Am I training too hard?

Hi Zwifters,

I have a complex problem to talk through and occasionally learn something new :slight_smile:

Basically, on January I did the Ramp FTP test which resulted with FTP set to 197 watts.

After a couple of days of rest, I started doing FTP Builder plan, however, after finishing up 5 weeks I have some notes:

  • foundation workouts were supposed to be “relatively easy”, my HRmax calculated with Zwift’s method is 193 (28 years old, 78 kgs, 184cm, male) - but my foundation trainings stats showed me that my heartrate distribution is mostly in Z3/Z4, almost none Z2 and very little Z2 - I suppose it should be more into Z2?
  • threshold and tempo trainings were extremely hard sometimes - that I’ve literally hated that sport during those sessions, I endured only because I’m used to the pain from working out on gym

Also, after 5 weeks some of my estimates fitness stats were changed to +, but some of them dropped:

  • VO2 max: from 34.6 → 31.3 - in my honest opinion that’s a massive drop
  • zMAP from 216 watts to 195 watts - also a drop
  • also, garmin connect app states that my vo2max dropped from 45 to 39
  • zFTP from 147 watts to 184 watts - that’s the only thing that went up actually

are those sings that I’m training too hard and I’m having no benefits of those trainings at all? how should I proceed?

If I’m training too hard - are there any benefits at all?

I’m using Elite Direto XR-T trainer with Wahoo Tickr 2 HRM, so measurements are pretty much accurate

You probably need to have an easier week where your training stress score is quite a bit lower to let the recovery happen.

And do your hard rides hard, your easy ones easy.

On the weekend if possible, don’t do Zwift - get on a real bike and do a nice long ride of 100-120km at a moderate pace with someone else to keep you company, pace should let you chat easily and sit up.

Welcome to the Forum Patryk!

First the disclaimer: I am not a coach or trainer and can’t see your workout stats and info - someone who is a coach and can look at your specific data and circumstances could advise you better.

With that out of the way… The FTP Builder plan is designed to ‘build your FTP’. It’s worth stating again as different plans will target different strengths or ‘skills’. It’s not focussed for example on sprints, or long endurance. So you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see benefits to ‘skills’ you are not training.

Regarding max heart rate - everyone is different and lots of people find that ‘equations’ or ‘rules of thumb’ don’t really work for them. For example, a common method people suggest as an estimate is to take 220 - age. For me that would put my ‘calculated max heart rate’ at 177, yet my heart rate when I just start to get into proper working at Threshold is 180 and my max is probably currently just above 195-ish. The calculation doesn’t work for me. It may not work for you either. It would be better if you could have a look through your data and see what max heart rate you’ve actually got to recently. Perhaps if you can narrow it down to a particular effort that you felt was very taxing, you could then target some specific activities to look at if you don’t have a 3rd party service (Strava,, etc.) that can aggregate that sort of data for you.

Max heart rate summary: probably better to judge this by actual values you’ve recorded and how close to red line you felt when you got to that number.

Next heart rate vs. power…

My personal experience is that what Zwift thinks are my heart rate zones bears no relation to what Zwift thinks are my power zones. I train with power and just ignore heart rate, other than it serving as a quick cross-check on how much harder I can go when it’s getting hard. Maybe you are the same as me.

Next V02 max, zMAP…

Unless you’ve been in a lab, V02 estimates are literally ‘estimates’. They are based on the types of activities you will have been doing recently. FTP Builder plan gives you lots of foundational work and tempo by the looks of it. There’s not a lot of ‘red powers’ for example in the list of workouts. (Why would there be… it’s about building FTP, not Sprints!). So whatever is estimating your V02 max (I’m assuming you’re getting it from Garmin as you mentioned that in your comment) has only seen these sort of workouts for the last 5 weeks and that is the only data it’s got to estimate with. It doesn’t necessarily mean your actual V02 max is less, just the sort of data you’ve been feeding the calculation recently is different to what you fed it before.

Next zFTP… this is the one metric that is related to the thing you’ve been actually training for, although it’s still an estimate, and you’ve said it has increased. That’s a good thing! Of course, even better would be for you to complete another ramp test once you’ve finished the FTP Builder plan and are well rested. Then you’ll hopefully see that your FTP has increased and your hard work has paid off.

Well done with working through the plan. You’ll know from your gym work that you train the things that you are weaker at to get stronger. It sounds like you were a bit weaker at threshold (this is horrible for everyone to be fair) and tempo work and this plan will help you get stronger at that.

I hope that helps.

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What sort of base training did you do before starting FTP builder? The FTP builder plan is not a good place to start if you don’t already have a foundation of regular low intensity riding. If you don’t have that, then I would start by doing a couple months of frequent mostly low intensity rides, gradually building in volume (hours on the bike).

none (besides weight lifting on gym) - I was cycling from time to time on medium distances (40-70 kilometers) on my MTB bike, but those weren’t constant - long breaks to eat something or get some rest etc

thanks for advice anyway, I will focus on low intensity rides after finishing up FTP builder :slight_smile:

so it seems that everything is okay, as I already wrote to Paul - I will focus on low intensity rides, maybe I will get some custom plan or will do Fondo next, thanks!

Lots of good info here.
Remember, you apply stress on the work days but you get faster/stronger on your rest days.


Personally, I would never ever follow any of the Zwift plans or workouts other than the Zwift Academy ones, or with knowledge hand pick the valuable workouts.

You better off writing your own with periodization and energy system knowledge…
if you don’t know how… subscribe to TrainerRoad for a month, and write your customs workouts in Zwift based on those…

TrainerRoad in itself can get boring pretty easy, but their plans logic and rampup test are outstanding! Some people do run both at the same time: Zwift and TrainerRoad.

All that said, the variance in your data doesn’t look normal… maybe affected by stimulants like caffeine, cold medicine, fatigue, and or inaccurate data sources :wink: youngsters and beginners tend to experience the biggest gains even doing everything wrong :slight_smile:

  1. only compare numbers to the exact same Ramp FTP test which you did at the start (using a different workout/test will give you different results)
  2. make sure you have at least 2 full days rest before attempting any FTP test

working out in gym lifting weights is way less cardiovascular stress than cycling, so should expect to feel “easier” (especially if that is what you are used to) (it’s the days after that hurt!)

VO2 max - where are you getting this figure from? generally not accurate outside of lab tests so ignore.

have you even re-done the ramp test since finishing the programme? as not clear from your post. if not → go do one!