Would love your help on sustaining a greater percentage of FTP on longer rides

Hey everyone,

I live in the UK and the lockdown eased enough to be allowed to go back out and do longer rides a couple of weeks ago. But something that I’ve always struggled with (and have finally decided to do something about it!) is riding at a sustained high percentage of FTP. This is something I see my riding buddies able to do, but not me. For example:

Me: FTP - 296W, hard effort on a 3-hour ride = 230w, 77% of FTP
Friend 1: FTP - 322W, hard effort on a 3-hour ride = 279w, 87% of FTP
Friend 2: FTP - 335w, hard effort on a 3-hour ride = 289w, 86% of FTP

Has anyone had success with particular training sessions or plans that addressed this? I would love to be able to do over 250w for 3 hours :slight_smile:! Many thanks


So you have to work on your muscle endurance by riding higher FTP percentage for longer - simple as that :slight_smile: try these workouts as a progression: 3*20 Sweet Spot doesn't hurt that much any more. Why? - #7 by bbarrera

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Volume. Z2+SST (long intervals) and maybe low cadence training.

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Thanks guys. I know volume definitely helps me. I might also do SS intervals outdoors to get used to the additional stresses. JJon you mention low cadence, I’m interested in what the thinking is on this?

Many thanks

Other factors to consider:

  • the route(s) your friends are riding. Are you all doing the same route or do their routes have more elevation?

  • fuelling. Are you keeping yourself topped up throughout your ride?

Thanks Pusherman,

  • Yes, same routes at the same time [we go off at 5-10 minute intervals because of social distancing, and then it’s a bit ‘hare and hounds’ hard effort right the way round the loop]

  • Fuel - good question. I think so but not entirely sure. I have a big, 1 litre bottle of energy drink [6xscoops of SIS, so about 80g carbs], and one bottle 500ml of water. Food wise I’m eating 1 or 2 cereal bars, or 1 bar and a gel]. Is that enough do you think? I don’t fade too badly in the second half but definitely feel the fatigue in the legs

As others have said, getting used to doing long SS intervals is the way to get there. 3 months of building up to doing regular 3x30mins or 2x45mins at 90ish% FTP and I was able to go out and do 2hours at 290w/300wNP with a 330w FTP and it feel hard, but by no means horrific.

Part of it is physiological - training the muscular endurance to be able to keep on the pedals that long - but it’s also psychological, having the confidence to know you can keep on at a level of consistent discomfort for a long time.

The long TR SS sessions are good for this, but definitely practice staying on the pedals outside as it can be quite different, especially if you’re doing it over rolling terrain. Finally, if you’re going for a long 3 hour ride at 250w, its might be best to pace for hour1@230w, hour2@250w, hour3@270w. Gradual ramp I find easier psychologically/physiologically, but might differ for other people!

Finally, you have strong friends! I know lots of other riders (I’m also based in the UK) who are strong, but aren’t as capable as holding high %FTP for really long periods of time. Not many people have it in their armoury…

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Thanks Jackkellam,

Seems SS is the way! That confidence thing is something I recognise too - I’ve blown up often enough that I likely subconsciously limit myself, ‘just in case’

And yeah, they are annoyingly good. Thing is, those are the Strava WAP numbers, not their NP. Friend 2 did 297w NP on Saturday, and he’s only been riding since last February. And he’s 71kg!!! I’d hate him if he wasn’t so bloody nice!

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Interesting element to consider, simonicusfacilis, thanks. I started off increasing cadence a few years’ back, but have not focused on it recently and tended to self-select [it’s around 80 for these efforts depending on elevation - the loop on Saturday was 96km with 1400m elevation.] I haven’t got the strongest of legs, and literally zero calves [aero!], so increasing by a few rpm to start might help :+1:

Maybe your FTP just isn’t as high as you think it is? What test did you use?

SSHV does a great job training that 80-90% ftp for the ride. If start by building it in training, you will be able to achieve it down the road.

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are they including zeros on there head unit ?

goals of low cadence work:

  • increase muscular endurance
  • aerobic adaptations to fast-twitch oxidative fibers (Type IIa) which can reduce lactate production and increase FTP

Are these from their PM’s or are they Strava estimates? Those are huge numbers for 3 hours.

Lionel Sanders did 2 hours of .88 IF for his win at Mt. Tremblant. Yes he needed to run after but he’s got world class power and he was racing. He had the fastest bike split by more than 5 minutes over any other competitor. And you are saying on just an every day typical hard ride these guys are averaging .86 and .87? Seems like there is something there we aren’t seeing (zero’s turned off etc.).


Bell Curve

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Fuel wise: sounds like you maybe slightly under-fueling as discussed on the forum the coaches recommend anything from 80 to 120 carbs per hr - pending on what you can take. Personally I would with to 2 bottles of your SIS and a gel per hour or at least two gels and maybe one bar. Take a look as most of the on bike food/gels/blocks have calories counted etc. You can always try going heavy handed on the food and see if it provides a better result.

180 minutes straight of sweet spot if numbers are correct is pro worthy…anywho, what seemed to helped me on top of a ton of z2:

  1. SST building more each week.
  2. Low cadence high torque work.

That just seems crazy high wattages for three hours. I think everyone is giving you good feedback, but I think it should be recognized that your friends are sustaining amazing % of there FTP for that long duration three hours. What you are doing in my opinion at 77% is actually pretty good.


My ride from 2 weeks ago, you can do it, just takes time to build to this point

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I’m not saying it can’t be done, but I would bet that the people doing these types of rides are 1) well above average cyclists as the graphic above implies from the intervals.icu database it would put a rider in very rare company, effectively 3 standard deviations from the mean or 2) underreporting their FTP’s.

Again, I’m not saying you or anyone can’t or isn’t doing this, but let’s not act like it is just a normal thing.

Here is Lionel Sanders TP file from his 2nd place at the World Championships. I can post countless others from 1 day classics to stage races and 3-4 hours at that kind of IF is just not really very common. Impossible? Not saying that and not arguing with your numbers but this isn’t commonplace.