If you have been cycling or training long enough, you have heard about your Functional Threshold Power, better known as your FTP. What is FTP, and why is it important? Here are five things to know about your FTP.
1. Your FTP threshold is the point when lactate begins to accumulate in your blood, causing your muscle to burn and ultimately causing you to back off the power. One of the most popular methods to measure your FTP is by doing a 20-minute test to measure how much power your can sustain over that time. You multiply that number by .95 to predict your official 60 minute FTP. Example: Your 20-minute power average is 200 watts x .95 = 190 watts FTP Note: There are other FTP tests, such as the Ramp Test, which we will discuss in later articles.
2. Start the new year with an updated FTP test. It is best to re-test your FTP every 4-6 weeks to reflect fitness changes during the winter/spring build-up portion. Most training plans are designed on specific power zones for proper interval training. If you guess your FTP or enter last year's FTP, your training zones will be incorrect, and your workouts will be compromised. Improper FTP data will create workouts that are either too hard or too easy, and neither will make you a better cyclist.
3. If tests stress you out, there are ways you can still record your best 20-minute power. Many cyclists don't perform at their best under test situations. A 20-minute FTP test is stressful. Thanks to technology, most bike computers, training software, and online platforms already track your power data after every ride. So, maybe you perform better in a race or chasing the group during a Tuesday night club ride or chasing a Strava KOM. Whatever helps you produce your best power results is all that matters. Check your power data after a hard race or ride to review your 20-minute power results. You might be surprised how strong you really are:) Problem solved!
4. An accurate FTP helps manage your progress to promote proper training adaptation and avoid overtraining. As 50+ cyclists, we need intensity training and additional recovery. We can measure workouts in terms of a Total Stress Score (TSS). TSS is the combination of the duration and intensity of each workout. Tracking your (TSS) helps you train at the proper intensity levels so you can include the recovery time required for maximum training benefit! Following your daily and weekly TSS score is critical for any training success and requires an accurate FTP to ensure your workouts are set to your specific level of fitness.
5. A Higher FTP benefits everyone who rides a bike for any reason! FTP increases our sustain power and raises our aerobic fitness, which benefits us all! There are many training programs designed to increase FTP power! Some cycling disciplines benefit more from a high FTP. These cyclists are Time Trialists and Gravel riders. Both require lots of sustained power to perform their best. The goal is to increase your sustained average power as high as possible! you
Watt/Kg Once you know your FTP, you can divide that number by your weight in Kg to determine your watts/Kg. For example, Joe has an FTP of 275 watts; he weighs 170lbs. 170lbs / 2.2 = 77.3 Kg. 275/77.3= 3.6w/Kg, Your W/Kg compares your cycling fitness to other riders regardless of your size or raw power. Your W/kg is the true cycling equalizer! See the graph below for average w/kg for age groups.