Struggling with Sustained Power Build after FTP Increase

Hi all,

I’ve only just joined the forum and this is my first post, though I have read a number of other helpful posts on the forum before so I know you’re a knowledgeable lot. I was looking for a bit of advice.

I started using TR in the autumn. I started with sweet spot base, then Ironman base (both low volume) and they went fine. The pandemic lockdown started just as I finished IM base and my target race for the year was cancelled. I had been intending to move onto IM Build low volume but as i suddenly had more time on my hands (no swimming, little running) I decided to instead move onto sustained power build mid volume.

I did the first 4 weeks of it with no problems, at an FTP of 209. At the start of the 5th week there is a ramp test, which i did and was a little surprised to see my FTP jump from 209 to 227. However, continuing with the plan at this higher FTP has left me really struggling. I’ve just about managed to complete the VO2 max sessions, but the sustained power sessions (Stromlo, Budawang) have left me gassed after just one or two reps and unable to complete the sessions. I figure that the FTP of 227 is a little too high for me (I did push myself to absolute failure when i did the ramp test) so my proposed solution was to manually drop my FTP down to say 215 and see how that goes. I basically wondered what people think about this and if anyone has any other better suggestions.

Also, out of interest, is it common to struggle with sessions when your FTP has just increased?

Cheers,
Ash

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Yeah you can drop your ftp a few points or drop workout % a few points too. I know for myself I struggle with some of the VO2 workouts listed in TR. Its mentally hard sometimes to lower the % because it feels like failure but VO2 is a range and have to be cool with making adjustments.

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I actually find the first week after the ramp test is the hardest week of the plan as my body and brain are trying to adapt to the new power levels.

I almost always fail the first difficult workout after a FTP bump. Just gotta hang in there that first week or so, carb up and the workouts actually start to feel easier even though they’re supposed to get harder.

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Struggling during the first week or so after a ramp test is common. I would not adjust the FTP - it is what it is - and would simply adjust the workout intensity as needed.

Also, while I’m not all that familiar with the Tri plans, I’m wondering if there is a big jump in cycling volume in switching to sustained build. If so, that may be a contributing factor.

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Hi Ash :grin:

What are you training on? A wheel-on or wheel-off trainer? Dumb or Smart? Has any part of your training setup changed?

Your mid-plan FTP bump is a solid one and I’d say it’ll make the sustained efforts noticeable more challenging. Why not try what you’ve mentioned. Knock your FTP down a few points and build back up. Get your confidence back :+1:

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sustained power build is hard!!!

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I often struggle for the first week or so after a big FTP bump…nothing wrong with knocking the intensity down a couple % while your body adjusts!
I’ve also noticed that I get used to the workouts being a bit ‘easier’ in the last couple weeks of a plan if i’ve showed some improvement, so it’s a bit of a mental knock to feel like they’re a challenge to complete again. Feels great once you get over the initial hump though! :grinning:

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That’s a solid bump in FTP, nice work!

To echo the others, You’ve combined it all

  • an increase in volume
  • an increase in FTP
  • a hard plan (there was a thread a few days ago that describes the second part of SPB MV as hell)
  • Stromlo, Budawang and similar workouts that are really hard

Adjusting the % intensity is fine :wink: good call and have fun with the fitness!

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How old are you?

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I don’t have any suggestions for what to do, but I do have a suggestion for what not to do. I’m also doing the same plan as you right now, and got a decent bump at the mid plan test. I tried switching from MV to LV. Do not recommend, I’ve now switched back. The IF of the LV workouts are decently higher.

I’ve got a decent fan, but thinking of investing in a second one. The long-interval supra-threshold workouts I find my HR creeping higher and I’m thinking it might be due to insufficient cooling. Something to consider!

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I have a tendency to score too high on FTP tests then struggle. I end up hating my sessions and not looking forward to my turbo time.

Last test I hit 237, up from 214 which was crazy silly. So I took an average of 214 and 237 and settled on 225 for my FTP.

No science in that at all but it means my work outs are good quality and I enjoy them. That’s half the battle.

Another weird thing I do is: If I get a new FTP and I don’t like the ‘look’ or the ‘sound’ of a number, I add a unit or two till my FTP is aesthetically pleasing.

Yeah I know. Psychologists would have a field day.

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Thanks for the comments and advice, really appreciate it.

@PusherMan I’m training on an Elite Direto (direct drive smart trainer).

@ValeCyclist I’m 38. I’ve been doing triathlons for about 7 years but only got into proper structured cycle training last autumn. Before that I’d only had an old manual turbo trainer so just kinda did random sessions without any real structure to them. I’ve noticed a big difference since starting to use TR.

I think I’m going to drop the FTP to 215 and see how that goes. :crossed_fingers:

OK, tbh TrainerRoad plans take no account of how old you are, I think it’s fair to say, Joe Friel certainly agrees, that the over 50s generally will need more recovery time and some TR plans are quite brutal. If you’re not nailing sleep, nutrition and recovery it’s a tough journey to full compliance.
FWIW the ramp test overestimates for me, as it does for a lot of people if they’re honest with themselves but hey, everyone wants that bigger number.
I know you’re under 40 but just a general comment

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Another thing to consider is that you not only switched from LV to MV, but also had a significant change in the focus of work being performed. The Full Distance Tri plan has a different focus than Sustained Power. Sustained Power is a continuation of Sweet Spot Base. So through your LV Tri plan you weren’t really preparing yourself for the work of MV Sustained Power. Add in the FTP bump and you created quite the challenge for yourself. I would drop down to LV and add in some aerobic rides to get the extra volume (Pettit/Baxter), maybe some low-end Tempo work. The key is to not bite off too much at once and slowly build toward the increased volume AND intensity. Screen shots below for perspective:

Here is the last weeks of Full Distance Tri LV (- the recovery week)

Versus the last weeks of SSBII MV

There is a pretty big disparity between the 2 base phases so struggling is to be expected at this point. That being said, if your body can handle the work load you should substantial gains from hanging in there. But be very careful to avoid injury.

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@bloya89 thanks. You make a good point about the differences between the programs. I should clarify and should have said before that I haven’t been doing the full schedules of the respective programs. I’ve only been doing the midweek sessions and substituting the weekend session(s) for my own outdoor ride. So when i was doing low volume I was doing 2 turbos and 1 outdoor ride per week, and at mid volume I’m doing 3 turbos and 1 outdoor ride per week.

I’m going to try and persevere with the mid volume and see how it goes at a sightly lower FTP. If I continue to struggle I’ll consider taking your advice and dropping down to low volume with some added low intensity sessions. :+1:

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@ashman07 ahhh I see that is an important detail. That sounds reasonable. As always the key is listening to your body; you know yourself best. This time is dangerous for us athletes in an additional way because the newly discovered free time encourages us to add volume when that might not be the best decision for us individually. If you haven’t listened to this week’s podcast yet it’s a great listen when Coach Chad goes over Nate’s training right now with the crew. Amber and Jonathan also had great input on this.

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@bloya89 Thanks for the tip, I’ll check out the podcast.

Also. Your FTP could be “correct” (in that it actually is a good approximation of your MLSS), your training load overall could be okay, and it’s still not unusual for people to struggle with these workouts.

This is because all of these plans are subject to basic assumptions about what your physiology is like and what you’ll respond to, and just like estimating max hr by doing 220-age, what works "on average’ may not work for you.

E.g., max aerobic power vs. FTP in the plans is pegged at 120%, IIRC. Yours may not be that (it could be lower). FTP could be right but with all training zones pegged based off % FTP, your Vo2max days would be too hard. Or maybe your MAP is actually 120% or higher, but you don’t yet have the endurance at that intensity to do the full workout.

This is the idea behind the TrainingPeaks WKO power duration curve, the Sufferfest 4DP, and things that runners have known for literally decades: that everyone has a 400m, 800m, 1600m, 3200m, 10k, marathon, etc., pace, and the relationship between them is NOT the same for every runner.

if you really want to find out what’s driving these, do a max five minute effort (indoors on the trainer). Really as hard as you can. This will approximate your MAP.

Then, once you’ve recovered, over the next few days, do some of the threshold workouts using your FTP and see how they feel. You can usually tell if your FTP is low, too high or just right by doing a long threshold workout as a benchmark. It should feel challenging but completable (without any seed of doubt moments). This will give you a handle whether it’s your FTP that’s off or whether it’s something else.

Then compare the two (MAP vs. FTP), see if they actually are 120% or something lower.

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Also a triathlete here, i’m on the last hard workout of sustained power low volume (mountgoode +3, 20min in (8min into first interval) and I’ve had to pull the plug, I’m now spinning it off with Andrews (90min aerobic) but if I’m honest I’m struggling even with this, I came on TR forum looking for motivation an stumbled accross this post, I find comfort knowing its not just me that’s suffering with this

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No shame in that @JonoB. We’ve all been there. Whether it’s an off day or you’ve found your limits for that day/week/cycle, these workouts are tough. Especially in sustained power build you are supposed to be teetering on the edge of your longer duration power abilities. Failing a workout isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Even the TR crew fail workouts (and they’ll be the first to admit it). It’s bound to happen if you’re truly pushing yourself to new heights. Don’t get down about.

I’m a triathlete as well and took the winter to focus on my sweet spot/threshold. Completed SSB1 And 2 then Sustained Power. It was tough but I’m so glad I stuck with it. Improved a lot. Keep pushing and good luck!

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