“What is an FTP test & How Can it Make Me a Better Cyclist?”
One of the most commonly asked questions that we receive in the lab is “What is an FTP test?” followed shortly after by “How can it make me a better cyclist?”
20 Minutes of Pain = Smarter Training
A few fundamental questions that need answering first:
What does FTP stand for?
FTP stands for Functional Threshold Power.
So what is an FTP test?
It’s the maximum average power (wattage) that you can hold for 60 minutes or 95% of your average power for a 20 minute test. In short it’s a great cost effective test that measures your current cycling fitness. From a practical point of view we use a 20 minute test to measure your cycling effort on one of our Wattbike’s with the primary aim to go as fast as you can for the entire duration. When you finish, you should walk away from the test feeling like you have given everything, 110% effort and no less. You don’t want to finish and say I wish I had gone a little harder.
As you cycle, the Wattbike measures a number of key performance metrics including power output (watts), cadence (rpm), heart rate (bpm) and speed to calculate your specific training zones. These training zones will be the foundation on which all your training will be based upon in our Wattbike classes and on the road. Whether you road race, are an endurance cyclist or sportive rider, triathlete, ironman or ultra-distance endurance athlete or simply a fitness fanatic, these zones will define your training structure in order to derive maximum benefit and see the biggest improvements to your training and on race day!
Your FTP power output will change according to your fitness levels and training frequency so we do recommend regular testing to track progression in your numbers and adjust your training programmes accordingly. We recommend re-testing every 6-8 weeks unless you are training particularly hard for a specific cycling event then potentially every 4 weeks. If you are unsure then speak to one of our coaches who would be happy to advise accordingly.
Top 5 Benefits of the FTP Test:
1. Training Zones:
Receive accurate training zones for both power (watts) and heart rate (bpm) which will allow you to train smarter and harder for any cycling or fitness related goal. By training smarter you will be able to adapt and grow faster, seeing quicker results, i.e. more efficient training.
2. Anaerobic Threshold:
The test will calculate at which zone your body moves from an aerobic to anaerobic state of exertion i.e. zone 4. This is where lactic acid starts to accumulate in the blood stream and the body switches from burning fat or combination of fat and sugar (glycogen) to 100% glycogen (stored carbs). Knowing this number is super important, especially during sportives and other longer endurance events. You don’t want to tire yourself too quickly by staying in this zone too long and should only be used for shorter periods or towards the end of the ride as you look to finish strong. Smarter training in your correct power zones can push this number up.
3. Power to Weight Ratio Number:
This number is probably one of the single best indicators of cycling performance, especially on climbs, and is calculated by dividing the average power you generate during the test by your body weight. There are two ways to influence this number, either by increasing your power output or a reduction in weight. It is a balancing act though as too drastic weight loss can cause significant drops in your power output while too much muscle can result in loss of climbing speed in the mountains. Effective training using your FTP zones should help move this number up alongside a well-structured nutrition plan. Email us if you are interested in discussing how we can improve your nutrition and in turn your cycling.
4. Cardiovascular fitness:
The test can be used as a simple measure of your current fitness and performance levels allowing you to monitor your training improvements over time.
5. Pedal technique:
Finally, the test will analyse your pedalling and in particular, will provide data to determine any imbalances between your left and right leg distribution of power and any flat spots in your pedal technique. Improving your overall pedalling technique can have significant impact on your overall power output.
Wattbike Class Instruction – all our classes at Njinga are structured around your FTP training zones. During every class you attend you will be working within the your own training zones as opposed to other indoor cycling classes where you are working to the instructors chosen gears or perceived level of exertion.
Don’t panic or be afraid of this test. Embrace it and give it your best and see how we can help you transform your cycling! Your Wattbikes classes at Njinga will take on a new meaning. Before you know it you will be challenging to make our FTP Improver board with your next FTP Test.
No matter where you stand with your current training, our FTP tests are a good benchmark of your current cardiovascular fitness, so start training smarter enabling you to enjoy your cycling even more.
Every one of you can improve your own FTP and reach your fitness and sportive or racing goals. An FTP test is one of the best and most cost effective tests you can do. We highly recommend it as it allows you to pinpoint your exact power and heart rate training zones so you can make the most of each of your sessions at our lab.