Struggling at efforts over FTP

I just started TrainerRoad last month and I’ve found while the workouts are great, my power curve just doesn’t align with the intervals over FTP. FWIW, this isn’t a TrainerRoad issue but its how my power profile has been for 10 years.

For reference, these are my w/kg aligned with the Coggan Scale:
FTP - Cat 1
5m - Cat 2
1m - Cat 5
5s - Untrained

I can stay at FTP for a long time, but once I deviate over that, I crack much faster than my peers. This is prevalent in our TNW’s where I just can’t keep up with the faster guys, and its 30-60 surges over FTP.
Additionally my Ramp Test puts me at 231, close to 50 watts lower than my mFTP (or .95 of 20) and 25 watts indoors. Currently, my indoor FTP is set for 250 (275 outdoors).

So I’m barely finishing or failing some of these workouts that go over FTP; I don’t want to lower my FTP because then it becomes an FTP effort. Its definitely something I need to improve on so I do think doing them is good. So do I just grit them out?

Turn off erg, do over threshold intervals at maximum output you can.

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I’m assuming you’re talking about VO2 Max, and I have the same problem. It is ok to drop those intervals by 5 to 10% as Chad says in most of the workout text (I believe this also is mentioned on a recent podcast episode). This allows you to build up that part of your engine over time. I have a major weakness with these too, so I’ve dipped them down for now and will build them up as I recognize my improvements or if I’m just having a better day.

I also found I wasn’t fueling well enough throughout the day and that really helped me a ton in having the energy to complete some of those more demanding sessions.

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Interested in your weight. If you’re in Cat 1 zone with an FTP of 275, you must weigh between 50 - 58kg? This gives W/kg of 4.70-5.48 as per the Coggan table in Excellent/Cat 1.

Bet you fly up hills!!! I would concentrate on races with longish climbs where you can go at your own pace and wear the others down (i.e., not responding to attacks).

60 kg (132 lbs)…maybe I’m slightly off Cat 1 or in that grey area. 58 is probably my floor, I’m already around 10% bodyfat.

Hills are my bread and butter, my only results (which put me on the podium still chasing that first win) are in events with climbs. I’m still in the lower categories so its not that hard, and also being 45+ it will help since most Masters aren’t that light.

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This is probably the right and obvious answer, not sure how I missed that.

A few questions:

  • How long can you hold your FTP? (closer to 40 minutes or 60 minutes or beyond?)
  • How long are the efforts where you are getting dropped? (30-60 seconds or sustained minutes)
  • What workouts are you failing versus barely completing? (a list of the specific workouts would be best)

Based on these, we can help you dial in to some solutions.

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  • How long can you hold your FTP? (closer to 40 minutes or 60 minutes or beyond?)

Longest max effort fresh was a Hillclimb last year for 40 minutes at 281 watts. I suspect I can go over 60 at close to that power, but have yet to prove it.

  • How long are the efforts where you are getting dropped? (30-60 seconds or sustained minutes)

Probably about 5-8 minutes into our Worlds ride, this is after a hard 90 second effort, recovery around Tempo for 3 minutes, and 3-5 minutes in at 110%ish of FTP.

Its frustrating because after of that surge, I often match the lead groups pace and w/kg for the rest of the ride.

  • What workouts are you failing versus barely completing? (a list of the specific workouts would be best)

Kern +2 (failed) Mount Foraker +4 (failed, also Erg issues). I thought there’d be more but with group ride season still going I’m doing 2 real (i.e. over 50 TSS) TR efforts a week.

I did Sierra +5 and after the 3rd interval I turned off Erg mode; didn’t hit many of the interval numbers, but they were still typically over FTP (except the 2 I struggled to shift into the big ring =).

Once the legs failed a reduction in wattage for a short period would recharge them so I could finish the interval. Hopefully after a few weeks I don’t need this micro break mid interval.

I think some of this has to do with training via group rides; I’m not forced to hit a number for a set period of time. Once I gas out I’ll just stop pulling and hide in the back. This kind of training is new to me, I’ve done Zwift racing and group rides, but again you’re not set to hit a number for a specific time.

Hopefully riding over FTP this much gives me a nice bump, I’d love to finally hit 300 for 20 (which I’ve been chasing for years).

I took a peek at your profile and just some observations:

  1. You ramp tested at 231 but immediately changed the FTP back up to 250. Why? (anytime anyone does this and says they are failing workouts, it’s always something I notice)

  2. You have really minimal rest throughout this entire year and haven’t given your body a change to absorb any work. At this point, I’m guessing things feel like a slog? I see a lot of workout titles with words like “dead” or “tired” or “off”. “might as well sell all my stuff”. A few weeks off the bike might do wonders for you.

  3. I didn’t go deep into any training sessions in the past, but I don’t really see much consistent work, just a lot of JRA, group rides, random efforts.

Frankly based on what I’m seeing, I don’t think you need anaerobic work, I think you need rest. Potentially a lot of it. You seem like you are at risk for “non-functional over-reaching”.

If I were you, I would:

  1. Take a minimum of 1-2 weeks completely off the bike.
  2. Spend 1-2 weeks of super easy enjoyable riding, just cruising. No power meter or head unit, just chill and ride a few hours by feel and go easy.
  3. Start at the beginning with SSBLV1 or MV1 (I’d go with LV if you want to keep 1 group ride a week in).
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First off, thanks for the help. I’m new to TR and want to do it right, but also with 15 years riding I may come off a bit stubborn so bear with me.

  1. You ramp tested at 231 but immediately changed the FTP back up to 250. Why? (anytime anyone does this and says they are failing workouts, it’s always something I notice)

I didn’t want to waste a training block with an FTP that was 15-20 watts off.

Almost all my hard efforts are outdoors, with my mFTP, Xert, and 20m/.95 around 275, that puts 230 at a 15% differential. Considering what I’ve done on Zwift and that massive differential, there’s no way its that low. 250 puts its at 8%, which admittedly may be 5 watts too high.

With the ramp test rewarding what power you can do over FTP and my weakness being power over FTP, I just don’t believe that method works for me.

  1. You have really minimal rest throughout this entire year and haven’t given your body a change to absorb any work. At this point, I’m guessing things feel like a slog? I see a lot of workout titles with words like “dead” or “tired” or “off”. “might as well sell all my stuff”. A few weeks off the bike might do wonders for you.

I don’t take days off but I take a ton of easy days. I feel better that way. Outside of doing too much yardwork (sore groins from squatting) I feel pretty good. Haven’t been sick in 3 years. I have been burnt out so I know how that feels.

After my last race on the 21st I am going to do a few easy weeks. In the past time off the bike has backfired with weight gain and not wanting to get back on the bike. Last year the break completely derailed my season.

  1. I didn’t go deep into any training sessions in the past, but I don’t really see much consistent work, just a lot of JRA, group rides, random efforts.

Nailed it there. I am consistent doing group rides but no real training plans.

  1. Take a minimum of 1-2 weeks completely off the bike.

See above.

  1. Spend 1-2 weeks of super easy enjoyable riding, just cruising. No power meter or head unit, just chill and ride a few hours by feel and go easy.

Agree with you there.

  1. Start at the beginning with SSBLV1 or MV1 (I’d go with LV if you want to keep 1 group ride a week in).

Planning on SSBL (haven’t decided on volume either mid or high). First race is in mid January (Santa Barbara RR) so I’m not sure how I’m going to plan past that this to peak around that time.

Your indoor and outdoor FTP are supposed to be different for a variety of reasons. If your indoor ramp test said 231 then that’s your FTP. You’re getting your ass kicked by intervals because they’re too hard for you. Leave the ego and stubbornness aside and you’ll start to get more benefit out of the workouts instead of training too high.

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I’ve just had a quick look through your training and I would have to agree with @stevemz. You don’t seem to have any recovery weeks built in to your training so you are not giving your body time to soak up the amount of work you are piling on it, and you are piling quite a lot on it each week at 14 hours avg!

If I were you, I would look at taking a full recover week next week, less than 7 hours zone 1-2 split over the 7 days. Retest the following week and accept the training number TR gives you (I’ve deliberately not called it the other abbreviation as it’s not a badge!).

If you don’t think the number is a fair reflection, I would do a very light zone 1 workout the following day (40 mins) then the day after that I would perform the progression test 1 [here] using the ftp TR gave you (https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/the-physiology-of-ftp-and-new-testing-protocols/). I am yet to do the test myself but I know a few other TR users now use this for testing.

My second suggestion would be to follow one of the low volume plans so that you can continue with your outside riding. If you just want to find your own workouts and plan this yourself, then I would ditch the long 2 hour threshold/VO2 sessions you’ve been doing. If you are struggling with VO2 then doing a 2 hour session where you aren’t even reaching 110% ftp on intervals isn’t going to help. Better to do shorter 45-60 min workouts and nail the intervals. I’d also suggest starting with smaller intervals (1-2mins) and then increase the work intervals a little each week.

My third suggestion would be to dial down the volume if you’re working a 35+ hours a week. My indoor “training number” per kg :wink: isn’t that far below yours, however I’m doing half the amount of volume. I dialed this down last year and have been surprised that I’ve managed to keep similar performances to previous years.

Lastly, you might want to think about adjusting your heart rate zones in Strava as these don’t seem to match your power zones. You are blowing up on some of the intervals but your heart rate is barely in threshold. I would expect it to be mid zone 4 or above by the time you are on your 3rd VO2 interval.

All the best!

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I think this is a case of your FTP being set too high. You said you held your FTP for a decent time & power last year, but that’s a long time in the training world and you can’t base your training from a figure that’s old unless you have recent efforts to match it.
If you think I’m wrong and I’m happy to be proved wrong, then go out and nail a long effort that’s at least 40 minutes and see what the number is.

I can understand where you are coming from here and some of your other data suggests that 240-250 is in the ballpark outside. But there is often a difference between what people can do inside versus outside, and since you pretty much immediately started failing workouts, trying to dial in an “indoor number” is probably a place to start. If you think you can do 250 for 45 minutes inside, go give it a shot and see how it feels.

There is a big difference between an easy day and a day off. Going forward, just temper expectations for what you can achieve if you aren’t going to take real rest.

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@furiousferret…I wanted to respond at least partly so I could type ‘furiousferret’ with cause.

I think it’s ok to set your FTP at 250, do all your threshold/sweetspot/endurance workouts at that FTP…and then when you do a VO2max workout press the down arrow 7 times and do that workout at 93% of your FTP…or about 231.

If that’s too hard, press the down arrow one more time. If that’s too easy press the up arrow once.

Sounds like your FTP is about 87% to 90% of your MAP. That definitely makes you an outlier. VO2max comes around fast. You should be able to raise that roof very effectively with four or five weeks of training.

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also is it just the max watt burst that you get dropped at, or the repetitive bursts? Is it the first surge or the fifth surge?

I’d look deeper into the curve based on w/kg. How’s your 30s, 2m, 3m?

5s, 1m, and 5m doesn’t paint clear enough a picture

Brendan