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Questions for Achieving an Ambitious FTP Goal

Old 10-10-23, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by sir_crash_alot
I am shocked by how precise the workouts become
Yes, smart trainers have enabled precision and hyper-structure in workouts. I wish there were more evidence that precision and hyper-structure per se resulted in better performance. That said, structure promotes variety in workouts and if variety keeps your interest up so your volume increases, those benefits seem pretty solid.
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Old 10-10-23, 12:05 PM
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Getting a smart trainer this winter and interested to see how ERG mode works.

It's difficult keeping power consistent when doing intervals on the flat canal path I ride on - slight changes in grade or wind conditions can have power fluctuations 50-70w or more. You have to build up on the power dips, ease up on the spikes. I don't know what is actually better, which system would give better results - if there is any difference at all...

I find it hard to keep power consistent on all out VO2 max intervals. You are essentially flat giving it the beans, and it's easy to overcook the effort.
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Old 10-10-23, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by RChung
I wish there were more evidence that precision and hyper-structure per se resulted in better performance.
Iím curious - are you aware of any contrary evidence?
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Old 10-10-23, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
Getting a smart trainer this winter and interested to see how ERG mode works.

It's difficult keeping power consistent when doing intervals on the flat canal path I ride on - slight changes in grade or wind conditions can have power fluctuations 50-70w or more. You have to build up on the power dips, ease up on the spikes. I don't know what is actually better, which system would give better results - if there is any difference at all...

I find it hard to keep power consistent on all out VO2 max intervals. You are essentially flat giving it the beans, and it's easy to overcook the effort.
You might not like erg mode. I donít. But you will almost certainly be able to do more consistent intervals on a trainer whether using erg mode or not.
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Old 10-11-23, 06:06 AM
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Originally Posted by RChung
Yes, smart trainers have enabled precision and hyper-structure in workouts. I wish there were more evidence that precision and hyper-structure per se resulted in better performance. That said, structure promotes variety in workouts and if variety keeps your interest up so your volume increases, those benefits seem pretty solid.
Assuming riders up to the highest levels are also using highly structured and precise training programs, that their improving performance over the last few years (especially since doping is not as prevalent...I also assume) is evidence enough. Although the boatload of potential confounding variables muddies the waters of this claim, such as improved nutrition and better equipment.
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Old 10-11-23, 06:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
Getting a smart trainer this winter and interested to see how ERG mode works.

It's difficult keeping power consistent when doing intervals on the flat canal path I ride on - slight changes in grade or wind conditions can have power fluctuations 50-70w or more. You have to build up on the power dips, ease up on the spikes. I don't know what is actually better, which system would give better results - if there is any difference at all...

I find it hard to keep power consistent on all out VO2 max intervals. You are essentially flat giving it the beans, and it's easy to overcook the effort.
I too found it a mighty challenge to maintain power consistency at higher loads also on a flat road. I found I either overcooked the effort or had spiky efforts that average lap power would be around the desired range but fluctuated around + or - 50 watts around it.

The trainer has been great for that.
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Old 10-11-23, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by sir_crash_alot
Assuming riders up to the highest levels are also using highly structured and precise training programs, that their improving performance over the last few years (especially since doping is not as prevalent...I also assume) is evidence enough.
That the e-sports champions do not dominate in road or track or MTB or gravel racing suggests that precision in structured training is insufficient. That there are 3000 workouts on Zwift and more on SYSTM and Trainerroad and other platforms designed for a general audience suggests that the benefit is more psychological than physiological. Which isn't to say that psychological benefits aren't real. That actual World Tour pros still do the majority of their training on the road where training dose isn't precisely titred isn't proof, but it is evidence.

The evidence that volume is correlated with performance gains is strong. Things that help riders increase volume without injury or burnout are therefore good things. The evidence that precision in structure per se enhances performance is weak.

Coggan has said, "the name of the book is training *with* power, not *by* power."

Last edited by RChung; 10-11-23 at 08:08 AM.
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Old 10-11-23, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by RChung
The evidence that volume is correlated with performance gains is strong.
Yes. That's the one idea I keep coming back to, year after year.

When I'm not happy with my fitness in a given area, I don't bump up the intensity. I just add more hours. And I get stronger.

Last week, I increased time from 888 minutes to 1139 minutes. Other than a little muscle soreness, I feel great. And my "efficiency factor" (avg power/avg heart rate) is consistently higher this week than last week.
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Old 10-11-23, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by RChung
That the e-sports champions do not dominate in road or track or MTB or gravel racing suggests that precision in structured training is insufficient. That there are 3000 workouts on Zwift and more on SYSTM and Trainerroad and other platforms designed for a general audience suggests that the benefit is more psychological than physiological. Which isn't to say that psychological benefits aren't real. That actual World Tour pros still do the majority of their training on the road where training dose isn't precisely titred isn't proof, but it is evidence.

The evidence that volume is correlated with performance gains is strong. Things that help riders increase volume without injury or burnout are therefore good things. The evidence that precision in structure per se enhances performance is weak.

Coggan has said, "the name of the book is training *with* power, not *by* power."
I donít know about psychological benefits. For me itís more the practical benefits of being able to jump on the trainer and do a targeted efficient workout, regardless of weather and terrain. Most pros appear to use trainers as part of their regime even if they do spend much of their time out on the road.

But I must admit that I hate doing TrainerRoad style classic regimented intervals. I prefer SYSTM workouts, which are more varied and entertaining. I also mix it up with a bit of casual Zwift racing and free riding. I donít use the Zwift workouts at all.
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Old 10-11-23, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
I donít know about psychological benefits. For me itís more the practical benefits of being able to jump on the trainer and do a targeted efficient workout, regardless of weather and terrain.
Me too.

I do occasional structured workouts but mostly when I ride indoors it's just to build volume. This is vaguely related to a recent discussion about Z2.

Put another way, we know smart trainers enable more precise dosage; the question is "does training on a fast-response smart trainer produce better results than on a cheaper smart trainer with laggy response, or a dumb trainer with load determined solely by wheel speed?" Quick responding smart trainers are more fun to train on, and that promotes more volume but if you control for volume does it matter how that volume is generated?

It seems to me that the proliferation of smart trainers has enabled hyper-structured power-based training; there wasn't an existing demand for hyper-structured power-based training before the advent of smart trainers. Smart trainers created that demand.
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Old 10-11-23, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by RChung
That the e-sports champions do not dominate in road or track or MTB or gravel racing suggests that precision in structured training is insufficient. That there are 3000 workouts on Zwift and more on SYSTM and Trainerroad and other platforms designed for a general audience suggests that the benefit is more psychological than physiological. Which isn't to say that psychological benefits aren't real. That actual World Tour pros still do the majority of their training on the road where training dose isn't precisely titred isn't proof, but it is evidence.

The evidence that volume is correlated with performance gains is strong. Things that help riders increase volume without injury or burnout are therefore good things. The evidence that precision in structure per se enhances performance is weak.

Coggan has said, "the name of the book is training *with* power, not *by* power."
I would have guessed that the reason e-sports champion riders don't dominate is because a race context is so different than a trainer context, where you have to read and react to other riders, weather conditions, road conditions, etc...
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Old 10-11-23, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by sir_crash_alot
I would have guessed that the reason e-sports champion riders don't dominate is because a race context is so different than a trainer context, where you have to read and react to other riders, weather conditions, road conditions, etc...
Also less money in e-sports and so the top cycling talent is far more likely to be racing outdoors. Also not clear how much structured training e-sports racers actually do in comparison to outdoor racers.
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Old 10-12-23, 03:09 AM
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Originally Posted by RChung
Me too.

I do occasional structured workouts but mostly when I ride indoors it's just to build volume. This is vaguely related to a recent discussion about Z2.

Put another way, we know smart trainers enable more precise dosage; the question is "does training on a fast-response smart trainer produce better results than on a cheaper smart trainer with laggy response, or a dumb trainer with load determined solely by wheel speed?" Quick responding smart trainers are more fun to train on, and that promotes more volume but if you control for volume does it matter how that volume is generated?

It seems to me that the proliferation of smart trainers has enabled hyper-structured power-based training; there wasn't an existing demand for hyper-structured power-based training before the advent of smart trainers. Smart trainers created that demand.
I doubt that the precision is important, but smart trainers probably benefit time-crunched ordinary riders more than full time pros. If your time is limited (which it is for most people), it's easy to "waste" it riding only outdoors. It takes a lot of discipline to train efficiently outdoors and local terrain can be limiting. A smart trainer just makes it very easy and more bearable to train productively with limited time.

I think any kind of indoor trainer can work in terms of providing a productive workout, but I always failed miserably with motivation before smart trainers, having owned various "clothes hanger" fitness bikes! About 20 years ago I had a Kettler Ergoracer, which had erg mode and programmed intervals. But I just couldn't face using it enough to get any benefit. About 40 years ago I had one of those incredibly noisy turbo trainers, which was more a test of your willpower than anything else!
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Old 10-12-23, 05:20 AM
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Originally Posted by sir_crash_alot
Average wattage for 20 minute effort: 222 Watts
New FTP: 210.9
Current Weight: 62 Kg
Watts/Kilo: 3.5 W/Kg
FTP/Kilo: 3.4 FTP/Kg


Still a long way to go, but progress is happening.
You're well into the Cat 5 territory right now. I suggest finding a cycling club that a racing program.

My local race club has a winter training program, prepping for the spring and summer races. They also do some coaching/practicing for riding fast in a group.

Good luck!

Last edited by BTinNYC; 10-12-23 at 05:27 AM.
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Old 10-12-23, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
If your time is limited (which it is for most people), it's easy to "waste" it riding only outdoors.
"Waste?" On a bike? Every day on a bike is a good day.
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Old 10-12-23, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by RChung
"Waste?" On a bike? Every day on a bike is a good day.
I think what PeteHski means is that a smart trainer can help you make the best use of your time, not that outdoor riding only is completely wasted time. I would think that variety is good, both indoors and outdoors, but indoor trainers with precision are an extremely useful component of that well-roundedness.
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Old 10-12-23, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by sir_crash_alot
I think what PeteHski means is that a smart trainer can help you make the best use of your time, not that outdoor riding only is completely wasted time. I would think that variety is good, both indoors and outdoors, but indoor trainers with precision are an extremely useful component of that well-roundedness.
Yes, exactly. I'm talking in terms of pure performance gain, hence "waste" in quotation marks. It's not a waste of time in a literal sense. One pro cyclist (I can't remember who) suggested that a solid hour on the trainer was equivalent to about 2 hours on the road. That feels subjectively about right for me, but obviously depends on how you are riding and what sort of terrain. My local terrain is very lumpy and difficult to ride at a consistent power level.
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Old 10-12-23, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
My local terrain is very lumpy and difficult to ride at a consistent power level.
I feel your pain, but I'm not sure consistent power levels are necessary to improve performance. Do you know of any dispositive research on this? I'm familiar with some of the work comparing interval training vs. steady state, but the controls are typically weak.
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Old 10-12-23, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by RChung
I feel your pain, but I'm not sure consistent power levels are necessary to improve performance. Do you know of any dispositive research on this? I'm familiar with some of the work comparing interval training vs. steady state, but the controls are typically weak.
I couldn't find any study that you're likely referring to provide the evidence you'd like (i.e. an experiment with either a good control or a large sample natural experiment), but I suppose it matters less to me personally as what the indoor trainer gives to me as a beginner cyclist:
  1. capacity to ride year round
  2. work on particular levels of effort so I get familiar with what those feel like
  3. control of the time (especially as someone trying to start a family).
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Old 10-13-23, 05:49 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse

Last week, I increased time from 888 minutes to 1139 minutes.
Monstrous.
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Old 10-13-23, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by RChung
I feel your pain, but I'm not sure consistent power levels are necessary to improve performance. Do you know of any dispositive research on this? I'm familiar with some of the work comparing interval training vs. steady state, but the controls are typically weak.
I have no idea on the research, but for me it depends entirely on what I'm training for. For example I find riding with consistent power good training for long alpine climbs and flat road endurance events. Both of which I can simulate better on my trainer than I can outdoors locally. My local lumpy terrain is great training for events on lumpy terrain. Specificity of training I guess. Last year I entered the L'Etape du Tour and most of my training for the major climbs was on my smart trainer using Rouvy, riding the exact climbs of the real event. I even rode the 3 major climbs back-to-back on my trainer a few weeks ahead of the real event.
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Old 10-13-23, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
I have no idea on the research, but for me it depends entirely on what I'm training for. For example I find riding with consistent power good training for long alpine climbs and flat road endurance events. Both of which I can simulate better on my trainer than I can outdoors locally. My local lumpy terrain is great training for events on lumpy terrain. Specificity of training I guess. Last year I entered the L'Etape du Tour and most of my training for the major climbs was on my smart trainer using Rouvy, riding the exact climbs of the real event. I even rode the 3 major climbs back-to-back on my trainer a few weeks ahead of the real event.
That smart trainers could directly simulate a course you'll race is something I hadn't even considered...
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Old 10-13-23, 07:31 AM
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On the matter of smart trainers, ERG, and hyper-structured workouts, as someone who has been doing hyper-structured, power-based workouts on dumb trainers for almost 15 years, and having had a smart trainer for several years now, I don’t think “smartness” matters one iota to my results.

I do like smartness from a motivational standpoint; having resistance change with terrain (as in Zwift) does make the riding more interesting than just spinning and shifting gears or otherwise manually adjusting resistance.

Certainly smartness brings back to stationary riding the same kind of effort variability which we find frustrating to doing real world structured workouts on the road, and while I’ve tried using ERG mode to maintain effort consistency, I find I prefer dumb trainers and manual resistance changes to hit power targets, maybe because it feels more natural, allowing me to take little micro-breaks, perhaps.

It may be down simply to my personal familiarity and comfort with power-based structured workouts on dumb trainers from many years of doing it, so I won’t say anything more profound other than that I haven’t found that smart trainers have made my stationary bike workouts more effective.
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Old 10-13-23, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by sir_crash_alot
That smart trainers could directly simulate a course you'll race is something I hadn't even considered...
Yeah, I fnd this very useful. Especially when there are key climbs involved. Most well known climbs worldwide are represented on Rouvy.
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Old 10-13-23, 09:37 AM
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Great discussion

I have been using trainers and rollers for 15 years preparing for races and events. Currently, I own a smart trainer.

Flashback: In 2007, I hired two Russian coaches that formerly ran the Belarus national team. They had a cycling gym with rollers that included support for the bike via the front fork. There was a belt drive from the rear roller to a resistant unit that had 4 clicks. There was no flywheel effect or any attempt to make these really dumb trainers to simulate road conditions.

We were expected to show up at the gym twice per week and ride the rollers and were given workouts - cadence, heart rate, number of clicks on the rollers and etc. I remember showing up and lamenting that it was beautiful outside. The coach says, all the Russians, Poles, Czech, German pros are on trainers. I responded that is because Minsk is still frozen.

He showed my a pic of two cyclists on a two man set of rollers riding side by side without the fork being held. He said he built a 4 man set of rollers but there was no pic. I was curious how two riders got started on rollers.

He told me how he had a junior who trained on rollers and he would take a towel and add resistance to the rear wheel to make it harder. The junior went to track nationals and won.

Flash forward: Most of the countries and cyclists outside Europe and USA do not have the money to buy smart trainers or power meters and they do not have good weather or perfect terrain. They improvise. But many of the best UCI pro tour riders come from these countries. Of course, once they are on a UCI pro team, they have access and finances to hire coaches and get whatever equipment they want.

I set a target event / race and train specifically. A flat time trial that has flat to rolling terrain with wind, I find to be the most difficult to ride and requires the ability to measure effort so that the most effort is applied on the hardest part of the course - climbing and headwind. And one has to be able to maximize speed on the easier downhill portion but not necessarily rest. I have found it takes a lot of practice to measure effort over a course with ones legs that results in a fast time. It is hard to put in effort on the flat, then more effort on the climb crest the climb and then keep power on during the downhill when it is so enticing to just ease up.

I get a workout plan for the week and I spend time figuring out where I am going to ride outside or indoors to accomplish the plan and on which bike - TT or road. Typically, I drive for the terrain I want. It is a hassle but part of the game.

I have found that there is no "perfect" workout, structure or interval. As cyclists, we have our individual genetics, muscle composition, stature and weight. What is in my control is weight and percent body fat. What matters is accomplishment of the goal. How motivated am I to accomplish the goal?
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