An FTP Test

As part of my training I like to do an FTP (Functional Threshold Power) test every so often. Now, when I say ‘like’, that’s not really true as the test itself involves far too much pain and suffering, not to mention the sweat, snot and dribble, followed by a feeling a nausea and sore legs for a day or two. In fact I’m not really sure why I do it, other than the fact that it is a good way to chart my progress.

Maybe that was what I liked about the tests, it’s good to see improvements and last year that is what was happening. I actually started doing them when I started using TrainerRoad back in November 2012. At the time I gradually increased my FTP settings (note, this was the setting I was using not my tested FTP). I started out at 200 Watts and then throughout November increased it to 255 Watts. I continued to do so throughout December 2012 increasing it when it felt comfortable to 267 Watts.

I then did a proper FTP test in January 2013 and got a reading of 297 Watts. I was quite pleased with that so trained at that level for a while before doing another FTP test in February 2013 by which time my FTP had increased to 319 Watts.

Over the summer I left the Turbo Trainer behind so did no testing as I was cycling outside more, but as winter closed in, I was back on the Turbo Trainer in November and thought it would be prudent to do another test. This resulted in quite a drop in my FTP, from 319 Watts down to 303 Watts. Nothing too much to worry about though as it was the end of the season and therefore I wasn’t expecting to be at a peak.

Trouble is, I did another FTP test yesterday. I used TrainerRoad again and based on my last test had it set with an FTP of 303. This meant that I was aiming for a power output of 348 Watts during the 8 minute efforts. I started off at that but blew up completely on the first effort so had to reassess my targets for the second effort. The second effort involved all sorts of pain, but I managed to finish it before pretty much collapsing in a heap! Here’s the chart of my efforts from TrainerRoad and as you can see, I blew up on the first effort but managed to build on the second despite the pain!

8 Minute FTP Test

8 Minute FTP Test

The software did some calculations and gave me the sorry news that my FTP is now down to 294 Watts. Slightly less than it was this time last year. It doesn’t help that I’m a little heavier at the moment too, so the real test of cycling performance – that of power to weight ratio – will have decreased even more than my FTP.

I suppose the only positive from this is that it isn’t too much lower that it was this time last year, so I am at least at a similar starting point. The only other thing that may have changed the test results a little making them difficult to compare is the fact that I’ve started using TrainerRoad with my Tacx Flow Turbo Trainer set at a slope of +1. This increases the resistance slightly and although I’ve set TrainerRoad up to recognise this change, it does mean that the software is using a different power curve to calculate virtual power. This could mean that the results from this test may not relate to those from previous tests as well as they should. Does that mean I should repeat the test with the slope and power curves set to zero as before? Probably, but do I really want to go through all of that pain and suffering again quite so soon? Maybe not!

Here’s the charts from Rubitrack showing that I hit a maximum heart rate of 168bpm. Not that high for some people but sky high for me, especially on the bike, no wonder I felt sick for a while afterwards!

8 Minute FTP Test Workout

8 Minute FTP Test Workout

I had planned to do a core workout once I got off the bike, but simply didn’t feel like it after that effort. It was hard enough to get myself going in order to run Scouts last night as it was.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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