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What is Functional Threshold Power?

ftp meaning cycling

The first thing you need to know on the road to becoming a professional cyclist is your functional threshold power (FTP). It is a basic indicator of your fitness level: the maximum average power you can maintain for an hour. Knowing the FTP meaning for cycling will help you tailor the right training plans for you.

Training on a bicycle with a power meter is considered the most effective. You should not rely solely on heart rate readings, because the heart reacts very slowly to increasing load. A power meter allows you to dose your body load with surgical precision, while your heart rate changes with overall fatigue. Let’s break down what is a good FTP.

Cycling FTP is the functional threshold power or power that you can maintain for one hour. It can also be referred to as maximum average hourly power. It is a baseline of your fitness level that you will need to determine in one of your first workouts. Once you have determined your FTP, you can tailor a structured training plan to your fitness level.

By using the power meter to monitor your workout load, you will be able to progress and recover quickly, dose your workload, and build highly effective training cycles based on your performance.

How to Determine Your FTP Power?

cycling power meter

You don’t need sophisticated equipment or professional help to determine your FTP. A power meter and any time-tracking device will suffice. The most commonly used tests are the short test and the long test.

The short test involves a run of 20 minutes, the long test involves up to 60 minutes (both tests do not include warm-up time).

To determine your FTP level you should warm up well, choose a suitable route without obstacles, then ride for 20 minutes at the maximum possible power in racing mode. After the 20-minute segment, recover and study the 20-minute segment readings. Your average power during those 20 minutes, multiplied by a factor of 0.95 will be very close to your FTP level.

In simple words: this is a test to determine your average maximum power while cycling for an hour. You can, of course, measure your average power for the whole hour, but if you do this test regularly, you will put yourself under a lot of stress. Therefore, the test usually lasts 20 minutes and the result is multiplied by 0.95. Before the test, you need to warm up well.

It’s quite difficult to ride 20 minutes at maximum power – you need to calculate your strength correctly, distribute your effort evenly so that you don’t run out of power early, but by the end of the run you should be barely on your feet. The FTP test cycling will not only determine your fitness level but also your training zones.

Training Zones

what is a good ftp
  • Active recovery (<55%);
  • Stamina (56-75%);
  • Tempo (76-90%);
  • Lactate threshold (91-105%);
  • VO2 Max (106-120%);
  • Anaerobic exercise (121-150%).

You can only get accurate results if you maintain the same high level of exertion throughout the test. After this intense test, you will be exhausted, but you will know your average FTP. The only problem with the functional threshold power test is that you will need a flat road with no obstacles and no breaks to get the best results.

FTP Bike Test on the Exercise Bike

The most convenient and cleanest way to test your body is to use an exercise bike with built-in sensors and the necessary software. Under these conditions, you will be able to concentrate on your muscle work and breathing.

FTP numbers will be shown on the display in real-time, and you can save the results to use in future training sessions. Moreover, you can use the machine to customize your training program to your personal needs. Just work at a pace that suits your goals, and it will make you a better cyclist.

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