Will my FTP increase from racing


Hi I’m new on here. Been listening to the podcasts for a while.
not sure if I should put this under training or racing but since it’s regarding ftp I put it in training.

So I started cycling a little over two years ago and this will be my first real racing season.
did not have the best base and build since I missed 6 months of training due illness.

Now I will be riding a series of xco mtb races. Im 2 races into the series now and will be racing the next 13 weeks before we have one week of racing. the results do but don’t really matter as I just want to make progress this year. The first race I felt like I was dying all race, my average heartrate was 3 beats higher as my previous best, then last weekend felt a bit easier.

So now we will be racing for many weeks to come and I wonder if I can expect my FTP to increase from doing these 60-80 minute races.

Not a MTB’er, but I found last year that during periods of lots of crit racing and time trials I definitely LOST fitness. A lot of (more motivated) athletes will do their crit warmup, do the race, and then go for more intervals or a longer endurance ride afterwards to keep their training stress high enough… Same with TT’s, they warm up, do the race, then do an extra 90 mins afterwards.


Hmm not the answer I was hoping for but thank you anyways. Don’t think I can possibly do intervals after an xc race and hit the watts I normaly would. I get 3 hours on the bike at raceday since Ive never been to any of the tracks I like to do 4 or 5 recon laps… then later a warm up, race and a 30-45 min reco ride when home and still have sore legs the day after.

Not entirely satisfied with my power output right now, so was hoping I’d get stronger during the season. Maybe erase some races from the calendar and build fitness there…

Yeah - I think it probably applies more to road than MTB! Road crits can be as short as 30 minutes so not a huge amount of TSS but loads of intensity. That’s why we would add endurance miles after, not high intensity stuff…

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13 weeks is a lot IMO. And I’ve been there. It takes a toll. My race craft was so much better at the end of summer and I was relying on my smarts than say growing my ftp. I battled an illness for most of the summer, so I never really got to peak.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t race every week, but out of those 13 weeks, decide which are the most important to you and do mini tapers for, the rest, train through. Or even skip a few to give yourself a few training blocks here and there.

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I raced XCO Cat 2 last year (11 races to include a MTB 100). I trained through my races and I gained fitness/FTP all season. I went from a 191 FTP in March 2018 (first XC race April 29, 2018) and ended with a 260 FTP at the end of September 2018 (last XC race). I plan to race through my season this year as well and move up to Cat 1 by the end of summer (if all goes as planned) or by next year.

Ideally you’d follow the Base - Build - Specialty progression and plan to peak mid to late race season and hold onto your “peak” fitness for 4-6 weeks. I’m not sure where you are with your fitness plan now. However, you can’t expect to simply race yourself into shape. You’re likely to decrease fitness unless you are following structured training along with racing. I’d start with SSB1 & 2 then General Build and just get as far as you can in the plans. If you have some base fitness, you can skip the first week or two of SSB1. Substitute your weekend ride/s for your race and continue on with the fitness plan. Just include a taper day before the race (ie: Truuli -1). Then listen to your body and rest and/or modify the training plans accordingly. You just have to accept that you’re not going to be fresh for every race, but you’re working towards a long term goal of improving fitness.


Historically my FTP is highest in the spring and drops slightly through the racing season that is full of weekend crits. Many weekends have me doing 3 races (doubling up in masters age categories). I’m at about the point in my season now where my training plan goes out the door and my weekly training is lather, rinse, repeat due to racing most weekends. My focus from the long sustained power at threshold turns to being able to do repeated vo2max and anaerobic capacity efforts. While my FTP drops slightly, I become stronger in ways that I race. This year with masters nationals (US) being in August, I may try to switch gears mid-season and work on bringing FTP back up for Nats.

Depending on how mature of cyclist you are, you may still see gains through the year. For me, I feel like I don’t have much more room for gains by this time of the season and at my age. I think some of us may be be at our very close to our potential in springtime but new cyclists have a lot of headroom for improvement throughout the year.

EDIT: I failed to notice you are doing XC MTB on the first read. I’m guessing the requirements of that probably have you racing at near threshold the entire time so I’d guess that and focused training between races could be a contributor to seeing increasing FTP through the season.

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For what it’s worth my ftp went up after crit specialty and almost weekly crits after going down a bit between mid-build and the beginning of specialty.

But honestly, these short term gains and losses depend on so many different factors that it’s worth chilling out about them.

In the end, if you lose a bit of fitness but gain race craft, what’s the loss? I am starting to think that season to season progression is a far better indicator of what’s going on. Often we test 5w lower on a ramp test and in the post-workout hangry stage start posts about looming plateaus. :wink: unless your plateauing when comparing seasons, mild ftp losses every once in a while shouldn’t be a source of stress and are far outweighed by the fun of racing in my opinion!


That s actually not the case, XCO is mostly very high or low, but not much time in sweet spot/threshold.

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Why are many so fixated on FTP? That is one aspect of fitness and racing. Your FTP may remain the same but your ability to repeat efforts, increase the level of effort and your ability to recover from efforts with improve. that is what wins races!


What volume plan were you doing? Mid volume?

Yup, mid volume

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don’t worry about FTP. You’re repeatability at the efforts will improve which is much more important for improving. FTP is not the only metric that matters, but Time To Exhaustion and FRC (ability to do work above FTP) are now in play, and they are all inter-related…one goes up, other goes down, etc.

FTP is important, but I’d focus on the weekly races and learning how to race. You can do an FTP workout 1x a week if you like, and that will help you build your aerobic engine, but then ride some solid endurance miles on the weekend, and that will help you improve as well.

Would be awesome to hear how the season progresses; keep up posted on this thread if you can!


massively agree and need to write a blog on this!


Thanks for all the replies.
A lot of usefull info for me I’d have to look into some stuff a little more.
Maybe I stated it wrong I’d like to make progress on all aspects of cycling and racing not just ftp.
But me compared to my competition I’d say the longer efforts are my weak spot. Like a couple of long flat high speed sectors. I just come up short. But then the climbs and accel out of corners is where I do really good especially when there’s a couple of those in a row it’s where I attack. But maybe it’s just because I am one of the smallest guys in my class I struggle with flat straights and easy downhills.

This is a picture of my time in powerzones on the first race, my avg power was 271watts for 69 minutes, with a max of 1295 watts. As you see its zone 6(28%) or nothing at all most of the race

I have one other maybe silly question. But nobody I know personally has the answer.
So I like to do intervals twice a week combined with technique training.
So instead of doing my intervals on flat road I do them on singletrack with a lot corners, small jumps climbs and all. Some days i do shorter intervals from 3 to 6 minutes other days I go for longer ones from maybe 12 to 20 minutes.
My question is when I do these longer intervals at singletrack will I still get some of the endurance benefits I’d get from doing them at a straight road steady pace? Or is it only adding to my explosive power since it’s mostly zone6 you hit on those intervals.
Here is an example of one of my longer intervals willthisimprovemyftp

Now thinking about it this is basically the same question as will racing improve my ftp. It’s mostly zone 6 work but will it benefit my endurance.

Just about anything off road is not going to be an interval in the traditional sense that you are targeting a specific zone. Some would call these “tempo” but since there’s a tempo power zone it could get a little confusing. More like race simulation / race pace. Those kind of intervals are too long to really stress your true AC capabilities, which by the looks of your profiles seem quite strong relative to your FTP.

To answer your question, I get some fitness gains from racing, but there is a tough balance on how to get in enough workload to maintain/grow fitness when you’re doing a lot of racing. If you are doing a lot of racing, you’re eventually going to have a hard time to get in other quality work since those races are in themselves quite a big training stress. Don’t be afraid to do no weekday intervals for a few of those weeks in order to stay fresh and don’t let those first couple of weeks fool you as fatigue has a weird way of creeping up on us. As soon as it is too much, you might’ve gone too far and it takes longer to recover than is convenient for the race season.

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There’s an emerging school of thought around this on Zwift - guys race loads and vary their efforts in the races or treat some races differently. Some making multiple attacks, others riding on the front, some taking it easy and hanging in the pack at tempo etc.

Varying training responses yet doing something fun every time - racing in group events. I think this is quite advanced and hard to keep track of but there looks to be fast guys, truly fast, elite level, seemingly managing to make racing year round work. Zwift have the data and if they were heavy on analytics like TR then we’d be able to get a real picture of what’s happening there.