In this video, I discuss the two reasons why increasing your FTP might not be the best thing to focus on as a cyclist.


Hey, it’s David here from Cycling Inform. And today we’re talking about FTP.

Now, what does FTP stand for? Functional threshold power and why sometimes it’s not cool to focus on your FTP.

Now a lot of cyclists get a little bit confused about FTP and let me set the record straight with this one. FTP is a general overall measurement of our cycling fitness. Functional threshold power is your average power for 60 minutes.

So if you go out and ride your bike flat out, so hard that you’re seeing stars for a whole hour and the average power that you produce, that’s your FTP number. Now, the reality is that most cyclists don’t really want to go that hard to do an FTP test. So there’s another way of doing an FTP test and that is to do a 20-minute threshold tier. So instead of going hard for a whole hour, we only go hard for 20 minutes. And then we take a percentage of that to work out our FTP.

That’s one of the AIS riders. They’re all over the place here in Adelaide. It’s awesome.

So, we use FTP in the applications that we use to analyse data where you can figure how training analytical applications like Training Peaks and Today’s Plan, and I think there’s another one there’s Cheetah. To make sure that the analytics that are coming out of those platforms accurately represent our general overall fitness. And we use it as a benchmark for things like TSS and CTL and ATL. Now, I’m not going to talk about that today because I’m talking about FTP.

Now with training platforms like Zwift and Be Cool and the one that Mike Click has put together, what was it? FullGaz. All right, those training platforms, we use our FTP to set the levels of intensity, so the levels of intensity that we’re doing our intervals and sessions at is based around our actual fitness.

Now, this is where cyclists get it a little bit wrong.

They think that they need to improve their FTP to be a better rider, it’s kind of correct, but there’s a few issues with that.

Now, FTP, because it’s your 60-minute threshold power, it doesn’t take into account things like your ability to be able to manage surges and your ability to be able to ride longer rides. Longer rides, longer than 60 minutes.

[Like most endurance rides] the thing about the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek is that it’s not about having a massively epic, huge FTP. It’s about being able to sustain an average amount of power for a very long period of time, eight, ten, thirteen hours, and being able to have enough endurance that when you get to the backside of falls, you can actually ride up it without having to get off your bike. One of my clients did a sub-eight 30, fantastic awesome. His average power for the ride, 180 Watts. It was around 180 Watts. So look I think maybe 187.

And the other thing is that FTP doesn’t take into account the fact that you need to punch through surges. Now I’ve had riders that are really have really awesome FTPs and yet they’re not able to race very well because as soon as they go over threshold, they fall to bits, right. And cycle racing is all about the decisive moment. If you’ve ever had a look at your power data, it’s all over the place, even your heart rate, it’s all over the place.

So, when you’re riding in fast bunch rides, it’s all about the ability to be able to surge. You all know what I’m talking about. It’s like, you’re either there, right? Or you get blown out the arse. And a lot of it is not to do with your FTP, although having a good FTP helps. It’s all about being able to punch up into the higher power zones. So say your FTP is 250, but if you’re unable to do a 750 watt tiny little effort, peek up in the 750 Watts, or peek up into 650 Watts. Or maybe even do a slight 550 or even go over 300 just momentarily and do that over and over and over again. You’re not going to stay with the fast bunch ride.

Cool. All right. So it’s been David Heatley here from Cycling Inform, have an awesome time on your bike, catch you soon, keep it safe.