Soo… What exactly IS Functional Threshold Power (FTP), and why are we testing it?
The easiest way to define FTP is the highest average power (in watts) that you can sustain for an hour while cycling. We often colour code this into different zones. No matter your cadence (RPM), if you’re working in the red zone, you’re producing more power (more watts) than if you’re working in the orange zone.
If we know your FTP, and if we test it over time, we can use it to 1) Measure your progress and 2) Personalise training intensities (zones; that way, no matter how fit the person next to you is, if you’re both working in the red zone, it’s going to feel equally intense for both of you if you’re both riding with your correct FTP inputted).
For those of you who have trained in a lab or worked with a sport scientist, it’s similar to using lactate threshold to measure (and increase) training intensity. But no blood samples involved in this method!
In an ideal world, we’d get you to do a 60-minute test to find your real FTP… But you might kill us if we told you to ride at the highest gear possible on 90RPM for that long! So instead, we usually use a 10 – 20 minute test, with a calculation applied to it to account for the fact that the test is shorter.
We test your FTP to make sure you’re riding at an effort that’s hard enough for you, and because that number ain’t gonna lie. If you’re getting fitter and faster, that number will increase. Is your FTP not increasing? Let me know, I’d love to chat to you about why that might be, and some of the ways we can change that!
Photo: Siobhan Milner captured by Jaco Pattikawa.