Ask a Coach: 'I've hit an FTP plateau - what can I do?'

Struggling to gain the extra watts? It's time for a shake-up...

Male cyclist doing an FTP test
(Image credit: Future)

If you’re seeing little or no improvement despite keeping up your training, there’s every chance you’re plateauing. Why might this be happening? Let’s start with a quick reminder about how training and improvement work. In simple terms, when we train, we cause stress. The stress creates a stimulus. With enough stimulus, our body adapts to ensure we can cope with this stress better next time. This typically occurs during the recovery element, which is underpinned by recovery, sleep and nutrition.

So, we need an optimal balance of all these different components to ensure we adapt to our training and thus increase our functional threshold power (FTP) or critical power (CP). Let’s go through a few of the key components and find out how they can cause a plateau in your fitness progression.

Alex Welburn
Alex Welburn

Alex is a physiologist and performance coach who is studying for a PhD in critical power and W’ at Loughborough University. He competed for 10 years on the bike, including for GB in both cyclo-cross and mountain bike events, and as a coach has worked with cyclists of all levels including ultra-endurance world champions and Tour de France Femmes participants.

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