Yet Another fitness decline question

I have pondered whether I should post this question, because something similar has been posted many times before!
However, I am frankly at my wits end, and before I do something drastic I just wanted to get a second opinion(s).

My rest / nutrition / sleep / non-workout stress, is all managed well, and nothing in that respect has changed, I am confident in discounting all of that as causing my problem.

FTP History
Pre-Sept - 2019 - Time off bike following AG Worlds to focus on Marathon running
Sept - 2019 - 256w Ramp Test [SSB1]
Nov - 2019 - 262w Ramp Test [SSB1]
Dec - 2019 - 268w Ramp Test [SSB2]
Feb - 2020 - 273w Ramp Test [Long Distance Tri Base]
May - 2020 - 254w Ramp Test [plan-builder Long Distance Tri Base]
Aug - 2020 - 222w Ramp Test [plan-builder Long Distance Tri Build]
Spet - 2020 - 202w Ramp Test

My workout compliance has been good (not-prefect but solid) see below.
So from May, I have had a long slow decline.
I have preserved as long as I think I can with the whole, A ramp test is a ‘snapshot’ and you cant fail etc, but, theres a decline over time and I need to put a stop to it.

Workout Compliance
Before the decline I was completing ALL workouts solidily.
At about the time of the decline I started to struggle with all workouts.
More recently I have been feeling very good with sweet spot and long sustained workouts my Vo2max efforts have been a struggle, and compliance at approx 70%

Now whats odd about the latest Ramp Test of 202w is I was completing the SS workouts fine at 222w so was expecting a bump of my usual ~2% (when things are going well)
Outside I have been setting 1min / 2min / 3min yearly PR’s, despite struggling with workout compliance at times with Vo2max workouts.

So what do you guys think I need to do, to stop the decline.
What do you think are the issues.

I have even carried out a comparison between my PM and trainer to make sure there is no issue there etc.

I was going to start again with SSB1
I have three options as I see it:
(1) Do nothing, accept the latest Ramp Test result, and progress my SSB1 plan.
(2) Fudge my FTP figure, but use a different figure for Vo2max / SS.
(3) Sack off TR completely look elsewhere, which, might give me a new / different training stimulus.

Sorry for the long post, but, frankly I don’t know what to do for the best.

If you can still complete long SS or Threshold workouts at a higher nominal FTP, then either stick with that FTP - or try a different test format (e.g. the 20 minute test or one of the Kolie Moore protocols discussed elsewhere on the forum).

Am not familiar with the Long Distance Tri plans - is it possible that you struggle with VO2max sessions just because you don’t do them very much? Depending on the goal events you have, why not mix up your plan and do a block more focussed around VO2 work?

The plans do have Vo2Max in them.

The issue with me moving to SSB1 is that there isnt any Vo2max
So maybe I should try a composite plan?

The thing i dont understand is, Ramp Test have always worked really well for me in the past

I’m on the same plan, I’ve got a coupe of weeks left of build. What’s your run background? Obviously your been doing a good bit for your marathon training, but do you have a few years of run base?

If you weren’t running during SSB and then started up again for long distance base it might be causing your legs to be cooked for the VO2 sessions. That’s my experience anyway. I’ve dropped a few of the longer runs (there’s no racing here anyway!) and have seen the legs improve a good bit.

I think out on the road you can recruit more muscle to get you through those short hard sets - but indoors all pressure is on the vastus lateralis and medialis and they just end up toast.

I think for next year I’m going to adapt the LD plan to ditch one hard bike set either VO2 or try threshold and add another endurance cycle instead and keep the run as is. I’ve had good results with that setup before. And my run needs more work than my bike at the moment.

My first thought is an equipment issue. Have you definitely eliminated that? What pm / trainer are you using? How are you measuring your power for indoor rides?

Second thought is an underlying illness or injury you haven’t identified. Do you feel any different off the bike?

Considering your baseline is 256 after time off the bike, to go from 273 to 202 while still regularly training just seems implausible without either an error or a fairly significant unknown factor.


Yeah, it’s so drastic that I’d be straight to the docs for bloodwork!
A week or two off the bike may help, but would perhaps just mask an underlying issue.

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PPP: Training is testing, testing is training - Coggan. If you’ve been training consistently, you should have enough data to have a good idea of what your ftp is (at least enough to confirm if a 10-20% drop is real). If you’re doing SS at 220 and you weren’t dying, then your recent test seems to be crap. Do you recent workouts at 220ftp seem any harder than before?

As the thread title suggests, there’s tons of discussions on this already and I don’t think you can get much different advice. Anything is possible… you could have a low pm battery, be overtrained, have COVID, have a powertap hub and a rusty chain, lack motivation for the test, or whatever. Yes people lose fitness, but you would know about it before doing a ramp test.

My vote is to either move forward with your best guess based on all the info you have (ie recent workouts), retest, or look into alternative testing approaches. Go do a Kolie Moore test and see how long you can ride at 220… the worst that can happen is you get in some good training

Also, have you noticed any differences outside? You would notice such a big drop in FTP, and since you’ve been setting short power PB’s it seems unlikely


Thanks for the replies guys:
-I’ve just looked at a recent outside ride this was 202w NP for 2 Hours.
-My running has been going really well, so I think that rules out sickness.

The more I look at it, and the more data points and perspective it really does look like an equipment issue.
So if bearings etc then lower power outputs less affected than higher power outputs. I will investigate this a bit further.
A recent outside 2min effort was 332w, I cannot hold 300w for 30s inside even just once.

Can you put your outside bike (with PM) on the trainer? Sounds really more like an equipment issue.

So I think I can rule out an equipment issue.
Blue line is trainer, orange line is PM.

Why does the blue line vanish in the second high power interval?

This just feels wrong. Somethings up somewhere - do you use HR as well to see another comparison? What’s the environment inside like - ventilation, heat, etc. could it be psychological?

The chart above looks odd - there’s many drop outs and no smoothness (perhaps it’s raw data).

Firstly, I appreciate you guys taking time out to look at this with me!

Yeh the data is pretty raw, I literally pulled it out, and aligned the time stamps, the drop outs are where the time stamps where missing (i.e. no data recorded that second) I didn’t tidy it up because it basically shows me what I needed to know.

I thought about the psychologically affect, but, its not my first rodeo, and I went pretty deep, I mean we all think you can go deeper after, but to get to 226-230w no chance.

If you have such large gaps without recorded data, that’d throw the measurements off. Has something changed in your house regarding bluetooth connections?

You could re-do the ramp test on the bike with the power meter. Either record to two devices, ot try using powermatch - if powermatch goes weird, you know you have a dropout problem with the trainer connection.

I would come to a different conclusion when looking at those lines. I would say beneath 200 watts the PM reads 10ish watts higher (or the trainer reads lower). At the Intervalls between 250 and 300 watts the gap widens even to 20-30 watts. Now if that trend continues (higher watts = more spread between trainer and PM) I would say it’s possible that at a ramp test your best 1 minute might be off by 40-50 watts (or more) between trainer and PM.

Doesn’t have to be the cause. But with what you provided I wouldn’t rule an equipment fault out as issue as of now.

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The % difference is pretty much the same throughout though about 5%
I did add 5% error bars and it looked about right.

Ill keep digging!

What I can do, use power match and ask TR support if they can see anything funky with the workout data, that will eliminate anything that side.

Why not use both parallel in a ramp test and record the trainer with trainer road and your PM with your head unit/phone. Should be pretty easy to indentify if there is something bigger off by looking at the average power / power of the 1 min intervalls.


See if this threads adds any light

If you can’t get answers from this forum maybe think about a professionals advice - like a coach. It’s a cost but it may actually help you longer term.

Hello, I am not a seasoned athlete but started trainer road end of Dec 2019. FTP 179 the start then 231 by late March. I was killing it.

Then I had the rest week before my next FTP Test and it seemed hard. Then a 219 FTP. I thought I would just stay at 231 and keep going. I could only get 20-25 minutes into the V02 max workouts. I was using Plan Builder for May Events (cancelled).

I thought maybe I was not good at V02 MAX. Then another FTP test. 199. WTF! and I could barely finish workout. I looked at workouts I crushed at 231 and tried one, even put on the same show I watched during that workout. 20-25 minutes in, I was done.

I am 55, went the DR, he said probably heart.Got it checked, A-OK, then lungs, got them checked A-OK. Both DR’s said it could be stress, that physically I was good. I am thinking that can’t be it. I am pretty level headed guy. My industry have been decimated but I am doing OK. Good emergency fund, great wife who is doing well. During all this I took a week here and there to rest etc.

I started training again at 199FTW with the goal to finish workouts and build back up. It started working. I was feeling better but still bummed how far off I was from 231FTP. Had all this been for nothing?

Now the capper that tells me it was/is most likely stress. I had an FTP test come up. ZERO expectation for the first time since my first one. Tried not to look at the IPAD too much just pedal and push. my result 241FTP. WTF again. I crushed it. I sat on the bike with a revelation of how powerful the events going on right now can effect us all. That was my last session. I am a MTBer and bought the road bike just to train. It sat on the trainer. I took it off and am riding it regularly, doing plyometrics and my Saturday MTB ride with buddies and loving it. I will re-up on trainer road once the next race is schedule until then, my bike is my stress relief and I am working on getting in my best overall fitness ever.