Doing an FTP (Functional Threshold Power) workout and getting your FTP score is a great way to boost your cycling training. It essentially gives you a benchmark allowing you to plan your training to fit your fitness levels by giving power bands to train in. You can then come back and re-test to measure your progress over time. I’d say aim to do it every 3-4 months to give you time to increase fitness as the FTP test is pretty tiring in itself, and will leave you exhausted.
Just done my longest ever cycle on a turbo trainer, and tried an FTP test at the same time! 😳
— Tim Piercy (@piercytim) January 11, 2016
What does a Garmin FTP test involve?
Typically is measured over 60 minutes by riding at an consistent and maintainable effort for the whole 60 minutes. Imagine if you were in a Time Trial, you would aim to maintain a consistent effort for the duration of the TT . To do this well, you would need to find a road thats flat or as close to flat as possible; you don’t want a road that has down hill sections as this will take away from your power output. In the UK, such roads are hard to come by/don’t exist, so the next best thing is to do this on a static trainer such as a turbo trainer or rollers. The next thing is, 60 minutes is a very long time to maintain such an effort, so instead you can base it over 20 minutes, take the average power from this 20 minute effort, subtract 5% giving you your FTP value. Simple huh!? Let’s break it down for you:
What you will need:
- Turbo trainer or rollers
- Your bike
- Bike computer such as a Garmin Edge (I used an Edge 1000)
- Power meter (I used a pair of Garmin Vectors)
- Around 60 minutes of your time
- A way to cool you down during the test, as you WILL get very warm. A desk fan is perfect.
The FTP Workout
This is the workout I did, which was pre-programmed into the Edge 1000 I was using.
- 20 minute warmup
- 5 minute hard effort (not completely flat out)
- 10 minute recovery
- 20 minute maintainable effort (this is where your FTP score is assessed)
- Cool down
If you are using a compatible Garmin Edge, you can download a handy workout and and install this to your device. Make sure to hit the lap button on whatever device you are using when you are moving from each step of the workout. Then you can see each separate stage of the FTP test when you download the workout to your computer allowing you to find the 20 minute effort, and take the average power from this lap.
Things I took away from my FTP test:
- Maybe do some turbo sessions before diving into an FTP test. I’d done some road rides recently, some roller sessions a few years ago but noting on a turbo trainer until now.
- Set the fan I setup on the desk to III and not II. You might be feeling the breeze at the start, but believe me you will be glad when you are doing the 20 minute FTP effort.
- Don’t get cramp starting 5 minutes into the 20 FTP part of the workout
- Ride more to get my power up and smash my next FTP test 🙂
Done your FTP test recently? Let me know how you got on in the comments below.