The 5 Keys to a Good FTP Check Up

The 5 Keys to a Good FTP Check Up

Functional Threshold Power, or FTP, is an objective scientific measure of cycling performance.  FTP is simply the average maximum power, measured in watts, that you can maintain for a 60-minute period.  This gives you a good idea of your cycling strength and fitness.  FTP is a great way to see if your training is helping you to improve over time. You can also compare your FTP with riders of all levels.

At VeloPro, we use the 20-minute method to derive your FTP.  This method helps encourage you to test regularly while avoiding injury.  FTP is best checked every 2-3 weeks after a build period in your training workouts. The actual test is best administered as part of a normal training ride.  To take the test, at the beginning of your ride, first complete a normal warm up.  Next, ride for 20-minutes at maximum effort. Think of it as a mini time trial. The most accurate FTP measurements come from using a power meter connected to your cycling computer.  If you do not have a power meter, VeloPro can estimate your output in watts from other ride data.    

Here are 5 Keys to having a great FTP test:

  1. Plan your route. You need 20 minutes of consistent uninterrupted effort.  This means no stop signs, red lights, coasting descents or bathroom breaks.  This can be a difficult challenge for urban riders.  Max efforts can produce great speed and you can burn through a route quickly. For this reason, some people prefer to take their FTP tests on an indoor trainer.  Another good alternative is to find a good long hill climb where max effort does not mean max speed.
  2. Check your bike. Make sure your bike and tires are in good shape.  You don’t want a flat or mechanical issue to take you out.  Check your chain.  Nothing will suck the watts out of your performance more than a worn chain or drive train.  Make sure your power meter and heart rate strap have good battery charge.  There’s nothing worse than a dead battery during and FTP check.
  3. Don’t skip the warm up. Maximum efforts require that you warm up to avoid injury and over revving your heart rate.  This is why you see pro cyclists vigorously riding a trainer before a time trial event.  Your engine needs time to heat up for top performance.
  4. Do the test! Some people don’t like tests. It makes them nervous and anxious.  We sympathize.  In VeloPro, nobody sees your FTP test data but you.  You have complete privacy.  If for some unavoidable reason the test does not go well, you can always edit the ride to remove the FTP checkbox. This will make the ride a normal training ride. Then you can try again
  5. Don’t sandbag. Yes you. A higher FTP does mean that your future workouts should ask more from you.  This is a good thing.  This is how you get fitter, faster and stronger.  Don’t be a Plateau Joe.  Plateau Joe is a champion of mediocrity. He does the same thing every ride because it is comfortable and then doesn’t understand why he doesn’t get better.  Don’t be that rider.  IF you train with VeloPro, we build rest into your plan, so you have a chance to recover.  There’s no reason to sandbag.

VeloPro makes it simple and easy to measure your FTP and train for your next cycling event. Road, Mountain and Cyclocross, we have you covered. Sign up for a free trial today.