Big vs Small Riders?


Helpful, supportive and encouraging, that’s great! It’s inspiring and helpful to read the posts in the forum. I can feel deflated if my expectations are aimed ineffectively or I compare myself inappropriately. I’m at 108kg, more of a linebacker build than cyclist. 102kg would probably be a lower sustainable weight for me. I’m middle of the bell for age/ftp, but also just beginning structured cycling training. While I’d love to see my numbers become ‘cool’, the w/kg calculator says ‘sources say not likely’. So I do better to think about how awesome it is to finish hard TR workouts, or to notice any area of improvement on any ride.


Same here. I am 172cm and with the same w/kg I always struggled sitting at the front. Longer climbs though ? Yes, please!


The key here is ‘on the front’. I’m tipping you can sit in the bunch ok though?

As a heavier rider, I can’t even ‘sit in the bunch’ when the road starts to point upward. I go straight out the back as soon as the gradient goes past about 6%, or more than about 5-10mins sustained climbing on gentler gradients.

This means that you can stay with the bunch over any terrain, as long as you have a wheel to sit on. However, I get dropped whenever there is a decent hill. This is why I agree that larger riders are generally at a disadvantage.


If hanging with the 150 pound guys on the climbs is your goal it’s going to take some major body reshaping. Like Chris Froome kinda stuff. Watts/kg rule there and you just can’t get there at 180+ or more. I guess there was big mig but other than him it’s never happened.

Flat tt, crit monster, or big lead out guy, success will be easier there. Or…emaciate youself and climb lots. I don’t see any other options.


If becoming the best you can be at climbing, there is no other option but to start doing hill repeats (in and out of saddle).

Combined with the rest of the training plan, you will without a doubt get very good at it.

I wouldn’t worry too much about the weight but let the body settle into whatever weight it is supposed to be for that particular type of training.


This is one of my repeated conversations with with people. Everyone at work goes “OMG you train 10 hours a week, you must be nearly pro!” and I have to say, “no, this is what I need to do just to be ok!” (cat 3 in the UK) :rofl:


So I was maybe in a similar position a couple years ago. I’m 6’3", was about 84kg with an FTP of about 270. 2 years on I’m 76kg (and have been as low as 74.5kg) with a late November FTP of 312 (hoping to test about 320 next week). About 10 years ago I was 110kg and pretty unfit, so even now I have a small pouch/belly left over that I could probably shift if I really pushed myself hard.

I train 5 days a week usually, more during SSBHV which I’m just about to finish. I started using my fitness pal to understand calories and macros better. It didn’t happen overnight but I’m a stronger and lighter rider now for it.

The best advice? Perseverance. Just keep at it and don’t stress over a bad week here and there - you’re in it for the long haul! :fist_right::fist_left:


As someone on the other end of the height/weight range, I respectfully disagree. I’m 5’5" and race at a bit under 57 kg. My current FTP is 238, which is already at a 4.2 W/kg. Though I believe it must have higher in my younger years (though I did not train with power then), there is no way I was at 300 watts (5.3 W/kg). Yet I did plenty of crits much closer to the pointy end than the other end as a Cat 3 in the US, though I found a big difference between the typical 4-corner flat crit (hated those) and a more technical and/or hilly crit. As the race went on, I think I benefited from being to accelerate faster out of corners, but I think I also had to be very good technically as well.

In road or circuit races, I felt my small size gave me a distinct aero advantage when drafting behind bigger riders. If in the middle of a pack, I often felt like I did not have to do any work at all while those at the front were putting out big watts. But then, I was generally not someone who you wanted to be in a small breakaway group with! Funny thing was I could accelerate well enough to do shortish bridges to breakaways, but that was about it most of the time.

TTs? Forget about it. I feel about those the same way you bigger guys feel about long steep climbs.


I have wondered this myself. Came to the unscientific conclusion that proportionally it must be easier for a lighter rider to have a high watts per kg than a heavier rider. I just don’t think that it’s a linear relationship between weight of a rider and watts, even if you were to plot riders of differing weight but with similar body composition.
That’s how I justify it to myself anyway :laughing:


I kind of agree here too, Im only 5’4, weighing in at 51kg’s, current ftp @ 226 which I’m really happy with, but I still find it a little “sad” that in a straight flat line I generally wont be as good as other riders because of my frame. That and because I’m in my mid 40’s now :joy: None the less I intend to keep pushing my boundaries, and TR is doing an awesome job helping me with that! As some folks have noted, its just numbers, the reality is different on the road I think!


Is there any advice or tactics people employ to put the hurt on somebody who can distance you on a climb. Wait for a descent, flat section or false flat? Try and keep the draft on the hill.

For example you are riding as a duo with somebody who is the opposite end of the scale and you are hammering each other.

Still in the process of figuring out my strengths but I think it is on the flat, are you able to use the flat as an advantage?


Presuming you actually are trying to drop them (2 man breakaway approaching the finish of a race or something similar) and not just hurting your riding buddies…

Ride like an asshole - pin them on the front, attack them when they slow down. As soon as they are in your wheel slow down. Make them close gaps to you all the time, never give them a draft, use the wind to gutter them. If you have a 10 foot gap keep hammering, they are working hard to get back in. Etc, etc, etc


Thanks for saying that. I’m 6’2" and only 170 lbs. One of my goals this year it to get to 225ftp. ( 3 w/kg )
I was a little better than the average joe in basketball, tennis, and raquetball. Ten or so years ago my doc said to give up all those things due to my knees. I’ve never been athletic but my competitive nature and hand/eye coordination helped hide that in “other” sports.
I’m new to “structured” training and indeed it may not be for me. I am encouraged when I look at other TR users workouts. There are other (200ish ftp) riders like me. I guess we tend to keep our little numbers to ourselves…lol. I retire next year when I turn 56 and I’m hoping my best cycling years are ahead of me.


I’m a touch over 6’2", and currently weigh 167 (with a goal weight of 162 for this season) and have an FTP of 350 so right at 4.5 watts per kilo. At this weight I find it a tricky act to make sure that I am fueled enough for workouts, recovery, and still trying to lose about five lbs.

Its easy for us all to get hung up on numbers and want to push to that next level but we all need to realize that things take time and we shouldn’t be chasing dramatic changes over night. I tried doing something like this six years ago and screwed myself up so bad with overtraining syndrome that it took about four years to recover from. If I hadn’t jacked myself up that bad, and I would have had those 4 years of training done the right way would I be stronger then I am now? I’d be willing to say that I would. I lost basically from 27-31 the years where I could have been really doing well and moving up the cat ranks here in the US.

But I look at it now as a learning experience, nothing I can do to change the past, but I realize now how to watch how I’m feeling more. I know when I need to make sure that I am eat/drinking more. Not being stupid with training high levels and just eating spinach salads with chicken breast for lunch and dinner.


Best tactic is to remember that when you’re hurting, they are too so that is the opportune time to attack.


As a 5’5" woman in the “flat as a pancake” midwest going up against women in the 5’9"+ range with 220+ FTPs I feel like I’m already at a distinct disadvantage where I’m working SO much harder because of my smaller physical frame in say a hotdog crit or road race, due to my moto background I’ve gravitated towards CX since my handling skills give me an advantage over these powerhouses in my category (went from cat 5 to cat 3 in one season!) but still stuck as a cat 4 in road…and that’s after doing all of the drafting/good cornering/race tactics I can…:pensive:

I’ve been doing structured training since 2017 and while I’ve bumped my FTP up from the initial 180’s to 200’s I feel like I’ll never catch up…:sob::sob::sob:


5’ 7” 55kg FTP 270w 5w/kg) (peak) these days (aged 47).

I won a number of TTs when I raced elite in my 20s (probably was around 5.5w/g then) . Coggan will tell you w/kg is a good proxy for w/CdA and small guy with a good position and w/kg will still be competitive


I’m late to the party…but here’s where I think bigger riders have an advantage.

  1. Anything flat. Our raw FTPs can be so large that riding in the group is super easy. If you can be aero you can seriously put the hurt on smaller riders if you can get separation.
  2. Rolling courses. I’ve seen lots of big riders do really well on rolling courses where they can use their inertia to come up hills, drill it for a bit, then coast down again.
  1. Cross winds. If you’re big and there’s a cross wind that’s a great time to attack.
  2. TTs. If you can fold your self over, get aero and produce power you can probably do really well.

I think big riders can sprint just as well as small riders. We see top world tour sprinters of different body sizes.

Where we’re always going to struggle: Long sustained climbs.

On a flat course we can punch above our watt/kg. For an example, I was able to fairly easily hang with cat 1 crit riders last weekend. Put us on a 8% grade and I’d get dropped really fast. This is with me at around 85kg and 345-350 FTP at sea level (where I raced).

Road races with climbs can still be fun if I’m part of a team and can deliver a climber to the pivotal part.


This quote makes me so happy. Inspirational. Makes me feel like riding off the front of something somewhere :metal:


I am very small (5’ 2" in your strange units^^) and relatively light. Last year it was something like 255W FTP and 55kg. It was much too little to stay with the first (or sometimes third) group in almost every mountain race we have here in Poland. And I must say that sometimes I struggled and was being dropped while descending. Sometimes my produced power downhill in a pack on windy days was even higher than on a climb preceding the descent!

Over 30min uphill TT (average gradient 5%) when I put ~260W placed me… far far away from the top riders.

This year I am working more on my weaknesses and loosing weight. For now according to last ramp test I’m on 249W FTP for less than 51kg. It seems like a lot but I know it is still much too little since long, steady climbs are rare and… you have to first reach it in a pack and not cooked with guys who have sometimes more W/kg and are larger. So I have also bought deep section wheels, a few skinsuits and I am going finally shave those hairy legs. It should save me a few important watts on flats and descends I hope :slight_smile: We’ll see how much I can improve…