A FTP (functional Theshold Power) test provides really useful information for anyone that wants to really focus on their training. We can tell a lot about our performance as cyclist with how much power we can produce into our pedals. The power we refer to is measured in watts.
How to perform an FTP test?
In order to train with power and perform a FTP test you will either need a power meter on your bike, or a smart trainer that has a power meter. If you have both do the test on the method that you do most of your training. If you mainly train indoors or the weather is often very unpredictable do it indoors. If mostly train outdoors and have powermeter on your bike, do the test outdoors and an interrupted road that will take you to 20mins. The test takes 20mins, however allow for a warm up of about 20mins also.
During the 20min test ride as hard as you can for 20mins, try to keep a sustained pace, so don't go to hard at the beginning, but it should feel horrible. From what you averaged for the 20mins you can work out your FTP here
Try to do the test when you are feeling reasonably rested and repeat under the same conditions each time. Whatever the result, remind yourself that you did you best for that day.
Also take note that you can work out your power to weight ratio, by dividing your watts by your current weight. If you reduce your weight and your watts stay the same, you will be a superior cyclist.
What it tells us
From the 20min test we can work out your Functional Threshold Power. This kind of is the power you should be able to hold for an hour, but realistically most can't hold that number for an hour. From your FTP we can work out your zones, so we can estimate what you can do for 3 min vo2 max efforts for example.
If you have not got a power meter don't worry, you can work out your heart rate zones and train with heart rate.
Other things to look for
People often get very focused on their FTP, however there are other things to consider, that being your max for other time frames such as explosive sprints and 1 mins efforts, which can tell you about your strengths as a cyclist. Also, how resistant you get to fatigue in that you can develop being about to work harder for longer periods.
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