Theoretical Max FTP - Avoid over training?

I am an avid Trainerroad user, and have been pleased with the FTP gains I have been able to achieve, however I seem to have a recurring problem as my FTP increases for my peak each season.

In 2016 I improved to 365, 2017 got me to 370, and this year I tested on the ramp test at 404. As a bigger rider these numbers got me to just over 4 watts per kilogram.

In each of the past three years, I have gotten to a FTP of around 370 but when training at that level, things seemed to fall apart. After watching the trainerroad podcast about dexa scans, it made me wonder if I may be Maxing out. Even at my peak fitness I was probably not less than 20% body fat, meaning that I could be close to 6 watts per kilogram lean mass. If that were the case, I probably was maxed out.

Should we be be considering our watts per kilogram lean mass after our ramp test and potentially not increase our ftp setting to avoid over training?

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I worry that there’s a tendency to over think these things. Your ramp test will give you a power figure that you can use to weight all you’re sessions appropriately. I’m struggling to see the mileage in considering lean mass w/kg. I can only see it as a theoretical, difficult and expensive metric to measure without any clear understanding of what it will help to improve.

I’m also, generally speaking, sitting near what my max capabilities have been historically speaking (based on my time and dedication limits - presumably I’m not against my genetic ceiling). What I’m trying to do, rather than track watts per kg of lean mass is improve my regular old fashioned watts per kilogram as well as my, somewhat more nuanced, watts per cda.

I’m not sure what the benefit of tracking watts per kg of lean mass would be - maybe an ego boost because you don’t have to lose the weight but can see the bigger number anyway.

By all means - get a dexa scan - but I think you’re better served by looking at how you can turn your ‘theoretical max FTP’ into a number that you sustain at a lower weight or in a more aerodynamic position. Train in your drops or your aero bars or watch your caloric intake (if 400 FTP gets you to 4 w/kg you must weigh around 220 lbs…unless you’re touching 6’9 you are carrying a lot of extra weight for a cyclist of your capabilities).

If you go for weight loss you will see your FTP drop - rebuilding your capabilities at a new lower weight is challenging but possible - it just takes time. There are plenty of improvements to be had even when your FTP stops going up


A few follow up questions to dig more into what you are asking:

  • What types of events are you racing?
  • What does your training look like going into peak? (TSS per week, types of workouts or the TR plan you are folowing)
  • Define “fall apart”. You can’t complete workouts? You feel stretched too far?

Over-training is a serious issue, but I’m guessing there is a different issue at play.

404w FTP is monster power even at your 100kg. By that i mean, in my experience riders at 100kg are usually / often very unfit and probably have an FTP about half that. The kilos then melt as they train.

Kudos on the progression from 365 to 404.

I may have misused the term over training in my original post. The concept I wish to discuss is can a rider at a particular lean mass have an FTP that can continue to rise to to 6 or 7 watts per kilo regardless of training plan? my guess is no. There has to be a max FTP for each person based on lean mass.

I am from Duluth Minnesota and I enjoy racing fat bikes. The races I enter will take me around an 1.5 hours and a courses can be quite hilly, but the climbs are short.

If i am fortunate enough to regain my fitness from last year, I may choose to leave my FTP at 350 so I can finish my workouts and still feel motivated to get on the bike for my next one.

If you are regularly failing workouts at a particular FTP, that is something that needs to be diagnosed. If you purposely set your FTP too low, you won’t be getting the required stimulus to progress.

A 6-7w/kg FTP would be elite level effort and there would be world tour team chapping on your door.

w/kg LEAN MASS. (i’m not lean)

Using lean mass as a way of evaluating relative FTP is not really used by anyone.

This is exactly my point, I may not be able to muscularly do any more than I am, and maybe leaving my FTP low would shift my workouts to slightly more aerobic and help me loose more fat.

I think you’ve picked up on a really good point - I hadn’t really thought of it like that but I’d bet your not far off the truth.

I guess in broad strokes though, it would be the lean muscle mass x cardiovascular fitness that would give your maximal FTP, not just lean muscle mass.

Your post raises several questions and issues, CKDaube.

1 On a trainer, your mass is irrelevant – except for your legs, which are probably not carrying much of your fat – you don’t have to move your mass. On the flat, your mass is not very relevant, either {though your frontal area is].

2 Even the leanest cyclist still has body fat. Froome, for example, is probably in the 5 - 10 per cent range. Amateurs can probably reasonably expect 10 per cent to be considered lean. That implies that you could reasonably expect to be 90 kg, if you are correct in stating that you are 20 per cent body fat. [As someone else implied, your bod fat percentage may well be higher than that.]

3 We also know that on a long, flat TT, Dumoulin, Ewen and all put out not a lot more than 400-450 w. Now we know that a ramp tested FTP of 400 w does not put you in this class, and they are also a lot lighter. So you’ve got a ways to go…

4 What is your ‘recurring problem’ as your FTP increases?

5 Your ramp test FTP may be too high for the longer, endurance sessions. That happens – the ramp test is only an approximation of FTP, and you might be an outlier. But being maxed is not the issue; the issue is finding an FTP that enables you just complete the hardest sessions.

Good luck!