Journey to best cycling self (4 watt/kg)

Hello everyone!

First of all, apologies if this is not the correct sub forum for this topic. Please feel free to move or comment when I posted this incorrectly.

TL:DR
Need accountability for my plan to raise my FTP to 4 watt/kg, any advice or feedback is welcomed and thanks in advance for helping me keep on track. No real goals as far as races or cyclos go. Just want to have more fun on the bike by being faster and more competitive on weekend rides with my mates.

Intro
Twan from The Netherlands, 32 years old. No family yet, hopefully soon. Just the wife and myself at the moment. But I do want to spend a lot of time with her. I am working in the office full time with an hour commute by public transport. So the plan is to do early morning workouts, around 5:30 AM to keep the evenings for ourselves.

Last tested FTP is 180 (70KG; 2,57w/kg) before starting training in winter 2018. I suspect my FTP to be around 190 now but not much higher.

Problem
I struggle a lot with consistency and balancing life with training so I think I might benefit from some kind of accountability system to keep me on track. That is when I thought of the TR forum, what better for accountability then a lot of same minded people and a great supportive community!

What is my goal?
Currently I have no major goals for next year, I just want to be the fastest cyclist I can be and surprise my cycling mates next fall with the progress I made. It would be great to not always be the last wheel in the group and dropping on every incline.

The ideal situation will be to increase my FTP to about 4 watt/kg. This is the estimated power I need to take my mates times on our local hills.

My last tested FTP is 180 (70KG; 2,57w/kg) which was tested before starting TR. I had planned to complete the Base-Build-Specialty cycle last winter, but life and my own motivation (discipline) got in the way and I got off track but still completed most of the SSB LV 1 & 2 workouts. This already gave me quite the improvement for this year.

What is my plan to achieve 4 watt/kg?
In week 39 I am starting SSB LV I followed by SSB LV II for the base period.
In this period I also plan to integrate strength and core workouts on the non-TR days.

For build phase I have chosen the Sustained Power Build - Low Volume plan which will also be complemented with strength and core routines.

For specialty I have picked the Century plan. At this point the strength routine will be eliminated and I will just keep doing the core routine.

By the time the Speciality plan will be done, it will be April and fall weather means cycling outdoors. This will mostly be commutes (30 km single trip) on which I am willing to experiment with TR Outdoor Workouts or just doing intervals on stretches of road which lend themselves for intervals. As I live in Utrecht, traffic is a pain and so are traffic lights.

Beside the commutes there will also be weekend rides, either solo or with mates. Here is where I want to shine.

Nutrition
Nutrition is a big blank for me so any help on this topic is very welcome.
My current plan is to wake up at 05:00 AM, drink a glass of water and take a gel with caffeine 15 mins before working out. During either plain water or sports drink depending on the intensity of the workouts. After the workout take about 20 grams of protein for better recovery.

Planning to keep the rest of the day menu low carb till dinner. As my wife is Italian most of the dinners will be heavy on carbs (pasta) and I don’t think I am able to change this.

Thank you for reading so far and creating a community where I feel safe to share my journey! Just creating this topic has me motivated and excited to start! Please feel free to share your thoughts and experience so I can perfect my plan and stay motivated!

12 Likes

Great stuff Twan and good job on taking up the challenge!

First I would figure out why this has been the case and have you removed the obstacles that have previously impeded you from getting consistent work in? Is surprising your friends worth the early wake up calls? Once you truly understand these questions, the consistency will come and so will the results. Matt FItzgeralds ‘How Bad You Want It?’ will give you plenty of tips.

Eating enough carbs and real, nutrition dense and low calorie food and drinking no calories will get you a long way.

Good luck and have fun on your journey!

3 Likes

Good luck to you Twan!

Here are some things that work for me:

  1. Goals. I see you have a nice long term goal of 4 w/KG (also one of mine, and I am so close I can almost touch it). Now set some “process” goals- things you can accomplish that will help you drop your mates next season. Some examples: a certain TSS per week; a certain number of hours on the bike per week; a commitment to wake up and ride at 5:30AM 3 times a week (or more); nutritional goals- like cooking all your own lunches for work; Recovery goals- getting X hours of sleep per night; etc.

  2. Nutrition: I make it a point to bring all my lunches to work. I usually cook a big healthy meal for the family on Sunday night, and use the leftovers as a basis for my next week’s lunches.

  3. Discipline: I see you made a connection between discipline and motivation. The thing is- motivation is fickle, but discipline is something you can start relying on. I wouldn’t worry too much about not hitting each and every workout in a TR plan, if you aren’t feeling great listen to your body- replace that over/under with an endurance ride here and there. But throwing a leg over the bike with consistency will start to pay off. You will start forming habits and craving that feeling of accomplishment at the end of a workout, when everyone is still sleeping, the sun is just coming out, and you have already sweated through 90 minutes of sweet spot! Here is what the Vegan Cyclist says about Discipline:

10 Likes

Thank you for your detailed reply!!

I have tried to figure out which obstacles this are/were. I keep coming back to a lack of discipline. Even though the feeling of getting a workout in before sunrise is great I still need some kind of push to get the routine / habit going.

I usually start great and the second week I break down due to the tiring nature of the routine (early mornings). So I figured out I need an accountability system or someone else that I let down when I do not keep going besides myself, if that makes sense.

Surprising my friends is kind off worth it. I choose this goal because I feel like all other goals (like winning a race or taking a KOM on Strava) are out of reach for me at the moment. And if I already feel like my chosen goals are never going to happen, my motivation really takes a hit. Surprising my non TR using friends just after the indoor season might be a quick win or easy success but I feel it will keep the ball rolling when I succeed.

Thanks for the tip regarding ‘How Bad Do You Want It?’ I have heard it mention in podcast a lot and am seriously considering buying it.

First of all, thanks for your very detailed response! And great to see you almost achieved 4w/k!! Nice work! I am sure you will get there soon!

I have also set process goals, to start with:

  • at least 3 TR workouts per week
  • at least 3 times Core and Strength routine

If I succeed (at least 3 weeks, 2 weeks is usually my breaking point) at the above I will add:

  • nutrition (max 100 gr. carbs per day)
  • sleep (at least 7.5 hours) to the mix

I also looked into batch cooking etc. But it is a bit daunting at the moment. I am afraid that it is a bit too much to try all of the above at once. So when I am ready I will try to work it into the schedule.

Regarding the discipline: I am worried that missing one workout will create a slippery slope which in turn will lead to missing more workouts and eventually giving up. This is one of the main reasons things didn’t work well in the past.

So I must learn or have a accountability system in place that assures me missing or replacing one workout is okay and will motivate me to getting back on the horse right away in stead of sulking about missing a workout.

Long read again, I apologize, but I would like to thank you again for your detailed replies! Already learning a lot!

As I am still able to commute for a few weeks do you have any tips for my commuting rides giving me a flying start for SSB I & II?

2 Likes

What is your reason for limiting carbs to <100g per day? That may interfere with your goal if you are not properly fueling your workouts.

4 Likes

I think you have to focus on recovery and nutrition from the beginning. You said that two weeks is your normal breaking point and that the 5:30 am workouts are tiring. Try eating a balanced diet and limiting the sugary snacks and drinks. Prioritize sleep to get 7.5 to 9 hours a night. The end result is that you should have enough energy to hit those 5:30 am workouts. Consistency is the key!

I’ve been pondering the motivation question the past few weeks. Crush my friends and hear the lamentations of their women, or simply be the best triathlete I can be? My mindset has shifted from the former to the later. There’s always going to be someone faster than me so focusing on hearing the lamentations of their women might not be the best motivator. But, if I simply focus on being the best triathlete I can be, I will surely crush some of them.

4 Likes

100g of carbs is not going to fuel your workouts. You could focus on simply eating healthy foods and cutting out some junk e.g. added sugar and alcohol while you dig deeper into nutrition. The Endurance Diet is a good read.

Comments about sleep and recovery are on point.

A final thought from me. 4 w/kg is an attractive goal but to some extent your genetics will determine how fast you get there.

Process goals around regular training and taking care of your body will get you great results but are also potentially more satisfying to execute on.

4 Likes

+1. Focus on the process - being consistent with your training, looking after your recovery, eating well. Do that and the W and the kg will both move in the right direction. How quickly they move depends on genetics (which you can’t control) and training, recovery and nutrition (which you can).

2 Likes

Hello there :slight_smile:

I want to know, how the roads are where you live? Are the roads hilly, mountainious or flat? In my opinion - if you’re main goal is to race your friends and win against them - i would figure the short power should be of focus.

Last year, when i became a father, i took up short power build (low vol) - because in denmark - its usually hilly for around 2-5 minutes - and my focus was to be competitive amongst friends. When summer came I crushed my friends, evenrtough my weight where higher. My FTP wasnt any higher - but i trained my body to better absord the kind of stress short power had - and my friends didnt. So think about that too :slight_smile:

5 Likes

Wow! Thanks again for the many super informative replies! I am humbled by your advice and help! Feeling more motivated uhh… disciplined already :smiley:

The thinking behind this that I also want to loose some body fat. Currently at 19% measured on a cheap impedance scale. I also did this last winter which might have been a limiting factor if 100g per day is too low to propely fuel the workouts.

This is my plan. I am already trying to get more sleep in and am researching nutrition. The Endurance Diet is now also on my wish list :sunglasses:

As said nutrition is a struggle for me, how would you guys fuel when you consider early morning workouts?

Thanks for the insight, I feel these kind of process goals will be very helpful in the long run to keep me going once the habit of training consistently is in place.

Crushing my friends is a process goal and for the moment it keeps me on track. I am aware that in the long run there will always be someone faster in our group. Goal for now is to be able to keep their wheels.

Hi, thanks for your response!
I live in the middle of The Netherlands, which is mostly very flat. There are some small bumps but nothing we can call a climb. Also, my and my cycling mates tend to do long group rides. So I figured muscle endurance is the key.

I will keep your suggestion for Short Power Build in mind, maybe I can work some short stuff into my commutes? Short and hard intervals might be easier to do on the small stretches of road where traffic is light and traffic lights are sparse.

Thanks for all of your great insights so far! :blush:

I get the struggle with the early morning workouts. One question, did you speak to your wife about it? What does she think about you getting up so early? Maybe you could get up together and she’d have somehing she’d want to get done too.

Also, for your bike commutes - to be honest I think it’s very difficult to train on a city centre commute, with bike paths and traffic lights. I often work on starts away from the lights, but you might look like a madman doing that, lol. The other thing that sort of worked was very short intervals, like 20/10s, but even for those you need a decent length of road because you pick up a lot of speed when its flat. Could you extend you commute to find some longer roads? What bike do you commute on?

1 Like

Depends on the workout. If it’s an endurance or recovery workout, I don’t take on a lot of carbs either the night before or the morning of. In zone 2 a good chunk of your energy comes from fat, so these are good workouts to do with lower carb intake if you’re trying to improve body composition. For these sessions I’ll typically have a coffee when I wake up, start the ride fasted, and then start taking on a few carbs (dates or trail mix are my go to indoor fuelling options) after the first hour if the ride is longer than 1 hour.

The longer and harder the workout gets, the more you need to think about fuelling. If I was doing a 2 hour Sweetspot session which is going to burn close to 2000 calories then I’d make sure to get a good amount of carbs the night before (usually brown rice), have some cereal, porridge or toast before starting the ride, and then fuel during the ride (e.g. a couple of dates after each interval).

It’s not really! A process goal is something you can control e.g. riding X hours/week, cutting out sugar or alcohol, completing at least 90% of your planned workouts. Crushing your friends isn’t within your control - even if 4W/kg is what it will take to crush them in their current state, you can’t control:

  1. How long it takes you to get to 4W/kg. Everybody progresses at a different rate dependent on genetics, training history, limiters, etc.
  2. What training your friends are doing in the meantime. Generally if one person in a riding group is putting in a lot of training and getting stronger, some or all of the other riders will also be motivated to raise their game. You’re also assuming your friends are currently trying their hardest, which isn’t necessarily the case…
4 Likes

One thing I’d like to add with regards to consistency.

Don’t start your journey with the bar too high. You’ve got a nice long period of time in which to do the work so don’t beat yourself up from the get-go.

Starting off with Low Volume plans is the sensible option, in my opinion. They allow you to adjust the trainer workouts and provide the flexibility to add additional work as your body and mind adapt.

I think consistency tends to fall away when you (speaking in general terms with that ‘you’) wake up early and you’re aching. You find an excuse not to do that session. If you’re working your body and mind into a pattern, you have to build up in an effort not to burn out.

One other thing. Do the simple things the night before. Get your bike and trainer set up. Mix your bottle(s) and get your nutrition set out. That way, you’re ready to go and not running around like a mad thing.

2 Likes

Lucky as I am with her she is fine with it, she is also up early (although not 05:00 AM early) and we try to workout together.

I commute on my road bike (Canyon Ultimate) and indeed try to do short intervals on roads without traffic lights. This seems work but I struggle with the intervals… do I do Vo2Max work? Treshold work? I currently try to mix it up to avoid ‘junk’ miles in tempo zone. And sometimes I just noodle along and try to recover.

@cartsman Thanks for the advice on nutrition! Really helpful. I have a hard time deciding on the workout what to eat. When is a ride low intensity and when high. I find Sweet Spot work quite taxing and so consider it an intensity where I need to eat for. So usually I take a gel with caffiene before the workout and have drink mix during the workout. Considering your advice, this intake is too much? Is the nutrition related to the IF of the workout or the type of workout? Sweet Spot, Treshold, Vo2Max?

Very insightful that indeed crushing my mates is not controllable and this not a process goal. I will readjust to keep the process goals controllable or measurable. The X hours suggestion or 90% of planned workouts are quite good and hit home for me and these are usually my sulking points.

@PusherMan Your point about setting the bar too high also hits home hard. Most of the time I indeed set the bar too high for myself and ask too much of my body. I will try to start a bit smaller and work my way up.

I will apply your advice and adjust my plan where I feel it is necessary and also update the opening post accordingly.

1 Like

I weigh 70 kilos and have an FTP of about 4 to 4.5w/kg. Haven’t tested in a while but based on the riding I have been doing I feel like it has only slightly decreased(by 5 to 10w) as I haven’t been doing any structured training lately. You can take a look at my profile to see what kind of riding I do.

Regarding nutrition, I have a cheat meal every week. Mostly it is a pizza with 1L of pop.

1 Like

I think a meal or treat like that makes sense. However, I think it is more appropriate to call it a “reward meal” considering the effort we put in to earn them.

Silly naming, but I think “cheat” is not the most appropriate name.

1 Like

fair point

1 Like

I’d consider SS to be high enough intensity to need some fuelling. How much you need depends on workout length and IF (TR conveniently shows you the total KJ/cals you’re going to burn in the overview). Also bear in mind that up to half your calories come from fat stores, so it’s only the carb side of the equation you need to worry about. Personally, for a 1 hour SS session I’d have something to eat before so I was going in fully fuelled, but would have little to nothing during it. For a 90 minute SS session I’d take on a few hundred calories. For a 2 hour session that would rise to maybe 4-500 calories (out of a total workout burn of ~1700 calories).

Personally I also prefer to save the gels and energy mixes for race days. They’re expensive, they’re sugary (rots your teeth) and I don’t much like the taste. Having proper sports nutrition that is easy to absorb is great when you’re pushing to the limit, and/or doing a long event where you need to maximise your calorie intake per hour, and/or need something that is easy to carry and consume on the bike. Really not necessary for 2 hour rides on the trainer though (and I don’t ride more than 2 hours inside). I go with dates, trail mix or bananas, better for my wallet, teeth and guts. And if I need caffeine I’ll make myself a nice coffee beforehand!

3 Likes

This really depends on your personal goals as well as your FTP

The goals part first. Riding first thing in the morning when you are essentially semi-fasted will be easier if you consume quick carbs and caffeine.

Since your primary goal is fitness gains you should find some quick carbs you can eat right when you start your ride and potentially add some more during the ride (depending on duration) if you would otherwise have trouble completing the workout.

As @cartsman indicated - this doesn’t need to be gels or drink mix, although those are certainly the easiest to get ahold of. The primary objective is that you get something your stomach can tolerate and will hit your stomach quickly. This morning I was on the bike at 5 AM and had a sweet potato, a banana, and a pile of blueberries that I ate during my 1:15 sweet spot ride (around 1185 calories burned and around 315 calories consumed)

As to whether or not you need these on a day to day basis - you need to learn this about yourself. Typically I will ride fasted for early morning aerobic rides up to 2:30 in duration, but will have a banana and a few other things in reach in case things go off the rails. Anything other than an aerobic ride like Baxter or Fletcher and I will eat like I did today. The higher the intensity the closer to race day nutrition I go. For Sweet Spot I stick to fruits and whole foods whereas for VO2 I’ll have gels and drink mix.

Second point is around your FTP. If you have a particularly high FTP you will need to consume more calories as you will be burning more, particularly in Sweet Spot workouts. This doesn’t change whether you should or should not be eating - I’d base on that on RPE and your ability to get through the workouts, but does change the volume.

Overall - since your primary goal is performance gains and your secondary goal is body composition changes - I would recommend you fuel every workout and then begin trying fasted aerobic rides. See how that goes - if you suffer through them, add some calories back in. If you can do them no problem then try a fasted sweet spot workout. Maybe you can make it halfway through before your RPE goes up and you need some food, maybe you can’t.

Don’t sacrifice your ability to complete the workout by under fueling

3 Likes

Thanks for your responses again! You really got me excited to get started!

I did as much last winter, after a week of completing all my workouts I would reward myself with a meal of choice. This also made the wife happy :sunglasses: Thanks for the confirmation that a reward meal is okay :+1:

For example: Mount Field is considered a Tempo workout (intervals at 85% FTP) so not really Sweet Spot work. This means no real fueling is required? Maybe a bit caffeine beforehand and keep some food close for when RPE goes up?

Example 2: Monitor is a 1hr Sweet Spot workout and fueling might be required. My current FTP of 180 watt (which I assume is a bit higher now) gives me an expenditure of 471 KJ(CAL), if half of this comes from fat stores this would mean I need to put about 250 KJ(CAL) in before or during the workout?

I am aware that is not a perfect science and I need to experiment with it and see how things go. But I am just looking for a guideline for now. Is the above a good starting point?

@trpnhntr: Thanks for your contribution! Very helpful!

My current idea is to start every workout with some fuel. For now this is a gel with caffeine supplemented with drink mix when the intensity goes up. Once things are taking off I will experiment with fasted rides.

@cartsman Has some valid points about sports nutrition being sugary and expensive but I also want something that is easy to prepare and consume for the beginning.

I will try the suggested sweet potatoes, dades and trail mix when the first boxes (complete 90% of workouts and get a minimum of 7.5-8 hrs of sleep per night) are ticked.

1 Like