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FTP test

FTP-testingAim of Session

To assess your 'functional threshold power', equivalent to the upper power at which you can work under 'steady state' conditions. Often accompanied by a power profiling test.

Session description

WU: Be sure to do the same warm-up and intensity in your warm-up each time you do this test. 1) Start out with a 20 minute warmup, which is just riding along at a moderate pace, zone 2 is fine. 2) 5 minute 'blast', holidng a race type effort, around 80 to 90% of a max effort. Make sure that you start at a high pace, but not so high that you die at the end. You should have a little in reserve at the finish. 3) 10minutes easy in zone 2 again.
MS: The 20 time trial. Try to do this on a road that is fairly flat and allows you to put out a strong steady effort for the entire 20minutes. Do not start out too hard! That's a common mistake, so make sure that you get up to speed and then try to hold that speed as best you can. If you have never done one of these efforts before, I would suggest trying this on a steady climb or into a slight headwind, where you are forced to do it at a maximum effort for the entire 20 minutes.
CD: Finish with 10-15minutes at zone 2.

Session duration is indicative - just follow the structure above, wind your way home, and job is done ;-)

Physiology

Functional Threshold Power (FTP) represents a cycling intensity that can be sustained for 1-hour. In a practical sense, FTP sits in zone 4 on the exercise continuum. Physiologists also call this intensity the 'Maximal Lactate Steady State' as although the body will be producing lactic acid, it can still (just about!) clear it at the same rate - hence lactate concentrations level-off and remain stable for the 1-hour period. With aerobic energy production playing a major role, FTP can be maintained for a good period of time without fatigue causing a drop in intensity or causing exercise to stop. FTP still represents a hard effort and may be more difficult to sustain late on, as the body gradually begins to fatigue: all the lactic acid comes from body glycogen stores, which are being used at an incredibly high rate at this intensity.

Application for the Rider

Practically, FTP will be similar to 25-mile time trial power. This intensity should be fairly comfortable to hold for a good period of time. This session provides an efficient method of gauging this intensity in a period of just 20-minutes. It is important that during this session, the main ride is performed on a flat road, where steady intensity can be maintained. The key is to get up to a good speed and try to maintain that speed as best you can. Don’t go out too hard and cause a drop in the intensity in the later part of the ride.

Practicalities and tips!

  • This session can be completed on the road or on a turbo:
    • The turbo doesn’t allow any interruptions and gives a greater element of repeatability
    • Completing it on the road more accurately reflects the conditions in which you compete.
  • If you do decide to complete the session on the road, be sure to plan your session effectively. When you are putting the hammer down for a 5 minute block, an unscheduled stop at a crossing or lights will invalidate the test and be incredibly frustrating! Similarly, a strong tail or head wind might skew the data collected.
  • The key is consistency and repeatability - once you decide on road / turbo, stick with the same conditions for all your subsequent tests. The same is applicable to the bike you use, the position on the bike, the time of day, nutrition etc
  • Be aware of pacing - given this test is a length familiar to most cyclists (it approximates a 10 mile time trial), you should know how to gauge your starting effort

Evaluation of the session

Want to interpret your FTP test? Read the factsheet on 'power profiling' in our library.