What is possible?

Hello everybody,
i’m relatively new here since (since Feb) but i’m reading you guys all time.
I have a question that i know isn’t easy to answer.
I’m 46 years old 186cm (6.1 feet) and 83 kilo. i’m cycling for almost 4 years with the last 3 a lot inside on the trainer using Swift and some programs from various trainers and after Feb 2020 Traineroad.
It seems that i’m stuck at about 265-275 Watt FTP for about a year training almost 5 times a week.
My question is, have i reach my peak? At 46 is this all i can do?
I’m using the plan builder with mid volume since feb and i’m currently at 262 starting from 256.
Thanks in advance
Speedy

As you probably saw, initial gains were quite rapid, slowing down somewhat afterwards (speed of this trajectory will differ depending on lifestyle, genetics etc).

Have you done the same sequence of plans each year? Or at least, the same type of training (e.g., sweetspot orientated)? If so, I would suggest changing the stimulus for a bit (e.g., a 6-8 week VO2 block).

Or, it could be more simple - add hours, intensity or both! The stimulus must increase to lead to a training adaptation. Stagnation usually occurs because the same load is being constantly applied.

Hi,
This is a good question, I’m curious what people contribute. From a high level, I would offer the following:

  • 4 years is a long time and you do seem to be stuck.
  • Do assessments more often and have a checklist of what could be modified in your training plan: rest, diet, volume, intensity, variety, etc.
  • You must have a sense of where you fall in the spectrum of genetic ability.
  • Cookie Cutter plans are great at the beginning but after a while you need to get a coach or you need to understand the principles of effective training and customize your work yourself.

Cheers!

What sort of build are you? I’m 189cm and weigh 73kg, so there could be some low hanging fruit to address on the body comp side of things. Saying that, I am starting to get a bit on the ‘Skeletor’ side…

I agree with the other who posted in the meantime - sounds like you need a new stimulus of some kind. Go polarized, or hit a load of threshold!

It’s almost the same. Now on TR it’s more structured.
I need to do more ramp testing.
Thanks

hi,
I’m thin but not the “skeleton” type.
I still want to lose 3 kilo and be at 80 maybe 79.
Thanks

I’m the same age as you and a fairly similar height and weight. At our age, and with solid and consistent training behind us (meaning we’ve already picked the low hanging fruit) the gains don’t come easily or often, but they do still come. But you need to change things up. I’ve had success in the last few years with:

  • Dropping the structure for periods and just doing some racing and hard group rides. Which is a) lots of fun and b) great at teaching you how to suffer. Not a long term plan but it’s a different stimulus and when I’ve gone back to more structure afterwards I’ve tended to make breakthroughs. Might be hard with lockdown though
  • Throwing in the occasional really big week. Or at least a really big weekend with something like back to back centuries. I find I can handle a doubling of volume for 1 week as long as I accompany it with extra sleep and focus on good and plentiful eating. Again, different stimulus seems to help break out of a rut
  • Switching up the plans regularly. Haven’t gone into offroad yet but have built training blocks around a variety of road events including TTs, 100+ mile races and <1 hour crits. Helps stay mentally fresh and motivated as well. Also makes you realise that FTP is really just part of the equation. E.g. working on your sprint and anaerobic capacity for crits gives you a very different race fitness to doing TT training where you may have the same FTP but it’s all about extending time to exhaustion
  • There is an element of incremental gains just from sticking at it, not just the training consistency but also nutrition, sleep, etc. Keep doing (mostly) the right things and the gains do stack up even if they’re not noticeable from one block to the next.

And also important to occasionally step back from the frustration of having been on the same FTP for 3 months and realise that you’re fitter than >95% of 46 year olds and there will come a point (hopefully not just yet!) where just maintaining the fitness you have as you get older is a win.

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the simple answer is you need to do more than you did the last time. more volume, more intensity, both, it might not matter. But doing the same thing won’t generate any adaptations. I would start by adding volume. Use the feature to extend workouts to add an additional 10-30 minutes to the end of each workout. Over 3 or 4 workouts per week, that would be an extra hour or 2 of volume. Add another z2 ride during the week on a rest day. See how a couple of hours more volume affects you. I like frequent testing, which is critical to progressing your FTP targets, which will in turn add more stimulus on top of the extra volume. If you do those things and don’t see anything, look at your sleep, diet, other physical activities.

We don’t know each other, but as a mature cyclist I can relate to where you are.
First, I agree with the more volume/more intensity adage. There is a direct correlation between those and increasing area under the power curve. Fact.
Second, do what is being unsaid. Ask “why?” with the idea of identifying your limiters and relentlessly attacking those until you run out of time or patience.
Third, there are no other ways. When you have put together a few seasons of maximizing your gains, hammer away until you can see more clearly the benefits of continuing weighed against diminishing returns. Then grasshopper, you will come to terms with cycling as a way to see a bunch of cool places with cool people instead of an arms race. You’re not there yet. On your journey, you have only begun.

Thanks Cartsman for your extensive answer.
Racing is not an option. I don’t have the time.
The centuries I will try.
I keep the last paragraph. I have to keep that in mind.
Thanks

Thanks Russell.
the problem is that I don’t have more time.
I work at a restaurant 12 hours a day , 6 days a week. O also have to find time for kid and wife.
I’m thinking maybe the recovery is the problem. Beeing on my feet all day after a hard training isn’t the best thing.

If you can’t add volume, you have to add intensity. It’s one or the other. You have to do more than you did yesterday.

Question:

Answer:

You have reached a plateau with current training over the last year. Exactly how will more frequent testing help? Instead of helping, you may become more obsessive and lose sight of the big picture.

more volume?

The fundamentals of a periodized plan are well established:

  • start with an off-season
  • incorporate resistance training (weight lifting) into the off-season and early base, then switch emphasis to cycling by moving to a maintenance phase
  • devote a large percentage of time to aerobic development (zone 2 and progressively working in tempo and sweet spot)
  • with 4 years of cycling you may want to spend more time on aerobic base development (say 20-24 weeks), this establishes a solid foundation for the more intense training to follow
  • about 8 weeks before your first target events, switch to sharpening up your top-end by reducing volume/TSS and increasing intensity (vo2max intervals)
  • in-season the racing will replace one (or more) of your hard workouts

With TrainerRoad I’d pay attention to the low volume plan recommendations made on the podcast. Personally I found medium volume plans used by TrainerRoad’s Plan Builder to be more appropriate for younger riders (that recover quickly compared to late 40s and 50s), or for older riders with 10+ years of structured training experience.

On the other hand the TR traditional base medium volume plan does work well for older riders (more recovery), and the plan descriptions contain hints on increasing the amount of time you spend on base.

Don’t underestimate the power of being fresher for just two hard workouts a week. Given your job and hours available, you might find a more polarized / pyramidal approach will generate better gains on 4-5 days a week. Here is one coaches point-of-view I’d recommend you read: https://www.highnorth.co.uk/articles/polarised-training-cycling/#timecrunched

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Hello Bbarrera,
thanks for your time and effort.
So you’re saying that i should stop the Plan Builder with the mid level and instead use the low?
Can you recommend some Plans here on TR?
Thanks