A Note from Coach Kadir on FTP

A Note from Coach Kadir on FTP

FTP is a tricky thing. Riders obsess over it. Coaches analyze it. Confidence and even self-worth can sometimes be dependent upon it. FTP, or Functional Threshold Power, is defined as a rider's maximum power output over a 60-minute period. Basically, it's a measure of your long-range aerobic fitness. Typically, FTP is derived by taking 3-5% off your best 20-minute power.

What's most vexing, however, is that this number fluctuates. Certainly, it changes from the regular season to the off season (at least it ought to), and it changes as you get more fit. More importantly, it changes depending on the day. Because FTP Checks are integrated into riders' training schedules, it's possible to be a bit tired going into them. It's also always possible to have a bad day. This happens all the time.

There are a few ways to deal with this. First, don't stress about it. Everyone has off days. Second, make sure the circumstances of your FTP test are always the same. Ride the same climb, or section of road. Do it at the same time of day, and in similar weather conditions, if that is possible. You can even eliminate all the outdoor variables and do your FTP tests on an indoor trainer. Just make everything as consistent as possible. Third, don't watch the numbers. It's easy to try to peg your current output to your target goal, but this can mess with your head and cause a worse result. Put your cycling computer on the map screen or something similar, do your best effort, and let the numbers fall where they may. Fourth, don't start too hard! This is a sure way to load your legs with lactate and scuttle your chances of doing a good ride. Get a good warm up, think of it as a 20-minute time trial, ease into the effort, and push to the maximum as you're ready.

Keep in mind that FTP can vary and just because it doesn't rise significantly compared to your last check doesn't mean you're less fit. You could have had an off day, or you could be a bit tired. Let it be what it is, stick to your training plan, focus on the future, and it's likely your next check will be much better.