The term FTP stands for Functional Threshold Power and it’s a measure of the best average power output you could sustain for 1 hour in a time-trial scenario.
The FTP, Functional Threshold Power, is the highest average power that a rider can maintain over the course of an hour. FTP is the gold standard measure for cycling performance and is useful in all types of events from sprint triathlons all the way through to multi-stage cycle races like the Tour De France.
It is an estimation of the workload a cyclist can sustain for an hour without a drastic increase in metabolite wastes.
Knowing your own FTP helps you to track your progress, analyse your rides and set effective strategies for your key events.
There are several ways to test Your FTP:
Critical Power 60 Test or CP60
This test simply requires riding to the best of your capabilities and seeing how you can sustain throughout a 1-hour period, while measuring your average power in watts by using a power meter. The best way to conduct a CP60 test is during an organised cycle time trial event, such as a 40km.
One needs to be highly motivated to ride as hard as they can, only then does this test prove to be the most accurate determination.
However, doing a CP60 on your own can take a toll on you mentally, due to the lack of stimulation. There are chances you might not give your best performance or you might even give up half-way through. Pinning a number on your back in a race-setting can help focus your mind on delivering a great performance.
Critical Power 20 Test or CP20
A 20-minute time trial where you have to ride as hard as you can whilst measuring your average power output.
Once you know your average power for 20 minutes you can multiply it by 95% to estimate your FTP. So, if your CP20 power output is 200 watts, a good estimation of your FTP would be 190 watts. This method proves it’s worth and is surprisingly accurate.
Use Training Peaks
This test isn’t a typical test. You can upload your daily training data to an online software such as TrainingPeaks.com, it will estimate your FTP power output from your best efforts in training over a given period. This is not quite as accurate as measuring it directly, but it’s not far off.
The quickest way to increase your FTP
There are two training methods to increase your FTP:
Push from below– Pushing from below relies on your sweet spot and threshold rides just below your FTP at 90-98%. These increases FTP slowly but surely.
Pull from above– Pulling from above is achieved using lots of hard, VO2max intervals, where you continually spend time training in zones above your FTP, from 105-120%. This will increase your FTP quickly but you will find your peak is less sustainable and you also risk burnout.
How often should you take the FTP test?
Every 4 to 6 weeks is the general guideline for reassessing your FTP.
Long enough for some adaptation and improvement to have taken place but not too long that you don’t adjust your FTP zones and thus your training stagnates. If you don’t retest often enough, you risk plateauing but retest too often and you simply won’t see the FTP gains.
Spokeherd wishes you Happy cycling and a sustainable growth.