Increasing Fitness Levels at Optimum Speed

Over the past few years my level of fitness has improved on a fluctuating upward trend. There have been occasions where gains have been followed by losses. This has been down to two main factors:

  1. Overtraining – I have increased the total training (TSS) too quickly over a given time period. This has meant that my body has not had sufficient time to adapt to the training stresses and I have been left fatigued both physically and mentally and therefore unable to continue training at previous levels.
  2. I have been away on holiday and not trained whilst I have been away

Last year I reached an FTP of 275w but this fell away rapidly through the winter and to date I am still some way off this peak having only reached 251w so far this year. The key is to consolidate fitness gains without overstretching. The ideal trend for fitness improvement is linear. In order to achieve this linear improvement I need to do the following:

  1. Take a longer-term view of my cycling goals and related improvement gains
  2. Gradually build my TSS towards and beyond 100 Tss per day (700/week, 3000/month) – no more than 7 points per day, 50 points per week or 200 points per month

On my current programme I am training at around 600 TSS per week or 85 TSS per day so I’m not that far off my goal of 100 TSS per day. I train for two weeks and then take a recovery week and total TSS is about 500. Therefore, my average TSS needs to be adjusted to factor in recovery weeks so for a 4-week period it is approx. 533 TSS or 76 TSS per day. I need to increase from this towards my goal of 100 TSS per day. To avoid overtraining I will increase the TSS gradually between now and February as follows:

  • Sep: 533 per week
  • Oct: 575 per week
  • Nov: 625 per week
  • Dec: 650 per week
  • Jan: 675 per week
  • Feb: 700 per week

Based on experience 700 TSS will approximate to between 12-15 hours training per week. My main cycling goal is to increase FTP to 300w which based on my current FTP of 240, which represents an increase of 25%. It will be interesting to see how long it takes to reach this goal although I don’t expect to reach this level until at least Spring next year. As I have previously reached 275w I plan to achieve this by the end of November.

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Feeling Good When Riding

This time last year I very clearly remembered a period when I was finding it very easy on rides relative to the other riders. It was an amazing feeling, especially when climbing, I could look across at other riders and see that they were finding the ride challenging where I was finding relatively easy. At the time I didn’t think too much about what was actually happening, I was just enjoying the feeling on being on top of the world from a cycling perspective. Now I look back I realise that underlying these positive feelings was an FTP of around 270-275w.

Now I know what I need to do to get back to where I was a year ago. My FTP at the moment is currently around 235-250w, however, with a focus on high intensity training I am planning to raise this towards 275w so I can least match my peak period last year. It’s taking me longer to reach last years peaks which is primarily due to a reduction in total Tss from June through to the end of August. I am gradually increasing weekly Tss and intensity in order to make headway towards an FTP of 275w.

I am now doing the mid-week training rides with the club and these are very demanding but they are great for increasing speed and FTP. I will aim to do one of these sessions each week and possibly two if I can manage it. I will also continue with the VO2 Max hill repeat sessions and aim to do two gym sessions per week. At the weekend I will replace longer endurance rides with shorter more intensive training sessions.