Age-Related Limitation & Degradation of FTP in Power Zone Training

Let us delve into the well-explored realm of FTP improvement and address the lingering uncertainties. While I have expressed some skeptical viewpoints regarding people’s pursuit of progress, it is evident that a performance plateau exists for everyone. Regardless of how diligently we adhere to an optimized training regimen, there comes a point where further improvement becomes elusive.

Read more about Peloton Power Zone training.

Age undeniably brings about a gradual decline in physical capacity, although the extent and pace of this decline depend on an individual’s determination and freedom from illness or injury. Given that a significant proportion of Peloton riders have a strong personal commitment to health, fitness, and longevity, it is essential to examine the psychological framework surrounding “elderly” athleticism. Throughout generations, society has ingrained the acceptance of aging, leading to the labeling of older individuals engaging in intense athletic activities as “crazy” or similar terms. However, time has proven many of these assumptions about aging athletes, such as the perception of Jack Lalanne, to be largely incorrect.

In recent times, we are witnessing a growing number of older athletes who defy their age through impressive performances. At Peloton, we have an opportunity to challenge these limitations, benefiting from elite coaches, excellent equipment, and a supportive community.

Hence, there exists an upper threshold for metrics like FTP and VO2 Max, which is influenced by genetic factors as well as the pre-existing health and fitness levels of each rider. The third component, although not always emphasized, is the motivation to exert oneself to the utmost in order to achieve significant gains—a principle that applies irrespective of age.

The 60-minute Peloton FTP Test, which was once considered the standard, has been largely replaced by the 20-minute version utilized here. Additionally, an 8-minute variation and a “step-test” resembling the GXP Graduated Exercise Protocol for treadmill testing are employed to estimate FTP. The hour-long test fell out of favor, even among professional racers, due to its unpopularity and poor execution. Nevertheless, all of these tests pose a significant challenge.

Progress on the Test, once the initial learning curve for beginners is overcome, becomes a mental trial that presents a daunting hurdle. It was this crucial moment that compelled me to write numerous posts about FTP. By focusing on a well-structured plan, our minds have something to cling to when the excruciating exertion begins. This is crucial at any age, but particularly when our ingrained beliefs about aging tempt us to settle for less. Matt emphasizes training with focus, and this plan of attack can serve as the focal point. That’s precisely why I emphasized the importance of FTP. We have the potential to become whatever we aspire to be.

I genuinely believe that only a fraction of individuals here have reached their FTP limit, with the aforementioned factors hindering their progress. Whether one chooses to pursue improvement is a separate matter. However, the numerous questions I have received from people wondering why they didn’t achieve better scores suggest that many of us desire more.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: weight loss and power-to-weight ratio. Positive changes in body composition, not just mere weight loss, are incredibly beneficial at any age, but become increasingly vital as we grow older. The resistance training we engage in, including upper body exercises, promotes bone density and increases muscle mass, both of which contribute to a healthier quality of life in later years. It’s worth noting that fat loss accompanied by muscle gain may not always result in overall weight loss, but your wardrobe will likely require some adjustments!

Power-to-weight ratio is essential for effectively moving your body through space, whether it’s cycling outdoors, running, jumping, or simply rising from a low-seated chair. A simple test to gauge mortality risk involves getting to one’s feet from a lying position without using the hands! Improving power-to-weight ratio, even without changes in FTP, is a fantastic achievement! If FTP decreases, it must be evaluated alongside any weight loss to determine if the weight loss occurred too rapidly, potentially resulting in simultaneous muscle mass loss. Minor fluctuations in FTP are less significant compared to major health indicators such as blood pressure.

In summary, unless you are certain that you have reached your peak or have decided not to retest, it is highly likely that you can achieve better results. Studies demonstrate that strength gains are possible even into our 90s, with MRI scans confirming increased muscle density. A notable study examined the quadriceps of a 90-year-old individual who had difficulty getting out of a chair before and after a training regimen.

So, go out there and get it!

their time on the couch. Perform your Peloton FTP test diligently (had to mention that!) and comprehend that the process I’ve attempted to describe will impact your results. Sometimes we’ll be on an upward trajectory, while other times we’ll be in recovery mode. Understanding that this fluctuation is normal and that your fitness has significantly improved from the baseline is crucial. Just imagine achieving your current level on the FTP test when you first acquired the bike. Keep things in perspective!

Stay committed. The journey may have its bumps, but keep moving forward.

This article is part of an ongoing series on Power Zone Training. You can find the other entries below in suggested reading order:
#1 – What is Peloton Power Zone Training?
#2 – Peloton FTP Test Strategies & Lessons
#3 – Peloton Power Zone Training – My Zones Are Too Easy!
#4 – Living with new zones & more FTP test
#5 – Post Peloton FTP Test New Zone Struggles (Mental & Physical)
#6 – Decreases in Peloton FTP
#7 – Age-related limitation & degradation of FTP in Power Zone Training (This article)
#9 – Resting Heart Rate: Why Power Zone Training reduces it
#10 – The “Training Effect”


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