Crying over FTP Build

So, I have been racing and decided to do the FTP build. In races my wattage is 141-147. Took the ramp test and said I was 136 watts. Started the plan and I am bored. It has me at low wattage goals (100) and my heart rate hardly moves. Keeps me at “endurance”. Then, I can’t get the wattage or Cadence to “equal”. 100 watts at 85 RPM. I get the RPM up and the wattage goes down. Vice versa. Do I follow the wattage recommendation or the cadence? I am so frustrated it is sucking the fun out of riding yet I want to see an improvement yet feel like nothing is happening. Thank you all in advance!

Welcome to the forum Pinky.

Do you mean the FTP Builder Plan? If so, it looks like it has a good mix of foundation work (zone 2) interspersed within higher intensity workouts.

Are you saying that you regularly average 141-147W across a race? How long a race (in time) are you doing that for? I’m trying to figure out if your FTP of 136W that you got from your ramp test sounds reasonable.

In regards to workouts, focus on the Wattage goals (cadence doesn’t matter in regards to stars - not that stars actually matter!). Depending on your trainer and it’s available you may find doing workouts in ERG mode easier. That way the trainer will force you to the right power and you can concentrate on the cadence part.

I am not a coach, but a lot of workout plans will try and get you to do a bunch of workouts in zone 2 to build a good fitness base so you shouldn’t expect every workout to be working flat out at your limit.

Hope that helps! :grinning:

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Ok, so the Zwift races on Tuesday nights are anywhere from 15-20 miles and takes me from 52-56 minutes (this is all new to me).
So, you’re saying to watch the Wattage more than the Cadence?
I have the Wahoo Kickr Bike. I THINK the ERG mode is on. Not sure, but will research that!
But, your response made me feel better knowing these are not to be “all out” rides!
Anymore assistance would be greatly appreciated! I want to learn and enjoy, but the frustration……… thud……

Hello Pinky,
I can understand how you’d feel frustrated with the situation you’re describing. Fortunately, there’s probably a simple fix that will get you up and FTP-building in short order. I’ve just finished my first long, structured plan in Zwift and can promise you that you’ll be far from bored and frustrated when you get a few things tuned in.

I had a look at your recent activities and their timelines via the Companion app.
If the Tempo workout that you did today felt far too easy, it’s likely that your FTP of 136W in Zwift is below your actual FTP. You can always manually set it higher in your Zwift profile for future workouts, but it’s perhaps a good idea to retake an FTP test to find what that number should be.

Looking at the FTP test you took yesterday, there’s something a little unusual. While your initial power increase line breaks off at a peak of around 189W, the second of your screenshots suggests you carried on riding through the ever-increasing test blocks for a further seven or eight minutes at least, but at lower power. Was there not an onscreen message after you’d peaked and briefly stopped pedaling, asking you to confirm that you’d finished the test? (I’ve only done the ramp test using ERG mode, so maybe, if you weren’t using ERG mode, this message didn’t appear.)

Putting aside that issue, if you peaked at around 189W, that would fit more or less with the 136W result. (Zwift calculates your FTP as 75% of your final minute.)
How were you feeling at the moment that you stopped pedaling at that point? Were you at your absolute limit? Unable to carry on and struggling to breathe in enough air? Because that’s what you need to aim for. And it is a very unpleasant experience. Luckily, it only lasts for a brief moment and then you can stop the test!
But if you stop the test when you’ve still got the ability to carry on, the result will be too low.

I’ve just seen your second post. From looking at your power graph, I’m pretty sure that ERG mode wasn’t working for you during the test. (There have been all kinds of issues in the past week or so after the latest major Zwift update [and then two urgent patches], affecting workouts and ERG mode, so make sure you’ve got the latest version of Zwift installed on your device before trying again.)
If you do another ramp test (after giving yourself a day or so of rest), with ERG mode on, you will be absolutely unable to carry on pedaling once you reach your limit. Aim for absolute failure and I’m betting that you’ll reach a higher final power output, and thus a higher FTP result. Ride On!

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If ERG mode is on during your workout, you should be able to do any cadence you want and the trainer will hold you at the required power. If your pedaling is smooth, the power won’t fluctuate more than +/- 5 watts or so.

That said, apparently the most recent update left some users with no functional ERG mode, so you should

  • verify whether you have the latest update or not (there is a link at the top of the forums, and you can look at your Zwift screen to see if they match), and
  • verify whether or not your ERG mode is on or off during your workout (in the workout pane on companion during your workout)
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Ok, so, I just read about “ERG Mode” and the other day, I thought the machine was broke as yes, I literally came to a grinding halt and thought “Omg! What happened”? I was standing and it was my moving then I heard a noise and boom, back to riding.
So, I just took a screenshot of my last week that I am to do and does this look right?
I appreciate everybody’s help!

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That’s noise sounds… odd. But maybe it’s nothing. If you come to a grinding halt in ERG mode after slowing down and the cranks becoming impossible to turn, that’s cheerfully called the ‘spiral of death’. Nothing to worry about, but good to avoid.

Regarding your screenshot, yes it looks normal, inasmuch as the numbers look to be based on the calculated FTP of 136W. All the workout targe values are rounded up or down in Zwift to the nearest 5W, so the yellow blocks, for example, are getting you to ride at your calculated (but maybe too-low) functional threshold power of 136W. If you found the Tempo workout undemanding, you will likely find all of the other workouts based on that FTP value undemanding, too. Not to worry: if you manually increase your FTP in Zwift, all those values will automatically increase. But to know how much you need to increase them, re-taking the FTP test would probably be a good idea.

I’d suggest first checking out the bike in workout mode to make sure that your ERG mode is working okay. Pick any workout – it doesn’t have to be in the plan you’re on – and check to see if the KICKR bike reacts to changes in your pedaling cadence during a block. If you slow down your cadence, it should feel increasingly harder to turn the pedals as Zwift tries to keep your overall power output constant.

If ERG is working, things are looking good. Either try another workout to see if the one in your screenshot is more challenging, or take another ramp test (with ERG on).

If ERG isn’t working, select the second-from-the-left tab at the bottom of your Companion app (called ‘workout’, I think) when you are in the actual workout. There’s a button close to the center of the screen that allows you to toggle ERG on or off. If Companion tells you that ERG is on but the system isn’t actually forcing you to keep constant power, something’s not right.
At that point, it’s probably a good idea to make sure your installed versions of Zwift and the Companion app are the latest ones. After last week’s major issues, I had to do a fresh install of the Companion app for my workouts to be functioning ‘normally’ again. (Delete the app on your phone, and then reinstall it.)

If doing those doesn’t change anything, I’d turn to your KICKR bike to see if it’s functioning as it should. Turning it off and on again is always a good start. It’s then worth checking the firmware using the Wahoo Fitness app, which I assume you’re also running on your phone).

Wishing you luck with getting everything sorted. Once it’s okay, you can forget the technical annoyances and deal only with the physical challenges of the workouts! :sweat_smile:

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