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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