Update to the FTP bell curve for cyclists

It would be interesting to see if there’s a new FTP bell curve, now that AI FTP has been out for a bit. I think the last time I saw the bell curve it was from 2018.

That said, according to /r/ Velo there’s something wrong with me for training consistently for 5 years and having my FTP plateau at 2.7 w/kg at year 2. Apparently if everyone there had 6-7 hours/week, their FTP’s would be at least 3.5 w/kg. I know I’m being trolled, but given that the average male cyclist in that 2018 bell curve was around 3-3.25 w/kg, and likely on a low volume plan…maybe there’s some truth in that statement? :man_shrugging:

Intervals has almost 50,000 males, and about even split at 25,000 over 40, and 25,000 under 40. Between 40-60 years old, about 23,000 males.

Whats it look like over on Intervals?

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Anyone critiquing is just competition so they’re probably lying

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don’t know if this helps you or not, but here is mine on Intervals and using the 40+ (~25,000 athletes) instead of 60+ (~2000 athletes):

Intervals doesn’t have good historical weight data so its raw ftp, which in some respects is better comparison, and better to judge potential performance on the flat/windy roads around here.

2017 was 3W/kg. Right now its about 2.8W/kg:


The struggle is real :joy: Last 3 weeks I’ve been logging food, on track at 0.5 to 1.0 pounds a week. Working on getting back to 2017 weight and back up to 3W/kg.

A lot of work to push 20-minute to an all-time high this year. And versus 2017, I was rewarded with a lower eFTP on Intervals :rofl: Gotta roll with the algorithm punches and focus on whats happening on the road.


I had an intervals account a while back, maybe I should restart it and work on the tools.

What’s your body composition like? If you are chasing w/kg this will obviously be a big factor.

Also if you are doing the same volume now as 5 years ago then personally I would expect a plateau.

  • Is “training consistently” a proper summary for your training over that time? I ask because of the topics and discussions you’ve had related to sickness, scheduling around family commitments and the coaching experience more recently falling short.

  • Just wondering about the general perspective of that actual training and what seem to be a less than ideal training history, at least from the bits I’ve read in the forum. I could clearly have missed any number of details, and am only mentioning this with respect to possible comparison to others specifically or broad populations like the TR bell curve or Intervals info.

  • As is sometimes mentioned around here, “Comparison is the thief of joy” in that we can sometimes get down on our status and/or results when looking at what others have done. I get that we are often competitive by nature and this type of comparison is almost inevitable, but it seems to lead to negative results more often than not.

  • I just worry that these types of reviews take the fun and achievements along the way, and diminish them for some people. The reality is that no matter where they fall in the curve, they are doing more than so many people who aren’t even doing anything close to this level of work and commitment.

Give yourself some grace, take pride and joy from the time & work you put in (plus all that comes from that), as it should be celebrated :smiley:


Thanks @mcneese.chad. Yes our family has been sick (off and on) since the beginning of January which has completely tanked whatever plan I had. But from September 2022 until the beginning of January I was training about 10-12 hours/week going through a CTS training plan. My fitness was at an all time high and my TTE @ FTP was about an hour.

No offense to you or others but it’s easy to say “comparison is the thief of joy” and “just enjoy your own progress”, when you’re at least relevant in races/rides; I’m not saying that you’re not training hard, but you’re “in the mix” when you’re riding with the group. Even at 10-12 hrs/week, I’m not relevant and I can’t even hang with the B’s without the regroup. Even at my peak fitness and lowest weight (~90kg @ 15% BF & 2.8 w/kg) and staying out of the wind the whole ride, I still couldn’t keep up with the B group.

I have to compare because I have to ask myself, “what am I doing wrong and what are these guys doing right?”. I outweigh most of the guys in the B group by about 10kg, even at my lightest. The other 3 or 4 guys that are 90+kg are in the A group and are pushing FTP’s over 340 watts. If you were in my position, wouldn’t you compare and ask yourself WTH is going on here? I mean the answer is obvious: I don’t belong in either group, most people over 90kg probably have FTP’s like me so they either don’t ride with the groups or just accept that they’ll be dropped no matter what.

So it’s either I have that kind of mindset or I continue comparing performances with others to see how I can improve or how I can temper my own expectations. If the vast majority of cyclists out there truly are at 230-250 raw FTP watts (even at 10-12 hrs/week), then all things being equal that’s where I’ll probably end up and I can temper my expectations. But if at 10-12 hrs/week, the avg cyclist would be at 275-300 watts, then that’s a different story and I’m doing something wrong.

I’ve had coaches tell me that unless I have some sort of metabolic or health problem, there’s no way you can’t hit 3 w/kg; I still haven’t seen 3 w/kg after consistent training and I don’t (at this point) have any major health issues. I hate to put Nate on the spot here but in earlier podcasts, he would tout how he has no genetic edge or major athletic background (aside form marching band) and he went from 189 watts to 300 watts in 1 year of consistent training, pushing it up to over 340 watts with mostly low volume training. So if these coaches are telling me these things and Nate (being an average guy) is able to hit these watts, WTH am I doing wrong???

EDIT: I should say that I’ve tasted the other side too when it comes to powerlifting and martial arts, that’s why I can say it’s easy to say “don’t compare” when you’re at least in the mix. Compared to cycling, powerlifting and martial arts are on the opposite end of the struggle spectrum in that with moderate effort, I can at least keep up and with hard effort, I can expect to win. I don’t need to compare because I know that what I’m doing is taking me down the path to joy in those particular sports.


I don’t think Nate is an average guy. Isn’t he well over 6ft? Not being an athlete is high school doesn’t mean you don’t have genetics to be athletic, relatively speaking.
Thinking of high school, why is it the nearly everyone on the XC team runs about the same training program, but few can even break 17minutes in a 5k (which isn’t even that impressive for a male IMO). It’s bc they tend to be clustered in the middle of the bell curve.

3w/kg sounds pretty reasonable for the median among hobby exercisers. 4w/kg sounds reasonable to a very dedicated person with decent genetics. 5w/kg is an outlier (better than 98%) of others.

Exercising an average of 1 hour per day (as you stated) and being in the middle of the curve sounds just about right.l, doesn’t it? Imagine how silly it would sound to say that you train on average 1 hour per day and are fitter than 98% of people who train on their bike?!


Sure, based on what others have said (coaches and other cyclists), 3w/kg seems very attainable at 6 hrs/week. So why can’t I do it at 10 hrs/week? That’s why I responded to @mcneese.chad regarding comparison with the average, I need to compare so I can figure out if I’m doing something wrong or if the average enthusiast cyclist is only going to hit between 250-275 raw FTP watts, regardless of hours trained.

Those 10 hrs/week aren’t just noodling either, they were 2 interval days, 3 strict endurance days, and 1 group ride. I followed a modest overload progression moving from SST to threshold and finally VO2max work. My FTP basically peaked at 260 at the end of the SST block and never went any higher, though my TTE extended from 40 minutes to 60 minutes by the end of the VO2 block.

IMO, 2.7 w/kg is as good as 3w/kg similar to 4.8w/kg to 5w/kg. They as so close it’s not a meaningful difference. You pretty much are there

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Broadly speaking, since we are talking bell curves, it’s entirely possible that you are out of the mid or peak area, as there are always people that make up those areas. Blanket statements from coaches and generalizations can be useful, but also misleading for those that fall outside those ranges.

I have no idea what is or should be the case for you, or any reason you may be struggling to get to those benchmarks. I sure don’t have enough experience or knowledge of all your ins/outs to offer the answers you really want. Just trying to help with a different perspective and as ever, you are free to ignore my thoughts.


@mcneese.chad not ignoring your thoughts/suggestions at all, but I did want to point out the specific issue as to why I am comparing myself to others.

You’re right I may very well be among the outliers as far as FTP is concerned. I know for sure I’m an outlier on the anaerobic scale in that I can do significantly higher levels than what AT would recommend. As for expert advice, I’ve paid 3 reputable coaches to try to help me figure things out and they all more or less say “:person_shrugging: you should be getting fitter, no idea why not”.

The most joy I’ve ever gotten from a sport is through cycling, but the most difficult sport I’ve ever done is also cycling.

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I can only imagine how frustrating that is, especially with the time, effort, thought and money you’ve clearly put into all this.

I do think it would be super interesting if Nate would provide a similar dataset to the original ones. Seeing if there is any shift would be cool, and depending on timeframe and such, broad deltas vs considerations of things like TR’s AT would be fun to dissect even at a superficial level.


Like you, I’m always off the back on climbing rides. Like you, it seems I’m perpetually 2.8-2.9W/kg. Like you, I’ve got strong short power although I recall yours is even higher but you are also younger. Debating with people that aren’t like you is a losing proposition IMHO. Like me trying to telling math challenged folks "why can’t you solve algebra and calculus problems in your head? Sometimes thats what its like when well meaning people on Internet forums make off hand comments.

I don’t do that anymore. By that I mean classic modest overload progression from SST to threshold to VO2max. It just doesn’t move the needle for me. So my coach changed things up, several times, until we figured out something that did work.

Initially thats what my coach said, and he took it as a personal challenge to find a solution. Took close to a year with a lot of experimenting, and now everything is clicking. I’m usually doing 3 interval days, very little progression, and a lot of endurance work. And we are moving the needle. Maybe you need a coach that is a better out-of-box thinker? I dunno. Or move over to the Central Valley where I live, and do group rides on flat routes where aero rules and W/kg almost doesn’t matter.

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Wholeheartedly agree!


you mean like me? :joy:

I don’t want you to reveal any secret sauce (you’ve been paying this coach after all), but is there a particular reason you guys think the new training routine is working better for you?

Off-topic but It’s so strange how the terrain dictates the type of cyclists in the group. We’re all rolling hills out here with some flat parts. Most of the guys in the group are probably 65kg-75kg and boy do they give you crap when you go hard on the flats. “It’s a training ride, dude, chill!” Then you hit a hill and all of a sudden it’s not a training ride anymore.


My coach and I don’t try to explain things, we aren’t exercise physiologists or sports scientists. If you want some ideas, send me a pm and follow me on Strava. The secret sauce isn’t some sort of magic intervals. I like to joke with myself that more (endurance) is more, and less (intervals) is more.

Maybe there’s something that just isn’t working for you in regards of training? With 5 years of training, yes, I’d expect you to be higher than 2.7 w/kg. Maybe you have to train more and/or hire a personal coach for a while and see how thing progress?

And also, the bell curve has the large “average” part in the middle but also the two opposing parts on both sides. Maybe you just happen to be in the not-so-gifted -part of the curve? While some people seem to get fitter just by looking at their bikes some people need to work super hard to see any improvements. I don’t want to sound discouraging but being average in everything is very rare indeed.

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I really hate when coaches say this stuff. This is an arrogant and uneducated blanket statement that only makes someone feel bad about their ability. Sorry you have had people tell you this and made you feel this way.

Here is the most important thing: you ride because you love it… and that is the only reason you need to be out there. Don’t let anyone or any number take that away from you.

I know it is frustrating not being able to hang on group rides or feel like others are doing something special. The reality is… there is no secret workouts. Yes, hard work, volume, etc. help us reach our potential but the key here is OUR potential.

While most fit in a bell curve some do not. I know people who are phenomenal sprinters but have absolutely no endurance. I know others who seemly can go forever but will lose a sprint every time. Some athletes respond to everything you throw at them and others are non-responders.

In his prime Usain Bolt would never have been a world class marathoner and dropped on regular training runs… yet but no one was better at 100 meters. The bike seems to gray some of the physiological ranges people have but could it just be that endurance isn’t really your thing?

As for solutions… You could get an e-bike to keep up on the longer social rides? Also you may want to shift your goals and thinking to track numbers and stats that you are improving? (i.e. Peak power, 30 sec power, etc.)

As frustrating as all this can be keep cycling for the love of it!

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