Functional Threshold Test

Good morning, Tritons!  Great job yesterday to those who rode at CrossFit 4800 and did their threshold test.  As promised, I wanted to further explain how you can calculate your power zones (similar to your heart rate zones) for training purposes.  But first, I will explain the test and some things you want to consider when you take the test next time.

Warm-up:  Approx 30 minutes (15 min easy spin, 5 min hard – but not all out, 5 min easy spin, 3 min hard, 1 min easy spin).  You want to always do the same warmup for your tests.  Keep everything as consistent as you can.  If you ride at 6 pm, then ride at 6 pm for all your same tests.  By keeping all aspects consistent, you are ensuring that you are getting good and accurate results of where your fitness level is at.  Don’t forget to also get the same amount of rest before each test.

Main set:  20 minutes of as hard as you can go.  Remember, in order to get faster on the bike, you need to not only get stronger but also get more efficient on the bike.  While everyone should always strive to improve their power on the bike, they should first consider their efficiency first before they concern themselves with their average wattage.  If you are on a triathlon bike, ride the bike as you would in a race – get into your aerobars.  You are not very efficient by sitting up and “mashing” the pedals. 

Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is your average wattage for the 20-minute test minus 5%.  This gives a more precise estimate for your FTP, which usually encompasses a 60-minute test.

Cool-down:  5 minutes of easy spinning.

Power zones (from Training and Racing with a Power Meter by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan)

Active Recovery             <55% of FTP

Endurance                         56-75% of FTP

Tempo                                 76-90% of FTP

Lactate Threshold          91-105% of FTP

VO2 Max                             106-120% of FTP

Note:  From my personal experience (both training and coaching), don’t get yourselves wrapped up in numbers.  I know that some of us are very analytical, and love to crunch numbers and get everything dialed in, which is GOOD…if applied properly.  If you are this type of person, channel most of that energy into your race-day nutrition (especially you long-course athletes).  As far as exercising and workouts go, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.  Most, if not all, elite-level athletes do train with a purpose…but they train also by how they feel.  DON’T BE A SLAVE TO THE NUMBERS!!  Monitor your heart rate first, then make note of your wattage.

Hope this helps.  Happy training everyone.


One Response

  1. Good basic overview of FTP testing!

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