I was catching up on some reading when I came across an interesting article by Kolie Moore of Training Peaks about FTP testing and training, you can read the full article here. It’s fairly heavy reading for your every day, amateur cyclist as it is directed toward coaches, but there is some really excellent info in there for anyone that rides and trains with a power meter.
If you train with power and use TrainerRoad, Zwift, or just about any program out there to do so, you’ve probably done a 20-minute FTP test to get your baseline for training. The 20-minute FTP test although a mentally challenging and physically exhausting effort has never proven to be particularly accurate for me, and it turns out I’m not an outlier:
Many coaches and athletes define functional threshold power (FTP) as 95 percent of the average power from a 20-minute, steady-state, all-out time trial. While this may provide an accurate FTP for about 50 to 60 percent of the population, it doesn’t hold true for a large number of athletes. Among the cyclists I coach, the range of FTP relative to 20-minute power is as low as 86 percent for a track sprinter and as high as 96 percent for some time trialists.
Suggested New Methods of FTP Testing
The new FTP tests that Kolie has been implementing with clients are interesting and seem far more amateur friendly than standard protocols that were developed for pro athletes and then trickled down to us mortals. They are very similar to the way I self-test.
The procedures are longer, but there is unanimous consent, at least among the people I coach, that they’re physically and mentally easier.
BASELINE TEST, 35-45 MINUTES OR TTE
- 10 minutes at 92-95 percent of target FTP
- Increase to 100 percent of target FTP for 15 minutes
- 10-15 minutes gradual power increase until exhaustion
PROGRESSION 1, 40-50 MINUTES OR TTE + 10 MINUTES
- 10 minutes at 95 percent of target FTP
- 20-30 minutes at 100 percent of target FTP
- 10 minutes gradual power increase, if possible, until exhaustion
PROGRESSION 2, 35-60 MINUTES OR TTE + 10 MINUTES
- 10 minutes at 97 percent of target FTP
- 20-45 minutes at 100 percent of target FTP
- 5 minutes all out
PROGRESSION 3, 40-75 MINUTES OR TTE + 5 MINUTES
- 5 minutes at 97 percent of target FTP
- Hold 100 percent of target FTP until exhaustion, 70 minutes maximum
- Optional: Increase target FTP at halfway point
(TTE being time to exhaustion.)
Pretty interesting stuff and a great option if you’re struggling with traditional 20-minute FTP tests. Another option that I’ve had a lot of success with is TrainerRoad’s ramp test, it’s efficient, a lot less mentally and physically stressful and has proven very accurate for me: