TCTP – Try it you might like the results

Posted: December 30, 2014 in cycling
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Introduction

Back in October I was looking around the internet for a training plan that would meet my needs, not only in the lead up to the end of the year but also for something I could use for next year to achieve my cycling goals. I’d often heard the TCTP referred to on various cycling forums so I purchased the kindle version from Amazon and gave it a good read through, I quickly realised this would fit my schedule as a time crunched cyclist.

Working, being a parent and family man takes priority but I have ambitions of maximising what ability I have on the bike, after all I’m approaching 40 now so I’d estimate I only have around 5-6 years (hopefully more) before improvements begin to plateau so the time to buckle down is now. A plan that focuses on intensity rather than endurance fits the time I have available so on the 30th October I completed the initial test to setup my training zones for the TCTP.

Initial test results

On the initial test after an intense warm up I had to do 2 x 8 minute intervals, the highest power output would be used to set my training levels. As you can see from the first picture, my power outputs were 270W and 268W for the second. At the time I thought these were a little low as 268W was the power output I had achieved doing a 20 minute FTP test a month or so earlier. But it’s quite possible I could have declined in the meantime so I took the test at face value. In the last week I have been speaking with a coach who is going to design a training plan for me, the plan also needs an initial test so yesterday morning I followed the instructions and did the test for that.

Results

I began the test with a certain amount of intrepidation, I really hoped that the last 8 or so weeks of doing the TCTP had paid off, I felt pretty good and having spent most of the last weeks on the turbo trainer I had become used it, just as well as this plan called for a 15 minute interval instead of 8. As I approached minute 8, I was averaging 291W, that was 21W higher than I had achieved on the 8 minute test and I hadn’t gone all out as the current test still had 7 more minutes to go.

It would be my conservative estimate that I would have been somewhere around 305-310W if I had gone all out for 8 minutes, an increase of over 30W. To gain 30W within 8 weeks is fantastic and it was this feeling that pushed me on to complete the 15 minute test, I achieved a figure of 295W overall. Normally an FTP test would be 20 minutes, I can confidently say that I would have held at least 290W if I’d gone for the full 20, meaning my new FTP is now set at 275W, up 20W from 255W at the start of the plan.

Conclusions

Whilst it would have been nice to do the initial test again for a direct comparison, the gains from yesterday’s test say it all, this plan works. I tailored the sessions on the TCTP further to cut out some of the softer pedalling, the book indicated that if time was short then to make sure the key part of the session, namely the intervals were completed so that’s what I did.

I did make a mess on a couple of the sessions, my own fault for not reading the instructions correctly, but I’d say I completed 75-80% of the plan:

The plan was beneficial in a number of ways, it increased my power, it made me actually enjoy using the turbo trainer, it has improved my mental strength and the ability to eek out that extra 1-2% to hit the intervals. Whilst I have now begun working with a coach I’d have absolutely no qualms about using the TCTP next year, I’d move up to the experienced competitor level and make use of the gains I’ve made and the experience of the workouts themselves.

Most cyclists are time crunched, we’d all love to be out riding every day, but sadly that’s just not possible, so what do you do? Mess around doing the odd turbo session “to keep the legs turning over” in the hope this will magically propel you up those climbs, my advice would be to have a go at the TCTP. You can do 2 sessions in the week compressed down to around an hour and then more at the weekends when your time is not so crunched. If you hit those intervals hard, then I’m sure you’ll see the gains, I have.

Thanks for reading this blog, the comments and feedback have been really helpful, all the best.

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Comments
  1. Russell says:

    Great job! Great rewards for the hard work put in.

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  2. Jim says:

    Well done. However, I take issue with plateauing at 45, you probably won’t, if you continue to progress. I’m 50 and I have just had my best season ever, and I’ve been cycling for 30 years!

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  3. Fantastic effort and well done on sticking to the plan, it’s obviously worked! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jason says:

    Enjoyed reading your blog more than the book which contained a lot of padding – I’m Only in week 2 but, starting off from a pretty good winter season doing many hundreds of very dull base miles. It’s useful seeing your strava segments as it makes some sense of of the sessions. All the best and have a good year.

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    • supermurph says:

      Cheers Jason, it certainly worked for me, hopefully you’ll get some benefit too. Ive just started the time trialling season now so looking to do the experienced competitor plan once ive looked at which events i’ll be doing. All the best.

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  5. Arthur says:

    Great read, I was wondering if you ever repeated the training and if you achieved similar results?

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    • supermurph says:

      Thank you. I didn’t repeat it as I went on to use a coach for my time trialling. I did feel though that whilst it improved my power, the sessions helped with all kind of things, getting organised to using the turbo and getting your mind right. Good luck with your training.

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