What is the best approach for increasing FTP for zone 2, endurance, non-race rider?

Hi Guys,

With my training, I always seem to be in a rut where I can do very well, increase my FTP each week for about a month, before hitting a brick wall and losing all my gains. I usually go from around an FTP of 190 up to about 215 and crash right back down.

My goals long term are: to increase the amount of time I can hold on the bike within zone 2 & to increase my FTP as much as possible so I can produce more watts in zone 2 & have a faster average speed. I’d like to do 24 hour ride challenges, Everests etc.

I know the main focus for most is increasing FTP through sweet spot but I can’t do it as much as I try, sweet spot indoor feels so incredibly hard. Strangely I love threshold though, especially workouts like Sugarloaf +5 (7 intervals of 6 minutes at 102% of FTP with 5 minutes of rest).

I’m never going to ride with other people, participate in any kind of race events like Gran Fondos, Crits etc.

So, what is the best approach for someone like myself?

  1. Keep trying the sweet spot training & see if I get used to it;
  2. Stick to the endurance, zone 2 training & throw in some threshold that I can handle no problem;
  3. Or something else?

Thanks in advance,

When you say you hit a wall and lose your gains are you over training? I would say the key word for you is to be consistent, stick a made up event in plan builder in 6 months time and go through the plan diligently.

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I think I could be. I did recently hit a point where I started to struggle with my training, everything got harder, I felt depressed, even going out for a simple walk I felt out of breath. A friend who is experienced with Iron Man’s agreed it was probably overtraining. I had done about 5 weeks consistently by that point with week to week improvements in FTP over 4 weeks. I eased off & took some rest & thought that was enough but lost a good 20 watts today.

I always have at least one rest day a week scheduled on a Friday but I never thought to schedule in rest weeks. Perhaps I need to try take a week off every 3 weeks?

The issue I have is I’m type 1 diabetic. Doing zone 2 rides at least 6 days a week helps keep on top of my blood sugars. If I take rest weeks though, that is a week where potentially my sugars will get worse due to inactivity.

It’s tough to determine what to do and balance the training & rest.

The first thing is what is the goal, If its higher FTP so Zone 2 effort is something you can do most of the day. If You are using TR. Are you doing the century program , Have you started at Low volume to start with Build Phase. This will Give sweet spot work outs with plenty of recovery, You will get 2 build phases lasting 12 weeks. That should give the platform to move onto the Build Phase where you will get Threshold and VO2 workouts added into the sweet spot stuff. If You then want move onto Mid Volume and back to Base workout for 12 weeks. If you do to much Threshold work, the stress on your legs builds up and actually be whats setting you back because it prevents you then training at sweetspot as much as you need too.

The rest weeks are not complete rest. You can still do workouts at 60-70% in those weeks. I am in my rest week just now and can feel frustarting to not be training hard.

What kind of volume are you doing? If you’re looking at doing Everests and 24 hour rides then guess you may have quite a lot of time to train? In which case maybe a more polarised approach would suit you better e.g. Mainly z2 with maybe 2 higher intensity workouts each week, like one threshold and one VO2 Max

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Looking at the last block I did, typically around 330 tss a week which isn’t a lot. I aim to do 6 rides a week but can average about 5 sometimes. Time in saddle 4-6 hours a week usually.

I work from home so can train a lot each day if I want to, though the temperates restrict workouts in the afternoon onwards to only zone 2 usually.

I’ve done blocks of primarily zone 2 with 1 threshold workout (usually Sugarloaf +5) & one anaerobic (usually Matterhorn) a week with a weekly ramp test. It seems to work well for usually 3 to 5 weeks before I hit that wall & lose all my FTP gains over the period and have to start the cycle from scratch.

Long term, if I could get my FTP up to say 260w, I’d be happy, that’s an upper zone 2 of 195 watts which wouldn’t be too bad to cruise around at for long periods. The highest I’ve ever hit is an FTP of 230w but didn’t hold it for long.

No need to test every week. Once a month at most is fine.

Since you ride on your own and don’t race, I think the simple answer is just follow a full TR base and build plan to the letter. Don’t add in extra tests or workouts.

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A few thoughts:

  1. How often are you taking rest weeks? 3:1 (work:rest) is pretty typical. Older riders sometimes do 2:1. Maybe your work blocks are too long

  2. Try lowering the intensity of your SS rides. Do intervals at 85-90% of FTP instead of 90-95%. Those may be more sustainable for you


It is hard to say without knowing more about your training history. You mentioned that you love threshold workouts. How many threshold workouts per week have you been doing? Is it possible that you are doing too much intensity and not enough easy work. Years ago, in a different endurance sport, I thought I had reached my genetic limit. I had seen no improvement in several years despite consistent training. Then I purchased my first heart rate monitor and a book on endurance training. I don’t even remember the name of the book, but I remember it recommending training at a much lower heart rate than what I evidently had been doing. Training at the new heart rate felt ridiculously easy and slow. It was agonizingly slow, but I stuck with it. It took some time, but after a couple months I noticed my speed starting to come back up, but now at a much lower heart rate. 5-6 months later I found myself setting new PR’s, but at the lower heart rate. Once I started adding some intensity back in I was blowing away my old PRs. I knew nothing of the Maffetone method back then, but was reading about it a while back and realized that that was exactly what I had done to get those improvements in those previous years. It might be worth looking into. Best of luck.

I humbly do not believe that at ~330 TSS a week that you are anywhere near over training. I’d think you would need to do at least 15 hours a week for something like that to happen.

Maybe you’d benefit from a coach who has experience working with type 1 diabetics. I don’t know what the actual effects are of diabetes on endurance training. Although I know they exist.

That said, if you want your FTP to go up you need to do more intensity. If you want to do tons of zone 2, you should look into doing some polarized plan.

If you want to follow TR. I would also suggest that you follow the others advice, use plan builder and follow it exactly.

Your FTP really shouldn’t be ‘crashing’. That is leading me to believe that you are doing structured work, and then somewhere along the way you are ditching all your intensity to do long z2 rides.

Finally, may I ask why you are doing a ramp test weekly? You only need to do a Ramp test once a block if that. Frankly I’d put you on a ban of doing ramp tests for a while, because it seems that you are being to results focused on your FTP value, instead of being process focused (good workout compliance). Process focused training leads to results with TR.


Thanks mate. I’ve been putting together my own weekly plans using primarily zone 2 workouts. For me it is a joint goal of an ever increasing FTP so I can ride faster within zone 2. My average speed is about 15 miles an hour at zone 2 but would just like to increase that long term as well as time in the saddle. I get the impression that the sweet spot training is mainly aimed for people who race and who need to hold that wattage which is something I have no interest in which is why I question whether it is suitable for someone like me.

I typically test every week because I find the ramp test to be so incredibly hard. I started doing it weekly to get myself used to the effort required. I find if I go a long time without doing an FTP test I always decline. I also started doing them weekly because I realised that I could improve about 2.4% each week for about 4-5 weeks sometimes. Of course, that can’t be done for ever, at some point I would expect to plateau for awhile but not drop all my gains and have to start from the very beginning.

That’s a good idea on trying to find a coach. I’ve never found anyone who has studied the impacts of type 1 and cycling. Perhaps it’s what is holding me back compared to a normal person.

The reason why I scrapped polarised training plans is I felt it didn’t make sense for me. I will never ever race or do any kind of race event that requires long periods of time at sweet spot, threshold or require sprints. My main interest is just endurance riding so I hoped to focus on endurance primarily but increase my FTP overtime while doing those zone 2 workouts.

I haven’t been ditching my strutted workouts for long z2 rides & the vast majority of my rides have been indoor on the trainer. I’ve only been outside about 7 times in the last year.

I do the ramp test weekly because I find it so hard to do. If I only do it once every 4 weeks, I’m guaranteed to not be able to do it usually because the intensity is so hard that zone 2 doesn’t prepare you for those last couple of minutes. When I started doing it weekly it just allowed me to get used to it and hit 19:30 minutes & often hold on to 20m for that FTP increase.

I never plan rest weeks as it’s important I’m on the bike as much as possible to keep my blood sugars in good form. It does seem like the longest I last is about 4-5 weeks before I hit that wall & all my FTP gains are lost in less than week.

The vast majority of my rides are zone 2. I hate tempo & sweet spot & never touch them anymore. The only workouts above zone 2 I do sometimes do are threshold & anaerobic.

I haven’t done any threshold for about 4 weeks now, indoor temperates make it too hard. When I do threshold, it’s only once a week usually & it’s always the same workout, Sugarloaf +5. I can sail through that workout fine & really enjoy it & feel great but any form of sweet spot in comparison feels like hell.

I’lll checkout Maffetone, never heard of it.

My honest and best advice would be to…

1. Change your mindset, it is holding you back. Forget the “I am never going to race”, you keep saying this and it is flawed thinking. You move from that thought to, this means so ‘x’ and ‘y’ training don’t apply to me and my goals, but they do. Sweet-spot and Polarised Training methods of training are both extremely effect at increasing you FTP and TTE (time to exhaustion) and by proxy your 3, 4, 5, 12 hour power, resulting in you being more likely to achieve your ultra-endurance goals. Remember you said the you would be happy with a FTP of 260w well that requires similar / the same training as if you were going to race. Racing has nothing to do with it.

**2. Get on a plan for 6 - 8 weeks and stick to it. No ifs, no buts… no excuses, trust in the process and follow it through. You won’t go far wrong with SSB imo.

Try it, what do you have to lose?


I’ll give sweet spot another go & see how I get on. I just got the impression that all the training plans are geared to racers who need that ability to stay in high zones for long periods of time.

I can get from 190w to 220w usually no problem in four weeks but always drop by 30 watts. I’d be happy if I could eek out that extra 40w for 260.

PS, Chris,

Do you want to share your age as that might have an impact?

Also, rest weeks planned correctly should be enough to control your diabetes (although disclaimer I am not a Doctor) A rest week can still be a fair amount of work, but allows your body to soak up the training / adapt.



I’m nearly 33 years old, so no spring chicken but nowhere near getting my OAP bus pass.

I find for me, my sugars get worse if I do no physical activity. I do the bulk of my rides, first thing in the morning always fasted so it helps reduce insulin resistance which is worse in the morning.