Fitness gains

Just watched the latest Francis Cade video on training plans and FTP gains.

Should be prefaced by the fact that he is sponsored by Garmin but it throws up some interesting results. He seems to generate some very good power increases on very little volume and relatively moderate intensity. You do have to factor in he is an ex-pro with a far higher best ever FTP than the 235 watts he records at the start of this video. This low number, and his admitted lack of any cycling in the preceding months, coupled with his much greater physiological capacity, could account for the quite high gains.

As someone who probably rides too much and at too high an intensity (with little to no recovery), I am tempted to dial things down for a few weeks and see what impact this has.

Anyone done anything similar in terms of following one of these Garmin type plans?


  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,100

    lads, going on a binge for a few weeks, jumping back on the bike and being useless for three days, until they jump back to 5W/kg in no time at all. Seen that many times… It doesn’t happen happen after 40, certainly never after 50.

    The idea that you can make big gains without trying too hard is also a bit ridiculous.

    left the forum March 2023
  • Yeah, I fully accept that the real gains come with long term structured training, which has been my approach for a long time.

    I think I am getting to the point where my plan is to actually reduce the volume. I expect to see a loss in fitness, I just want to keep it minimal. I guess I am trying to determine the sweetspot of what level of fitness I can live with, and what amount of reduced training volume is required for that.

  • slowmart
    slowmart Posts: 4,466

    As I have aged I have swapped intensity for volume.

    and it’s always a moving feast as your body adapts to the induced training stress which means constant tweaking to keep the gains heading the right way.

    “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring”

    Desmond Tutu
  • Wheelspinner
    Wheelspinner Posts: 6,543

    Another series on YouTube from Australia, with “Road Cycling Academy” has their bike fitter Neill Stanbury do a similar training plan with progress gains over a 6 week period or something. Called Zero to Here on the channel.

    also does some very informative bike fitting videos on there too.

    Open One+ BMC TE29 Seven 622SL On One Scandal Cervelo RS
  • Bit of a "shaggy dog story" here...

    After the pandemic restrictions were lifted, British Triathlon funded "restart" initiatives for all registered clubs. We organised a session with a track running coach - former elite level Decathlete - which saw us doing all sorts of drills and was great fun. But at the start of it the coach said that he wouldn't be remotely offended if we ignored everything he said and carried on doing what we were doing in terms of training and technique. As we were all middle-aged "mid-packers" he said the most important thing was that we simply kept active in whatever sport we'd chosen, and that enjoyment was the key, however we found enjoyment.

    So my suggestion would be to set yourself some specific objectives. "Determine the sweetspot of what level of fitness I can live with" is very vague! e.g. do you want to smash it up on a short local climb? or a long local climb? or 10 mile TT? (or 25 mile TT?) Or do you want to be able to ride consistently for a couple of weeks on hols in the Alps?

    Once you've decided what you want to do (presumably because that's what you'd enjoy) you can tailor a programme to achieve that as best you can based on available hours. Some things may be unrealistic e.g. crit racing competitively if your schedule doesn't allow you to do regular chain gangs, but where there's a will, there's usually a way!

    And your objectives don't have to be constant. In the last 7 years, I've targeted a Half Ironman, sprint triathlons, Olympic triathlons, a half marathon, a 10 mile road race, TTs, the Fred Whitton / Marmotte and now 25-30 minute Zwift races. I am completely delusional and convince myself I'll do really well, encounter reality and find another target with which to delude myself!

    And another shorter one...

    Joe Friel's book "Fast after 50" emphasises that if you want to go quickly as an older athlete, you have to train in a particular way. But in the early stages of the book he highlights that you don't have to go quickly. If you're happy going slowly (or medium paced or whatever) then that's fine, because as an older athlete, just doing stuff is great from the health aspect. I don't know how old you are, but the same philosophy applies, I think. At any age, the benefits from doing and enjoying your exercise are huge.

  • Thanks! I think this outlines the key distinction regarding what I am aiming to do quite nicely. I have good physiological numbers which probably keep me up towards the higher end of amateur cyclists. I don't think I expect, or am massively bothered about focussing on these anymore. As you suggest W&G, I am more focussed on on practical cycling goals I want to continue to be able to fulfil, and knowing whereabout my training needs to be in terms of volume and intensity to meet this is more my interest. Therefore I think maintaining a level of fitness that would mean I was able to continue to do the following:

    • Being able to do a hard sportive (FW, Dales etc.) with no additional training or prep required.
    • Keep riding 250-300km per week at moderate intensity (with the odd interval up a climb thrown in).
    • Do a week in the mountains or multi day event like the Raid Pyrenees (and maintain sub 1hr pace on climbs like AdH).
    • Keep up with my high FTP mates on the 25mph rides!

    I think dropping from 15hrs a week to around 10ish, combining Zone 2/tempo and the odd interval session should keep me at this level for the time being.

  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 25,277

    In the vein of the above my targets are to be fit enough for a cycling holiday in the European mountains and keep my weight low enough to make that achievable and relatively enjoyable.

    To do this I have a simple philosophy. When the weather is bad it is an hard indoor training session or recce of aforementioned mountains. If the weather is good then it is a longer recreational cycle for fun outdoors and speed is forgotten about.

    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.

  • Flexibility helps too. My default if training isn't going particularly helps is to immediately re-focus on simply keeping weight under control and/or ensuring the dog gets plenty of exercise. Then, however slow each session may be, it is helping you achieve a goal.

  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,100

    my social media keep bombarding me with ads by coaches with great reviews from clients boasting how they went from 2 to 3 W/kg in 10-weeks… you never hear from those who went from 4 to 5 W/kg using their plans… I wonder why 😂😂

    left the forum March 2023
  • pangolin
    pangolin Posts: 6,197

    Obviously the targeted advertising is working 😉

    - Genesis Croix de Fer
    - Dolan Tuono
  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,100


    The thing is that if you have 2W/kg threshold, you don’t need to spend much to improve… virtually anything you do will get to massive gains… even just sitting on a sofa and going on a diet will do the job. Easy money… 😁

    left the forum March 2023
  • Off-topic, but I started getting spammed for adverts to buy a WattBike - just after I'd bought one. And with adverts for Crystal ski holidays immediately after I'd posted a very damning comment about their customer service on the platform concerned.

  • The real snake oil salesmen are the "Triathlon coaches" who promise to coach you to knock 15 seconds off your 100m swimming pace. Maybe by teaching a breaststroker to do front crawl or by advising someone to increase their swimming from once a year before a race, to once a week throughout the year, but if someone is doing a lot of swimming already, such gains are highly unlikely.

    Also off-topic: My kids are both qualified swimming teachers and one is also a coach. They both advise me to stick to cycling!