation on which to BUILD. Build without the necessary base is only going to return so much improvement in my opinion, especially for someone like yourself looking at maximising gains. So much so that, for someone who’s stagnating, doing MORE base might be the way to go. Check out Traditional Base as opposed to Sweet Spot Base if you haven’t already.

If sustained power is something you will benefit from, or are currently lacking in then it’s a good option to choose after base. I’ve had really good results from general build. Like I said, choose whichever one works on your weakness and I’d guess that will give you the change in stimulus you need to break the stagnation.

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Agree. Base is not a step backwards. This is a cycle that you repeat. You need base over and over again. I would suspect progressive overload is lacking here. If you’ve been doing the same thing, even consistently, you aren’t going to improve. You need to increase something. If your power numbers aren’t going up and thus your workouts aren’t progressive, then you need more volume or something else to keep pushing you beyond where you are.


Thanks OMP and Russell,

Great advice both. I think logically I understand the benefits of BASE training and why it’s important but emotionally the impulse is strong to want to get into BUILD.

I have had a look at Traditional BASE but the time required would not be possible for me so SSB would seem to be the best option.

Russell - agree that clearly the progress is lacking and i’ll need to look at why. It might be more volume needed, in which case I can remedy that with slightly longer versions of the workouts and an extra recovery ride thrown in.

From an N=1 perspective, my gains from Base 1 and 2 have always been greater than my gains in build. I’m sure that’s not the case for everyone and may not be the case for me forever, but don’t discount Base as an FTP builder.


You’re definitely getting the right information here from the TrainerRoad community! I thought I’d just add that shortening your Base phase is always a great option, and jumping back into Build really depends upon how much recovery you’re taking before starting the next training block. There’s some great info here regarding skipping base! ‘Can I Skip Base Training?’.


My experience, do not skip or neglect base. The build phase builds on the workouts you’ve done in base phase and throws on some extra intensity. General consensus on this forum is that build phase is HARD, especially Sustained Power Build.


Thanks Ivy, I’ll check out that link…

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Thanks Fritso, well as said above I probably need to do something different to restart the progress so looks like I’m heading into SSB and I’m almost certainly looking at Sustained BUILD after that. Thanks for the advice.