CTL-FTP.....optimal level?

Discussion in 'Power Training' started by DancenMacabre, Nov 28, 2009.

  1. DancenMacabre

    DancenMacabre New Member

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    Having a PM has been real handy so far. Great way to quantify what you are doing, great for pacing, knowing how much work (kj) you performed, yadda yadda yadda. Good as all that is, I'm kinda starting to see the PMC/CTL/TSS side of it all as more invaluable. Maybe a new twist on the train by power vs. with power. I am doing much much more 'with power' now for sure. So I want to ask about the CTL-FTP relationship. Yeap, yeap, before anyone says so, I know CTL is based on training load (tss/day) for a given period & that tss/day is based on IF for all of those rides which is related to NP. Say that 3x fast!!!

    My CTL number is about to cross into the 90 realm. I know, I know, 90 CTL is nothign to brag about ('specially in these parts!!!) but it is respectable I think or decent. Thing is for a 90 CTL, I must have one of the lowest FTP numbers around. Lest y'all say my FTP is underestaimated, I track it a couple of diff. ways + I do tests regularly after Alex (coach Alex) mentioned this in a post on 2x20's a while back. Maybe I dont know it to the exact watt, but I sure know it to within 5 watts and FTP seems kinda flexible/elastic - not this exact rigid number set in stone 7 days/week.

    Right, but TSS & CTL are only absolute numbers and you gotta look at composition of that TSS & CTL. Sound good so far? Ok, ok, the composition in my case from day 1 has been all Level 4 (tons of it!) + Level 3 (more tonnage!) + a short Level 5 block (2 weeks was more than enough for me!!!) + 1/week Level 7. Weekly IF's in the .8 ballpark.

    Back to the original question: Is there some ideal CTL number? Right right, but what are my events you ask: how about 2-4 hour road races, crits, track points + miss-n-out races ? I already know this part from another thread post here: FTP=How Fast You can Go, CTL=How Long You can Go @ FTP.

    Guess in my case that means, would any more training load (higher CTL) be beneficial? Maybe it just means I would be able to ride close to my low FTP for 3 hours instead of 2 :eek: Sure, more hours training on the bike = more calories burned and makes me hella thin & skinny, but would CTL = 100, 110, or more, be of any more benefit to FTP? Do y'all find a break point or spot where more CTL doesn't help FTP? If I added more training now then I kinda think the IF would start to trend down. I suppose a bigger CTL = more potential TSB/taper that might be good for some races, longer ones I figure.

    I know growing FTP takes a long time (build capillaries, increase mitochondria, yadda yadda) so no complaints here. Many of you said instead of setting 300w as a goal to set other stuff you can reach/measure as a goal + have fun. 80 CTL was a goal, now I got there plus soon 90 will be here also, and I am still having fun. Guess I wonder if making the time & putting in the work to get to 100+ CTL is worth it for threshold power gains.

    Happy thanksgiving weekend :D:D:D:D
     
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  2. Fightin Boba

    Fightin Boba New Member

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    Here are some FTP/CTL thoughts that may help you out:
    1) There is no direct relationship between progression of FTP and progression of CTL. IOW, moving 10 points up on CTL doesn't translate to X watts of FTP progression.
    2) My interpretation of the 'CTL = how long you can go fast' addage is that as your CTL rises, you are able to do more work (read time) at powers that elicit specific adaptations (for example, more work in the sweet spot, and/or more work elicting VO2max). This, if anything, is how a higher CTL may have a relationship with building FTP.
    3) With a CTL of 90, you can complete races such as you listed. How you do, is not so much dependent on your CTL as your FTP.
    4) You will no doubt want to spend some CTL at times (like doing focused VO2Max blocks or tapering for a race). The more CTL you have, the great number of times that you can spend a bit without having to build equity again.
    5) If you are having fun, have no reason to spend CTL, and you are able to comfortably keep your weekly IFs in the 0.8 ballpark while building CTL, then why stop?
     
  3. NomadVW

    NomadVW New Member

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    CTL and FTP are completely and totally independent variables. CTL is a combination of duration and intensity relative to your FTP (IF).

    I'm one of the folks that likes to have a lot of time on the bike - which nets a higher CTL. I spend a lot of time training in the 110-125 range.

    What I feel this does for me is provide me more opportunity to train - because I generally have greater recovery from the same workout as the next guy. (IMO this is the greater definition of the benefits of higher CTL. that is - a 125 TSS workout for me will/should require less recovery time than a guy running a CTL of 75). That means I can typically "go hard" multiple days in a row for longer periods than the next guy - hopefully eliciting a faster increase in fitness. A good example is that I will normally show up to our local Tuesday night ride with 75-90 minutes of Z2 riding before doing a 60 minute hammerfest. Other folks with CTL's in the 75ish range will likely only do 10-15 min warm up and do the same workout.

    The flip side is that to gain CTL points over about the 110 mark, you're looking at 16+ hrs per week on the bike with a reasonable mix of threshold/higher intensities. Breaking 120-125 CTL and you're in the 18 hr/week range. I love being on the bike and have a very flexible job/family/lifestyle right now. I'll be in the 120's in a couple weeks before Christmas and taking some time off, and then again when racing starts in February.
     
  4. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    Hi Dancen,

    Few thoughts.

    The most important one:
    You're still very early in your amateur cycling career. This 90tss/d is rather impressive and I think that'd be important to let it grow and see how high you can get.

    One talented female I coached back in the '90s was put on the Olympic distance program like any other newbie (talking triathlon here). She rapidly showed a true talent for longer distance event. She won Kona 3 years after, for 2 consecutive years.

    Don't restrict yourself just yet, keep having fun building your CTL. Your body should be able to give you the answer you expect.
    - - -

    I haven't done much research on this topic but I think that Science hasn't addressed questions related overall training laod/training composition etc using PMC model (yet!). However, some data exists using other impulse-response models. I believe that the most common model that is used to analyze this question would be TRIMP (or some variation of it).

    For example, this little article below addresses the notion of training composition applied to endurance running using TRIMP (rather a modified version of it) as their impulse-response model.
    http://www.uem.es/myfiles/pageposts/Cómo entrenan los corredores de fondo.pdf
     
  5. DancenMacabre

    DancenMacabre New Member

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    Good to get your input here Steve. Some comments on your comments :):),

    1 - I follow your point #1 on its own as well as #2 on its own. Put them together though leaves me thinking: If there is no direct relation between moving up in CTL & FTP gains (point 1), then does that maybe raise doubts about 'the more you can train, the fitter you can get' (point 2)? Or can point 2 be restated as 'the more you (can) train, the fitter you might get'?

    2 - The area under the MMP curve seems to me to be equal to fitness (an obvious riemann sum/integral at that). If I understand point 3 then it means the area under the 0-60 minute duration is going to be a big factor in results (+ tactics, bike handling, yadda yadda).

    Nomad, have not interacted with you here so nice to get some new feedback. Especially from a high CTL rider too.

    1 - You mention recovery for you, on CTL >= 115 is easier than for the other guys sitting at 70-80. Makes sense for sure. Sometime before you had a lower CTL I assume. Do you see a noticeable diff. in FTP from being at those lower CTL values (<90) & now with CTL value (>110).

    2 - I am in the 600-670 tss/week for the last few months. IF is about .8, sometimes .75ish. For CTL 125 though you said 18 hours which makes IF lower. Assuming your FTP metric is sound, then can I bet that increasing hours from a CTL of 90 to get to CTL of 120 means the overall intensity has to be reduced? I can see adding some L2 work to my riding now, but heck no to L5 or more L4.

    Solar thank you for that. I have plenty of ambition. Maybe not nearly enough talent though :eek:. I am not fast but I do ride lots :) :) What these fine posters seem to agree is the more you train then the more you can taper + fine tune race specific training. I understand that to mean high amount of freshness + plenty of spare CTL to sacrifice for L5/L6/L7 training for a big peak race.

    These questions I think remain for me. Maybe they cannot be answered.


    • Is there a point where more training does not result in more performance gains? The posts & literature say L3/tempo is best 'bang for the buck'. What about for TSS/week or hours/week, is there a similar best hours/week or TSS/week to carry?

    • Is a high FTP with low CTL an obvious mark of a highly talented rider? The opposite also true (assuming the training composition is sound/solid)?


    • Let us take 120 TSS for example & make this our goal 5-6x/week.
    Option 1 - Ride @ 1 IF for 72 minutes
    Option 2 - Ride @ .9 IF for 80 minutes
    Option 3 - Ride @ .8 IF for 112 minutes
    Option 4 - Ride @ .7 IF for 148 minutes
    Seems to me that the options become more feasible as you go down the list (2 easier than 1, 3 easier than 2, etc). Is this the answer to building the highest CTL possible or the SST philosophy put in other words? Perhaps do little L4 work, get CTL as high as possible on L3/tempo, then add L4 & higher in the 8-10 weeks before a race?
     
  6. NomadVW

    NomadVW New Member

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    As an n=1 situation, no. I've never seen a correlation between 1 hour sustainable power (FTP) and my CTL. This year I dipped to the 80 CTL range twice.

    My FTP dipped the first time (Jan 09), ~8-10% below my year's peak. However, this correlates more closely to injury recovery, and I was on/off the bike for ~2 months trying to get back going. I had also hung out in the 70-80 CTL range for about a month. In that case, FTP did climb while my CTL climbed - but not because CTL climbed, but because I was doing composing workouts that increased FTP outside of my endurance riding.

    The second time I dipped my CTL intentionally after ~2 wks completely off in October. When I got back on the bike for off-season training, with a CTL ~85 and my first SST session was almost identical (+/- 5 watts) from my September workouts in good form. But it was a straight drop from ~115CTL down to ~85 and turned right back on. I'm now back ~110 CTL, but have seen only minimal gains at this point in the training plan from the beginning of November. On the other hand, I can knock out 4-5 hr rides at will (mentally and physically) with a mix of intensities, recover and repeat.

    This again is an n=1 scenario. I have typically 2 workouts per week right now with an overall IF .85+. They're typically 75-90 minute SST efforts with warm up and cool down (2 hr+ ride time). I have a number of "hours" within the schedule that may be a higher IF, but the ride time on either side of that evens things out.

    When I am adding VO2 time to the week, I will typically move a 60 min SST into a the front end of a 4+ hr long ride. The VO2 time will be 30-45 minutes of a 2 1/2 hr or longer ride - so neither of those workouts will end up with an IF of .85+ because of the extent of Z1-Z2 (RST zones) on either side of it.

    You could certainly compose a training plan with higher IF that would get you to a higher CTL in less hours, but my last three years on power training show that a moderate amount of intensity surrounded by "ride lots" time provides better recovery, less burn out, and higher health (a significant component of riding a lot is building/maintaining a high immune system and healthy life)

    Q1 - I've got a lot of friends and teammates that are super strong that ride on less TSS/wk, but the composition of their TSS is in large part different than mine - overall. The workout I do with 90 min of SST twice a week @ 91-93%, they will likely do 2 days per week of 2x20's @95-97% inside a 60 minute workout.

    The "literature" says L3/tempo is "best bang for the buck" - I assume you mean SST. To that I would say - "it depends on how many hours you have to train."

    CTL is a byproduct of the way I like to train - a lot. The higher the CTL, the more I enjoy training a lot because I recover quicker from back to back training days (hard days, or long days). I enjoy stage racing and multiple race weekends, and a higher CTL sets me up for back to back race days.

    As an n=1 (no backing to this but my own files), I also believe that holding a higher CTL prevents my FTP from shifting downward as quickly when I change focus in racing season and my "peaks" last longer than the guys racing with CTL in the 70-80 range.

    The one thing I lesson I've found over the last couple yrs is that I certainly have a breaking point, and it's noticeable. CTL ~135-140, and my legs go completely dead. This year I don't plan to take CTL much higher than 125. When CTL hits 125 for me in December (if all goes as planned), I have 4 days completely off the bike to let CTL drop to the 112-115 range. From there until February, I plan to bring CTL up very slowly and CTL will inevitably drop when I start racing regularly in March/April.

    Be very smart about listening to where your body's break point is. 3 yrs running I got "ambitious" and put myself in a hole that it took me ~3-4 weeks to get out of.
     
  7. Fightin Boba

    Fightin Boba New Member

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    I think the adage that I was trying to explain in point 2 was 'CTL = the longer you can go fast', but the other adage that you refer to is Dr Coggan's 'the more you train, the more you can train'. I prefer to think of FTP development as more related to composition than CTL. You can raise CTL to a very high number with a composition of predominantly L2, but that does not mean that you are optimally developing FTP. I prefer to focus primarily on developing FTP (and other power/duration relationships key to my racing), while secondarily building CTL to a level that will support my racing volume&frequency and provide me with enough CTL equity to spend when it comes to my racing.
    Nice summation. IOW, your CTL of 90 is not going to be a limiter for the racing that you mentioned, but the area under the MMP curve (especially 60min and less) could.
    See my comment above.
    Yes.
    I don't think that an optimal CTL has been established, even though the 100 number is discussed as sustainable target for racers. There are too many individual variables (including, but not limited to, quality and frequency of FTP estimation, CTL ramp rate tolerances, off the bike recovery factors) to allow an answer to your question here.
    Yes, especially if that rider's FTP is higher than mine;)
    Could be, but also could be tied to composition:cool:
    Option one is not possible, by definition. Although options 2,3,4 will all stimulate some adaptations towards the development of one's FTP, the stimulus for those adaptations is stronger as you move from option 4 towards option 2. In the SST approach, the composition choices try to strike the balance between maximal stimulus of adaptations (in FTP development) and sustainability over days, weeks, months.
    It can be beautifully simple, or it can be, at times, overwhelmingly complex when one tends to overanalyze, as I have found over the years....which is one of the reasons that I work with Alex now.
     
  8. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    IMO, building the highest CTL possible should never be a training goal (excepting possibly ultra-endurance competitors), and I think this might reflect a little bit of a conceptual misunderstanding. CTL measures how much you've trained -- that's it. Now, we would hope that more beneficial training results in greater adaptations, but at the point that it no longer does there is no benefit to building CTL higher.

    The benefit of having a tool like CTL is so that an observant person can take note of where their body seems to produce the best bang for the buck and not get sucked into a pointless cycle of training for training's sake.
     
  9. Piotr

    Piotr New Member

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    Dancen,
    I may be the lone voice who believes, based on personal experience, that higher CTL does yield a higher FTP. Or, better yet, lower CTL yields lower FTP. No one denies the latter, but for some reason they deny that there's a connection. I don't. I believe they're connected insofar as FTP = 1 hr time trial. When people get off that "gold" standard, it's much easier to deny the connection between CTL and FTP. IOW, the ability to hold 20 min power may be the same at high vs. low CTL, but try it for a full hour before drawing a conclusion about the actual effect on FTP properly defined. Precisely why is it that as we take time off, our FTP falls concurently (though at a different rate) with CTL?

    Here's how I would phrase the question: How well were you able to complete a 1 hr TT at low vs. high CTL? If FTP sans high CTL is indeed the only metric that that defines racing success, why not just train every other day? Betcha won't find many takers on that schedule, because deep down everyone knows that they would not be able to reach their potential with such limited training... ahem, CTL.

    Would anyone like to share a personal story of how their FTP increased with less training?
     
  10. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    1) Each year for the past 3 years, family commitments have encouraged me to cut back my hours and also begin my winter training later. Despite the reduction in training time and a resulting lower CTL, my FTP shows modest improvement year on year.

    2) 2008 I was run over by a truck, which ended my season in April. As a result, my 2009 training season started with a CTL of 0.2. My FTP estimate at that time was 260w (which is really the lowest it ever seems to get), and by the time I had hit a CTL of 68, my FTP was 315w. FTP just doesn't drop as fast as CTL, in my experience.

    Of course there's a relationship in the sense that training makes FTP go higher, and not training makes FTP go lower (likewise for CTL). I'd say it's not really a numerical relationship that lends itself to figuring out how much CTL will produce how much FTP, or a way to optimize the two, however.

    "Train for FTP and build as much CTL as your events demand (with anything else being gravy)" is the advice that I would give.
     
  11. Fightin Boba

    Fightin Boba New Member

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    Do you mean your FTP doesn't rise in response to a taper? Isn't that higher FTP at lower CTL?

    For an individual (not population metrics), is their a formula in which FTP = X(CTL), where X is some constant?

    I think that I'll stand with my original statement that, "There is no direct relationship between progression of FTP and progression of CTL."
     
  12. NomadVW

    NomadVW New Member

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    I don't think there's a significant difference in our opinions as much as in the semantics.

    Training more increases CTL. If you're training more AND training correctly, FTP will also increase (if that's what you're focusing on).

    The disconnect is this example: My commute to/from work is 1 hr 15 minutes each way. ~125-130 cumulative TSS/day at low endurance pace. 5 days per week of that, plus a 4 hr 240 TSS ride on Saturdays, and we're talking ~890 TSS/wk. That would take me over the 110 CTL mark eventually, but I would not expect to see any FTP increase - and would expect to see a decrease.

    Hours + Any Training = CTL increase
    Hours + Correct Training = FTP increase

    One can argue that with untrained cyclists (or new cyclists in that first 1-2 yrs) will get that FTP increase in the "Hours + Any Training" category, but that will eventually go away.
     
  13. Fightin Boba

    Fightin Boba New Member

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    Just a few more thoughts about CTL as it relates to racing:

    a) Perhaps another variable in determining capacity to "handle" a race (not predictive of how you will do) is the number of rides in which you have accumulated a TSS value that might be equivalent to the TSS of your race. Most of my road races last no more than 2:15. I can generally race those at IF 0.92 to 0.97, or TSS of ~190 or less. Typically, one can calculate TSS per hour:
    Since TSS = IF^2 x hrs x 100, then
    _IF_ = TSS/hr
    0.70 = 49
    0.75 = 56
    0.80 = 64
    0.85 = 72
    0.90 = 81
    0.95 = 90
    1.00 = 100​
    So, you might be able to determine your race preparedness (at least for longer events) by looking at your training on this basis.

    b) another metric that might be useful in determining capacity to "handle" a race (not predictive of how you will do) would be to look at one's expected race TSS to current CTL ratio. I'm not sure that this has been done, but it seems reasonable. A race TSS:CTL of 1.0 or less should be slam dunk. 1.0-2.0 should be quite doable. TdF pros may hit 2.0-3.0 range for days.

    a) This has been touched on here, but is a corollary to my point 4: The higher your CTL, theoretically, the longer you will be able to maintain form during the racing season.
     
  14. Piotr

    Piotr New Member

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    Guys,
    I don't think that our disagreement is very vast. Indeed, we all know that training more results in better performances. Who wouldn't train a little more if given the option? I only take exception to the idea that there's no correlation between FTP and CTL. As NomadVW pointed out, it may just be semantics, but if DancenMacabre has the ability to get up to a CTL of 120 with her current training focus I can guarantee that she'll get stronger for it (even if she were closer to her genetic limit). How's that a no correlation?

    Greg, you're speaking of an FTP estimate, which I would be reluctant to use to prove this point. Estimates are hard to prove until you have some CTL under your belt ;):D. My FTP is also feels higher at lower CTL now than it was 2-3 years ago at higher CTL. I simply got stronger so that is to be expected, but it doesn't mean that it couldn't be higher still.

    Steve, I was speaking of CTL of 120/0 TSB vs. CTL of 60/0 TSB. I'm not denying that tapering works, but it is about freshness and supercompensation not decreasing your CTL per se. You don't let your CTL fall more and more in hope of getting stronger and stronger, do you? Yes, FTP doesn't fall at the same rate as CTL, but it does fall.

    I may never be able to prove my point, but implying that training more with similar focus will not result in higher sustainable power strikes me as odd. When I say similar focus I mean SST not LSD. If the current focus is high L3/L4 then with increased training time IF will necessarily trend downward, but still in the SST (L3) territory. Where's the point of diminishing returns is probably very individualistic. I spoke to an ex-U.S. Postal pro who swore that riding a lot of miles made him the strongest. Go figure.

    Sorry, it's late so I better end while I'm still making sense (I hope). BTW, my PT died yesterday so I'm still in a bad mood.:mad:
     
  15. acoggan

    acoggan Member

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    Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to figure that out?
     
  16. NomadVW

    NomadVW New Member

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    I agree- training more with similar focus. I believe I am stronger than I would be if I trained less. I train more so that I can train more at similar intensities.

    This causes CTL to rise, but a rising CTL does not equate the rise of fitness.

    Good thread.
     
  17. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Probably the best way to illustrate my point would be to look at someone training for an extended period with a constant relative load, say 80 TSS/day or CTL 80. Because they are training at a pretty respectable load, we would expect their body to respond and FTP to rise. As their FTP rises, they re-test, adjust their values, and continue to push 80 TSS/day at the new, higher absolute load while CTL stays at 80. It seems quite expected that someone's fitness would rise without CTL rising, since maintaining a constant TSS as fitness rises naturally produces progressively increasing absolute load.

    IOW, in order to see gains it's only necessary that we train (effectively).... not that we train more than last week.

    Now, whether training 150 TSS/day (vs. 80) would produce faster gains, higher peaks, a complete breakdown, or something in between is hard to tell. I would steer any exuberant neophytes away from a "CTL - let's see how high can I make it" mentality, however.

    Dude, that sux. :(
     
  18. Piotr

    Piotr New Member

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    There is, on a case by case basis over many seasons of careful observation. :D
     
  19. DancenMacabre

    DancenMacabre New Member

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    Ok. Ok. I will be the naive new student who puts her hand up while the other smarter experienced students know better.

    PMC???? Plot FTP on the PMC chart with diff. CTL levels? That is all I can think of.

    Ha!!! A sense of humor I can relate to :D:D:D:D

    ******************************************************************

    This is all great stuff guys, I like the discussion.

    I asked about optimal CTL, kind of a hypothetical question. Nomad explained how when he gets in the 135-140 range, things go south real fast for him. Seems that > 135 is not optimal for him. It could be different for each person.


    • What I am trying to say but doing a bad job is: there must be some minimum CTL needed to get yourself in the ballpark of your fitness/ftp potential....................but some other number like Nomad showed where the wheels fall off ? (Assuming your training is sound, sensible (L3/L4/SST) Piotr mentioned this in one of his posts, how there must be some amount of CTL you need to be in the game.


    • Also to go back to what Piotr mentioned in his post, I guess like him it seems odd that I might go from CTL 90 to 120, using a good L3/L4/SST mix, but not see FTP go up. Sure if I add a bunch of .6 IF rides then I could see that FTP would not rise, but if it were SST then it feels odd that no ftp gains would come. Would this increase in quality training not satisfy the overload principle needed for positive adaptation???
    Because if the answer is no then it provides little incentive to train more & build CTL. After all, as far as I can see from the race calendars, there are few if any womens stage races in the country so all my events would be one-off & for sure < 4 hours. I am looking at this from the layperson angle as I have no ex-physio/coaching experience so I could be 100% wrong.

    The killing me thread comes to mind for a certain reason. The older rider from that post seemed to have hella FTP increases on what I now kinda see as pretty low volume. Not low effort & super hard training b'cause an indoor bike multiple-x/week would be grueling. But to get from like 140 or 150, I forget where he started, to almost 300 on a couple of L4 days/week + a weekend ride sure sounds like someone who has hella talent & good genes.


    • This makes me think of the last question. It may be 90, it may be 120 but at some point you stop increasing CTL or can't even because you don't have time. That means the training load, relatively speaking anyhow, stays the same. Frenchyge says that for him it still worked & he got fitter and fitter. Doesnt the body adapt to the same/similar workload in maybe 8-10 weeks? If it does then how can you get fitter?
    Piotr: Ugggh, that blows about your PM!!! Sorry to hear it, you got a backup or KK computer to use?
     
  20. Piotr

    Piotr New Member

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    Yeah, I have the KK and the computer (which would have to be mounted on the bike), but I think I'll just use indoor speed as a proxy. This is likely to keep me more indoors for a while, for the purpose of a more accurate TSS/IF estimation. The Powertap (SL wired) icon kept flashing for the last couple of months despite fresh batteries, until it went dead early into a cold team ride last Saturday. I'm not sure if I'll send it in for repairs or just get a new one.
     
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