Update to the FTP bell curve for cyclists

Blast, I was hoping you wouldn’t say that, even though I’ve listened to enough Huberman, Attia, and TrainerRoad podcasts to know it’s probably true. What if going hard in a ride is my stress relief? Prior to cycling, powerlifting and martial arts helped me to get into that mental headspace of tearing stress into pieces. I found that in cycling to an even greater degree, but only when I’m going hard and “helping” the group.

This is a huge reason, do not underestimate other stresses.

I had a great 2019-2022 and hit 4.7 W/Kg, I never (almost :wink:) missed a ride, was able to push through when it got tough, the more I did and pushed the fitter I got. Looking back I had very little or no other life stress.

12 months ago life got busy and stressful (mainly job) and everything changed, lack of motivation to train, just picking easy rides, couldn’t push and I’m now 3.7 W/Kg with my 2023 A race in 4 weeks :grimacing:

Don’t beat yourself up, you and your body can only accept a certain amount of total stress. Remember we mainly do this out of choice and for enjoyment :+1:

6 Likes

Do you listen to the Empirical Cycling podcast? If I’m remembering correctly Kollie’s FTP is around 200 and his sprint is something like 1400 watts. You might be in the same boat. Lots of sprint power, not so much FTP.

This isn’t an indictment of you as a person, and don’t let anyone tell you differently

4 Likes

Yeah I listen to Kolie and Kyle on the regular, I recall him saying that his highest FTP was around 260/270 watts. I know I’m more of an anaerobic athlete than aerobic, it’s just that the cycling I want to do doesn’t match the cycling I’m probably good at.

One thing I think I’m figuring out as an older cyclist is that the typical schedule of 2-3 workouts with intensity and a group ride (or two) is way too much intensity to recovery from week after week.

I’m experimenting with doing a hard workout every 3 to 5 days. I’m going by how sore my legs are walking up the stairs in my house. If my legs are not recovered 90% I won’t do another workout with intervals until they feel ready to go. Everything else in between is easy zone 2.

In the past I’d do workouts, chase KOMs plus do two group rides per week. My training distribution would look pyramidal but my legs were constantly tired many weeks and would not recover until I took a full recovery week. I could push the usual watts with tired legs but I think it held me back from progress.

1 Like

Kyle has a nearly 1800w sprint and like 100ftp lol

1 Like

Finding this an interesting thread @TRusername combining questions of expected training adaption and wanting to enjoy and be relevant on group rides.

I can relate to your desire to be relevant on the ride and I’m certainly keen to avoid a reputation as a wheel sucker among my friends but I’m 88kgs and my first priority is to make it to the end of the ride with the group so I now try to save my efforts until the later stages of the ride once I’m confident I’ll make it back.

I’ve recently joined a cycling club and this has enabled me to ride with different people of various abilities. I’ve been asking lots of questions and it seems one of my biggest faults has been surging off the front as I am simultaneously fearful of slowing down the group and excited to get the hammer down after resting in the wheels!

I also have a habit of staying on the front too long and then almost immediately dropping off the back. Improving my fitness may help but I guess in the same way as you can’t outtrain a bad diet you can’t outride everyone unless you are Pogacar or Van Aert.

In respect of the training adaptation 10 hours is a considerable investment and I can understand your frustration with the results. That said every summer I ride 10 hours a week outside mostly unstructured which allows me to build up plenty of fatigue and I see a slow reduction in my FTP which I then spend 5 hours a week throughout the winter fully structured on Trainerroad restoring - rinse and repeat. I’m trying to break the cycle this year by continuing my TR plan doing at least 2 turbo sessions a week year round but that’s easy for me to say now as it hasn’t started to warm up yet.

Keep enjoying the process @TRusername, you sound determined and I’m sure you will get there eventually.

2 Likes

I’m with you @TRusername. 157 FTP. 1200+ sprint. Sigh.

It sounds like a lot of people are missing the big picture… putting out 300w is a massive kj amount for any duration of length. There is energy potential in the body, and it is not linear with weight. So for a 55kg rider to hit 3w/kg vs a 100kg rider to hit the same is quite the kj difference. The real issue I see is the feeling of not progressing. That sounds like a real struggle and a tough journey. My simple and unsolicited advice :joy::joy: is to create a perpetual macro calendar of training that is supported by fun events where you only target the energy system worked on in that phase. It helps create a sustainable model without the stress of “peaking” but focuses on “progressing.” You got this!

2 Likes

Thanks for the advice and that’s an interesting one. However can you elaborate on:

Also, progressing throughout the year without peaking is actually something I’m currently looking into. I came across that thought listening to Tyler Pearce’s podcast with Brandon Housler, where he talked about doing his own routine and focusing on year-round fitness without necessarily a sharp peak and then falling apart afterwards.

You basically do base - build - maintain. You probably want to hit that maintenance phase by the spring or early summer at the latest. People without race goals often seem to make the mistake of miss timing the season. They jump into a plan in the middle of July thinking it will make them faster but it’s not going to do that until the season is over and they might even burn out by the end of the summer.

Last season I started building in January and by April went into maintenance mode which was (one interval session per week and a hard group ride on the weekend). I was making sure to go into the group ride fresh every Saturday.

Tim Cusick has talked about undulating periodization in webinars which is his stay fit idea.

I think he means putting some fondos, races or whatever events on your calendar and then focusing on being your best for them and not worry about the As or Bs at the group ride every weekend.

2 Likes

Falling apart afterwards means you don’t know how to rest

Did I miss something here? You have had consistency problems because kids/work/life (totally understandable!!), but managed to do 10-12 hours for about 4 months, at which point you noticed improvement. Otherwise, you’ve plateaued? Or was your plateau during that period, or ?

10-12 hours for four months is impressive (from one working parent to another), but I’m not sure only 4 months is enough time to know what kind of progress you’re capable of at that volume.

(For the record, I feel your pain. I’m at 10-15 hours per week the last 5 months and I’m sitting at a measly, overinflated 192 watts. So I’m projecting my optimism that maybe we both just need more time at higher volumes!)

2 Likes

No worries, not sure if I went into detail in my original post. I started my own program using CTS’ workouts, pretty standard progression stuff but instead of 3 interval days I only did 2, everything else was endurance rides or a group ride here or there.

I came into the program with a 259 FTP at 100kg, so 2.59w/kg. I tested again after the first block at 259 and 98 kg. I tested a final time in December after finishing up the short-power block at 260 watts and 95kg.

All that said, I could hold 260 watts for over an hour by the end of this training routine. But my TTE would drop like stone, I think I could hold 275 for no more than 10 minutes.

After some discussions with other athletes here, I’m beginning to wonder if my threshold would’ve improved if I did more anaerobic work. That’s something I’ve never actually trained because my anaerobic power is naturally high. I think 75% of my workouts have been threshold or below and the remaining 25% are VO2, but I’ve done very little anaerobic work.

1 Like

Anaerobic work doesn’t improve threshold

Is this a troll?

1 Like

Those two comments make me wonder if you could better invest a significant proportion of your current hours into other things to move the needle (recovery, nutrition, sleep, strength). It’s as important as your endurance training.

This is especially relevant as you say other coaches looked at your training at a deeper level than we have been able to here.

I would recommend checking out Matt Dixon. He’s big on making sure athletes are having a plan that fits into their life, from which they can progress.
He’s written two books that are focused on triathlon but all the take-always are relevant to cycling.

2 Likes

Even though your FTP was the same, that’s a great achievement!

Yeah over threshold work is tough, probably your FTP assessment is accurate or even a little bit low (given 106% for 10min).

1 Like

Beware: Total noob here.
TLDR: Unsure if more volume is always better. Resting enough may move the needle?

I think I can sort of relate with you. I cycle around 8-9 hours per week. My FTP is not high (210W), since I started eating better Ive gained weight and now I am at 2.9W/kg (around where I started 1.5 years ago).

Forever it seemed like I barely made progress: Feeling my legs all the time, being tired in general except on two consecutive rest days. I barely made it through the workouts, but had good compliance. I tried less intensity with same volume - I couldn’t bare long Z2 outside with all the hills where I live, compliance was bad (too much intensity).

Six weeks ago I started doing 3-4 rest days per week, two instead of one long (3+hours) rides, shorter easy Z2 rides for the other days. I am usually pretty rested for the long and intensive rides. Still at 8-9 hours.
And man, do I feel strong. Power output is nearly +20W for the same lengths. I can hold intervals forever (repeatable). Riding is hard, but I’m not totally destroyed afterwards. It just feels very different. I am looking forward to the planned ramp test next week.

2 Likes

Nice puzzle. The first two comments below caught my eye. Based on the first I assumed you are quite tall, based on the 2nd I started questioning that again. Your reference to powerlifting made me wonder as well. So the advanced search function from this forum could be used to pull up a 3rd quote from you from a different topic.

The short answer: 250-260W FTP for a 180cm male is smack in the middle of the Bell Curve (or slightly exceeding) for the volume you are training. What is not average is the volume of your muscles (and crank length).

1 Like