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Old 09-07-11, 01:08 PM   #1
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Why can't I increase my FTP?

I finally got serious about training with power this spring and did a full set of tests to get my FTP, 5 minute, 1 minute, a 5 second power, then I've been redoing them every month to adjust my workouts. I started at 3.8 w/kg, 4.5, 7.5, and 10 (yeah, my sprinting sucked). My workouts have been a steady diet of 2x20s at 90% ftp, 5x5s at 105%, 20k TTs, and 2-3 hours at 85%.

Did the tests again this week and came out with: 3.85, 5, 8.2, and 17.5. And it's been the same all summer, FTP holding steady, but 5 minute 1 minute and 5 second power all improving steadily.

Anyone have any suggestions on where to go with my training? My racing is 100% time trials and triathlons, so all my improvement is coming where I don't need it as much, and where I'm trying to increase just isn't going up. My season is pretty much done so I want to get into my off-season training and set up a plan to work on FTP. I just don't really know what to do.
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Old 09-07-11, 01:37 PM   #2
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Do you do all of the tests on the same day? If so, that could be a problem. There is no way you could test of all those things in a single day without skewing the results from previous tests.

Also, what are you using to test your FTP? 20min test?

Hopefully someone will move this to the 33 so you can get some better answers.
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Old 09-07-11, 01:43 PM   #3
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What can you tell us about your training plan?

I have had terrific success with the training plan in the back of the Allen-Coggin book.
That, and checking out yoga--deep, focused yoga breathing was at least another 15 Watts on my 20-minute test, and I suspect I might be able to improve on my breathing a little further.
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Old 09-07-11, 01:47 PM   #4
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I finally got serious about training with power this spring and did a full set of tests to get my FTP, 5 minute, 1 minute, a 5 second power, then I've been redoing them every month to adjust my workouts. I started at 3.8 w/kg, 4.5, 7.5, and 10 (yeah, my sprinting sucked). My workouts have been a steady diet of 2x20s at 90% ftp, 5x5s at 105%, 20k TTs, and 2-3 hours at 85%.
Make your workouts harder.
- Try the 2x20's at 100%. You should be able to do 20min at 105% when rested so 100% should be doable. A different threshold workout is 6x5x1 @ 106-108%. Do 6-8 intervals at 106-108% of your FTP with a 1 min rest. The first couple should feel reasonable and you should be seriously suffering on the last two.
- The 5x5's should be more than 105%.

Don't do these in the off-season. Wait until your build starts for next season.
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Old 09-07-11, 01:48 PM   #5
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Do you do all of the tests on the same day? If so, that could be a problem. There is no way you could test of all those things in a single day without skewing the results from previous tests.

Also, what are you using to test your FTP? 20min test?
Nope, doing them individually with a day between them. FTP test is always first though. And I have been doing the 20 minute x .95 thing, but I've done every test on the exact same stretch of road (steady climb on good pavement) just to try to keep a little consistency in it.
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Old 09-07-11, 01:52 PM   #6
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What can you tell us about your training plan?
My training plan is basically 6 day cycles, 2x20s, easy day (or rest), 5x5x1s, easy day (or rest), 2-3 hour ride, easy day (or rest), and repeat. I do stick in about 40-50 miles of running and 3-4 hours of swimming in there as well. Every ride has a roughly 20 minute warm up and cooldown as well.

I'll give harder workouts a try, see how those feel.
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Old 09-07-11, 01:56 PM   #7
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You can push up your FTP or you can pull it up. If you've plateaued with what you're doing, you need to mix it up.

Try doing some longer tempo work, i.e. two 45 minute efforts at a notch below your 2x20's.

This would be particularly good at this phase in your program.

Do a couple of solid week s of that, and you're likely to see your FTP go up.
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Old 09-07-11, 01:57 PM   #8
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rpeterson, mind if I move this to the racing subforum? Probably get better results.
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Old 09-07-11, 01:58 PM   #9
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rpeterson, mind if I move this to the racing subforum? Probably get better results.
Go for it.
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Old 09-07-11, 01:59 PM   #10
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well, FTP isn't exactly a blazing fast protocol, ya know... throwin bandwidth at it won't do a helluva lot, to a point...
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Old 09-07-11, 02:01 PM   #11
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I'll give harder workouts a try, see how those feel.
I'd disagree with trying to go harder on your intervals right now, because of the phase your in. Busting out 2x20's at 100% of FTP is going to be hard, mentally and physically. If you're doing that repeatedly in September, it's going to be hard to sustain that through say next July.

Personally, I think you'd be better off with some variety in what you're doing, including the SST or tempo training, with the goal being to push a higher wattage on your threshold work when you get closer to competition.
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Old 09-07-11, 02:05 PM   #12
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I've had similar results as you this season (little FTP increase) despite a somewhat similar training schedule, though I've added more tempo, endurance, and hills - no running or swimming. After analyzing the data, my current assessment is that while I stuck to a rigid schedule through May, my summer months lacked consistent intense intervals in lieu of keeping my TSS above 90. However, your schedule sounds like what I "should" have done. So I don't know why you haven't seen improvement - except needing more intensity. Hmm.
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Old 09-07-11, 02:28 PM   #13
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If you are doing TTs and tris, I would focus on longer hard rides and ftp. I would not test your sprint, 1 minute or 5 minute power.

2x20 @ 100% with 10 minutes recovery should not be too hard.

What distance do you do for triathlon?
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Old 09-07-11, 03:39 PM   #14
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I only test them because I'm anal about having the data so I can compare myself to myself. I do sprint and Olympic distances, so the longest bike leg I do is a 40k.
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Old 09-07-11, 03:46 PM   #15
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90% of ftp is SST (sweet spot training). You should be able to do more than 40 minutes of that, and more than 20 minutes without a rest period.
SST is supposed to be good for FTP training because you can do a lot more time at 90% of threshold than you can at 100%.
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Old 09-07-11, 04:02 PM   #16
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personal experience:

250-255W at 154lbs early November. I built up some "base" and started interval workouts in late January. I don't think my FTP went north of 260W in March. Certainly, i couldn't do 2 FTP intervals at 265W. My base then eroded and i was overreaching.

Spent one week re-doing base, including a 400 TSS (more like 365 if i account for the increase in FTP), and two weeks later i was doing 2x25x6 at 270W (69kg) with ease. I then got injured and did jack squat for 6-7 weeks, and restarted by doing a long ride (~300 TSS) every week for three weeks. Without having done anything more strenuous than high Z3, my FTP went up to ~275W in early June.

PS. I'm just a slow fred.

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Old 09-07-11, 05:27 PM   #17
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My training plan is basically 6 day cycles, 2x20s, easy day (or rest), 5x5x1s, easy day (or rest), 2-3 hour ride, easy day (or rest), and repeat. I do stick in about 40-50 miles of running and 3-4 hours of swimming in there as well. Every ride has a roughly 20 minute warm up and cooldown as well.

I'll give harder workouts a try, see how those feel.
What about rest weeks? One way to beat the crap out of yourself and not go anywhere is not getting enough rest. FTP intervals demand longer rest when done week after week.
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Old 09-07-11, 05:47 PM   #18
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Don't want to turn this into a tri thread, but what's your strongest and weakest of the 3?

Are you trying to ride the Olympic bike leg at FTP? What level do you aim for for sprints?
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Old 09-07-11, 06:08 PM   #19
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I am not a coach, I haven't written a training bible, and I am not a racer with awesome results, but ... I have been around the block a few times and know a little bit.

Do your 2x20's above threshold. Don't worry if you "fail" deep into the second one. Instead you should worry if you don't. That would mean that you probably didn't go hard enough.

Do lots of SST rides in the 1.5 to 2 hour range. Do three or four such rides for every "2x20 to failure" ride.

The idea is to both "push" and "pull" your FTP. The SST rides give a good "push" and the over threshold 2x20's give a good "pull". The "pull" is much harder to recover from, hence you do a lot less of that.

Remember that you paid $0 for this training advice. It is very old school and I think that any copyrights have now elapsed.
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Old 09-07-11, 06:15 PM   #20
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I haven't taken any straight weeks off, but I always take a few days after a race, so maybe 3 or 4 full rest days a month with a few more that are just easy swim days.

As for my strengths, I'm pretty even across the board, but confidence wise it's run, bike, swim. In an Olympic I aim for 90% FTP, in a sprint maybe 110 or so. I avoid flat fast courses as a general rule though.
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Old 09-07-11, 07:05 PM   #21
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What about rest weeks? One way to beat the crap out of yourself and not go anywhere is not getting enough rest. FTP intervals demand longer rest when done week after week.
What he said. I think you could definitely benefit by working on a plan that included base miles for a period of time, build segments, and DEFINITELY rest periods. Also, nutrition, STRETCHING, and proper recovery (compression, etc.) are key for me.

Good luck.
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Old 09-07-11, 07:30 PM   #22
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every 4th week i cut my volume in half for a week and reduce my intensity to one midweek group hammerfest.
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Old 09-07-11, 10:01 PM   #23
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put some tape over your display. put some awesome toonz in your earbuds. re-test.
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Old 09-08-11, 06:51 AM   #24
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put some tape over your display. put some awesome toonz in your earbuds. re-test.
GREAT advice! Even when doing plain ole interval workouts (i.e., not testing), I'll look at the computer for the first few seconds to ensure I'm in the right zone, but after that I just go by feel and try not to look at the computer. I am often surprised at the high numbers I see; when I look down and start paying attention to the numbers, inevitably they start to drop.
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Old 09-08-11, 07:15 AM   #25
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GREAT advice! Even when doing plain ole interval workouts (i.e., not testing), I'll look at the computer for the first few seconds to ensure I'm in the right zone, but after that I just go by feel and try not to look at the computer. I am often surprised at the high numbers I see; when I look down and start paying attention to the numbers, inevitably they start to drop.
That could also be because the high numbers are an indication that you're going too hard
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