Why won't my ftp increase?

Stats: 37m, 5’11 152lb cat 3 road racer. Ftp 266 (3.86w/kg). Divorced father of a 3 and 5 year old and a full-time job 40-50hr a week.

I’ve been training/racing for 5 years now, and this is my 3rd season on trainer road. When I started training with power my ftp was 250 and over the course of 4 years it has risen 16 measly watts to 266. I’ve currently just completed the short power build phase 2 (I race mostly crits…if they happen) and just did the ramp test for my specialty phase today. I’ve been stuck at 266w since December despite pretty constant training.

I know I have a lot of life stress with going though a divorce 1.5 years ago (which ironically is when I saw my biggest bump) and having two little kids 50% of the time but it is extremely frustrating to not see my ftp increase over the course of 5 months despite putting in 6-8 hours of interval training weekly. I’m not looking to make the pro peloton but I was hoping to at least make 4w/kg.

Do i need a coach? (Not really in the financial cards right now) A change in diet? (I already eat pretty healthy, no beef and lots of clean carbs) Less stress? More work? Age catching up to me? Or am I just destined to be a pack fodder sub 4wkg Cat 3?

1 Like

Possible zones are wrong so you’re not being challenged. Check FTP

Is the 6-8 hours all the bike time you get? If so, I might suggest that you need more volume. There are some sneaky ways to add volume without impeding your life too much, such as adding 20 minutes to the cool down of each ride and riding that at zone 2.

I was a bit of a hard gainer myself and at similar FTP levels and similar work loads, but have pushed my volume to 9-11 hours with more Zone 2 work. My FTP went from 250 to 301 and I’m still seeing improvements with every workout. I’m 40, so age isn’t a factor for you yet, I don’t think.

9 Likes

Seems like you’re pretty lean. How consistent is your training? You mention 6-8 hours a week but is that 52 weeks a year? Might need a bump in volume, or more intensity, more sleep, etc. Its tough to say exactly but as a crit racer you don’t need a huge ftp.

Check your training history and see if you have gaps, maybe change up the plan, or rework the schedule.

Are you been challenge by the WOs?
Maybe there is something wrong with your trainer or power meter.

If you feel its too easy to complete… maybe just add a few watts to the ftp and try training with that and see what happens.

1 Like

Yeah if I got any more lean my family might commit me to an institution.

I ride year round, but fall is my off season where I do maintanence and race cross for fun. No real structure from Sept-Nov. Sleep could definitely be improved upon, I rarely get 8 hours, usually more like 7, but it’s hard to do with life as it is.

I have my boys every other weekend and am able to push longer rides then, but usually it’s pretty difficult to get any additional saddle time.

I am challenged by the workouts and I’ve done enough ftp tests in my life to know how to properly take them.

just some quick thoughts:

1-- Bump in volume. Have you been doing the same volume for your 3 years with TR?
2-- Reduction in volume. Did you see your biggest FTP bump during your divorce because you spent less time on the bike? Might be getting diminishing returns after 4 or 5 or 6 hours per week, and your body is struggling to recover from your current volume.
3-- change in stimulus. Have you done 3 years of SSB, short power build, then crit specialty? Maybe try a different base phase, or different build phase. Or, try some block periodization. If my A race at the end of July is cancelled (it’s not yet!), I’m going to try and raise my FTP as much as possible by doing a 2 week block of muscular endurance work. something like 4 days on, 3 off, 3 on, 4 off of sweet spot and threshold workouts. Now is a better time than ever to mix up your training and try something new.
4-- what does your power profile look like? I race with a guy whose FTP is 255, and hes probably 140lbs, so just a shade over 4w/kg, but… he’s a cat 1, races efficiently and sprints well. Point is, an FTP under 4w/kg doesn’t relegate you to pack fodder.
5-- if getting to 4w/kg is your goal, theres always changing the denomonater instead of the numerator. Seems like you’re pretty lean at 5’11’, 152lb, and if crit racing is your thing, I would worry about increasing FTP instead of w/kg, but a lower kg = higher w/kg.

3 Likes

Are you this lean year round? If you’ve been consistent with training, then I’d maybe look at eating more and making the hard rides harder. I could do with losing a few lbs, but I make my biggest gains when I’m well fed.

Do you always use the ramp test? Have you compared against a 20 minute test or long TT? If you’re the sort of person who under estimates with the ramp test, your training just might lack intensity and variety needed to bring around the adaptations you need.

2 Likes

Yeah I’m 6ft 155lb, and I have days where, if I’m not paying close enough attention, I can accidentally just not eat very much, and then my workouts are brutal to get through. I’m currently testing very high carb intake and it’s going well.

OP, you say you’re eating ‘lots’ of clean carbs, but do you have an idea of what sort of numbers we’re talking here? 5’11 125, what you define as lots might not be that much food.

1 Like

can you share your trainerroad profile? then we can see your training history etc.

6-8 hours is plenty adequate to lift from where you are now to an FTP north of 300.

Out of interest can you show your zone distribution for this year and last?

I would try more volume. 6 to 8 hours might just not be enough stimulus for your body to cause adaptations.

Just my 2c. What does your protein intake and sleep look like during a build cycle? I think lots of people don’t focus enough on the recovery and rest.

1 Like

Here’s my attempt at sharing my profile:

On 6 - 8 hours a week I can never get north of a FTP ~ 260, tried increasing TiZ and various other things but time is the limiting factor.
On ~ 12 weeks per week I can get a 280 - 290w FTP, about 4.5 w’kg if I am careful with my weight.

From my N=1 and the other posts above I agree more training time will get you beyond your current level. Still need to get the recovery dialled though.

2 Likes

My guess is your tapped out at FTP and need to raise VO2 Max > then you’ll be able to raise FTP again. Fractional Utilization.

1 Like

Eat something!

This might not be a popular comment / question, but what kind of power can you put out at say 60% hr? If it is disproportionately low, doing z1-z2 riding to boost fat combustion ability at that intensity range could be beneficial even with the time constraint you have.

When I started riding more seriously, I lifted my ftp to roughly 300-310w during one winter by doing z2 on the trainer and xc skiing. On the skis I did a couple vo2 interval sessions and the rest wad easy. Add to that maybe 10 ftp sessions on the bike as racing season neared. Did okay in races and was not limited by lack of intense training. I avgd 8-10hrs a week, usually about 9.

One cannot generalise from experiences like this, but I think low intensity stuff can offer a serious stimulus even in lower volumes when applied consistently.

5 Likes

80/20…