Will trainer road get me fit? Where to go from good start

Hi Guys

Been watching the TR podcasts and love them and I think to improve my Zwifting I maybe should subscribe here. (yes, sorry, I’m not a serious cyclist - yet!)

I’m super new to cycling, 3 months new, so super super new. I got into Zwift just before the Tour de France kicked off this year and took to it right away. I had no idea what an ftp was or why it mattered but got into it and did my first test. I will qualify this by saying I’m a 40 year old mother but even that pre-cursor doesn’t justify the 122 ftp Result I got. I had no idea if that was good or bad, so just got into the game; coming last in D races for week, doing an ftp builder programme and retesting every couple of weeks.

Fast forward to today, I’ve dropped 6 kilos, moved to 198 ftp and can win the women Cat C Crit (flat!) races so I’m pretty happy with that but now I’m a woman possessed! I want to be a Cat B rider, but I know my ftp can only go so far as a woman (maybe 250?) and my best way to win any longer or hillier rides has to be to lose weight and get fitter (I can’t really go for more than 220 watts for any longer than 20 mins without a heart attack) and I just fall off the back on any hill - I’m 72kilos and those 50kilos girls force me to put out 300 watts to stay with them on the hills (which sadly - I can not sustain!).

So, my question is - how can I go on making progress and get to be that CAT B racer? Does Trainer Road have a plan for me? I can’t see my ftp being the limiter now as much as my weight and fitness - so I need a weight loss plan I guess? If you were me - where would you focus now?

I have no cycling buddies to ask! /sad

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Welcome to the forum and to TrainerRoad…

Yes, TR has good structured programs to make you faster. I only have a little experience of Zwift racing during lockdown, but I didn’t do any specific training for them - probably should have done!

There are a couple of existing threads about training for Zwift racing that may help:

A higher FTP will always help, but most Zwift races seem to be characterised by a mad charge at the start - so you need to be ready to go very hard for several minutes to hang on to the right groups. Most TR plans will include sessions to train you for those VO2max efforts that you need to hang onto other riders up the hills.

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TR will get you fitter if you follow a plan - you will only get out what you put in. Consistency is key to this as is the willingness to push yourself to get your body to adapt to training stress.
Not used Zwift but I can say that TR has helped me get fitter and faster out on the road.

A better measure of power may be watts per kg and there’s a thread about the bell curves of most TR users split into age and sex.

FTP is only one metric and falls down a little without weight - if you and I had the same FTP you’d be way faster in practice as I weigh a lot more than you. :grin:

Being a heavier rider I know about the climbers pulling away on the hills but on the downs and flats you can get your own back - thats my experience in the real world though rather than Zwift.

Loosing weight can be a double edged sword and there’s plenty of posts on that too around here. If you have fat to loose it will come off if you’re sensible with training and fuelling.

Above all be kind to yourself as none of this happens overnight…

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:tada:

Psh, I was 35 when I went from couch to TR and my first FTP test result was 95. There are no absolute values of good or bad when it comes to your FTP and you have nothing to justify, then or now.

At your weight, 250 would be 3.4 watts/kg. I’d be flabbergasted if that’s your genetic ceiling! This the bell curve post @Johnnyvee mentioned:

There are at least a couple women in their 30s and 40s on the platform up over 5 w/kg, which would be around 360 watts for you. There’s also a pretty fun power analysis of two big contenders from the World Championships last year at VeloNews.

You’ve gone from 1.6 w/kg to 2.8 in three months. You’re in the middle of your newbie-gains period, and everything is a limiter right now. Other people already suggested some plans to try, so I’ll just say this: Keep training, stay consistent, fuel the work (don’t diet on the bike), trust the process, and have fun!

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Lots of good advice here. Based on the success you have already had, whatever you are doing is working. Pick a sensible plan, be consistent, and you may well surprise yourself. None of us knows what our genetic ceiling is before starting, but there’s only 1 way to find out!

Thanks to everyone for all their advice.

Great to think that 250 may not be the limit, looking around Zwift power lots of top female cyclists around this number so just assumed that would be about the limit. Interesting to see other women far higher than that.