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  1. #1
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    Where to set FTP and w/kg goals coming off a low base?

    I am a 46y/o male looking to improve my hill climbing and flat land speed on the MTB. I live and ride on the east coast in an area with short, but intense climbs and lots of technical single track terrain. When I look at where I rank on my local trails on Strava, I am in the 40th to 50th percentile on climbs, and in the 75th+ percentile in descents. Clearly I need to improve my fitness, lower my weight and improve my strength in order to improve my overall speed and climbing abilities.

    I bought a Wahoo KICKR 2, and invested in a Quarq XX1 DZero power meter for a new bike that is being built hopefully this week. The weight is coming off nicely so far, as I am down to ~208 from ~221 in just under 4 weeks. I'm using the Isagenix shakes and bars to replace 2 meals and some snacks because of the high quality ingredients and solid nutrition they provide, and eating a very sensible clean, healthy meal. I expect the pace of weight loss to slow, as the early pounds tend to be the easiest. However, I hope to maintain a ~2 pound/week weight loss for another 10-20 pounds.

    My 8 minute FTP test using TrainerRoad 2 weeks ago put me at 216, or about 2.3 w/kg based on my new current weight. It was a bad test I'm sure, given both 8 minute efforts look like smilely faces. Given where my HR was at the end of the 2nd test (179bpm), I might have had a little more left in the tank, but not too much. Regardless, I came out too hard and had to back off, then had some left towards the end and put the gas back on. My age based theoretical max is 174, and on a fairly recent early season ride I was able to get it up to ~187. By comparison, in the middle of last season when I was in considerably better shape, I would rarely be able to get it up above 182.

    While I think the 216 is a bit low, given the TR workouts have not been too difficult, I am keen to understand just how aggressive I can set my goals for FTP and w/kg. For example, I finished the 60 minute Monitor workout last night hitting my power targets consistently and at a "moderate" heart rates of 148, 156, 158, 166, and 169 at the end of each interval. When I am really working hard on the bike my HR will eclipse 174--my max achieved HR this year was 187. I was approaching 174 in the last interval, but felt like I could have fairly easily done one more interval before my cadence or heart rate would have deteriorated. In fact, I think a large part of the reason my HR went up to 169 in the last interval was because I added ~5 RPM to my cadence for 3 of the last 4.5 minutes of the final interval, and an additional 7 RPM (i.e. 12 RPM from my base RPM) for the final 1.5 minutes--in total about 7 RPM increase in average RPM for the whole interval.

    This was a a bit of a long background that leads to my two primary questions:
    1) Should I bump up my FTP for the remaining 4.5 weeks of my Sweet Spot base program in TR now, and if so by how much?
    2) Based on the TR projections of 3-4% improvement over a 6 week plan for FTP, is it reasonable to expect that I could get my FTP up to ~250 over the course of five 6 week sessions, while I am losing weight? I.e. 3% growth per session implies it is possible. My goal is to drop another 30 pounds in weight to get down to ~178 (78.6kg) and to increase my FTP to ~250 to get to a ~3.5 w/kg. Is this realist and aggressive goal, is it perhaps too low, or am I out of my mind?

  2. #2
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    Not gonna tell you how to get there but if you're for real on this you goals seem very doable. Weight will likely be more difficult than raising the ftp, especially once you get close to the 180-5 range depending on height.

  3. #3
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    Having used TR for some time now, here are some thoughts:

    - Are you doing low/mid/high volume? You might be able to add in some TSS (think fasted Dans or Pettit) if your volume is easily manageable and you have extra time. Or,

    - If you're breezing through the workouts, bump up your workout intensity a few % points and see how you feel. 3-5% might be reasonable based on what you're saying and my experience.
    Since you have 4.5 weeks left (1 of those being a recovery week)... it doesn't make sense to me to retest & start over, or to wait until the next block to retest. You can do a lot of sweet spot work with minimal recovery, but you shouldn't be burying yourself in those workouts either.

    - What are you trying to gain with the 5x 6-week blocks? If you're following TR's plans, I'd suggest you do the base 1 & 2, do a build phase (8 weeks). If you're wanting to repeat the base efforts, I think you'll miss out on a lot of potential FTP gains due to the changes in the workouts so wouldn't suggest that.

    - When you finish a build phase, take a week or two recovery and then decide what you want to do from there. You may wish to just maintain fitness, or you may be ready to retest, restart base, and hit it hard again.

    216->250 seems pretty doable, i've followed the same path and had similar success. Don't get derailed when life happens... you'll miss workouts, you might get sick, just jump back in and don't overload yourself.

  4. #4
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    I've been doing TR since 2013 and getting good at FTP tests is something that is going to take time. I still loathe them but I am pretty smooth with the 20 min test.

    Kick the FTP up if the workouts are too easy, sounds like you had a mediocre test, no sense working at too low a level. Also, I see no reason why you can't get your FTP up to 250 or higher (depending on how consistent you are and how much muscle mass you started with).

    Here are my suggestions though:

    Low, Mid, and High volume.... if you are doing low volume because you can only get on the bike for the 3 days a week, but can spare some extra time on those nights, I would recommend subbing the tuesday/thursday workouts from the parallel high volume plan. Many are the same workout with +2 etc. added to them. Those longer workouts are going to help immensely when you go on long rides.

    On HR - forget about it, you are training with power now. Unless your doctor says otherwise, look at it after your workout, it is not relevant and will usually play with your mind anyway. Besides, those HR tables for age don't mean anything. I have found when I am just off the couch or have been sick, I see stuff above 200 for the first week or so. Once I get dialed in, I'll be killing myself to get over 180 (my resting HR also goes down about 20 points too).

    As far as how much power you can make or how much weight you can lose, don't set artificial limits on yourself because that is all you will be able to do. Just train and practice good eating habits and both will come. Consistency is key.

    Lastly, listen to the TrainerRoad podcast, take notes. They have answered all these questions twice already.

  5. #5
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    Yeah, HR is based on how much stress you have accumulated. During hard weeks I have a hard time hitting those high HR numbers even though my powernumbers are in line with expectation.

    I'd stick to the plan during these 8 weeks and retest. If the weeks are too easy, add more stress like mentioned above with Pettit as an example.

    Know though that testing is an art in itself and you will get better at it over time, so do this period and take the test at the end. If you up your FTP, good for you, take the win and go into next period with a nice feeling.

    The 8 weeks will wear on you, especially if you are cutting calories at the same time. Don't try too much at once, it's a marathon, not a sprint.

    Take it from one who has gone down from 125 kg to 92 kg during a couple of years, I've gone from 280 W/107 kg FTP in 2013 to 354 W/92 kg.

  6. #6
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    Excellent advice, folks and a sincere Thank you! I have a 1.5 hour TR trainer ride scheduled tonight, and I am going to bump my FTP up to 220 from 216 to see how that goes on the longer ride.

    While I am doing the low volume plan, I am including an intense outdoor session on the weekend, so 4 days and about 4.5 hours on the bike a week.

    While the weekend ride is only about 48-55 mins on the bike, I am completely gassed after the ride and running at a pretty high heart rate (~162 - 165 BPM average). It is a 5.3 mile technical loop with a few short intense climb/descents and one relatively big STEEP climb and moderate descent. Overall about 670 ft of climbing. My goal is to clear the big steep climb by the end of the season.

    I know the HR data isn't as meaningful, but my RPE is materially in excess of any of the TR workouts completed so far. I can't wait to get the new bike and power meter to have a better handle on exactly how much I am putting out.

    I've listened to all the MTB Podcasts and am working my way through the TR Podcasts now. I think my 178 lb target should be very achievable, given my 6' height and the -implied BMI is ~24.2 and at the higher-end of the "normal" range for my height.

    I'm going to take my inspiration from you rocketfuel--awesome stuff on your improvements in fitness!

  7. #7
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    Have you considered, maybe doing your 5.3 mile ride several times in a row, or finishing and then going around the opposite direction each weekend? You are getting your structure intervals inside, this is where you are going to be able to build power. Outside is where you need to build skills and is also a good place to build some endurance.

    Make sure you keep an eye on endurance training. HIIT might be great if all you plan on doing is short high power rides, I used to think I could do it all with HIIT but when I got outside for epic rides, I would hit a wall at about four hours in and suffer the rest of the day. Since I have upped the endurance side of things, I can go pretty much all day at 80~90% FTP and still have enough fast twitch left for surges and hills whenever needed provided I fuel/hydrate well.

    One thing on the PM and MTB, when you smash down rock gardens, those impacts may register as power, e.g. 2200 watts for 1 second with 0 cadence. If you see this kind of stuff, just know it is not real. (at least this effects my Stages PM, others may have firmware to sense you are not pedalling, therefore, not making power and fix it before it gets sent to the head unit)

  8. #8
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    With adding a 3rd intense ride on the weekend (with Tues/Thurs on the reg schedule being your other intense rides), you do want to fit in some endurance time like Hyper said.

    So while it's probably fun to hit that weekend ride hard, you will be then replacing the normal endurance hours with that ride since I assume you can't/won't do both, fit in some endurance time when you can.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by HyperSprite View Post
    One thing on the PM and MTB, when you smash down rock gardens, those impacts may register as power, e.g. 2200 watts for 1 second with 0 cadence. If you see this kind of stuff, just know it is not real.
    I've heard recommendations on the TR podcast to set up the data with a 3 to 5 second average to help smooth out some of the spikes. Although, that might have been more in the context of being on the road.... The word from my LBS is that the new bike should be ready on Saturday, so I'll get to begin to experience and play around with this stuff hopefully on Sunday.

    I'm going to try to start pushing my weekend fun ride to 1:30 minutes, but with 5 kids, 4 of which are playing sports on 7 different teams, its hard to find that much time.....

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by L84Beer View Post

    I'm going to try to start pushing my weekend fun ride to 1:30 minutes, but with 5 kids, 4 of which are playing sports on 7 different teams, its hard to find that much time.....
    That's what 4am is for. Sucks, but sucks a little less than being slow.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by L84Beer View Post
    I've heard recommendations on the TR podcast to set up the data with a 3 to 5 second average....
    Oh, you'll never see the spikes on your ride, you'll be too busy looking down the trail even if they do show up on the screen. No, they just show up in your data file and do stupid things like this
    Where to set FTP and w/kg goals coming off a low base?-pmthing.jpg

    Lets just say, I am fairly certain I can muster 1100 watts when I go all out.. anything above that is fiction.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by HyperSprite View Post
    Oh, you'll never see the spikes on your ride, you'll be too busy looking down the trail even if they do show up on the screen. No, they just show up in your data file and do stupid things like this
    Lets just say, I am fairly certain I can muster 1100 watts when I go all out.. anything above that is fiction.
    Are you using a Stages?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Plus View Post
    Are you using a Stages?
    Yeah. I think Crank Arm, Spindle and Pedal (although pedals are not a concern in MTB yet) Power Meters would all be susceptible to this unless they had something in their firmware to compensate.

    I don't think this will happen with Spider or Hub based power because the force shouldn't be applied there. So the OP might be fine with the DZero.

  14. #14
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    I've read that most people if they are diligent about it can get to 4w/kg. Beyond that is where genetics start to come into play.

    Been doing TrainerRoad with a Kickr for about 2 years now. (5'11) started at 205lbs, down to 160. FTP started under 250 and while I haven't tested recently, I'm probably in the 310 range given some of my recent power numbers in races.

    Keep on it with the diet and structured training, and throw in a few Zwift races every now and again. I've found them to be valuable in keeping the intensity going once I lose steam on training as it gets warmer outside.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by HyperSprite View Post
    Oh, you'll never see the spikes on your ride, you'll be too busy looking down the trail even if they do show up on the screen. No, they just show up in your data file and do stupid things like this

    Lets just say, I am fairly certain I can muster 1100 watts when I go all out.. anything above that is fiction.
    Although these spikes on rough sections offroad are a known issue with Stages power meters I'm not sure if they occur with the Quarq DZero. I can't recall hearing anything about it with that particular power meter.

    You can clean up the power spikes from your ride files but in order to have a good file for Strava you need to edit the original .fit file to get rid of the bad values. See Post #19:

    http://forums.mtbr.com/xc-racing-tra...es-983066.html

    .

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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    Although these spikes on rough sections offroad are a known issue with Stages power meters I'm not sure if they occur with the Quarq DZero. I can't recall hearing anything about it with that particular power meter.

    You can clean up the power spikes from your ride files but in order to have a good file for Strava you need to edit the original .fit file to get rid of the bad values. See Post #19:

    http://forums.mtbr.com/xc-racing-tra...es-983066.html

    .
    I don't get spikes with the DZero, even on gravel/off road. The DZero power meters are legit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    Although ....
    Yeah, I used to do that, but doing it for every ride is a pain, especially since I dropped the Edge 510 and went with an auto uploading Wahoo (which I've never even attached to a computer), I just can't be bothered.

    Probably also won't bother buying any more Stages for future bikes unless they fix it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HyperSprite View Post
    Yeah, I used to do that, but doing it for every ride is a pain, especially since I dropped the Edge 510 and went with an auto uploading Wahoo (which I've never even attached to a computer), I just can't be bothered.

    Probably also won't bother buying any more Stages for future bikes unless they fix it.
    Agreed, I haven't been impressed with the Stages.

  19. #19
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    I was extremely unimpressed with my Stages, so to the point that I sold it for a DZero crankset.

    One big issue was signal dropping to my Garmin Fenix 3 form the Stages. This meant that when I rode gravel or mountain bike I could get minutes at a time without power data. Stages blamed my smart watch even when it worked with a Quarq during the same conditions.

    I now have either Power2Max or Quarq on all bikes except the mountain bike and they work flawlessly.

  20. #20
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    yeah, I have P2M and Powertap on my road bikes. The Stages on my MTB because at the time there wasn't a lot of options.

    If I were building a new bike, I would probably go DZero because there's still not a lot of options.

  21. #21
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    I set my goals towards what I want to win.

    Do I want to win Strava segments or win races? What category? Then I plot out how much time you have, and how far I need to progress in order to be competitive.

    You should be able to size up your competition, both in weight and power (not to mention skills, which you'll need to continue working on).

    Should I focus on my numbers now, it doesn't really stand to help me most, because I'd be focusing on the present. Set a high goal and try to get there.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Udyr View Post
    I've read that most people if they are diligent about it can get to 4w/kg. Beyond that is where genetics start to come into play.

    Been doing TrainerRoad with a Kickr for about 2 years now. (5'11) started at 205lbs, down to 160. FTP started under 250 and while I haven't tested recently, I'm probably in the 310 range given some of my recent power numbers in races.
    This is very encouraging to hear. I'm 6' even and just tipped the scale this morning at 205.3 lbs. I just bumped my FTP up to 220 on TR because the workouts seemed a little too easy, based on what I hear of other people's experiences on the TR and MTB Podcasts. If I could eventually get to a 3.5+ W/kg, I think I'd be in a pretty good spot vs the ~2.36 where I estimate I am today.

    Ultimately, my goals are simply to improve my overall fitness, get a little better/quicker on the bike, have more strength and endurance in climbs so I have some gas for the fun back down, and to rise up to a group of people I can ride with that easily drop me today.

    Right now, I feel like I'm stuck in the middle with no one to ride with. I feel like a fat boat anchor to the faster guys, and the slower guys I feel waste too much of my ride time--with a big family that outdoor ride time is precious. My perception is that there's a pretty wide gap between me and the two different groups--probably 50% up and 50% down--I'd rather ride up a group than down.

    BTW, I picked up the new bike with the Quarq DZero PM, and the power data is very enlightening. I can't wait to see more data, but I am seeing average power in 2 minute increments on some of my climbs of ~240-280 watts, with 5 second spikes to 500-700 watts. I set my garmin 820 to record 3 second power, so I assume the numbers popping up on Strava are 3 second smooted....?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by L84Beer View Post
    Right now, I feel like I'm stuck in the middle with no one to ride with. I feel like a fat boat anchor to the faster guys, and the slower guys I feel waste too much of my ride time--with a big family that outdoor ride time is precious. My perception is that there's a pretty wide gap between me and the two different groups--probably 50% up and 50% down--I'd rather ride up a group than down.
    Are you my long lost twin? Exactly my story.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by L84Beer View Post
    BTW, I picked up the new bike with the Quarq DZero PM, and the power data is very enlightening. I can't wait to see more data, but I am seeing average power in 2 minute increments on some of my climbs of ~240-280 watts, with 5 second spikes to 500-700 watts. I set my garmin 820 to record 3 second power, so I assume the numbers popping up on Strava are 3 second smooted....?
    With a power meter connected your Garmin Edge 820 head unit will record your ride at 1 second intervals. The data you see in Strava uses this 1 second recording that is saved into the .fit file of each ride.

    The Data Fields that you select to see on the Garmin Edge 820 screen as you ride (Power, Power -3s Avg, Power -10s Avg, Power -30s Avg) don't affect the recorded data, they only affect what you see on the screen. Because your power output riding outdoors is jumpy it can be hard to pace or track if you look at the un-smoothed power Data Field.

    To make it easier to pace to power output the head unit gives you the option to view the power Data Field as a rolling average, 3 seconds, 10 seconds or 30 seconds, so that it will give a less changeable number on screen. A good test is to set up a screen on your Garmin Edge 820 with all four different Data Fields displayed side by side. You can then ride along and compare how each Data Field changes to decide which you prefer.

    I normally use 3 second smoothing on my Garmin Edge 520.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    To make it easier to pace to power output the head unit gives you the option to view the power Data Field as a rolling average, 3 seconds, 10 seconds or 30 seconds, so that it will give a less changeable number on screen. A good test is to set up a screen on your Garmin Edge 820 with all four different Data Fields displayed side by side. You can then ride along and compare how each Data Field changes to decide which you prefer.

    I normally use 3 second smoothing on my Garmin Edge 520.
    I like that advice! And thanks for helping to understand that the data that I am seeing on Strava is the 1s data. I have a lot to learn about all this data collection and how best to apply it to my training to achieve my goals.

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