The perfect power/kilogram point

GJM
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The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby GJM » Sun Nov 13, 2016 12:50 pm

Obviously many/most boxers have to address this question: what's the perfect weight division for them to box at? At what point is their power to weight ratio at its greatest?

I'm assuming this is a relevant question for cyclists who have a focus on climbing.

I'm interested in this subject because climbing is what I most like to do on a bike, and therefore is the focus of my training. But this is a general question.

Recently I've noticed - as a way of background - that despite putting lots of work into improving my FTP, that my FTP is falling. I've also though lost weight recently. I didn't have a lot of weight to lose. Im 48 years old but I'm now 5 kgs lighter than I was when I was 14.

I might just be getting my training wrong, or I might be just tired, or my diet/energy levels mightn't be right - there are any number of potential contributing factors to the drop in FTP. That's for me to figure out. I'm not asking for advice specifically on me.

The question: is there a zone where a drop in weight results in a disproportionate drop in power?

Presumably, with the human body, a drop in weight and a concurrent drop in power is not a linear equation?

i.e. if you drop 10% in body weight but, at the same time, see a drop in power of 5% then the drop in weight was worth it (if your focus is climbing)
But if you drop 10% in body weight but see a 12% drop in power/FTP then it wasn't.

Presumably there has to be a point where it's just not worth dropping further weight?

Has anyone else gone through or witnessed the same thing?
Last edited by GJM on Mon Nov 14, 2016 9:47 am, edited 2 times in total.

g-boaf
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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby g-boaf » Sun Nov 13, 2016 1:06 pm

All you can do is ride plenty of hills, and ride them as hard as you can. Do your easy rides easy, and the hard ones, go and smash yourself.

I don't think it is all just about riding though, good core strength is useful. There are plenty of simple workouts you can do off the bike that will do you a lot of benefit on the bike.

The other trick, if you are doing some intervals is knowing the right ones to do at the right point. What I'm doing at the moment is frowned upon as old-hat, the ideas of yesteryear, but it's working. And I don't need to look at numbers, I can feel the improvements when I'm out on the bike.

gavin_rider
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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby gavin_rider » Sun Nov 13, 2016 4:21 pm

Over training, under training, wrong training, training plataeu, minor illness. There are a fair number of options other than just too much (or too fast) weight loss. However, its impossbile for anyone on this forum to know, and difficult even for a coach who knows you to tell. Time will hopefully tell though - put a kilo back on - does it make you go faster?

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Derny Driver
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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby Derny Driver » Sun Nov 13, 2016 4:56 pm

Im not convinced that FTP numbers, or any numbers for that matter, are the defining factor about who can beat who up a hill. Power to weight is one factor - but I hardly see how putting on 5 kg or taking off 10kg can make a measurable difference in time up a long climb. So many other things that could be the reason for the fast / slow time.
At 48 years old you are not a climbing cyclist. You are just better up hills than the old blokes you are comparing yourself too. Maybe you could have been a good climber if you started riding when you were 20. A mate of mine used to win races like Tour of Bright, first up Mt Buffalo against the best A grade elite cyclists in Australia. Now hes about 46, 47 and although he still races and trains like mad, he cant hold a candle to the young guys up any of our local long climbs. He was once 'a climbing cyclist' but now he's not. I suspect you may be like that.
At your age you should stop worrying about the numbers on the scales and the powermeter and just enjoy your riding. I suspect your question is unanswerable. Stay healthy and fit. Vary your training.

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby dalai47 » Sun Nov 13, 2016 5:48 pm

Derny Driver wrote:At your age you should stop worrying about the numbers on the scales and the powermeter and just enjoy your riding. I suspect your question is unanswerable. Stay healthy and fit. Vary your training.


Normally I agree with you 110% DD, but this time not. As a Masters athlete, using a PM can be a huge assistance for managing TSS where adequate recovery is even more important. I can't just go out and smash myself everyday like when I was younger!

As to the OP. Too difficult a question to answer, as each person will be different. As mentioned above by gavin_rider, it could be a number of other reasons for the drop in performance.

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby GJM » Mon Nov 14, 2016 6:47 am

Derny Driver wrote:I hardly see how putting on 5 kg or taking off 10kg can make a measurable difference in time up a long climb.

:shock: :shock: :shock: :roll:

Derny Driver wrote:At 48 years old you are not a climbing cyclist. You are just better up hills than the old blokes you are comparing yourself too.


:shock: :(

I wasn't expecting anyone to analyse what's going on with me specifically. But they are quite remarkable statements IMHO.

Thanks all.
Last edited by GJM on Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby march83 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:18 am

@GJM, ride for yourself. If you want to race other old blokes up hills, look at the power numbers and try to get faster then do it.

Per your original question, W/kg is the most significant number when climbing and so increasing it is the logical way to get faster. I'm currently ~5kg below where I've been for the past few years and my climb times are all either faster or done with fewer watts.

Yes, there absolutely is a lower weight limit where you will start to lose FTP if you go any further but you do really need to be getting right down to the single digit BF% point for that to be a problem. It is certainly possible, but what about other possibilities...

There's more than 1 way to skin the FTP cat - you state that you're putting a lot of effort into improving this aspect of your riding, but I wonder what workouts you're doing to achieve that? If you're neglecting supra-threshold workouts (high Z4, Z5/vo2max) and existing solely on a diet of Z3 and Z4 as you might do if you're targeting longer (30min+) climbs then maybe you're missing out on other avenues of gain - the odd shorter interval set might be helpful? Conversely if you're trying to get FTP gains on shorter 8-10min intervals then maybe you need to try something longer? I know in my case that I stagnate after a few months of consistent FTP focus of 2x20s and i really need to change it up to make fresh gains.

Of course there is the possibility that you've reached, or come very close to your genetic potential and that plus your age is not allowing you to progress any further but it's best not to think like that ;)

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby dalai47 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:29 am

Derny Driver wrote: I hardly see how putting on 5 kg or taking off 10kg can make a measurable difference in time up a long climb.


Just checked my fastest time up Mt Donna Buang (16.8km 6.4% average) on Cycle2max 54min 52 sec and used their 'what if' calculator - dropped my weight by 5kg (assumes my power is unchanged) shows it would save me 2min 10 seconds!

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby dalai47 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:36 am

march83 wrote:Of course there is the possibility that you've reached, or come very close to your genetic potential and that plus your age is not allowing you to progress any further but it's best not to think like that ;)


I would suggest most older cyclists (myself included) who started later still have more room for improvement through specific training - far greater than that being lost due to aging.

As to what age you race against, that is the beauty of the grading system, you can race those of a similar ability! Why stop racing if that is what you enjoy just because you tick over a certain age???

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby g-boaf » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:43 am

dalai47 wrote:
Derny Driver wrote: I hardly see how putting on 5 kg or taking off 10kg can make a measurable difference in time up a long climb.


Just checked my fastest time up Mt Donna Buang (16.8km 6.4% average) on Cycle2max 54min 52 sec and used their 'what if' calculator - dropped my weight by 5kg (assumes my power is unchanged) shows it would save me 2min 10 seconds!


5kg is a huge weight loss. For sure it's going to have an effect not carrying around an extra 5kg. I don't know about calculators and the like or the accuracy of them, but surely if you are 70kg and you drop to 65kg, assuming you've not just done one of those crash diets - it's going to make a big improvement.

I don't think older ages are a barrier to riding quickly, there are still some older riders out there who are very, very fast and really fit. I can think of one who didn't race bikes at all (and still doesn't), but he is still fast. He rides in the mountains a lot at higher altitudes. He is older and is still very fit and has razor sharp reflexes.
Last edited by g-boaf on Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby cyclotaur » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:52 am

I think DernyDriver's comments were a bit harsh, but fair to an extent. Age is a factor. But I don't recall the OP saying he wanted to compete against anyone else, much less the young whippets who routinely cruise by older riders on any ride.

Sometimes I wish I'd started riding sooner than I did (basically upon retirement at 55yo !), figuring I would have been better at an earlier age and probably a stronger rider still than I am now. But I know for sure and certain that I would now be on the steady decline from higher, youthful performances to those of an old 'master'.

But as a late starter I am still finding improvements here and there, particularly on the endurance front. The OP is probably focusing on one area where older riders can still make steady gains, albeit within the constraints of age. OTOH I think riders can get a bit obsessed with data and lose touch with fundamentals. I could certainly usefully lose 5-8 kg and I know my riding would improve. However, though my weight is fairly stable my power/strength and endurance have grown steadily over the last 5-6 years, mainly because (I think) most of my rides involve some hill efforts/intervals and often (usually) some decent climbs.

I think one risk in focusing on w/kg is concentrating on the kg side rather than building the watts up. I reckon this might be the OPs problem. Also a lighter climber has no advantage over a more powerful, slightly heavier rider unless they also hold a significant aerobic advantage to allow them to take advantage of the weight advantage.
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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby g-boaf » Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:00 am

cyclotaur wrote:Sometimes I wish I'd started riding sooner than I did (basically upon retirement at 55yo !), figuring I would have been better at an earlier age and probably a stronger rider still than I am now. But I know for sure and certain that I would now be on the steady decline from higher, youthful performances to those of an old 'master'.


It's not worth wishing or wondering. All you can do is enjoy the riding that you do.

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby cyclotaur » Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:14 am

g-boaf wrote:
cyclotaur wrote:Sometimes I wish I'd started riding sooner than I did (basically upon retirement at 55yo !), figuring I would have been better at an earlier age and probably a stronger rider still than I am now. But I know for sure and certain that I would now be on the steady decline from higher, youthful performances to those of an old 'master'.


It's not worth wishing or wondering. All you can do is enjoy the riding that you do.

Yep, and that's exactly my approach.

I rode 850+kms in the Dolomites for the second time in 3 years this past July, and I just got hold of my first carbon bike and posted my second best ever time up 1:20 last Friday. :wink:

BTW the food on those Italy trips mitigates very much AGAINST the kg side of the w/kg equation. But the climbing works on the watts. :D
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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby GJM » Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:43 am

dalai47 wrote:
Derny Driver wrote: I hardly see how putting on 5 kg or taking off 10kg can make a measurable difference in time up a long climb.


Just checked my fastest time up Mt Donna Buang (16.8km 6.4% average) on Cycle2max 54min 52 sec and used their 'what if' calculator - dropped my weight by 5kg (assumes my power is unchanged) shows it would save me 2min 10 seconds!


Just for the sake of general interest ... if you change your weight by 10kg - which DD claims wouldn't make much measurable difference - and keep the power steady, what effect does it have on your time on a climb like Hotham or Falls Creek?

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby Derny Driver » Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:55 am

Ok so Day A I ride Mt Hotham in such and such a time. Its 27 degrees at the bottom and 10 at the top, wind SE at 32 knots. Ive trained 14 hours the previous week and had bacon and eggs for breakfast.
A month later Day B, I ride Hotham again. Its 29 degrees at the bottom and 7,5 degrees at the summit. Wind is Nor-Nor west at 12 knots. I had Coco-Pops for breakfast and trained 8 hours last week and had to take 2 days off for a work trip to Melbourne. I did the climb 2 minutes quicker than last time. Oh and I lost 10 kg last month too.
What do you conclude from this?

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby kb » Mon Nov 14, 2016 12:43 pm

Derny Driver wrote:...
What do you conclude from this?

<joking>
That your bike's missing a power meter?
</joking>
Image

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby march83 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 12:50 pm

That there are multiple factors that influence the time it takes to ride up a hill and that W/kg is the most significant of the lot.

Pacing and aerodynamics matter too but not as much as W/kg. Lots of factors (crappy breakfast, fatigue, etc) can reduce W, but we can measure their combined effect with a powermeter so they can be accounted for. Losing weight reduces kg which again can be measured and accounted for. Wind increases drag. Hard to quantify but it's not often that wind will be a significant factor on a climb (not to say that it doesn't happen, but it's certainly the exception rather than the rule).

We're really just trying to establish an acceptable basis for an A-B comparison of efforts and comparing the watts and the weight of a rider during their A and B efforts is a very precise way to do that.

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby cerb » Mon Nov 14, 2016 1:19 pm

I find that the ideal power is 'more than you currently have' and the ideal weight is 'a bit less than you currently weigh'.

Talking about the advantage of weight drops vs. power drop (due to lost muscle mass) is getting toward the pointy end of fine tuning performance and I don't think many of us on here would be at that point...

Essentially, when purely going uphill W/kg is king. If your W/kg is improved, then you should perform better up a climb. However, it doesn't specify/include all the other contributing factors, such as race tactics, how you perform on different terrain, ability to recover at various levels of exertion, affect of mental strength & fatigue etc tc etc

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby Derny Driver » Mon Nov 14, 2016 1:25 pm

If you and I had the same watts per kilo I could still beat you up the hill ;)

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Mon Nov 14, 2016 1:37 pm

Derny Driver wrote:If you and I had the same watts per kilo I could still beat you up the hill ;)

Not up a steep hill you won't.

If you are faster, by definition your rate of energy transfer per kg is higher.

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby Calvin27 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 1:54 pm

Not sure if this is related, but when I hit 78kg (lightest I've been in 10 years) my climbing went through the roof and my power stayed (most of it was upper body and uselss fat. However I didn notice increased sensitivity to food and hydration. Get it wrogn and my body would just not work great. Compared to 80kg or 82kg me, I could ride slower albeit cop more junk food and/or lack of food on rides and still go ok. The wosrt was migranes after rides when I hadn't hydrated enough. Wasn't so much of an issue when I weighed more.
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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby lone rider » Mon Nov 14, 2016 2:04 pm

Without knowing what the OP looked like as a teenager, personally I would be greatly concerned or would expect those around me to be greatly concerned if I was 48 and had just dropped enough weight to be 5kg's lighter than when I was 14. That is seriously disturbing.

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby GJM » Mon Nov 14, 2016 2:12 pm

lone rider wrote:Without knowing what the OP looked like as a teenager, personally I would be greatly concerned or would expect those around me to be greatly concerned if I was 48 and had just dropped enough weight to be 5kg's lighter than when I was 14. That is seriously disturbing.


haha. I matured early so by the time I was 14, I was at my adult weight.
I was/am 172 cms tall and at 14 I weighed 65 kgs.
Now I'm 60kgs. Or maybe 59.5 (or 60.5), depending on when I weigh myself :-)
At my "peak" (i.e. pre cycling) I was 78kgs.
Last edited by GJM on Mon Nov 14, 2016 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby Derny Driver » Mon Nov 14, 2016 2:13 pm

Alex Simmons/RST wrote:
Derny Driver wrote:If you and I had the same watts per kilo I could still beat you up the hill ;)

Not up a steep hill you won't.

If you are faster, by definition your rate of energy transfer per kg is higher.

What if I cut the corners and my opponent didn't?

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Re: The perfect power/kilogram point

Postby GJM » Mon Nov 14, 2016 2:15 pm

Derny Driver wrote:
Alex Simmons/RST wrote:
Derny Driver wrote:If you and I had the same watts per kilo I could still beat you up the hill ;)

Not up a steep hill you won't.

If you are faster, by definition your rate of energy transfer per kg is higher.

What if I cut the corners and my opponent didn't?


I'm happy to go head to head with you up a long climb if you'd like? :-)

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