Your FTP improvements

Some good learnings, in particular recognizing when you started experiencing under-recovery / functional overreach.

On the topic of threshold, its really refreshing to read your comments on learning how to ride by feel. The best thing that happened to me when I started road cycling in 2016 was learning to ride at threshold by feel. No power meter, just heart rate.

Congrats on recognizing your AI FTP (and 20-min test) was too high, and dropping it 35W to something more reasonable and sustainable.

For what its worth, my coach is full-time. He has over 50 coached athletes including this year’s female Unbound Gravel 100 winner, performance director for an elite US team, coaches juniors, and data scientist of a world tour team.

Busy guy.

But he is super responsive to my emails and request for help when life interferes. My plans have been customized including power targets. Since this is the FTP improvement thread, here is my FTP and Garmin ML FTP over the last 18 months of being coached:

Color guide:

  • green is coach assigned FTP setting from field tests
  • pink is a moving average of Garmin Edge 530 ML FTP with WindWarrior +4% fudge factor
  • grey is +/- 2.5% confidence interval band of Garmin ML FTP

Two years of spin classes got me to 240-245W FTP by November 2015. Self-coached to 275-280W FTP in 2016 and 2017, with ability to ride 70 minutes at FTP. About 7-8 hours/week average. Then I reduced volume with TrainerRoad down to 5+ hours/week, because it was supposed to be more efficient, but that reduced peak FTP to 245-250W a couple times over 2 years. Bumping up volume to 8 hours/week with heavy focus on endurance and always be doing above threshold work got me to around 270-275W FTP this year.

The other big result from switching to endurance focus is that my Resting HR (RHR) has dropped 12bpm over those 18 months. Another conclusion from my self-coached and TR years is that my training had too much intensity and/or intervals, and in addition to significant drop in RHR my morning HRV has seen improvements. And late 2021 I was easily able to easily drop 4 pounds a month over 5 months.

Therefore it should be no surprise that I feel this way:

about training plans that don’t prioritize endurance training as a first principle.

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Great results. What’s the +4% fudge factor to account for? Just a known, consistent difference between feel and the Garmin number?

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To be honest I was a bit blown away by results from simply doing a lot of easy/steady riding and a small number of intervals. I’ll call it the easy road less traveled.

The fudge factor just came out of my power:HR data on previous 30-70 minute threshold efforts. For example earlier this year I did 275W for 32 minutes, and after a week Garmin pushed ftp up to 264-265W. Simple math on that one - 275/265 ~ 104% or 1.04 = 4% fudge factor. Garmin and WKO and other analytics seem to derate unless I do a 50+ minute threshold effort.

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FTP has stayed stagnant since I picked up mountain biking (XC) in January and have focused mainly on skills since.

January 2022 = 290 FTP @ 4.5wkg till now around 275 FTP (haven’t properly tested).

My XCO races times went from 47+mins to just breaking 40 mins - 2 mins away from race winning time on a very technical course! So regardless of FTP - am seeing improvements on a weekly basis on actually utilizing my fitness and having confidence to empty the tank on technical trails.

One other surprising improvement from what I thought I was very ‘slow twitch’ my 5sec max has moved from 850W to 1250W (19wkg) without any sprint training, just purely MTB racing. Also I did strength train from Novemeber 2021 to May 2022, 2x20 mins sessions a week of compound workouts - this also has contributed grealty.

Excited for next season - hopefully I can fully utilize my fitness - I am a completely new cyclist!

This year has been extremely eye opening! :slight_smile:

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Uau… Looking at your graph, it really sells out the Sweet Spot Base I and II Mid Volume as opposed to the Sustained Power Build which is supposed to be better for working on your FTP.

Can you comment on that?
Do you think you kept all variables the same or did you have any changes that might’ve contributed to not getting the best out of the Build phase?

This is what FTP goals look like

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Started out riding on an indoor trainer December 19 2021 with my free Rouvy trial. Using a 20 minute test got 168w FTP or 2.96 w/kg, on Jan 25 did another Rouvy 20 minute test and got 181w FTP or 3.19w/kg.

Did Zwift for a couple months and didn’t do an FTP test.

Started Trainer Road on April 17 2022, first Ramp test was 175w FTP at 57.5kg or 3.04w/kg. Next ramp test on May 24 was 194w FTP at 58.7kg for 3.3 w/kg. Eat pretty clean but stopped taking creatine and reduced my fat intake slightly. Today used the AI detect and it suggested 198w FTP but then I tweaked the estimated time for this weekend’s race and it reset my plan and wanted another ramp test and wouldn’t let me auto-detect.

Did the ramp test and got 204w FTP at 57.2kg, 3.56w/kg. My goal for this season was to be 3.5w/kg and by next spring to be 4 w/kg so happy with my progress so far. Have been pretty nervous about cutting down on the outside rides and having a reduced weekly avg kms and TSS but I am progressing on paper so that’s reassuring.

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Thought I’d add my data point here to counterbalance some of the amazing gains here :slight_smile:

I picked up TrainerRoad at the beginning of Covid in April of 2020. I saw some great gains – from 2.9W/kg to 3.8ish W/kg in about 5 months. I burnt myself out a bit and picked it back up at the beginning of 2021.

Started back over at around 3.2W/kg and plateaued a bit at 3.6W/kg.

Then I started a new job and then started prepping for a new baby on the way! :baby: I basically stopped all training for the better part of 10 months.

I just took a ramp test and … oof. My FTP is the lowest I’ve seen in years. Not only that, my W/kg dropped by even more since I added some pounds to my #dadbod. I’m now starting from a 2.67W/kg.

I’m hoping to get back training and hopefully fitness comes back to me. Also, this thread was helpful for new parents: Training as a parent

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My dude, this isn’t counterbalance at all. You made awesome gains … when you were able to give your training the focus it needed.

Then something even more important came along.

Congratulations on becoming a father.

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SSBHV 258w to 278w! AIFTP 3.92wkg
Got SS PL up to 10 starting around level 6.

Tested outdoors prior to this and was within a few watts. First time really completing a plan but I cut it short by a week as in weeks 3&4 I added two long outdoor endurance rides - probably added to the tiredness.

Really pleased but think I’ll do MV Build and add z2 as doing that with HV was just a bit much for me.

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Started training in January. First ramp test 157. Been following low volume Olympic plans, so two rides a week. Just tested at 215, so 37% improvement in 6/7 months. I think after my race in august I will switch to sweet spot base low volume and split the other days between running and swimming base work. Very happy to see where this goes into next season! My goal is to get to 3 w/kg, which at my weight is about 252 watts.

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Only just started indoor training at beginning of July. Have been riding for fitness and commuting for over 10 years. My estimate for FTP was around 272W (Garmin, Goldencheetah). However a week before starting TR I gave blood which would have knocked my performance down. Happy with progress so far. First ramp test I had not calibrated trainer and did not know what to expect so redid the following day.
196cm and 94kg.
High Volume Sweet Spot plan

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Maybe it’s just within the margin of error, but I seem to be losing a bit of ground this summer. It’s gotta be the heat. Yeah, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it… :slight_smile: No worries, I’m still doing the workouts and having fun.

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TR seems to work. My last update via AI FTP has me thinking I’m plateauing. As a result, I have purchased a weightlifting set and will be delving into strength training.

By the way, FTP drop in January was due to blood donation.

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I had a 10W difference between AI and Ramp test FTP values (AI was lower), so not convinced about AI estimation. Today I did my 44km loop and pushed (since my tested FTP was higher yesterday) and was 1.3km/hr (5.4%) faster than my previous best over the past two years. I think the indoor continuous pedalling has improved my ability to keep pushing the pedals and keep the power high.

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Returned to Trainerroad August 1st. After a six month injury layoff I had been back on the bike for maybe two months, working my way back super slow, trying to avoid re-injury.

Reckoned my ftp was around 270 on that first Trainerroad day, and sure enough the ai ftp gave me smack on 270.

Its only been three full weeks training but I feel noticeably stronger already, so ran the ai ftp again for laughs and got 286 back.

Reckon that might be a little optimistic, even with me rebounding from injury. I’d have been over the moon with 280 but I guess in for a penny, in for a pound.

18 watts in three weeks, hell, even 10 watts in three weeks is substantial for me. Don’t think I have done a single recommended workout either - I use adaptive training to basically tell me which zone I should be targeting, then I select a workout I can buy into both physically AND mentally.

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Today I finally did a 20 minute again, and held 215 for 20 mins. That’s a new PR.

16.01.2021: 164 (2.1)
06.02.2021: 182 (2.4)
20.03.2021: 185 (2.5)
13.04.2021: 198 (2.6)
11.05.2021: 205 (2.7)
09.06.2021: 212@20m (2.8) outdoor
28.07.2021: 212@20m (2.8) outdoor
19.09.2021: 205 (2.6) outdoor
14.11.2021: 2x20min @ 180 indoor
15.12.2022: 60 min @ 181 indoor
18.01.2022: 202 indoor
05.2022: 2x20m@206 (10 min rest)
08.06.2022: 207 (3 minute RAMPS) outdoor
4.10.2022: 206 (215@20m, indoor)

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Just did my last hard workout of the “season” so it seems like a good time to sum up my first 8 months on TR, and my first 8 months of proper structured training.

I did 4 weeks of traditional base LV. Then SSBLV, SPBLV and RRRLV. Throughout I’ve sprinkled in Zwift rides (especially Z2 pace partner rides) and a few Zwift races. 100% of my riding has been indoors on the Wattbike Atom. Workouts missed 0. Intervals missed 0. Backpedals 0. No way I’ll manage that next year, I suspect! I’ll be aiming to make my hard days really hard, which means an increased chance of the occasional failure, and only doing two of them per week.

Here’s the FTP story:

177 - Feb 5 (Ramp test)
190 - Mar 13 (Best 20 mins - Zwift)
197 - Apr 30 (AI)
203 - Jun 6 (AI)
210 - Jun 10 (Ramp test)
214 - Jul 8 (AI)
219 - Jul 30 (AI)
223 - Aug 14 (AI)
227 - Sep 9 (AI)
231 - Oct 1 (AI)

So, FTP up 30%. My weight has dropped from 76kg to 72kg, so my W/Kg has gone from 2.3 to 3.2, up 40%. Also, my legs look like someone else’s legs now. :smile:

Happy with all of that. It was my birthday yesterday, and I feel a lot better turning 54 than I did turning 53. :blush:

So, thanks TR, and especially to the TR community. I’m going to do my little Zwift stage race next weekend to collect some route badges for longer routes, then a couple or three weeks or riding/racing for fun. Then two weeks off the bike before the annotation on the calendar says '2023 Block 1" on December 5.

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Today I suffered from bad decision making: a 60 minute test was scheduled but from the moment I woke up I wasn’t sure whether I should do it today or postpone till tomorrow. That should have me told me enough. I stupidly went ahead anyway to get it over with. Well, it was an epic failure. RPM dropped consistently and when it dropped below 80 after a mere 18 minutes I knew I was done. So disappointing, I nailed every training session leading up to the 60 minute test.

16.01.2021: 164 (2.1)
06.02.2021: 182 (2.4)
20.03.2021: 185 (2.5)
13.04.2021: 198 (2.6)
11.05.2021: 205 (2.7)
09.06.2021: 212@20m (2.8) outdoor
28.07.2021: 212@20m (2.8) outdoor
19.09.2021: 205 (2.6) outdoor
14.11.2021: 2x20min @ 180 indoor
15.12.2022: 60 min @ 181 indoor
18.01.2022: 202 indoor
05.2022: 2x20m@206 (10 min rest)
08.06.2022: 207 (3 minute RAMPS) outdoor
4.10.2022: 206 (215@20m, indoor)
30.10.2022 failed 60 minute test

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Nice effort and don’t be too disappointed a lot of experts say that the perfect FTP to train at, may not actually be a sustainable critical power for an hour; there’s a lot of debate around the subject :wink:

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