What if you live and train and ride only at 8,500' +?

I see a lot of posts of people traveling from sea level to altitude to train…but what about the opposite? Does my training program know that? Or its doesn’t matter? I guess I’m trying to understand the impact on my FTP…and like when sea level cycling friends ask what my FTP is…

Typical outdoor rides go up to 10,000’ + elevation. This is in Aspen, CO.

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Short answer: it doesn’t matter. Your ftp at elevation is your ftp for training purposes. Yes, you’ll get a boost when you go down. I probably estimate about 1.5% per 1,000 ft of elevation. I live in the front range, fwiw.


Thank you

I’m not an expert, but I’m not sure it’s fair to say it doesn’t matter. Depending on the altitude you live/train at, it’s reasonable to expect your physiology could have different limiters at different altitudes.

As my N=1, I spend a couple weeks at ~10k most summers, including racing leadville most years. I experience the expected power drop off from my sea level FTP, but I also believe that my limiters change a bit. At sea level, I can ride at threshold without breathing very hard, while the endurance in my legs tends to be the limiter. At 10k, my breathing gets very strained once I get into mid/high tempo while the legs will be fine. And I’m able to do many long back to back days at altitude without significant fatigue in my legs. For athletes accustom to living/training at altitude and then going to sea level, there would be a boost to power, but I could also see the limiter moving from respiratory o2 uptake (at altitude) to a limit of how much work can happen at the muscles. In other words, you may have the lungs and blood to move the extra o2, but I’m not sure it’s a given that your legs can use all that extra o2 efficiently without some sea level training. Again, not an expert and just speculating. It just seems that legs that are trained for putting out 200w for 5+ hours at 10k might struggle to put out 235w for 5 hours at sea level. Bro science tells me it may not be that easy.


This tracks. It’s also why living at altitude isn’t actually good training, because you simply can’t do sea level power (all else equal). So while training camps might help you acclimatize and increase red blood cell count, etc, train low and live high is the best of all worlds. But we can’t all do that!

I’m at sea level now. I live, train and race at 8500ft. It’s basically cheating.

Some athletes that live at elevation drive down the mountain to do interval and VO2 workouts for maximum effect. Short of being an elite athlete with all the time in the world, that probably doesn’t work for most people. :slight_smile:

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Interesting take. I don’t think you’re wrong. Thank you.

There are limits to what you can do at altitude. Maybe the way to think about it is that your FTP is the work you can do in excess of the energy it takes to live. Even with supplemental oxygen your FTP at the top of Everest might be basically zero. You just can’t work as hard or long at altitude and recovery is slower.

So your FTP at 8500 feet is probably 8-10% below what it could be at sea level. As it relates to TrainerRoad, you most likely progress more slowly at altitude than you would at sea level, which is probably the basis of the train low/sleep high philosophy.

I think you need one of those supplemental oxygen setups for your vo2 work if you never get to low altitudes to do them. Don’t they use stuff like that at the Olympic training center in boulder?


The race series I do has races at both bear sea level, and near 8000. Some folks live/train up there, some folks (like me) live train down here.

I see no difference in performance from either group. I win or lose by the same margin regardless of where the race is held.

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