I lost the ego and started back at 180watts and just dealt with the fact I’m slow now. Then I guess I just tried to make training a habit that doesn’t depend on motivation. Eventually the gains come…
are you super light?
72 kg generally, 70 when cut down.
wow, that is a big disparity… I’m still shooting for 300, knocking right on the door, but I was only a 25 min 5k guy in high school (faster now though… but not sure how much)
I don’t think running is a good proxy for ftp. If you are super light and have efficient form you can run some fast times without an exceptional engine. For example Cam Levins claimed to have a vo2max of 62 shortly after he ran a sub 4 mile.
I was a fast-ish guy (mid 16s 5k, 10:00 3200m) in high school, but was always ‘bigger’ and I’m sure less efficient than the guys running similar times. My untrained ftp is around 250, and after a few weeks of structured base I’m in the low 300s. Hoping if I can complete a base -> build I’ll be around 350w. I’m not worrying about minimizing weight until I run out of ftp gains, but I should be close to 5 w/kg if I lean out a little.
I think it’s easier for midsized dudes with big engines and room for weight loss to hit higher w/kg. Like Sky recruiting TT/Track dudes and cutting them down to be GC contenders.
Physiology and genetics must play a huge part in how or whether 5W/kg is possible as @G650 says which I’m still trying to get my head around, hence my previous questions - how much of the power comes from either a high percentage of a relatively low VO2 or a lower percentage a higher VO2.
From my perspective I have an incredibly flat PD curve for both running and riding. According to the W/kg charts I have the 1 minute power just still in the untrained novice bracket and an FTP right between Cat 1 and Cat 2. If I focussed just on riding rather than triathlon I’m pretty sure that FTP figure would go up.
It’s the same flat curve for running. My PB pace for 5k and 10k are the same at 3:41/km, I can run 10 miles at 3:44/km and half marathon pace is currently 3:48/km which I’m hoping to nudge down a few seconds per km in a month or two.
Physiologically I need to raise the roof rather than the ceiling although given that I focus on long distance triathlon 1-5 minute power isn’t a priority in my training. I have been riding for nearly a decade though, and although I’m sure if I did focus on increasing 1-5 minute power I could find a handful of Watts, I’m not suddenly going to find 50W over 5 or 6 minutes anytime soon. Threshold growth for me I think mostly has to come from maximising the percentage of VO2 power I can hold over longer durations rather than more dramatically raising power at VO2.
Continuing the thoughts about weight – as Chad has said many times on the podcast, you are probably putting yourself in a bad position if you carve yourself down to your lowest possible weight in pursuit of a w/kg goal. You can actually end up a worse cyclist, and a less healthy athlete, by doing so.
My personal experience with this was in the 80s and early 90s, and then in 2015. When I was in my 20s, I kept myself at 67-70 kilos, just because of the mantra “skinny is fast” (I’m 1m 84). From some lab tests, my relative VO2 was 75 ml/kg/min at 68 kilos. But, I was injured or sick at least twice a year, and never made good progress. From those same lab tests, I wasn’t getting as much wattage as I could have out of that oxygen I was consuming – my best 4mmol output was 350w, so a little over 5 w/kg, but my lactate threshold was only 80% of my VO2 max, because the consistency was never there from 87-98 in my training. Always some injury undoing a month or two each year, always colds and flu each year. And I didn’t get much better – it’s hard to make progress when you only train 7-8 months out the year, and spend 4-5 months sitting around healing up.
I took a couple of years away from the bike in 99-00, and then started riding again at 76kg, and I’ve been 75-77 since. Getting proper orthotics and shoes (orthotics for me only solved most, but not all of my foot issues) has been a part of the picture over the last 18 years, but maintaining a healthy weight and being able to train 600+ hours a year has been the big difference.
I’m actually getting more power at MLSS and fat VO2 peak than I was at 68kg – my system is older and not as strong, but there is more muscle mass to use the oxygen, and more power. It’s very possible to keep yourself at a weight that gives you a great w/kg number, but that actually has your body in a weakened state – also, when you get really skinny it’s the fast-twitch fibers that get catabolized first. I’d bet my EVO that I was getting more power for 5min at 45, 77kg than I was at 25, 68kg, just because I had the fast-twitch fibers to call on during aerobic capacity efforts.
Right now I can consume about 5L/min of oxygen, at 52, 77kg. At 25 I was doing 5.1 L at 68 kg. For me (n=1 again), the heavier, more muscular version FTW. A little slower up the hills, but healthier, and able to train consistently without breaking down. I can consume close to what I did almost 30 years ago because of the consistent training volume. My FTP is a higher percentage of VO2 than when I was young and skinny, for the same reason.
Really, w/kg may not be the best goal to target. It’s not “what is the lightest me” but “what is the strongest me” – those are often two very different things. Absolute power will get it done more often than power/weight, unless you’re doing summit finishes all the time…
Great post. If TR had a “reddit gold” equivalent, this would be worthy of it.
important to keep in mind
Where is this chart from? I wonder how much data for each age group. At 61, with an FTP of 4.1, I can’t believe I’m in the top 1%. Must not have enough data from well trained riders??
It’s from TR, but is subject to sample bias. A 60-80 year old is probably much less likely to use TR than a 30-40 year old.
4.1w/kg at 60 is great though! That’s fast and I hope I’m doing that well at 60
Extrapolate whatever speculation you want out of that data.
I got friends of all ages who would kill to be at 4w/kg
Great post. The follow-up question would I suppose be “how do I know what the strongest me is?”.
Does it relate to your natural body shape? Might one person function better at a higher BMI than another, and what would cause this difference?
I was a skinny kid and young adult, and perfectly healthy, so I’ve always assumed I’m not taking a health risk by aiming at the lower end of the healthy BMI range.
Edit: I suppose the other way to phrase it is: what is it about Chris Froome that meant losing a load of weight turned him into a GC monster, whereas it might have made another rider weak and ill?
The strongest you is the one who puts out the most wattage on a daily basis and is healthy, happy, and strong for 12 months at a time.
The strongest you is lean – visible ripped abs and vein chart legs and all that – while also carrying the muscle mass that your body wants to carry, and unless you are a pro, the strongest you does not have the upper body of a pre-pubescent.
I fear that I may never be the strongest me! A complete lack of chest hair doesn’t help matters.
I do my core work and push-ups though, just to make sure it’s functional.
I’m sorry but this comment has so little to do with the vast majority of cyclists of all abilities, ages, genders, and riding disciplines that it’s laughable.
It would be an ideal.
For the vast majority, the strongest you would be reasonably lean.
The important part of that post is the puts out the best wattage day in, day out, and is healthy…