Why isn't this working? I'm getting...slower using TrainerRoad? How do I get this turned around?


Ok so I’ve made 2 posts in the past about failing workouts and looking for the reason why, see those here:

After the first post I was able to complete SSB Mid Vol 1 with my set FTP of 236. So I feel the feedback that my initial messing with outdoor rides and pushing workouts around (rather than skipping them) to do all of them gave too much stress and not enough recovery. Then SSB Mid Vol 2 started. FTP showed an 8 watt increase up to 244. Great, we had an initial hurdle, we dealt with it and we saw gains. But after my first 2.5 weeks of SSB Mid Vol 2 (weekend week 3) I started failing workouts and made the second linked post above.

Coming out of that video I tried several things:

  1. Calibrate KICKR more regularly - Calibrations came back consistent time after time. Same offset each time.
  2. Moved my PowerTap P1 pedals to my trainer bike and tried PowerMatch - I HATED PowerMatch and in comparing my power numbers given by the pedals to those given by my KICKR they are almost always within a handful of watts after the KICKR gets warmed up (so after 10-15 min)
  3. Took several rest days and lowered the level of many rides by as much as 20%. The only workouts I could do at 100% for the rest of SSB Mid Vol 2 were the final week’s taper/endurance workouts.

Then this week I started my Build phase…set up low volume sustained power build as I will be doing a Yosemite cycling camp in mid May. Ramp test on day 1 showed a DECREASE in my FTP down to 231 watts. So loss of 5 watts from my starting point and 13 watts from my test at the start of SSB Mid Vol 2.

So I’m at a bit of a loss here and looking for direction. A bit more about me, I’m 45, 5’10" and now 225lbs. I was down at 215 when I started TrainerRoad but I stopped intermittent fasting and increased my caloric intake…plus the holidays happened. I had been on a caloric deficit before starting TrainerRoad as I know I’m too heavy. In July 2017 I was 263 lbs so I had lost 50 lbs and my goal is to get under 200…which I haven’t been since 1993ish (long long time). But additionally I want to be a stronger rider which is why I started using TrainerRoad and not just Zwift.

So I guess I wonder if TrainerRoad is even for me. My #1 goal is weight loss. I’ve listened to the podcast and I’ve heard Chad harp on the fact that you can’t be in a caloric deficit and get stronger on the bike which was why I was eating more. But weight gain is no bueno so I WILL be cutting back on my caloric intake again (already have as of Jan 2nd). So is there a TrainerRoad path that will help with my weight loss (I will be lifting and adding in some other activities/exercise)? Or is TrainerRoad just not for an enthusiast like myself?

It all gets more frustrating as my girlfriend signed up the same day and we do the workouts together. She is getting stronger and has never failed a workout. Her FTP is now up to 201…so great for her. Why am I struggling with this so much? Yes I know we are different people and different people will respond differently, male vs female, she’s 10 years younger and she’s only really ridden a bike for 19 months where I have cycled on and off for years (though hadn’t for a couple back before July 2017).

Headed in the right direction again, looking for nutrition help

What does failing mean? you have to move the % down to 95, or you give up? Hopefully not the latter. If so, I would look past the FTP and keep rolling along. I assume you were in unstructured training and now are not. As a podcast and forum lurker, it seems to lend to people assuming they can handle more TSS than they should. Eat right, do the training, it will come together. My friend is at a similar place right now and says SSB 2 is much more difficult.


tough one mate… there are lots of factors that can cause failures… you seem to have established a reliable FTP - I cant advise but there are a few observations based on whats written here and my own findings… if your goal is weight loss… why the focus on FTP gains…that’s a really tough approach especially if you have yet to adapt to a different diet, maybe look at it differently and focus on sustaining your current FTP whilst achieving calorie deficit - you will loose weight and improve W/KG … maybe look at HiiT sessions rather than Sweetspot - are you tracking your intake and macros (I use myfitnesspal) and eating whole food types not processed fats … are you keen on a few beers (most of us are) if so then drop that down to a min (one night a week) … from my experience i can testify to some epic failures by not eating right foods at the right time… along with burning matches elsewhere (little sleep / too much booze) … hope you keep pushing through this difficult phase reflect on those priority goals right now… ?


two quick thoughts:

  • move to a 2 weeks train / 1 week recovery instead of default 5/1 of SSB
  • to focus on weight loss you might consider dropping back to traditional base and combining with strength training


If weight loss is your primary goal and you truly don’t care about gaining cycling fitness I would encourage you to shift from one of the plans to doing something that is nearly all sweet spot and endurance work. These workouts are the most efficient calorie burners plus you should recover from them fairly quickly, allowing you to workout day after day and increase your total caloric expenditure

For an idea of what this would look like take a look at the SSB HV plan. I don’t think you should adopt that plan by any means (it is a ton of volume) but those types of workouts (shorter versions most likely) should make up the majority of your time on the trainer if you are focused on losing weight.

Drop the threshold and VO2 max work as it will make it more challenging for you to ride the next day and keep the calorie burn moving

Truly - if you want to lose weight riding more time and moderate intensity is more efficient than higher intensity due to the longer recovery times associated with high intensity work


first off let me state that these are just my thoughts. i am an average cat 3 from nowheresville ohio so take all this seriously or ignore it as you see fit. im certainly not a coach, I’ve just made some of these same mistakes when i was starting out and ill offer some “hindsight is 20/20” advise

try doing the 8 or 20 min test and compare results. you may be like me in the fact that i have the ability to go crazy deep into the red, which in the ramp test results in an FTP estimate that’s probably higher than it actually is. since they have switched to the ramp test the resulting workouts have been brutal for me. i usually have to reduce the workout intensity 5 or 10 percent for the first week or so. then just absolutely turn myself inside out to finish the workouts from day to day in the last few weeks of each block. though this attack on the problem makes you fast, praise Oden, is it hard and really taxing on mind and body.

something else i see. it seems like you want to lose weight and become a better/stronger bike rider and the only way you do that is by riding your bike. this weight lifting business is good and I’m sure helps in some way but, how you get stronger on the bike is by spending time working out on the bike. the way i look at it is, do you want to get better at doing squats or do you want to ride your bike faster? im not sure either is effective training for the other.

and like @drkpolo said. sometimes its the “eyes are bigger than the stomach” sort of situation. if this is your first go at structured training id get a full year of low vol. plans under your belt. then next season look back and see if you are ready to handle the bump up to mid. i did the same thing the first year i started TR. i was sure because i was young i could handle the high volume plans, but i failed most workouts and ended up not really even training that much. looking back and being honest with myself, this is really the first year im ready for the high volume. if i could go back i would start with the low volume. consistency is more important than intensity, ESPECIALLY in the beginning.

hope all goes well for ya, cycling is hard and requires a lot of time on the bike, but its worth it. keep rockin man


I can’t comment on the diet/calorific side of things as I simply don’t know enough about that sort of thing. What I can say is that you have to accept a bit of ebb and flow. I believe that Chad has said in previous podcasts that the route to performance gains is very rarely linear. Almost all of us have hit a wall at some point. Be that through diet, recovery, time restraints and even our own genetics.

I don’t doubt that you’re committed to the plan but you did mention that you’d lowered the intensity of many previous plan rides by 20%. From what I understand, that means you won’t have been working in the desired zones and the workouts in Build Plans are quite a step up from Base Plans. I would be tempted to recommend that you accept the new, lower FTP and restart the Base Plan. You can drop the intensity by 5% but again, I’m sure that Chad has said that much more than this and the workout loses its specificity.

On a said note, I wouldn’t compare yourself to your partner. This is my second year using TR and my wife started using it for the first time two months ago. She has never used a turbo trainer before, never mind TR. To date, she has smashed and I mean smashed every single workout. The woman is an absolute weapon! If I compared myself to her, I might as well quit now.


I’m listening through the podcast now myself and I must agree with @drkpolo. Chad states in some of the podcasts that people new to structured training should start with the low volume plans, since the strain of structured workouts are different.

I would consider going down to the low plans, if you want to ride with your girlfriend, know that the low and medium plans share most workouts. You could do endurance workouts on the two remaining (but keep it easy) if you want to ride all rides together.

@bbarrera bring out a good point, that might be beneficial to you. This also aligns with what @mcneese.chad writes about here: Alternate Base Work-Recovery Week Layout - Training Plan Modification (what he calls Option 1). This gives you 3-4 weeks of load before recovery during SSB. I belive the principle can be applied to build as well.


2 on / 1 off makes sense but I also wonder about outside factors possibly influencing @Grasschopper 's workouts, i.e. work, family, sleep, etc.


It is AWESOME that you are trying to get better. I am no expert, but I would think if you are struggle to complete 5 rides a week, reducing it to 3 will make it easier to work with, plus give you more time to rest or add outdoor rides, weight training, etc. I started TR 2 years ago with 119 FTP, currently, training at 192 FTP. Last summer I was at 233. I started SSB Low Vol last week and the plan is to get better than 233 by the time I complete my Build Phase. I know I can get better been there. Training is a bit easier at my current FTP, so I’m able to complete plans with minimal back pedaling.
Guess, what I’m trying to say is because it went down for a bit doesn’t mean it’s going to stay down, if you keep training you’re going to get better, using TR, riding Outdoors, etc. You know where you were or have been and the mission is to get better than that,


+1 for this. I’m a family man myself and know that I can’t handle more at the moment with kids (= less/poor sleep) and busy days at work.

@Grasschopper, know that you can grow your FTP on the low plans from where you are now, so no worries there. (I’m living proof)


This is just my own experience. Last year, just before Christmas 2017, I started structured training for the first time. I went immediately into the SSB MV and destroyed the first 6 weeks. Did not miss an interval, let alone a workout.
Then I retested and improved my FTP a bunch. The next six weeks were extremely difficult with several failed workouts. I realized that I had dug myself a hole and could not sustain that much TSS.
I dropped to LV and incorporated 3 strength training sessions into each week with mostly full body exercises but very little leg specific stuff. This has done wonders for my energy levels and it is much more sustainable for me. When life and time permits I add in an additional endurance or recovery ride to burn some more calories but nothing high intensity.
This is what I would suggest for you. Move to the low volume plan for your high intensity stuff and add in strength training and additional rides when you have the energy for them.
Eat a little extra on the days with high intensity and less on the other days. Give it a try but definitely stick with TR. You won’t regret it. Good luck.




I didn’t see anyone mention it yet but I found Matt Fitzgerald’s books “Race Weight” and “Endurance Diet” to be both enlightening and very very helpful. His DQS revamped my entire way of thinking about diet, weight loss, and performance increase.

His book Racing Weight talks about caloric deficits when weight loss is your primary goal, which sounds like it could be helpful for you.

I would encourage you to read both. My weight loss and performance has been positively affected by implementing ideas and ways of life that the books discuss.


Failing more meant not able to complete at 100% but quickly became not able to complete even 10% down and having to go to 20%. I think I actually gave up on a couple all together. Yes that sucks.

Thanks for those…someone else posted the thread by @mcneese.chad about the 2/1 setup. I may give that a go next time SSB come around.

No I am very interested in becoming a much stronger rider. I don’t know what’s realistic but I’d like to see my FTP well north of 250 some day.

If I said that it’s not what I meant. All rides up until Dec 8th were done at 100%. Dec 8th was the first workout I had failed since the 2nd week of SSB MV1…so like 6 weeks of workouts.

Thanks for the link. Next time I’m doing SSB I will probably make that adjustment.

People keep suggesting the Endurance Diet and I just haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet. I also don’t do much reading but I"m sure it’s worth it and my partner will be interested as well.

Thanks to everyone who has responded. As noted we just started our first build phase this week and we dropped to low volume as opposed to mid so that we can work in some other sorts of workouts (lifting and other cross training). Having lost 50 lbs already I feel like when push comes to shove I can do the calorie counting and eating right. Having counted calories for a year I had stopped and clearly went off the rails. I’m back to tracking on MFP now and some things will just naturally decline, more specifically the added drinking and sweets that have come with the holidays. I guess I’m just not good enough at saying no.


Chad has summarized and given examples, you may want to also refer to original source of plan adjustment info from my Reddit post:


I’m going to strongly agree with the people saying this sounds like a fatigue issue. If you’re ever having to knock off 20% of your intensity, you’re tired.


If this is truly your first foray into structured training I strongly suggest giving a low volume plan a try.

  1. Far easier to be consistent
  2. More ability to recover - less fatigued
  3. Allows you to manage calorie deficity/dieting a lot easier and more forgiving
    Even if it “seems” easy, it will boost morale and give you a serious sense of accomplishment.

The mid-vol plans are a big lift, and they can put you in a serious hole if you are trying to manage other outside factors (stress, kids, diet, etc.)


+1 to this. You will still get faster on Low Volume plan. Better recovery and less fatigue. You can still ride more if you want, but make them recovery rides, lower intensity.


I’m hesitant to say it’s 100% my first foray into structured training as I did the Zwift 4 week FTP booster program a couple times last winter with good results. That said that program is MUCH different from how TrainerRoad approaches training and I feel like I’ve probably never had enough base work which was why I was interested in TrainerRoad in the first place…more complete training. Build a foundation and the peak can be higher…was my thought. Just to be clear as it sounds like many have confused my current focus on weight loss…when I started TrainerRoad 12-13 weeks ago I went in assuming I should NOT be on a caloric deficit and I had been eating more…this about 10 pounds of weight gain (so clearly too much and not the right things…I know this).

Moving forward my training will be done while dieting as weight loss is a priority over strength gains currently. Especially since I have a 3 day cycling camp in Yosemite coming up and there’s going to be a LOT of climbing.