What is A FTP Test and How to do it Effectively

Jan Poshenko
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What is A FTP Test?

Before beginning an exercise program, you need to know your current fitness level. In other words, you need to test how fit you are!!!

There are many different tests you can conduct to measure your fitness level, but today we’ll focus on the Functional Threshold Power (FTP).

If you¿re an aspiring athlete, a consistent FTP test can help you identify the right training program. Or, if you’re just starting an exercise program, the FTP test will tell you the right starting point.

Functional Threshold Power is the highest average power (watts) used over a 10-minute period of time. And testing your FTP can be done in three simple steps – a warm up, a test, and a cool down.

Step 1: Warm up

The length of your warm-up will vary depending on how far you’re willing to go and how hard you want to eventually push yourself. For example, if you want to train at an easy pace like 60% of FTP, you’ll only need about 5 minutes of warm-up riding. But if you’re training at 94% of FTP, that’ll need at least a 20-minute warm up to get your body ready.

Limitations of FTP Tests

Before we head off on a tangent, if you have read some of the internet banter about FTP testing, you may know one of the primary criticisms of FTP is that it doesn't really tell you what you need to know.

This is fair. FTP testing is a very basic way to get a snapshot of how fast you can go on flat roads. This isn't to say that the test is completely useless, it is, however, a very limited application of measuring cycling performance.

Specifically, what a FTP test isn't designed to determine is how you respond in the hills. If you are not getting up hills, you need to climb. If you can't climb you need to climb more. It's that simple.

There is no way around this, FTP or not. If FTP indicates to you that you should be in the "A" category and you aren't, or you are in the "B" category and you aren't, you need to climb more.

You can't train FTP and expect it to increase if you aren't climbing any faster. When you are FTP testing, it is important to note your power meter is measuring three things at once: power, cadence, and speed.

So your speed may be FTP, but your power and cadence are not.

How Often Should You Do A FTP Test?

FTP stands for Functional Threshold Power. The FTP test is an extremely important part of any serious cycle training plan. Not only is the FTP test a good indicator of how much aerobic fitness you currently have, but it is also vital for determining the correct training zones to cycle in, and therefore how hard to push yourself during workouts.

More specifically, the FTP test determines your aerobic threshold. High intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions are made up of efforts in and above the aerobic zone and low intensity recovery sessions are made up of efforts in and below the aerobic zone. So your FTP test determines which zone you should be spending most of your time in.

The TorqueFTP test application will conduct your FTP test for you. As with all tests, you need to be fully prepared and familiar with the process before you attempt it. If you are still looking for more information on how to do a FTP test then please read our post on conducting a FTP test here, or read on to find out the basic information on the FTP test process.

What is a FTP test?

An FTP test determines your Functional Threshold Power (FTP). The FTP test is a bike test, and is usually conducted on a turbo trainer. The test can also be conducted on a flat road, or even an indoor trainer such as a Spin bike. What you will be doing is riding at a constant power level for a fixed amount of time.

What do You Need for A FTP Test?

In short, the FTP is the all-important number which is used to determine your training zones. It’s the number used to measure how many watts you can sustain for an hour. You can use the FTP when setting up your power training software like Zwift, Trainerroad, or Tacx Trainer.

But what does FTP stand for? FTP stands for Functional Threshold Power which is a very complex way of saying you can now calculate how much power you can generate for an hour while your body still feels good.

In short, FTP is your body’s maximum capacity without overly fatiguing. In other words, it’s your highest sustainable power output.

How do you test FTP? If you exercise and compete regularly in any sport, you may find it hard to isolate one particular workout and give it all you’ve got – just to see how much power you can produce.

So how do you know if you really gave it all you’ve got for an hour?

You need to know your FTP so that the load you’re riding against is not too light. You also want to ensure the virtual ascent you’re making is sufficient enough.

Power Meter

Most cyclists, especially beginners and recreational riders need to know about FTP or Functional Threshold Power. FTP stands for functional threshold power and is an important value in cycling.

Your FTP score is generally used as the marker value to determine your functional cycling power. Basically, it helps you find right training technique, suitable diet, and the right cycle for you.

Doing FTP is one of the two ways to determine your cycling power and the other is doing an LTHR test. The difference between the two is that, to calculate your LTHR score you need to give the maximum effort throughout the test while FTP requires you to support your power at a constant level for 20 minutes.

So, FTP test is a better option for cycling enthusiasts and professionals as it is simpler to conduct, and the results can be utilized efficiently in training.

Here is the step by step process to find your FTP score:

Step 1: Warm up

Warm up your body before the actual FTP test. It helps your body to support the power output and reduces the changes of getting an injury. Keep your warm-up session easy. You may cycle for 10-15 minutes on a flat surface with a relaxed pace. Then for the next 8-10 minutes, you can ride in a slightly hilly area and increase your efforts in incline.

Smart Trainer

Functionally, it consists of a random number generator which, in turn, generates eight random number pairs from 0-9 at a set interval. For example, if the interval is set at 6 seconds, the numbers generated might be:

6 seconds = 0 and 7 :

6 seconds = 3 and 2 :

6 seconds = 2 and 8 :

And so on.

Each of these random numbers is used as the resistance level of each interval. So, during an interval with the numbers 0 and 7, resistance is set to 0 and the speed/cadence/power/etc. is set to 7. Conversely, during an interval with the numbers 2 and 8, resistance is set to 8 and speed/cadence/power/etc. is set to 2.

This means that each interval is working at a different intensity level and, as shown in the.

A while Back I Was Experimenting with the Various Features of The

During the interval, the red light was flashing to indicate that the resistance was set to 8. However, on the 8th second, the light turned green, but the resistance did not change, it still remained at 8.

This made me wonder if it was possible to trick the Wahoo Fitness app into thinking that the interval had not yet ended. As it turns out, it is quite easy to do so.

Smart Exercise Bike

In order to be able to make a meaningful and accurate assessment of your aerobic fitness (aka “How fit are you”), a test needs to be done to provide accurate numbers as a starting point. This test is typically called a VO2max test … but it could also just as easily be called a FTP test (“Fitness Test”) and there are some very simple variations on the protocol that allow for different testing protocols, depending on your goals.

The most basic test starts with a 10 minute warm-up period on the exercise bike, followed by the first 10 minutes of the 10 minute test. During this first 10 minute period, you will be trying to provide maximal effort, on the bike. This is the portion of the test that will produce the most accurate number as far as VO2max is concerned.

For the second 10 minute period of the test, you’ll be attempting to continue providing maximal effort, but will be increasing your effort with 5 watts every two minutes, for the final 7 minutes. This allows you to produce two separate numbers – VO2max and Max Power.

6 Common Methods to do A FTP Test

To enter a FTP Test, you must have a power meter that measures both power and cadence, or one of the following power meters. If you use a SRM, you can only do the FTP test on the bike that it is installed on.

The name of the test is an acronym for Functional Threshold Power.

This test is used by riders and coaches to determine the rider’s power output during long and intense efforts.

Functional Threshold Power is the highest average power that you can maintain in a 20 minute time trial.

Nobody can do this test perfectly.

Your take home point is the number you get and how you can adapt it to your training. Results of this test provide you with information on your cycling ability level, how to train and what is important in your riding.

The most important thing is the result itself.

This test is your baseline to start your training plan.

Now, there are plenty of ways you can do the FTP Test.

Let’s take a look at the different ways.

Warm up:

Warm up for 10-15 minutes then do a 5 min bout at 90% of your threshold power. Finish off with 5 minutes at a higher cadence of 110 RPM.

Go to a hard effort:

20 Minutes Indoor Test

You can easily do a 20-minute FTP test indoors, just by taking a spin class. During spin class, you spend 20 minutes riding at 100% FTP. Following the class, make sure to record your average power during the first 5-10 minutes of recovery and your heart rate during the remaining 10 minutes.

The power curve will indicate your wattage versus time. The watts will slowly decrease over the 20 minutes until your body runs out of available fuel sources (muscle glycogen). The heart rate curve will show a steady increase during the first 15 minutes and continue to slightly increase until the final 5 minutes.

These two graphs are then used to find your average power curve for the last 15 minutes in order to calculate your FTP.

For example, if your final average power was 250 watts and your average heart rate during that same time period was 165 bpm, your FTP would be 250*0.85*.15 + (250-165)*0.01 = 220.83 watts. Since wattage is directly used in training power, that is what you use to find your training zones. Convert 220.83 watts to a training power so that you can use training zones appropriate for your FTP. If you are using a TrainingPeaks account, your FTP will automatically be found for you if you are using the WKO4 software.

8 Minutes Indoor Test

The 8-minute indoor FTP test is the most commonly used training benchmark test. Such a test requires a 15km (9.3mi) training course, and gives you a baseline of your FTP.

The idea is pretty simple. You start with a 5-minute warm-up at a low intensity, not too hard, not too easy.

Right after that, you get on the bike to do 20 minutes at a relatively steady pace, which is 25%-50% of your FTP. You must do this constant pace during the whole 20 minutes. This test is called 20/15.

After completing the 20 minutes, you get off your bike and do a 5-minute cooling down.

You can do this 8-minute indoor FTP test at home or at the gym. If you are going to do the test in the gym, you will need about 15 minutes to warm up and 15 minutes to cool down. In this case, the total time you take for your workout is 35 minutes.

Indoor Ramp Test

A ramp test is done to test your endurance when going up and down through the ramps.

The test is important as it is designed to be a useful indicator for training development.

There are several factors that affect the person’s performance in a ramp test test such as: speed of the skater, mass distribution, and the inclination of the ramp.

In order to have an adequately scaled test, the skater’s mass should be near 1.5 kg.

A ramp test is worth up to 5 points and should be done using the following method:

Each ramp should have a 30 degree incline. It is important that the skater travels as fast as possible on the ramp without falling. Their speed should be maintained for the full 15 seconds without taking off the skates.

The time taken to cover the ramp should be calculated.

The distance covered by the skater can be calculated by the formula:

Total distance covered = 16 x speed in metres / time in seconds …footnote: Speed in meters should be converted into meters.

In order to do both in-place and ramp tests, you should first set the incline to 30 degrees. Then start timing.

If the skater can’t travel the full 15 seconds, the time will be recorded.

20 Minutes Outdoor Climb

Ok, I’m usually not a fan of fixed protocols. I like to mix it up.

But what I’ve tried to do here is have a baseline so we can compare how various workouts we create work. I’m going to give you a 20 minute, outdoor, climb (This will be atypical fitness for most people) that you can base other workouts off of.

The good thing about building fitness in this way is that you can make it specific to your needs.

If you feel injury is holding you back, attach a heart rate monitor and pick a rythme that is aerobic.

If you’re out to add muscle, push yourself a little harder and do it after a resistance workout.

You can then use the curve we’ll create as a baseline to compare the various aspects.

The beauty is in the details.

1 Hour Criterium Race

The 1-hour criterium is formalized cycling event lasting about an hour and held on a playground. Unlike the elimination and positioning events, the 1-hour cycle has no set distance or direction; organizers refer to it as an "endurance cycling test" – which means gearing up for a hilly ride is not recommended.

Here are the event rules, according to the national cycling association.

An event supervisor looks over the course at least one hour before the start.

The clock does not start until the first rider leaves the start gate.

The clock stops when the last rider crosses the finish line.

Time over the Entire Lap Is the Event Winner

The event winner with the lowest average lap time wins.

Event classes are based on school age. That means most 6-8 year olds race a 1/2 mile lap, while the older boys and girls ride a full mile.

Teams pay an entry fee and are given five minutes to warm up before the race.

For example, the older age group in the Grand Haven Beach Bike Festival, the 10-13 year olds, completes a lap about .62 of a mile. Younger students race a quarter-mile. And team of 1-2 females and a team of 1-2 males can win.

1 Hour Time Trial

This is a fairly basic test that tells you what you can realistically expect for your performance in an hour. To do this test you will need a good quality power meter that is able to measure your FTP and a proper indoor trainer.

The test consists of five 10 minute segments with a short break in between each segment. You will want to stay consistent with the same effort through out the entire test. So try to have a predetermined ramp time to get to your peak power and an easy back down time.

With a ramp/back down time, you would need to have your peak power set somewhere between 375 to 400 watts with the back down time being 10-20 watts below your peak power. The 10-minute time trial is going to be your time reference for your power output.

If you use a power meter and don’t know your FTP yet, now would be the time to find out. Using an hour time trial as a guideline makes it easy to compare kind of efforts to see where the numbers truly are.

8 Tips to Nail the Perfect FTP Test

Prepare Mentally

For the FTP Test: What is FTP?

FTP stands for Functional Threshold Power and refers to the highest average power an athlete can maintain for a one-hour time period.

The functional threshold is essentially the highest amount of work you can do without it negatively affecting your performance and potentially your health. It is the point where your performance starts to seriously decline.

It has been shown that athletes who have the greatest potential in terms of fitness are the ones who can work at an intensity just below their FTP.

If you fail to complete the test and your legs become rubbery and bloated, you may be working too hard. If you’re unable to complete the test even though you’re vastly improving your time or power each week, you may not be working hard enough.

FTP not only helps you establish Target Training Zones (more on those in a moment), it will also help you create the right training program to achieve your performance goals.

In this post, we’ll look at how FTP should be used to measure your fitness, how you can identify your FTP, how to do a FTP test, and we’ll also look at different ways to improve your FTP over time.

Get Proper Rest Beforehand

Before you take a FTP test, you should be in optimal physical shape. That means getting plenty of sleep and eating well. In order to ensure you are as prepared as possible, get a decent amount of sleep (7-9 hours) and eat plenty of carbs.

You want to eat carbs for several reasons. Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy in your body and will ensure you have enough energy to complete the test. In addition, carbs will cause your body to release insulin. Insulin helps your fat cells release fat, which it is important for easily accessible energy.

The other benefit of insulin is that it helps control your blood sugar levels and will prevent you from getting overly hungry. Hunger during a FTP test makes concentration nearly impossible. Finally, eating foods high in carbs will help you replenish your glycogen stores, so you won’t be heavily reliant on your stored fat.

Carbohydrates come in two forms: simple and complex. Simple carbs, like sugar, are the easiest form of carbs for your body to convert to energy. Complex carbs take longer to digest and convert into energy. Complex carbs are typically found in foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Warm Up Properly

It’s important to warm up properly before an FTP test. This will give your body time to develop a fuller picture of what’s going on in your muscles and cardiovascular system.

Warm-up activities should gradually increase in intensity as you progress from light to moderate to heavy activity. A good warm-up usually takes at least 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the length, intensity, and number of warm-up sets you perform).

Beginning with a light warm-up of 6 to 8 minutes, cycling through 90 to 100 rpm and around 60 to 70% effort level, is sufficient to get circulatory and nerve system functioning at 100% capacity. Remember that you should warm up all the way up to your normal training intensity, but not above.

It is important that you avoid getting too tired or exhausted when doing a warm-up routine, as this could lead to early onset of fatigue during the actual test.

Know the Equipment and/or Route

The first step to using FTP (and optimum performance) is to have a very good understanding of the equipment and/or route to be ridden. By understanding this, you can then prepare a plan for how you intend to complete it. Whether your plan is to avoid certain areas or complete the whole route as hard as possible, it is important to have a plan and/or strategy in mind prior to undertaking the test.

One of the important things to understand is the overall timing of the route. Knowing this allows you to know when and where to focus your efforts and also helps you determine whether or not you are able to complete the route or not (if timed).

Also, it is important to understand what your capabilities as a cyclist are. This will also make it easier for you to determine a realistic time in which you want to complete the circuit. However, if you do not have a good understanding of the circuit, I would highly recommend completing the route once or twice prior to timing yourself on it. It is the best way to create awareness of what you can expect and prepare yourself to tackle the course.

Don't Start Too Hard

One of the most common mistakes beginners make is to overshoot the target FTP from the start. They may have heard that the FTP is at the maximum of a 30-minute time trial and jump straight into it.

This can be a very costly mistake because it will result in extremely slow training zones. Any FTP test is a hard workout. It's not meant to be fun. This is why you need to determine your FTP by a 20 to 25 minutes time trial. You could also back off a little from the highest wattage you can maintain for this time period and start at this level.

Keep in mind that for the first 3 to 4 weeks, you will be focused on achieving the optimal recovery from your workouts as well. You need to be sure that your recovery is in check before you start increasing the duration of your time trials.

You see, the purpose of FTP testing is to determine your zones for power training. FTP tests can be completed with a power meter or a heart rate monitor. It is important that you start by defining your zones based on either heart rate or power. This is because your training zones are strongly influenced by your lactate threshold (LT) and your heart rate will not reflect lactate levels.

Don't Sprint or Surge

In FTP Tests!

The FTP test (functional threshold power) is used by cyclists and triathletes to measure their training capacities. It can be considered a benchmark, as well as an objective justification of the training load and the "right" progression of the load.

FTP is actually a measure of the power or the rate at which you can produce on a bike (or in swimming and running). It is a marker of your performances and a way to set your weekly training to make sure you progress without overdoing.

It is measured as the average power studied over a 20-minute period by a cyclist. This value remains fairly constant (i.e. seasonal) regardless of the distances covered. This exercise is called a 20-minute threshold test.

Besides taking a 20-minute test, you can also experiment with a 10-minute test for a lower intensity FTP test. For cyclists who alternately perform indoor training on a stationary session, a 5-minute test can also be a good solution.

FTP tests can be done by professionals as well as cycling enthusiasts. Just do it according to instructions given by your coach. It is very important to keep a steady rhythm and a constant position. One should always keep a steady pace in the test, as recovering from alternating dynamics from a sprint to a more relaxed pace can be problematic.

Stay Seated

A maximal graded exercise test may sound intense, but it is actually a goal-paced effort at which the rider will perform as many pedal revolutions as possible in order to reach their maximal oxygen uptake.

How To Do A Five Minute Test?

In order to do a proper FTP test, the rider must start the session on an indoor trainer and continue for five minutes. The series of intervals includes 5 seconds at 100% resistance, followed by 50 seconds of recovery.

You can hardly expect your body to complete a proper workout if you push yourself to the extreme after you just woke up from a five-hour sleep, so you should not start the first FTP test of the day.

Having a bad night’s sleep or being hangover is reason enough to put off the test to another day.

Be in the Moment

The purpose of an FTP test is to measure the maximum amount of power you can apply to the pedals, and then adjust your training zones accordingly. This will allow you to train harder before hitting your maximum training intensity. FTP stands for Functional Threshold Power. That’s a pretty geeky term. So let’s break it down.

FTP stands for:

  • F … Functional
  • T …Threshold
  • P … Power

Functional means your FTP test is solely concerned with the biomechanical efficiency and physical demands of your cycling. Threshold is your “red line” – the maximum intensity you can recruit when riding. So FTP stands for biomedical efficiency and physical demands. For a triathlete, your FTP test must be accomplished outdoors. If you suffer from asthma, a sinus infection, or take allergy medication, you might want to consider using the indoor option.

Indoor FTP Test:

{1}. Warm-up.
{2}. Ride for 10 to 15 minutes, then do a 2-minute power interval at 90 percent of your 20-minute average power. This is not your FTP. This should feel like hell.
{3}. Ride at 90 percent of your 20-minute average power for another two minutes.

4 Things You Can Do after Knowing Your FTP

To fully maximize and improve FTP, you need a basic understanding of power numbers. Heart rate varies during exercise, but power output does not. Knowing your true power numbers allows you to understand and focus on the power you can build through training.

It’s best to plan your training based on your actual watts at the wheel and not based on heart rate. For instance, if you are an experienced athlete working on an FTP of 250 watts, using your maximum heart rate as the intensity barometer for your training session is not correct. A typical athlete’s heart rate will be 15 to 20 beats higher at that power output, so you are counting efforts that are much too hard.

Instead use your average power numbers at the wheel. Below are the formulas to use your real FTP watts to teach you how to use and find your numbers.

Identify Strengths and Weaknesses

With FTP A FTP test is performed to measure your functional threshold power … and it can be used during endurance training to help you optimize your training.
The strength-to-weight ratio of your muscles (particularly your legs and glutes) has a significant impact on your cycling power output. Although it is a very complex topic, let’s just say that a high power-to-weight ratio will provide a critical advantage over a lower ratio. And, your FTP can also be used to establish a workload that will help you conduct training.

In order to perform a FTP test, you will need a cycle-ergometer and someone that can give you accurate feedback on how you are performing.

The protocol indicates that you should start the test with a relatively low workload and progressively increase the workload for each time interval.

Each time distance and workload is recorded for power assessment.

Generally the test is done on a well-trained and well-conditioned athlete.

Starting workload is between 1 W/Kg (yes you read that right) and 5 W/Kg.

After every lap the workload is increased by 1 W/Kg.

The power (Watts) produced from the test is recorded for every lap, and also the time taken to execute that lap.

The test is performed till you are unable to keep up with the workload.

Measure Improvement Over Time

If you are training for a sport, it is essential to track your fitness results in order to know your limits and how far you have progressed.

One way to do this is through measurements of Fitness Testing Points or FTP.

It is a good measurement of the overall athletic capacity of an individual, providing a way to measure an adjustment in fitness, and also provides an estimate of the individual's lactate threshold.

Why is it important to measure FTP? Well, for starters, it is a good way to measure improvement over time.

FTP also provides a way to gauge your efforts before an event, i.e. measuring and noting your current FTP before doing a time trial race.

It can also be used to set goals, whether near term or long term.

One of the difficulties of testing your FTP is actually building up to it, so measuring it accurately is important.

Ideally, a test is supposed to measure your maximum sustainable effort over 20 minutes.

Your heart rate should reach it’s maximum level as a result of maximum sustained exertion.

The test works best for distance events in which the pace is relatively constant, such as the 5K run or a time trial.

If you are training for a sprinter event, using your time trial results to set your FTP can be inaccurate.

Set Power Training Zones

Training is based on the four training zones identified by the power training effect curve and that zone you should train in depends on an endurance athlete’s Functional Threshold Power (FTP). This test, which is also called a Functional Threshold Test (FTT), provides an accurate approximation of an athlete’s highest sustainable power or work rate.

For the most accurate results, the protocol for the FTT must follow the guidelines exactly, including the use of an individualized ramp protocol. A Spin Scan test could be used if a power based bike fit was performed only the day or two prior. The subject should be properly fed and hydrated (about 50-100 % of fluid needs). Proper hydration ensures that the body is at proper weight and that no weight adjustments are needed to account for any fluid weight.

The HR response is dependent on three key factors: training status, temperature, and workload. Since FTP changes very little with training status or as a function of temperature, HR response to workload at FTP is the appropriate measure of intensity. To better understand the nature of the HR response to workload at FTP, we can use the following example: If we walk up a flight of stairs, the only variable that changes is workload. Workload does not change with training status or temperature. The only factor that changes with workload is HR.

See Where You Stand Against the Pros

A FTP Test is a Functional Threshold Power Test. It is performed by measuring the power output of the rider over an extended period of time and extrapolating the time to complete a set distance. The Functional Threshold Power is a representation of the most power you can produce over a period of time before you fatigue. It is an important metric for many cyclists, although it is much more relevant in longer races than in shorter ones.

By taking a FTP test, you can determine your optimal wattage for different races, improve your watts per kilo and pinpoint times when you are not operating at maximum fitness.

While you may be able to cycle hard for a short period of time (30 -60 seconds), it takes about 4 minutes to get to maximum power output. Therefore, most FTP tests involve a warm up and then riding for about 40 minutes.

You will then be able to see your power output in watts per kilo for different periods of time – 30 seconds, one minute, 2 minutes, 4 minutes etc.

Knowing your FTP gives you a baseline reading for all of your rides. It is the minimum level of effort you need to put in to be able to complete any individual workout or race.

It also gives you something more tangible than heart rate to work with when following a training programme.

Below we look at the optimal FTP and the right way to take your own FTP Test.