FTP Not Increasing

To All,

I have completed the 6 week FTP Build and an now in week 4 of Build Me Up plan. I performed my FTP test but unfortunately I did not see any improvements. I remain at 178 ftp.

A little about me. I ride a Cannondale Quick CX3 bike on a Wahoo Kickr Snap. I am 51 years old and weigh 225lbs. I generally ride 45-60 minutes 4-5 times a week. Like all of us my time on the bike is limited to family reasons, married, full time job, 3 kids. etc…

I ride in ERG mode on my workouts unless I cannot hold the required watts. If I cannot hold the watts I will switch off ERG mode for 30 seconds, try to maintain watts that way for 30 seconds, then switch ERG mode back on. I will continue to do this until the required watts drops back down to a level I can hold with ERG mode on. I do this because I am thinking at least 30 seconds of holding the watts is better than not holding at all.

I feel my FTP is pretty accurate because my last FTP test I gave it all I could, I “emptied the tank” and felt like I gave it my all. During my workouts as discussed sometimes I will really struggle to hold the required watts, so I think my FTP is accurate.

I try not to focus too much on my FTP as my purpose of cycling is for mental, physical and emotional health. I am not competing against anyone except myself. But… sometimes I get frustrated because I want to improve…I want to progress…I want to get better but I have not seen the results (higher FTP, greater speed, better climbing ability, longer endurance)

My questions are… can I expect to be stuck at my current level of cycling fitness because of my weight and age? Will the gains eventually come if I continue to perform training plans to the best of my ability? Should I increase my amount of time on the bike (longer rides, more days)? Should I rest more in between workouts? I feel like I am already working hard and don’t know if I can work harder, I wonder if I need to work smarter?

I understand there is a lot to this topic, I am looking for any sort of guidance or experience from my fellow Zwifters on how to improve.

Thinks that come to mind:

Those are good programs, but results may vary. It can be that you need to take some rest befor taking a FTP test.

I am not a trainer but I can recomend reading the book Fast After 50 by Joe Friel or The Cyclist’s Training Bible

Makes sure that any training plan you follow has a rest week every 4th week. You could be fatigued.

If you want to get fitter then I would recommend Trainerroad’s training plans over what Zwift offers. Much better thought out and if you do your FTP test correctly then you should be able to complete most workouts completely in ERG mode. They also offer workout variations with harder and easier versions. I sometimes opt for an easier version of the same workout if I’m not felling 100%

At 51 with an FTP of 178 you could improve a lot. I’m 57 with an FTP of 310. I train a lot however and have built up to this over a long time.

BTW do you calibrate the Snap every time you use it and after warming it up for 10 minutes? You need to otherwise power readings won’t be consistent.

Hello Nigel,

Thanks for responding. I did TrainerRoad last year (Oct '17-Apr’18) I saw an FTP increase from 192 to 201… but… my training was on a dumb trainer (CyclOps Fluid 2). Then I bought my Kickr Snap in October '18 did an ftp test with it and came out to 178. So Either the Fluid 2 was over estimating my FTP or I lost fitness over the summer riding season. I don’t think I lost that much fitness over the summer as I rode 5-6 days a week with increased mileage and some PR’s.

Glad to hear at 57 you have a great FTP, it give me hope that at my age I still can improve. Also nice work on that ftp, you have must have been working hard with dedication.

I calibrate my snap every few weeks, and check my tire pressure every 4-5 rides. The Snap has falling within the parameters after each test so I think that is good.

I usually FTP test every 6 weeks, but I do not rest every 4th week. I very rarely rest, If I had time I would probably ride everyday. Sometimes when I have ridden 9-10 days in a row but some of those rides are short (30 minutes) easy recovery rides.

Hi Scott

My old trainer is a Fluid 2. I still use it when I travel away. It’s power for me is understated by around 20 watts or so compared to my power meter on Trainerroad using their virtual power and 30 - 40 watts understated using Zwift’s zpower. I’ve also had a Snap before exchanging it and then ultimately getting a refund as the power was all over the place. Now using a Hammer which has much more reliable power.

If it was me I would be changing tyre pressure daily as you’ll want to be running at 110 - 120 psi and it can easily drop 10 psi overnight. Then a spindown at least every couple of days even at the end of a ride.

Cheers
Nigel

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Scott, it sounds like you have some mild fatigue that could be affecting your progression. Although you don’t state how long you have been riding I can see that you have completed 10 weeks of training programs.

I would expect those plans to have rest and recovery time however I don’t know as I have never followed one (I create my own training plans).

As previously commented you should, being over 50, schedule rest/ recovery time every 4 weeks. This will help your body take on the previous training load and repair any ailments you have picked up.

It would be worth you keeping a diary of how you feel and when. It is likely you will detect a natural rhythm of your body and your performance.

As a reference I’m 38 have been riding for almost 7 years although I came from a sports background. I work to six week rotations. Meaning that week 1 is easy riding/ recovery building up to week six being eye balls out super hard. I also ensure I have a easy ride at the start of week 3 and week 5 just to let the body relax a little. Last winter I made gains from 225 to 264 FTP over 12 weeks training which equates to 3.8w/kg at my weight. I carry the six week plan throughout summer riding too and will adapt as required if I’m doing an event.

Nigel, I will double check my tire pressure when I ride this evening. My tire manufacturer recommends 90 psi so that is what I inflate the tire to. I will also back off the roller and re-tighten two full revolutions after the roller just touches the tire. I will then do an advance spin down on the snap. I don’t see any power fluctuations on my Snap like you indicated with yours. My power is consistent, with ERG mode I can hold power +/- 10 watts. Of course that power is much lower, 178, not at your level of 310.

Martyn,

I have been riding for 3 years now. The first year was with an old steel Schwinn bike on a magnetic trainer with flat pedals. 2nd year, moved up to Fluid 2 trainer, Cannondale Hybrid bike, with clipless pedals, heartrate monitor, cadence monitor. 3rd year, Kickr Snap, clipless pedals and the full gear. I have made improvements on my outdoor riding as I can ride faster, longer, new PRs as I have trained and upgraded my equipment.

Now I just feel like I am stuck at this level. I must not be training correctly. I followed Traineroads program last year and now following Zwift’s program while mixing in some Zwift race events. I am not expecting huge gains in my FTP but I would like to see maybe a few watts increase every 4-6 weeks. I thought following a training program would get me there. I still must be missing something. I have also started to incorporate resistance training into this off season (Oct-Apr) hoping to gain overall strength. Maybe my next FTP test in about 4 weeks will show some gains. Thanks for your input.

What tire are you using? A road tire or trainer tire? With my trainer (Tacx Satori Smart) and using a trainer tire the pressure that I used (and I believe it is recommended) is 115 psi.

Hello Paul,

I run Giant’s FlatGuard Sport Tire (700x35c) with 3/4 of the tread worn off so it is almost a slick. I run them at
90 psi.

Can your rim handle a 700x32? If so you can get a Continental trainer tire in that size: https://www.amazon.com/Continental-Hometrainer-Folding-Tire-Black/dp/B009BBWEYO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1546460833&sr=8-2&keywords=trainer%2Btire%2B700x35&th=1&psc=1

Scott.

It sounds like you are on the right track and have everything nailed down. I have a riding acquaintance that has raced at a high level for about 20 years (now a team GB vet). His knowledge of the sport is extensive.

When I first started cycling he warned me that it would take about 4 years of good riding to get to a level good enough to consistently race well and get results. After about 3 years I hit a plateau which took lots of hard work to break through.

You are at that 3 year mark so your body is now adapting physiologically to being a cyclist. Stick with it, train well, train smart and recover correctly. I predict this time next year you will have made good gains and be rolling along nicely.

Paul,

Yes my rim can handle 700x32. I took your advise and purchased the Continental trainer tire. I will install it this weekend. I also re-adjusted the roller tension and checked my tire psi. I then performed a spin down in Zwift after 10 minutes of riding I did see an increase in w/kg during my ride so maybe my Snap needed some further fine tuning. Appreciate the thoughts and advise. Ride On!

Martyn,

Thanks for the words of encouragement. I readjusted the roller tension on my Snap and double checked tire psi and performed a spindown after 10 minutes on Zwift. I did see a slight increase in my w/kg, so maybe my Snap was a little out of accuracy. Interesting comments on it can take a good 4 years before breaking through to the next level. That sounds like me. As discussed I feel like I am stuck at this level. I will definitely keep working at it and try to train smart. That might be my biggest challenge is allowing my body to rest, recover an grow. Appreciate the support and guidance.

Scott,

You also should consider that you may be improving even though you tested the same each time. Remember that an “FTP test” (despite the name) doesn’t actually measure or test your FTP. Your FTP is something that happens physiologically in your body that can’t be directly observed. Even blood lactate levels (as would be measured in a lab test) are only an indirect marker. The 20 minute test uses a model (built based on data collected from other people) to try to estimate your FTP, but it doesn’t measure it.

Why does this matter? Well, it may be that two data points just isn’t enough, for whatever reason. For example, maybe you had a great day on the day of the first test and a bad day on the day of the second test. Or calibration, temperature or tire pressure were different. Bottom line, there’s lots of things that could mask improvement.

Maybe try running the plan (or any structured plan, really) again, keep testing, and see if over time the test results trend upward. Get more data points, see if one or the other of your first tests was a fluke.

The other thing is to look at the power you can consistently maintain for intervals during training, and get a feel for what your FTP is from that. You may not want to shell out for them but software like WKO4 and Xert can do this for you pretty well if you give them your data. Again, more data points!

Good luck!

just reading this… and im intrested in the 6 week plan you got… you say super hard for 5 weeks, then easy one week to recover… then back to hard weeks again? is it possible to see the plan?
rdgs
Ole - Norway

Hi Ole.
It’s not an actual ‘plan’ but more a way of training that I found works for me. I’ll provide some details. Most Zwift rides are 60 minutes but some are up to 90 minutes, road rides for me are on Saturday. Zones refer to power, I use a Stages both on the road and indoor.

Week 1: Recovery - Tuesday Z1 high cadence, Thursday Z1 high cadence, Sat road ride 50 miles with minimal efforts, Sunday Z1 with short Z2 efforts.

Week 2 & 3: Medium Intensity - Tuesday Z2 with Z3 intervals, Wednesday Z2 with longer Z3 intervals, Thursday sustained time in Z3 with short efforts Z4, Saturday road ride 50 miles pushing on selected hills, Sunday Z2 with short Z3 efforts.

Week 4: Tuesday Z2 (mid plan recovery), Thursday Z2 with short Z3 efforts, Saturday road ride, Sunday Z3.

Week 5: High Intensity - Tuesday Z3 with short Z4 intervals, Wednesday Z3 with short Z4 & Z5 intervals, Thursday Z3 and long Z4 intervals, Saturday road ride work hard, Sunday Z3 only.

Week 6: High Intensity - Tuesday Z3 and long Z4 intervals, Wednesday Z3 long Z4 intervals and short Z5&Z6 intervals, Thursday sustained Z4 plus Z5&Z6 ‘attacks’, Saturday road ride work hard, Sunday sustained Z4 with longer Z5 efforts.

It must be noted that I concentrate on climbing. Therefore I don’t spend much time working on full gas sprint efforts. My riding style is to put out high watts for sustained periods of time. I state again that this is in no way scientific but it works for me and has enabled me to hold an FTP of 3.8w/kg over the last two winters.