Lack of progress - no major 4dp change after 12wk block

Just finished up another 12 week block of pure fun, general fitness/all purpose w/strength training. 2w/1wk, moderate volume.

Male, 48, about 160lbs - Vo2max is around 50 based on Garmin

4dp today resulting in:
FTP - 204
MAP - 250
AC - 451
NM - 1136

Half monty test 6 weeks ago resulted in these showing mid cycle:
FTP - 206
MAP - 271
AC - 459
NM - 1099

Previous 4dp was a year before with FTP 215 and similar otherwise but lower NM at around 1020.

My NM does keep going up, which is good I guess. That being said I’m really, really disappointed with everything else as it is all basically within margin of error or trending down. I’ve done near all of the rides (missed 2 in 12 weeks, both just short recovery where I was flying or otherwise unable), did 90+% of the strength training etc.

I am 100% sure I gave it EVERYTHING today, like normal. I am not sure how I didn’t puke.

That being said, I decended into the pain caves and lived to tell the day. What I wanted to say was “LOOK AT THIS FTP” and what I am saying is “Hey I’m still alive.”

Do I just switch to doing MAP blocks? Any idea if I am missing something here or am I just at my max? Sorry, just frustrated.

@Scot What are your goals - just to get higher numbers or are you training for something? During your training, how did you feel you were adapting to the workouts. Did you feel like things were getting easier and you were ready for higher numbers. How are other things going outside of training - are you getting enough rest, eating and hydrating, have any work or family stress that might have affected things during your training or testing periods?

Sometimes training results are not completely linear, sometimes other stress outside of training stress gets in the way and sometimes we just psych ourselves out during testing so we don’t always hit the numbers that we think are attainable.

If you feel like you have been improving throughout your plan and managing other non-bike stressors then maybe try increasing your numbers slightly (1 to 3%) and see how that goes. Note that you need to be careful with this approach. You don’t want to get too overextended and dig a hole for yourself.

Also if you haven’t added some strength and yoga maybe try that as well - it may assist with better breathing during testing and more core strength which always helps when you are cranking through the tough stuff.

Finally, definitely check out the mental toughness program including the workbook which can be found at the link below to set some ongoing and ultimate goals of you haven’t already:

Hope that helps!

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Being frustrated looking solely at numbers is understandable. Some days one can test well, and others possibly not. I have had +20 and -30W swings in FTP alone. This can be mentally frustrating.

How do you feel? How have you been performing in your goals?

I’m in a similar (numbers went down) boat this weekend but not disillusioned nor frustrated. I do test every 12/14 weeks with 4DP so do train against fresh numbers. FTP -2, MAP +16, AC -15, NM -77W since the last test. Been removed from the 300/1000W “club”. It is what it is :person_shrugging:t3: I should feel bummed but I really don’t. The numbers don’t define me as a cyclist.

Having tracked my numbers across 10 4DP and 2 HM tests over the past 32 months, there has never been a steady increase across all numbers all the time. And my expectations have not been that it does.

What I have noticed though is that my CTL/ATL tracking has shown that I have increased my fitness, I feel stronger despite having lower numbers. And when I am on the bike racing, I feel strong. Or weak.

The last 12 week training block I experimented with doing more Z2, upping the total weekly hourly volume expecting to make slow twitch muscles stronger, albeit targeting my FTP, this went down marginally but MAP shut up nicely, highest it’s been ever. Also lost 7kgs but can fluctuate with water weight 2kgs in a day.

We all chase different goals, mine are tied into races and as long as I perform there, my numbers are just that, a number.

I can only commensurate that it’s not great when numbers do go down when having put in the hard work, but you are not alone. I do suggest to test more regularly and to mix up your training trying something different from what you have been doing.

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I definitely appreciate what you guys are saying, but this result is a bit beyond regular disappointing based on previous experience and my own expectation. I get that not every block is going to push me up much, but to put out this much effort and see nothing is extremely disappointing, especially when I know I have done more in the past.

As for the first responder, sir jSampson, I did do the strength training program and have done the mental training before.

What am I chasing? Besides my fast friends on the road, I just want to be able to ride with my group without every ride ending up with shredded chamois (3 group rides per week, 1.5hrs x2 and one 3-4hr) plus a few 1hr solo. This, as per previous riding, means I should be at an ftp in the mid to upper 200 range.

I generally adapt each year by mid-June, but the LOE burns me out by mid-summer as well, so I start to lose motivation so I really want to get ahead of the game for once. This past year did a 12week block with the most training time and Felt good, but ended up with saddle sores and had to stop riding completely march/April. Then had covid June which crushed my gains, then by the time I got to October I hit the wall. At the time I had an ftp around 230-235 as per Garmin. Kind of bounced around on a few minimum effort weeks and started hitting it again 12 weeks ago.

I’m considered a fairly strong rider within my group, with decent reserves and can climb a hill or three, but no racer. That being said, I feel the results here are 100% of what I could give and have been giving my all through the sessions. I could do more time in the saddle, but definitely not much more effort. (nothing more on the test though, I ended the 1M test in tears and stem chewing, so im fairly certain I did it right :slight_smile: )

The question is what should I do now. Another general session like I did but go up to max time? Building blocks of some sort? Is there a plateau I’m hitting and just need to keep repeating this? All of my previous 12wk programs had way more progress than this which is the big frustration. At 204, I’m way, way behind where I need to be from a straight number and previous experience. Could it be a health issue I’m not aware of?

BTW, yes I do have a current health issue, but one that shouldn’t have any effect on my performance. Basal cell carcinoma and using a cream to take care of it and will be done this week. Frustrating, but nothing that should stop progress.

Out of interest, are you regularly calibrating the power meter? I find the NM really hard to test myself as just never get the gears right on the turbo so I take those numbers a little with a pinch of salt - very difficult in my mind to stay consistent but appreciate this isn’t your main bugbear.

I have read that in order to raise FTP you need to also make room for it by raising the MAP so maybe that would be an idea to explore - although I’m not educated to offer actual advice.

Wahoo kickr bike v1, from one of the sales this fall. No calibration required/allowed. I’ve also used a kickr (v5 or v6? The first quiet one) and it has VERY similar numbers, and they also jive with the numbers from my on bike power meter.

While I’m no dc rainmaker with 7 power meters on my bike, I’m comfortable with what I see being fairly accurate.

Even if there was a dramatic difference, the Half Monty should have “reset” my numbers a bit in the middle, so I should (in theory) be able to compare HM and Final results fairly reliably to get a trend.

As for raising MAP, that’s what Wahoo/Suf suggest. I’m just worried if all of my “scores” are going downwards I’m somehow doing something wrong.

Btw, I think the thing with NM is understanding how it picks up your power and where the human body is most able to to lay it out. Basically, at least on the kickr bike and kickr itself, you should be shooting for an rpm range at max output around 100-120 for the majority of the time the song is playing. I start at around 90 rpm with some effort by around 1 out second and start pushing hard. Then start pushing through the gears. in my case I had it set to Level-3, gear 8 and went up to 12 over the course of the push. For some reason it makes my bike very loud, I asked wahoo support but they said it was the rider grunting/yelling incoherently and had nothing to do with the bike.

You arent looking for the sprint like in training starting from a low cadence. high rpm will get real NM power as you are looking for explosive (very short) not continuous in any manner, thats the 1minute of hell at the end :slight_smile:

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Hey Scot, you’re doing 3x chamois shredding group rides a week? Did I read that right? Approx 6 hours worth? Are these the classic fun on the wire threshold the whole way with some sprints thrown in for fun group rides?
Then you’re trying to do exactly what on top of that on the trainer? High intensity sessions? Are you just fatigued? I was doing exactly that a few years ago and dug myself into a very bad hole. 3 bad ass group rides a week and hard trainer sessions on the in between days and one recovery day. It was great, until it wasn’t.
Just stand back and have a look at the whole picture.
With group rides that tough, are you getting at least 2 massive rest days a week?
You mentioned you were doing strength programme? Is this the first time you’ve added it? It takes months to adapt to strength. Numbers will go down. Then they will go up. Even though the SYSTM strength isn’t like lifting heavy, it still reqyires adaptation.
Are you eating enough? Are you pre and during fueling those rides?
Are you getting enough sleep?

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Might have been unclear, if I am trained well the group rides are just rides and are not mixed with my system training program (other than edge cases). What I don’t want is to get to those rides and have them be chamois shredders as that just ends up crushing me.

I want to push and gain in the “off season” (with systm) so that I can come back and do the group rides and have fun right off the bat. In previous years (with other programs) I was able to make gains, get my ftp into the 230 range and all was good, but that was using other programs like zwift and I dont know how reliable the testing really is/was. With systm this year I’ve not seen much in terms of the gains that I would like to see (quantitatively) that gives me the expectation of my fitness level for the summer riding outdoors with people.

I am eating enough, weight is not decreasing (even though I have more than a few lbs to lose). I pre fuel, and have 1/2strength scratch or a banana or whatever on most rides. Depends on the length. Over 90 minute I go full strength and have a bit more pre/during. Post is always a meal.

I get my sleep as well.

Training program was just the 12wk w/strength and yoga, nothing more or less.

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I definitely feel your frustration.

Do you happen to have results from before the 12 weeks? If I‘m understanding it correctly, we‘re comparing results from a HM to a FF. That mightbe part of the problem. You just might be freaking good at ramp tests. Maybe you responded really well to the first 6 weeks of training. Maybe both.

@Scot Thanks for the detail. My numbers dropped last year (travel, family stress, sickness) so I might have some perspective that is helpful. I ended up just accepting the numbers and not beating myself up and have been working mostly on threshold and sub-threshold blocks and seeing some progress. I would think those sorts of things would be helpful for you with respect to getting on par with your group rides.

What is odd is that my racing last year overall was great despite the lower numbers so that was why I mentioned the possibility of wonky testing in my post above.

Could it be a health issue - sure. Stuff like iron deficiency could be a factor or maybe something connected to your current treatment is messing things up. Obviously we wouldn’t be able to diagnose that sort of stuff in this thread.

I feel your pain. I have been training for 1.5y now in Wahoo SYSTM and those tests can give me similar results:
I recalled first time I did a half monty it adapted my FTP and MAP but no way I could finish the next workouts with those numbers, so I had to dial down the settings for each workout (went from 100% to 96%, and even then …). A few months later I had an injury. 2 months off the bike.

In September 2022 I started again, without retesting but dialling it down to 90%. Week after week I increased that number and it’s been at least 6 months now I am actually doing the trainings at 100%. Yay, progress! (you would think?).

So I did a new Half Monty, and the results were LOWER than the one I did 10 months ago. If I were to train using those numbers the sessions would simply be too easy.

It’s clearly not an exact science, and there is a lot more involved than knowing if you can bench press more weight, since a lot of systems in your body work together and you need to have the “perfect storm” to hit the highest numbers. Maybe your cardio was the limiting factor, and now it’s your muscles? This is something I see. Before, I hit my max heart rate a lot. Now my muscles burn out before hitting that max heart rate. I presume the weakest link in my body has shifted.

Now let’s take this outside: numbers are one thing, but what counts is what happens when we ride. In my case I became a stronger rider and can ride a lot longer without feeling it for 3 days afterwards, but what was even more apparent is that there are some 3 minute climbs on which I haven’t improved one bit in 1.5y of training time-wise, however at the top of the climb my heart rate is 8-10BPM lower than 1.5y ago.

It’s hard to stay motivated because let’s be honest: indoor riding sucks and we only do it because we know why we do it. If on top of that you don’t see your numbers increasing (it’s like going to the gym and pushing the same weights for 1 year) it can be really demotivating. But what counts is what happens outside on the bike. Do you feel better? Can you ride longer? As long as that is ok you’re improving.

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This is a good word. We have so many numbers now, so many ways to quantify and track our exertion, our recovery, our fitness, our performance. We have studies of what’s going on in our bodies at a molecular level, and we have devices that can capture all kinds of data about us. Information is great, but we have to remember its place. If various metrics show stagnation but I feel good about my riding, which is more real? And are these metrics actually a full and stable representation of me as an athlete, or are they capturing momentary fluctuations and therefore a minor part of the story?

This may not be anything the OP needs to hear, but it’s helpful for me at the moment. A long indoor season can mess with your mind :slight_smile:

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