How much training volume does it take to maintain ~3w/kg?


#1

6’ 155lb 31y/o male here. Been cycling about a year, and although I ride a lot (~300mi/week), it’s all been “just for fun” outside rides, with no structured cycling training. Like everyone, though, I’d like to be faster, and I know at this point that my aerobic base is pretty much maxed out, and structured interval training is the only way forward.

My hesitation is that I don’t want cycling to become a chore like weightlifting did - it got to where I was never satisfied with where I was, I was always chasing that next 10%, and going to the gym became much more a “have to put in my time so I don’t lose any strength/ mass”, and just generally lost its enjoyability. A few months ago I reevaluated my lifting goals and decided that I was happy with how much I can lift and how I look, and so I dropped my lifting volume way down to a bare-bones maintenance routine - 30-40min/day three days/week, and I’ve been much happier as a result. That’s what I’m hoping I can do with cycling.

I know from the lifting background that it’s going to take a proper training schedule to build up to around 3w/kg (at my weight that’s only about 210w ftp), which I’m fine with. What I’m wondering is how much training it’s going to take to maintain that power once I get there - one hour-long interval session a week? Three? I fully intend to keep cycling a lot of miles for fun, and I’d be fine with a couple training rides a week if that’s all it would take to maintain that considerably higher level of fitness. Anybody here happy with where they are and know what a maintenance routine would look like?


#2

3w/kg assuming you are already there takes fairly little maintenance. The podcast has touched on this a few times. Maybe @mcneese.chad has already catalogued the episodes where it’s been discussed??


#3

Sadly, I stopped the catalog process. TR is working on something better.

For now, you can use my Soundcloud search process.


#4

Here is some info that may be helpful:

Training Residuals:

  • Aerobic Endurance – Establishment: 25-35 days; Residuals: 25-35 days
  • Anaerobic Power – Establishment: 14-22 days; Residuals 14-22 days
  • Muscle Endurance/Threshold – Establishment: 10-20 days; Residuals: 10-20 days
  • Sprint Power – Establishment: 2-8 days; Residuals: 2-8 days

Declines in Aerobic Capacity:

  • 1-7 days: negligible decrease
  • 10-14 days: 6% decrease
  • 14-30 days: 12% decrease
  • 30-63 days: 19% decrease
  • >63 days: 26% decrease

Minimum we can do to stay fast:

  • Aerobic Endurance – Once every 2 weeks, do a long, low-intensity ride. Ride long enough that the fatigue comes as a product of the ride’s duration, not its intensity. Example:Laurentian
  • Anaerobic Power – Once a week. Something along the lines of 30- to 60-second repeats upwards of 130% FTP should suffice. Example: Bird -1
  • Muscle Endurance/Threshold – Once a week. Try a 2×20-minute Threshold or even Sweet Spot workout. Example: Eichorn
  • Sprint Power – Once a week. Perform 4-6 all-out efforts somewhere between 20-30 seconds long. Example: Bays

The above was pulled from this page:


How long does your fitness last?
#5

This is doubtful. 300 mi/week is a lot, but if you didn’t have any goals for it, I doubt you can say with certainty that you’ve hit any kind of ceiling.

That being said, to answer your question. A lot depends on how you train, not just how much you train. Are you intending to do this work indoors on a trainer, or all outside, or a mix? They are quite different training experiences, especially at low volume. Also, everyone is different. If you listen to the most recent podcast, you’ll hear that Nate when detrained Nate is around 2 watts/kg, but Jonathan is still up around 4 (which is insane!). But, if you want to talk in generalities I would say that an average person could likely get up around 3 watts/kg on a low volume plan off Sweet Spot Base and a Build Plan (based on their goals). You’ve been cycling a year, so I would imagine that 1 or 2 cycles of this would get you up to that point. So that’s 3 structured indoor rides per week of about 1 hour long. To keep this level, the work would be about the same, but your training plan may change a little, I’d pick one of the low volume maintenance plans (you can find them in the Speciality section).

I’m talking averages here. I have no idea what your starting point is, or what your planned training environment is. In my opinion the hierarchy of importance when trying to get the best bang-for-buck is:

  1. Consistency of training. No matter how hard you work, being in a regular routine over the long term will win out every time.
  2. Follow a plan. Just riding hard does not mean you are progressing. Hunting Strava KOM does not mean you are becoming a faster cyclist.
  3. Do your structured work indoors. It’s been said many times that indoor training is worth 1.5X what you would get if you did it outdoors. You can’t cheat indoors. In my experience, indoor training is worth more than that since when I ride outdoors I rarely can keep the structure up.

There are many more marginal gains to be had, but if someone was to do these 3 I would be confident of them achieving good gains.


#6

As it happens this is discussed briefly around minute 25 if the latest podcast (184).


#7

Different for everyone. But like a few others have said podcast last week talked about it. Get a few days in with some sweet spot to help maintain whatever watt/kg your at within a few percentages assuming you don’t starting eating everything in site.


#8

Yep.

Cliff notes were that if you are Jonathan, you don’t even need to move off the couch, 4w/kg (srs) :sweat_smile: but if you are Nate then you need to be thinking, breathing & eating bikes to hold 2w/kg.

It does depend a little bit on you, training history, lifestyle, daily activity and lots of other factors.

Good news is that maintaining doesn’t take too much time relative to making really good progress and liftinging that ceiling. And that once you’ve pushed that bar up high, regaining former fitness becomes easier than obtaining it initially was.

Lots of suggestions, studies and articles which point towards a polarised approach, even on low volume being sufficient to maintain and even increase FTP.


#9

Everyone is different as they have different base lines to start from. I’m 43 and try to ride 100 miles a week, weigh between 66 & 67 kg and last winter followed only low volume plans and got to 4w/kg. So you can see for some people it can take relatively little structured training to surpas 3w/kg but that won’t be true for everyone.


#10

Unfortunately this is the ultimate answer to this.

There is no one size fits all for any fitness gains. Some of us are genetically blessed and some of us are genetically cursed.

You’ll get a ton of anecdotes and supporting details about this but the simple fact is it depends on who you are genetically and how much fitness history you have at various fitness levels


#11

Have you tested yet to get an FTP?

With dojng those kinds of miles - I’d be surprised if you’re not already at 210w. Apologies if I’ve missed that in thread - quickly skim read it.


#12

I don’t have a trainer, so haven’t done an ftp test. I have done a few unstructured interval sessions on the stationary bikes at my gym but I don’t really trust their power readouts


#13

Ok. If there was somewhere to get a test I’d recommend it. I’m thinking you might already be there because I’m no serious cyclist (like prob did 1000-1500 miles all year this year) up until started my first TR plan 5.5 weeks ago - and got 234 on first test. Now I weight 197lbs so hitting 3w/kg will mean a decent lift in FTP combined with a bit more weight loss. 22lbs off since May this year :grin:


#14

I was doing a similar approach to training last year where I ride 200 mi/week, riding 5-6 times, and only managed to get to 3.5 w/kg. This year, I started TR and was able to hit 3.7 w/kg at 3-4 hours per week by following the mid volume olympic triathlon plans.