More watts or less weight?


If you had to choose one which would you choose?


Depends on the race for me.


Many things to consider here:

1. Strengths and objectives

  • Rider type (TT’er, climber, GC, explosive, etc.)
  • Rider’s goals - is this a competitive rider or a social rider?
  • Types of races they want to focus on (TTs, CX, Crits, Climbs, long endurance)
  • Where you live and ride 99% of the time - is it hilly? flat?

2. It’s not all about power, and certainly not all about w/kg

We covered this a few times in our podcasts. Take the World Tour riders as an example. I am willing to bet their w/kg is very similar. What differentiates winners from losers are technique, efficiency, experience, economy, nutrition, mental skills, type of training, the list goes on.

3. Racing weight

Then you can get into the science of “racing weight”, or weight at which YOU perform AT YOUR BEST. That is different for everyone. Matt Fitzgerald (Author of “Racing Weight”) and Dr. Stacy Sims (Author of Roar) give several examples of elite and world-class athletes that saw their performance decline when they reached a number on the scale that they (and their coaches) believed should be their “ideal” race weight.

I am about 6 pounds heavier than I would LIKE to be, but I have never been stronger and more competitive on the bike- so I am going to forget the “vanity” weight and stick to my “racing weight”.

So there you have it, a big “it depends” answer from me. For amateur riders who do a little bit of everything, be smart with your training, recovery and nutrition, and things should fall into place.


Note… healthy weight loss will improve performance and strength (if you need to lose weight), unhealthy weight loss = long term crash and burn. just sayin’


Lionel Sanders also talked about this after his debacle in Mont Tremblant.


I am about 5 lbs heavier than last winter. The only area in my body that I really see a difference over last fall is my thighs. They are quite a bit bigger than last year. Could this be due to the increase of cycling this year? My diet has been pretty good overall. Thoughts?


Mark, it very well could be. Unfortunately, without doing some sort of body fat analysis and comparing it to last year, we are just speculating. There is an awful lot of space inside your body cavity to store fat, and you wouldn’t notice it until somewhere started to bulge out a little. Are your legs stronger than last year? If they are, that could be a sign that you increased the muscle mass of your legs.

There are other things that could account for weight gain, as well, such as hydration, bowel activities, cortisol levels, etc. Sorry I don’t have a definitive answer for you. If everything feels good and you are stronger, though, I would just go with bigger leg muscles until you determine otherwise.



So until a month ago I was using a dumb trainer without a power source and my power was pretty good I had a 270 FTP. Now with the new smart trainer my ftp is 240. Now that difference might not mean anything because of the error that those devices have. When I rode outside this summer I felt much stronger than I did last year. My avg speed went up from 18 mph to 19 mph. Also my power is up considerably from a year ago as well.

On a side note I have suffered from adrenal fatigue for many years due stress and the nasal steroids I have been on so I am sure that could effect me as well.


I had the same reduction in FTP moving from a dumb trainer to smart. I was delighted with my Tacx Genius but it was quickly apparent that my FTP of 260 was optimistic. Cue pain face. I reduced it to 200 and Zwift auto corrected it to 211. After Zwift Academy I came down with a horrid virus so I was in bed for 2 days, then on holiday in Crete (oh yes!) and got back last week. I came straight into ZA semi-final workouts after 2 weeks of almost no exercise. I really struggled with workout 1. Is it worth reducing my FTP on Zwift to manage a return after illness / holiday, or should I work through the pain barrier?


Liz, it is important that you ramp up slowly after being off the bike for 2 weeks. We always recommend that riders start with an easy spin on day 1, then move on to do some progressive work, but your first (or even second or third) session should not be an intense workout. The body isn’t ready and you can end up injured. I’d take it easy on the bike for a few days then go back to the harder workouts at your set FTP.

We discussed the general rules for getting back after missed workouts in the podcast below: