FUNCTIONAL POWER THRESHOLD OR HOW TO DO AN FTP TEST
Functional threshold power or FTP is already beginning to be a fairly common term within the amateur cyclist world.
The increasingly affordable prices of power metres make many non-professional cyclists want to jump right into power training.
If you are one of those who has finally made the leap to power training, in this post I want to tell you how to do an FTP test so you can find out your functional threshold power or FTP.
There is a standard way of doing a power test in cycling that is considered correct, or at least a way of knowing we are not wrong. From here on is where each coach’s nuances and experience enter in.
DO AN FTP TEST
An FTP test is defined as the maximum average power that an athlete can produce for 60 minutes but as you will notice, doing 60 minutes to the limit makes you feel lazy just thinking about it. It is difficult to maintain concentration for so long and requires more rest before starting.
For this reason we’ll do the test for a duration of 20 minutes in which we will go to the limit and produce the maximum power that we can. By taking less time, the athlete will use his anaerobic capacity more and thereby generate more power. To correct this higher power, you remove a percentage equivalent to a 20 minutes average from the average that you could do in the theoretical 60 minutes.
The test has to be done on flat by default and we will remove 5% from the result. If you do it climbing a mountain pass and you only remove 5% this certainly won’t be enough, so when you do it on flat roads you would thereby over-calculate. Therefore if you do the test climbing such a pass it would be avisable to knock off 10%.
If you do your quality training sessions on a roller, it is vital that you also do the test in a roller. Watts produced on a roller have nothing to do with those produced on the road. Only the roller-trainer knows. In this case we would subtract 5%
Then I propose a standard test protocol:
- 20 min continuous pedalling at 65% (FTP) or 70% (UA) CAD. 90rpm
- 3 × 1 min continuous pedalling with a cad. +100rpm/Rec.1 min
- 5 minutes continuous cycling at 65% (FTP) or 70% (UA)
- 4 full sprint for 20 sec with CAD. + 100rpm/REC. 3 min continuous cycling at 80% CAD. 90rpm
- 5 min continuous shooting at 65% (FTP) or 70% (UA) CAD. 90rpm
- Start Test 20 min to the limit
- 15-20 min smooth continuous cycling.
Note: The day you do the test you could also do much more than that. I suggest that if you have time, continue taking advantage of being warmed up, and do a sweet spot interval at 90% for 30 or 40 minutes and thereby complete a decent quality session.
Once we know our FTP, we can calculate the percentages of the different intensities depending on the factors we are working on. The following is a table for an athlete who has done a 330w test (on flat)
FTP= 330w*0.95= 313w
|Level.||Zones based on FTP (313w)||Minimum||Maximum|
|1||Active Rest < 55%||172w|
|3 +||Sweet Spot (88-94%)||275w||294w|
|6||Anaerobic capacity (120-150%)||376w||470w|
|7||Neuromuscular power (Max – Max.)||—||—|
You now have the guidelines to do an FTP test and get started training with power. You don’t have to do one every month but I suggest you do a test at the beginning of the season so you know what point you are starting from, another at the beginning of serious training, another in the middle of this period and finally one more at the end of the season so you know how far you got.
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