Why does one's FTP go down as we get older?

I have noticed my FTP has gone down since I was in my late 30s (the 1st time I did a power related FTP test using Powertap).
From 210 watts to 155watts .
I weigh 49k and am 5ft 2 " Age 64
Fortunately since training on TR my FTP has gone up from 130 w to 155w. Through consistency and power workouts, on a smart trainer, not HR, as i use outside.
I train much wiser now, and have no family (just 2 ponies) and work part time self employed, so no stress in my life. I do weight training and plyometric work, etc.
I have had quite a few injuries and surgeries (accidents crashes, and overuse when a runner)
I fear my injuries might be a limiter, which is annoying, but nothing i can do about it.

1 Like

Checkout Joe Friel’s Fast After 50 book. As we age there is a loss in aerobic capacity, loss of muscle mass, and weight gain.


anecdotally, I witnessed this happen as I hit 30, and further acceleration when I hit 35. I had a high metabolism when I was younger, I could eat anything and huge quantities of everything, had a lot of muscle mass and lean. I spent the bulk of my time doing anaerobic muscle and strength building. When I hit 30, I noticed I started to gain weight in the wrong areas. When I hit 35, it was downright annoying, and gone were the huge bag of Lays chips, and triple cheeseburgers.

Now, at 50, it’s all I can do to not get too fat, and I have to eat like a bird and any whiff of sugary foods adds 5lbs, all the while losing muscle mass…which isn’t too bad overall, to shed upper body weight off my structure. That should put less stress on my joints, at least that’s how I like to think of it.


Lydia, you’ll probably find your ftp goes down as a result of your maximum hr declining as you get older. With a lower hr range, maximum to resting, hitting the highest zone just becomes harder each year, and well nye impossible without racing to a sprint.
The association of a lower maximum hr with less power available contributes to the FTP decline. The challenge is to continue to keep to the TR plans and hit the Vo2 workouts, with a target you can achieve, not necessarily the 120% prescribed.
Hence I use the Workout Creator to tailor the workouts to manageable targets, now and then use the standard ones to check I can still complete them at my current level. I’m 64 also and at 3.4w/kg currently.


If you look at this thread:


Looking at the data the watts/kg is 1watt different between 18 and 80. So if your weight stayed the same you could see what the average FTP top of the curve could be. And if you were say 80kg there’s potential for a drop of 80 watts over that time period so taking the top of the curve that’s from 260 down to 180.

I only started structured training a few years ago - rode all my life but never properly “trained” or indeed raced. There’s guys in the club much older than me - they can’t get the same top end but they can go all day at a pretty quick pace.

Interesting read here which gives some interesting insight - https://www.cyclist.co.uk/in-depth/1312/why-getting-older-is-no-barrier-to-being-a-better-cyclist/page/0/1 and there’s no doubt that keeping a healthy weight and loosing excess fat is part of it (which many of us are battling once we get to a certain age)…

so both @bbarrera and @Raythebike hit the nail cleanly on the head… VO2.

But you can still train it to reach your potential if you’re not there yet - another interesting read here:

Lots of rabbit holes to fall down too… :slight_smile:

1 Like

Why does FTP go down as we get older? Biology…organisms live and die. As an organism gets older, it is weakening and closer to the dying end of the it’s life. Fact of life…no amount of training, diet or drugs will fend off death. Enjoy life and be the best 60 year old that you can be. You’ll never be as strong as you could have been at age 30 with the same amount of training.


What has been said. Everything slows down.

So, be the fittest you can be at your age and enjoy that. Also, doing other activities than cycling isn’t a bad idea, because riding a bike is terrible for bone density and tends to make you weak above the waist.

With covid and no races this year, I’ve done over 30% of my training on the rowing ergometer, done lots of push-ups and v-ups each day, and done one more day of upper body strength each week.

A year ago I was 71kg and 350 FTP. Now I’m 76-77kg and I have no idea about my FTP, but I’ve got a lot more strength in all the non-bike areas of my body, so hopefully I’m maintaining a better body to age in. I’d say that’s more important than hitting a FTP number.


No weight gain for me, :rofl:

1 Like

Two ponies! My one pony causes me lots of stress! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:. LOL.

You were over 4 w/kg! Wowsers!

Ha ha, they can be, particularly when you have to call the vet out on a cold wet night!!!
And I was probably a better runner than cyclist, but if its hilly, I’m good!

I’m fortunate that my metabolism remains as good at just shy of 40 as it ever was (to my other half’s fury, I can eat more or less what I like and don’t gain weight) but my recovery is definitely not what it was 20 odd years ago. And I suffer far more with overuse-related aches and pains.

Also oddly (in contrast to what many people seem to report) my top end speed/power is more or less unchanged, but I have less speed endurance (10-20 minute hard efforts).

For me it’s the heart.

Best FTP at 52 earlier this year and all other metrics basically the same as my previous self 15 years ago or so (start of power use). HR down this year and over the last few at max and FTP. Some would say it indicated fitness and indeed perhaps. But, it’s undeniable that I can not go deep past FTP and recover at FTP (like following wheels up a climb) and hang with the group. Something about going into the red quicker and more frequently. Not having as much room for HR to to rise. IDK wish I could better define it cause it’s depressing.

1 Like

@Lydiagould — you are a rockstar!! Glad to meet another horsey cycling runner! Lol.

Honestly though, you are super strong and I am jealous!!!

Likewise @JMT. Not many of us on here, I expect :rofl:

Just to give you a benchmark from which to compare. I am 66 yrs old and have an FTP of 310. I am training for the National Senior Games in Miami May of 2022. I won the Illinois road race.


Steven Seiler has an interesting video summarizing a study that looked into performance changes as people age. IIRC, decline in VO2max occurs and is largely attributed to decline in HR/HRmax. FTP declines, but not as much as VO2max as fractional utilization (ratio of FTP/power@vo2max) increases.

1 Like

had an older patient the other day say: “Enjoy your 20s and 30s and 40s, cuz when you hit 50, your check engine light comes on”.


I’m not sure max hr declines all that fast….at least into my 50’s it’s the same as in my 20’s. FTP however is down from 330 to 290. It’s a fight to stay even now and in another 10-15 years it will be a fight to slow the increasing rate of decline.

Why? Who knows? But “process goals” and “it’s about the journey” can help.


So the older we get they more we should start to focus on high intensity vo2max work and strength training I take it. I wonder if there are any supplements that can increase max heart rate, Q10 can improve cardiac output in patients with heart failure and improve FTP in Olympic cyclists… And glycine/NAC suppletion has been shown to improve mitochondrial function in older individuals