My FTP Improvement Plan

As you know, I am a big fan of training with power, and FTP (Functional Threshold Power) is a huge part of training with power.  As I have gotten older, I have found that there is no such thing as an off season.  When I was younger, I would not start training until the snow had cleared, but now days I never stop training.  It is just part of what I love to do and part of my life.  Last winter, I did not follow much of a plan other than riding trainer 4-5 days per week for about 1 hour and watching different training videos to keep it interesting.  I was able to maintain my fitness over last winter which allowed me to start my Spring training focused on raising my anaerobic and sprint power.  This winter I am only focusing on one objective….raise my FTP to 400 watts by May 31 (Memorial day).   Okay 400 might not  be achievable for me, but since I just turned forty, I thought it would be an appropriate objective.  I am targeting about 10 watts per month improvement on my FTP to reach my goal of 400 by Memorial day. 

Since August 14, I have been focusing on raising my FTP.  My first 20 min test on August 14 was 322 or an FTP of 306 (your FTP is 95% of your 20 min maximum effort).  My last 20 min test on September 11 yielded a FTP of 325 (342 for 20 min).  I was able to move my FTP up about 18 watts in about one month of focused training.  During this training block, I was doing 3-4 intervals of 20-30 min of length while riding just under my FTP or 280-300 average watts per interval.  I use the interval function on my powertap when doing the intervals with power set on average watts so that I can work to maintain my interval target.

Starting in September I have moved my weekday rides to the computrainer in the basement because it has gotten too dark and cold in the mornings, but my weekend rides are still outside for now.  My basic schedule for the winter will be: 

  Mon Tues Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Workout OFF 2 hr FTP 2 hr FTP 2 hr FTP 1 hr easy 2-3 hr FTP 2-3 hr FTP
Workout OFF 2 hr FTP 2 hr FTP 2 hr FTP 1 hr easy 2-3 hr FTP 2-3 hr FTP
Workout OFF 2 hr FTP 2 hr FTP 2 hr FTP 1 hr easy 2-3 hr FTP Travel
Workout Travel Travel Travel Travel Travel 2 hrs 230watts 20 min Test

My day job typically requires me to travel internationally one time per month.  I have some control to adjust the travel schedule to be spaced one week per month, but sometimes it longer and shorter.  I also know when I will be traveling for the most part next year.  My ability to workout when I travel is also limited because of the busy schedule and availability of equipment.  So basically,  I load up my training hard during the weeks when I am home and then I fully “recover” when I am on the road.  I typically return on Fridays, so I will do an easy recovery work out on Saturday.  Then on Sunday, I plan on doing a 20 minute FTP test.  I will have 8 training blocks of 3-5 weeks of training time with one week of travel before Memorial day.  Each training block will be purely focused on raising my FTP. 

For the winter, my FTP intervals are scheduled to be 4 intervals for 20-30 minutes with 5 min between intervals, which yield a workout of about 2 hours with a training stress of above 100TSS.  As I have started my winter program, my first focus has been maintaining a solid, uninterrupted effort at cadence of 90-100 RPMs for all 4 intervals.  I find that I need to focus on maintaining a high cadence on the trainer or I start to drift downward to 75-80.  Although my most recent test yielded a higher FTP, I was finding it very hard to hold 95-100% FTP (310-325) for all four intervals on the trainer, so I have started with a slightly lower FTP% that I can hold solid for the whole time while maintaining my RPMs.  I am doing the intervals at 85-90% of my FTP (276-292).  As I get more comfortable with the watts and length of the intervals on the trainer, I will increase the percentage closer to 95 to 105% of my FTP.  After each 20 minute test, I will adjust my interval power levels.  

For the winter, I get up at 4:30 and ride the trainer for 2 hour.  I use a computrainer unconnected to the computer to set the power levels for the intervals and use my powertap record the workout.  I keep myself occupied by watching streaming videos from Netflicks or watching race videos.  Currently, I am watching Lost and 24.  Since I most never watch TV, these are new to me and I will be able to watch a few seasons through the winter.  My first two trainer rides, I just got up and started riding without eating any breakfast.  I found that I was struggling to finish my 3 and 4th intervals, but on subsequent rides, when I ate a light breakfast before the ride, I had an easier time finishing the intervals.

I just finished up four days straight days of 4x20s before I left for Asia for a week.  I was hoping to do 5 days but I was just too tired to the fifth day.  I was able to hold the power numbers for the intervals  but I could feel the fatigue building on the 3 and 4 day.  I only had 2 weeks between trips and I got a cold after my last trip for a few days, so my last training block was not very long and not a lot of workouts.  So I was hoping to make up some ground by hitting it hard before I left.  After I return from Asia, I will have 4 weeks of solid training before my next trip, and then my schedule will be more consistent for next 6 months.

During this winter, I am also working to reduce my weight to 165 lbs.  So I am tracking a few key numbers over the winter:  FTP, weight, W/kg, and time per week at 85-105% FTP.  I will plan on update my progress over the winter as I work towards achieving my goals! 

Ride Hard,

Steve