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FTP test questions

Wilby_89Wilby_89 Posts: 96
edited September 2016 in Training, fitness and health
I've had a power meter for a about a month now and have yet to perform a FTP test.
As I would like to know what zones I'm training at on the road and on the turbo I am going to carry one out on Monday.
I am going to perform the 20 minute test on my turbo but have a few questions before doing so.

.How long should I warm up for?
.Do I measure average power or average weighted power for the 20 minutes?
.When should I carry out this test, Once a month, weekly, fortnightly?
.Should I be looking at my power output when carrying out the test or is this a distraction and just go off feel?

Thanks
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Posts

  • Since you have a power meter and a trainer take a look at Trainer Road or Zwift which both have FTP tests with the correct warmup procedure as part of their programme.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    +1 for trainerroad

    Once you've done it you won't be keen to repeat it each week.
  • Wilby_89Wilby_89 Posts: 96
    Once every month?
    Should I also base it on weighted average power when uploaded on strava.
  • AK_jnrAK_jnr Posts: 717
    No. Average power.
    I am rubbish at FTP tests on the turbo.
    Has to be outside for me as thats where I always ride.
  • AK_jnrAK_jnr Posts: 717
    For your first test do it blind and then on the following tests you have something to base it off. Even then your figures will go up just by learning to pace better.
  • BSRUBSRU Posts: 74
    Wilby_89 wrote:
    Once every month?
    Should I also base it on weighted average power when uploaded on strava.
    Strava's "weighted average power" is complete pants.
  • OnTheRopesOnTheRopes Posts: 460
    If you really want to get into training with power, I suggest you buy either Friels's or Coggans book, or preferably both.
    They will tell you how to prepare and warm up for the test. Remember this is an all out as fast as you can go for 20 minutes or 30 minutes depending on test, it is unpleasant to carry out.
    Remember this is actually supposed to be a test to see the max power you can susatain for a whole hour. Friel argues that you cannot mentally do this unless in competition so reduces the test to 30 minutes.
    Coggan further reduces this to 20 minutes, but only by warming up correctly which includes a 5 minute 100% effort which is a real killer.
    Both authors sugest the FTP test is best done on the road and that most riders cannot do so well on the turbo, but then the conditions need to be right and similar each time you do it (wind etc).
    If you are going to hurt yourself in a test you want it to give you the right results so make sure you get it right.
    As somebody said, once you have done one you won't be so keen to do one each week.
    I really would advise the books:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Training-Racin ... er+cycling

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cyclists-Train ... DDCMDA91FN
  • BeaconRuthBeaconRuth Posts: 2,086
    Wilby_89 wrote:
    .How long should I warm up for?
    .Do I measure average power or average weighted power for the 20 minutes?
    .When should I carry out this test, Once a month, weekly, fortnightly?
    .Should I be looking at my power output when carrying out the test or is this a distraction and just go off feel?
    The most important thing about the warm up is not that it should be the 'correct' one, as suggested above, but that you should do the same warm up each time you do the test. Just make sure you have warmed up very well. I usually suggest a minimum of 20 minutes of riding with a decent period, say 10mins, of riding briskly and some harder efforts too. Whatever you do, write it down and do the same next time you do the test.

    Carry out the test when you feel you have made progress or you need to re-measure your fitness. There is no fixed period when it is appropriate to retest. I usually recommend a test when people embark on a training programme or restart after a break. Then I'd only recommend a test when there should have been progress made - perhaps after 8 to 12 weeks if the rider is training consistently and building fitness. If there's reason to think progress will be faster than that, test before then.

    Some people find it helps them to focus if they're looking at the power they're generating. Others prefer to be distracted from the discomfort. Either way you must end up doing a test which feels like it was the hardest you could possibly ride for that duration.

    Ruth
  • OnTheRopesOnTheRopes Posts: 460
    BeaconRuth wrote:
    Wilby_89 wrote:
    .How long should I warm up for?
    .Do I measure average power or average weighted power for the 20 minutes?
    .When should I carry out this test, Once a month, weekly, fortnightly?
    .Should I be looking at my power output when carrying out the test or is this a distraction and just go off feel?
    The most important thing about the warm up is not that it should be the 'correct' one, as suggested above, but that you should do the same warm up each time you do the test.

    With respect Ruth, if it is my post you are paraphrasing, I did not say it should be the 'correct one' I said you should warm up correctly and what Coggan advises. Two different meanings.
  • BeaconRuthBeaconRuth Posts: 2,086
    OnTheRopes wrote:
    BeaconRuth wrote:
    Wilby_89 wrote:
    .How long should I warm up for?
    .Do I measure average power or average weighted power for the 20 minutes?
    .When should I carry out this test, Once a month, weekly, fortnightly?
    .Should I be looking at my power output when carrying out the test or is this a distraction and just go off feel?
    The most important thing about the warm up is not that it should be the 'correct' one, as suggested above, but that you should do the same warm up each time you do the test.

    With respect Ruth, if it is my post you are paraphrasing, I did not say it should be the 'correct one' I said you should warm up correctly and what Coggan advises. Two different meanings.
    With respect OnTheRopes, no it wasn't you who referred to "the correct warmup procedure", which is a direct quote from post #2. But it's a small matter and perhaps I'm over-sensitive about people implying that there is only one correct method or solution with regards to any training issue.

    Ruth
  • The test from Training and Racing with a Power Meter is not Andy Coggan's, but rather a protocol suggested by Hunter Allen. Andy does not recommend a 20-min test per se as a means of reliably establishing FTP (although it's an OK test on average, just be aware of the individual variability).

    It can be a useful protocol though, especially when combined with other test or maximal effort data for other durations.
  • Wilby_89 wrote:
    I've had a power meter for a about a month now and have yet to perform a FTP test.
    As I would like to know what zones I'm training at on the road and on the turbo I am going to carry one out on Monday.
    I am going to perform the 20 minute test on my turbo but have a few questions before doing so.

    .How long should I warm up for?
    .Do I measure average power or average weighted power for the 20 minutes?
    .When should I carry out this test, Once a month, weekly, fortnightly?
    .Should I be looking at my power output when carrying out the test or is this a distraction and just go off feel?

    Thanks
    1. As long as it takes for you to feel ready for performing a hard effort. As has been said, there is no specific correct protocol, but in general about 15-30 minutes is usually long enough for most.

    2. Average power. Various forms of weighted averages such as Normalized Power, are not really suitable for assessing performance over durations this short. That said, a quasi steady state TT-like effort on a turbo is likely to see average and weighted average power values to be very similar.

    3. when you feel ready but get a couple of weeks of general riding in first if you have had a long lay off, then perhaps again after 6-8 weeks if starting out with training and when fitness changes are greater. Thereafter as often as you think necessary / when you notice perhaps your fitness has changed and you need to reset. With experience, you'll probably find the need to formally test reduces as your training (and racing) data provides ample evidence of fitness changes, and especially so if you begin to learn about and use the better power-duration models now available.

    4. it's a personal thing. I think it's helpful, especially to avoid going too hard to begin with. I generally suggest people think of it as a 20+5 minute test. That way you can start conservatively and gauge how you are going during the test and whether you think you can lift the effort as you go. If you are in the final 5-min and realise you've been able to go a fair bit harder than during the initial 5-min, then just extend the test at the higher power level and use the mean maximal 20-min power. If however you are not able to lift it and your power at the end isn't much higher than the initial 5-min then you can just dump all you have at the end and finish at the 20-min mark.
  • ajmitchellajmitchell Posts: 203
    BSRU wrote:
    Wilby_89 wrote:
    Once every month?
    Should I also base it on weighted average power when uploaded on strava.
    Strava's "weighted average power" is complete pants.
    Why? it uses coggan formula and gives useful info why complete pants?!
  • ajmitchellajmitchell Posts: 203
    Wilby_89 wrote:
    I've had a power meter for a about a month now and have yet to perform a FTP test.

    Have a look at the following site for good tips:
    https://fascatcoaching.com/tips/how-to- ... ield-test/
    http://www.ghtraining.co.uk/blog/2016/0 ... -power-ftp
    https://wattbike.com/uk/functional-threshold-power
    http://triathlon.competitor.com/2016/05 ... wer_110885
    Wilby_89 wrote:
    As I would like to know what zones I'm training at on the road and on the turbo I am going to carry one out on Monday.
    I am going to perform the 20 minute test on my turbo but have a few questions before doing so.

    I suggest doing one FTP on turbo and another (on a diff day) on the road as they are often different. for the road chose a route with minimal (ideally no) stops or hold ups and relatively few downhill segments.
    Wilby_89 wrote:
    How long should I warm up for?
    for a beginner as short as possible unless you want it to eat into your FTP score. eg 5mins v light. However this is very personal. It simply not needed to warm up with 100% efforts of 5mins or more. Whatever FTP you do will be a reflection of your current state + the effect of your warm up effort. So if you do another, you probably should replicate the same warm up to know if you really improved.
    Wilby_89 wrote:
    Do I measure average power or average weighted power for the 20 minutes?

    On the turbo it should be the same because intensity should be pretty constant (without hills, downhills or coasting).
    Wilby_89 wrote:
    When should I carry out this test, Once a month, weekly, fortnightly?

    As often as you want depending on your goals and curiosity. Obviously a v v hard 20mins is also great training in itself, but most people find the test too gruelling for v regular testing. The basic idea is to test at baseline, train and then test at follow-up. Typically gains over a month of training might be a 5-10 watts for a beginner but less than 1-2 watts for regular riders depending on their training.
    Wilby_89 wrote:
    Should I be looking at my power output when carrying out the test or is this a distraction and just go off feel?

    I suggest first time to ride off feel. Later ride using ave.watts but don't get obsessed with the number because ave starts lowish and builds. Looking at watts can be demoralising on bad days hence some pros cover their displays in events. On the other hand seeing watts helps avoid rookie error of going much too hard too soon (TT error). If you break the 20mins in 4x 5min blocks you can ride each 5mins slightly above your previous "ride on feel number". As for strategy I suggest 1st 5 = go slightly easy 2nd & 3rd go at threshold 4th go half at threshold then half all out.

    let us know how you got on!

    Thanks
  • lochindaallochindaal Posts: 467
    for a beginner as short as possible unless you want it to eat into your FTP score. eg 5mins v light. However this is very personal. It simply not needed to warm up with 100% efforts of 5mins or more.

    In Hunter/Allan book the hard 5 minute effort is to get you partially fatigued (as well as warmed up) as you are only doing a 20min interval. You aren't eating into your FTP you are creating a more realistic number based upon what you can hold for an hour
  • robbo2011robbo2011 Posts: 1,017
    Ok, so I did a 20 min FTP test based on the Coggan protocol and the mean power was 274W, therefore FTP = 274 x 0.95, which is 260W.

    So in Strava, my critical power plot says my 20 min power is 274W and there is an estimated FTP option which says 269W.

    My question is why the discrepancy and which value should I take as a working FTP, Coggan or Strava?
  • robbo2011 wrote:
    which value should I take as a working FTP, Coggan or Strava?

    Not Strava
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • I guess that in Strava it is looking at your accumulated data to produce a critical power curve, from which it estimates your hour power, and hence FTP. If you don't have maximal 5 or 10 minute (for example) efforts in Strava then it will get it wrong. If your 10 minute looks like your 20 minute then your 60 minute will be over-estimated because the drop off is unrealistically low. Perhaps.

    So in this case Coggan rules.

    In practice, unless your hobby is attempts on the hour record, or you regularly do 25 mile time trials, or maximal attacks on mountains, your FTP isn't directly relevant, because you're not going to set out to deliver that power for an hour. What FTP is is a proxy for equilibrium power, the maximum power that you can generate where your lactate levels remain constant, at least in the near term. There's a cool acronym which I forget. This is a physiological metric, you can establish it directly with blood tests. The relevance of this threshold power is that it marks the level that you can sustain for a significant time, if you go above then your lactate levels rise and within a relatively short time you have to stop for a while to recover. Which can be inconvenient.

    The other important physiological value is VO2 max, so the power where you are using as much oxygen as you can respirate. Your duration is limited as the lactate rises. But beyond this is a wing and a prayer sprint territory.

    IIUC, threshold is amenable to training, VO2 max pretty much is what it is. If you push your threshold up then all efforts below become easier, so that's cool.

    Paul
  • As Paul2718 says above, for might not be the most useful metric for everyone. The 3 minute or the ramp test used by Wattbike, but which can be done on any accurate device, are more easily completed perhaps.
    I would say that for most non-elite riders, using a test to set power zones ( e.g. The BC zones) makes it easier to plan training rides for specific outcomes.
  • There is also another option that CTS (trainright) recommend in their field test for those who find it hard to pace themselves for 20-30 minutes.

    Their field test consists of a Warm Up - 8 min effort - 10 min recovery - 8 min effort.

    The higher of the power and HR averages from the two 8 min efforts is then used to define your zones.
    From what I recall, the results from this test and the FTP test are pretty similar when applied to each zone, both power and HR.
    What I found useful from this field test was the second 8 min effort should improve each time you do it, providing your fitness is increasing after following a training plan/program.
  • paul2718 wrote:
    In practice, unless your hobby is attempts on the hour record, or you regularly do 25 mile time trials, or maximal attacks on mountains, your FTP isn't directly relevant, because you're not going to set out to deliver that power for an hour.
    It's not only about events that are about an hour in duration.

    FTP expresses in power terms our aerobic metabolic capability which is the key physiological determinant of success for all aerobic cycling events, which is pretty much all cycling events that last longer than track sprint and BMX events.
    paul2718 wrote:
    What FTP is is a proxy for equilibrium power, the maximum power that you can generate where your lactate levels remain constant, at least in the near term. There's a cool acronym which I forget.
    Maximal lactate steady state.
    paul2718 wrote:
    The other important physiological value is VO2 max, so the power where you are using as much oxygen as you can respirate. Your duration is limited as the lactate rises. But beyond this is a wing and a prayer sprint territory.

    IIUC, threshold is amenable to training, VO2 max pretty much is what it is.
    VO2max is also trainable, but to a lesser degree than is the fractional utilisation of VO2max at threshold.
  • Thank you for the authoritative approach...

    I think what the FTP figure is for and why we want it is worth thinking about.

    Paul
  • People seem to regularly confuse what FTP is, with ways to estimate it. e.g. 40km TT power is a good way to estimate or establish what one's FTP is, but it is not the definition of FTP.

    FTP, along with short term energy capacity (FRC / AWC) and neuromuscular (sprint) power are what determines our physiological capabilities. They are the three largely independent characteristics of primary interest.

    In racing, FTP pretty much determines the level of the game you can play (e.g. club c grade or world tour). Sprint power and short range energy capacity are key factors for how you play that game.
  • BSRU wrote:
    Strava's "weighted average power" is complete pants.
    But also surprisingly accurate!
  • VamPVamP Posts: 674
    CptKernow wrote:
    BSRU wrote:
    Strava's "weighted average power" is complete pants.
    But also surprisingly accurate!


    What are you comparing it with? In my experience it's wildly out.
  • VamP wrote:
    CptKernow wrote:
    What are you comparing it with? In my experience it's wildly out.

    Was being slightly glib, but I've found my Strava watts to be pretty much bang on with every electronic trainer I've used. Today for example I rode an hour fairly hard and it came in at 85% of my FTP on TrainerRoad / Zwift which is exactly how it felt.

    Also I have friends with power meters and Strava is in the ballpark for av. power.
  • joe2008joe2008 Posts: 1,531
    CptKernow wrote:
    VamP wrote:
    CptKernow wrote:
    What are you comparing it with? In my experience it's wildly out.

    Was being slightly glib, but I've found my Strava watts to be pretty much bang on with every electronic trainer I've used. Today for example I rode an hour fairly hard and it came in at 85% of my FTP on TrainerRoad / Zwift which is exactly how it felt.

    Also I have friends with power meters and Strava is in the ballpark for av. power.

    It's in the ballpark for normalised power.
  • BSRUBSRU Posts: 74
    CptKernow wrote:
    BSRU wrote:
    Strava's "weighted average power" is complete pants.
    But also surprisingly accurate!
    Always much lower than "Normalized Power" calculated by Training Peaks and hence gives a false indication of intensity.
  • BSRUBSRU Posts: 74
    CptKernow wrote:
    VamP wrote:
    CptKernow wrote:
    Also I have friends with power meters and Strava is in the ballpark for av. power.
    Strava's "weighted average power" is their equivalent of "normalised power" not average power.
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