Did I really lose 80W of FTP in 10 months of riding?

So I tested in March 2020 and had 324 FTP and MAP 373. (yes, MAP is my weakness). I typ. lose to ~280 FTP from March until time to get back on the trainer. This has been the trend the last few years. The reason is I no longer have the weekly “group race” that use to keep me strong, and family schedule in the summer had limited my racing the last few years. So, common for me to drop to 280 or so FTP, and 280-300 comes back fast, and then I really, really have to work for more.
I tried the half monty and got 329 MAP (significant drop but maybe expected since MAP pace is what I did the LEAST of all year). My HR monitor broke during the test so I did not get an FTP. I guesstimated that I was around 280 and started the 4 week FTP block. The first real workout is the FTP progression 1 - 5x6. 5 repeats of 101% of your FTP for 6 minutes. The first repeat felt awful and my HR was well above lactate threshold for most of the interval. Second felt even worse and HR was too high for the whole thing. I couldn’t finish the third. I then backed my effort down to the point where HR was around where it should be (164, not 173…) That effort level was 240-245 watts. Last year I could do that at 145 HR for 30 minutes. Does that huge of a drop sound plausible? I’m 49 and been suffering for about 4 years. Never had a drop anywhere close to this.

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Disclaimer: I am not a coach. In the better part of 10 months I’d guess you can definitely lose a LOT of fitness. I’d suggest you do the Full Frontal prep week and take that test. it will be ugly but it will be worth it. I wouldn’t sweat the results too much cuz even if your current FTP is 240ish, from your own experience, with concerted effort, you should be able to get it back to a level that you’re more accustomed to. I’d think it is important to train from where you are (fitness wise) not from where you think you should be. Then you’ll find the workouts challenging, but not demoralizing. Cheers!

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Thanks! I rode 6000 miles in those 10 months! Shoulda mentioned that. Just not too much high intensity stuff. Thanks! I otherwise hoped to get through the block, then test, then do a couple more 4 week blocks. (I don’t want to test every 4 weeks :slight_smile: Maybe I need to!

A high volume of training doesn’t always cause improvements. These articles might help.

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Just to be sure, did you test with the same power meter unit? In the same conditions?

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@Nicola ,
I have used the same Kurt Kinetic Road Machine trainer for 4 years. I have also used the same bike on the trainer. In the same conditions? It was pretty cold in the garage yesterday but I have worked out in colder. The roller has gradually become more and more “polished” over the years - sprint power measurements are way off due to wheel slippage. I don’t think there is wheel slippage now at the 240-300W level but I guess I’m not sure. It is squeaky and the bike drivetrain has more than 13k miles on it. I’ve replaced chains a few times and the cassette once but the chainring needs it and the whole thing sounds crappy.

@Sir_Brian_M , I did not expect to get FTP improvement with all those Z2/Z3 miles. In fact, I expected to lose about 40W like most years. 80W loss, if real, is a shock to me.

I dont think anyone wants to test that often, but, you do need to test in order to determine whether your FTP has actually dropped and by how much. I’d say you have a date with Full Frontal, where, after you clean up the vomit, you can pick up knowing your numbers are right. COURAGE!

Hi all,

I know I probably just need to test again. I guess my main question for everyone is whether you have seen/heard of/experienced this drastic of a power loss while still actively riding. I didn’t do a LOT of high power efforts over the 10 months off the trainer but I did some now and then. Trying to see if it is a plausible loss. Maybe I have to get the trainer bike fixed up as well so I’m wondering if anyone has seen this. Thanks!

Yup I have seen a similar loss over the last year, recovery from orthapedic surgery, loss of the ability to ride or workout properly for the last 11 months has all led to a 27w decrease in FF just on FTP, map and AC down as well. Just started another plan, hoping it will all come back

Those stats make me jealous! I lost 90 Watts from November to now - eating well and still riding. I thought it was the trainer so recalibrated. no such luck! The one thing I was ‘missing’ was rides outside at fairly high intensity and 2 hr plus - owing to general life commitments. Miles and riding fast outdoors does work if combined with sensible training principles so from jan I’m heading outdoors and letting mother nature throw her best at me, hills, wind etc.
On the same subject on outside rides I think you know when you’re strong and not - it’s easier to tell so if you ever doubt the numbers indoors, maybe head out and see if it corresponds to your experience on the road.

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I came on here as I have experienced something similar… My previous setup was Tacx Vortex on Zwift, but just picked up a Kickr Snap and thought I would give sufferfest a go. FTP has dropped from the 240-260 (6 months ago) range to 150. I would have expected a loss but never dreamed it could be quite so significant. Certainly the pedalling felt heavy just to get up to 200w on my screen. Not sure if it’s my legs, the trainer or the software. Unfortunately everything changed at once so will likely never know, but if I stick with the single platform and trainer from now at least it is always calibrated against itself!

The Tacx Vortex has an optimistic power curve, many dumb trainers do. Your actual power generation is simply being more accurately reported.

Like Sir Brian says, changing trainer gives you apples vs oranges numbers. Your new trainer is probably more accurate, unfortunately. So impossible to say how much power you actually lost, if any

My FTP has been pretty consistent this winter following the 12 week all-purpose road plan. HM test recently indicated a slight loss in FTP (-7W) but an increase in MAP (+9W). Considering how much lower my training volume is compared to summer, I’m pretty happy with that. FF test coming up soon, which is the only way to confirm gains and losses for sure.

I think this is not unusual. It sounds like you were missing high quality. If you keep overall volume the same but reduce the quality, some performance parameters will probably go down. A few other things:

  1. You can find doing the same thing year over year yields different results because your body changes. I’d bet that the getting and staying fast over 40 article touches on this.
  2. Even if you compensated for the reduced intensity by increasing volume–which can lead to long, long-term gains, sort of like an Olympian in year 1 of their 4-year olympiad cycle–that can STILL result in decreased power parameters in the short term, even if you’re getting long term gains.

Btw, i understand the point that the base training article is making but i don’t love it, mostly because it makes it sound like it’s an either/or question and i don’t think that’s true. Like i think it’s been demonstrated that long rides are still beneficial (and if they get long enough, then they have to be slowish), even if you’re not training 25 hours. so that whole thing “you need to train 25+ hours to get benefits from LSD” is true i guess but only if you’re ONLY doing LSD so it’s also an oversimplification.

Fact is, you could get benefits if you added a long ride (or better yet, two long rides) each week alongside your steady diet of SUF intervals. I don’t think anyone would argue with that.

When Sir Mac Cassin speaks, I pay attention. And likely anything he tells us is a simplification in order for us to understand what he is saying. I’m not inclined to disagree with his conclusions.

I get the phenomenon; I was mostly specifically wondering who had directly seen or experienced that level of drop (80 W or 25%) in similar circumstances. Either way I now have a baseline and I’m back on the trainer with SF.

(Trainer is in the unheated garage - kinda hard to get started in the winter but the cold air helps more than hurts. In the summer I find it VERY hard to use! )

what makes you think i’m disagreeing :slight_smile:

okay then i’ll rephrase, i definitely have too, although i had to query, is it really FTP that dropped, or is it the 20 minute power that i used to measure it? They’re correlates but not th same thing