FTP Test … (March 7, 2019)


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Ok. Ok. I know.

I began the year intending to test my FTP each month, but I was sick with a bad cold the last 2 weeks of January, and that stalled training. So, I waited until the first of March, after a solid month of strength training and HIIT workouts before re-testing.

There are 2 methods used to measure FTP. The first has the cyclist complete an all out effort for 20 minutes, and then multiply the average power for the effort by 95%. The second method, has the cyclist complete two 8-minute all out efforts with a 10 minute active recovery between each. and then multiply the best of the 2 average wattages by 90%. Including a warmup and cool down, each methods takes approximately 60 minutes to complete.

Each method appears to produce different results (see the results in the above table – 256 vs 293), so I have decided to alternate the methods over the course of the year, and average the results at the end of the year to estimate my FTP.

Have you ever wondered what your optimum FTP is given your gender, weight, and age? I have. There is no point comparing results to the pros, or younger athletes. How do you do it then? Joe Friel has a method  – a simple 2 step calculation –

  1. Multiply your weight in pounds by 2; and then,
  2. Subtract 0.50% for every year you are over 35 years of age.

The result is the optimum FTP for your gender, weight, and age.

Hmm …. I wonder?

I weigh 145 pounds, and am 71 years old. Let’s do the math.

(145 lbs x 2) = 290

(0.5 x 290) x 36 years = 1.45 x 36 = 52.2

FTP = 290 – 52.2 = 237.8

If your actual FTP based on testing falls short of the estimation then you may have a new training objective for this winter. If your known FTP exceeds the estimation then congratulations for doing something right in your training. – Joe Friel

Today, my “actual FTP” was 293.4 based on the 8-minute test. So, according to Joe Friel, I must be doing “something right”. Even at 255, I doing “something right”.

These are just numbers, a way to set training goals, and to measure progress. I don’t pay too much attention to them, although I am interested in knowing how much I can improve as a “senior” cyclist. Can I record an FTP of 300? 325? 350? I have no idea, but I am going to try.

The number that matters more is the power / weight ratio. The lighter, and stronger you are, the more easily you can climb, and maintain a consistent pace. This time last year my FTP was 288.8 using the 8-minute test, but I weighed 160 (73 kg) pounds. My power / weight ratio was 288.9 / 73 = 3.96. Today, my FTP is 293.4, but I weigh 145 pounds (66 kg), making my current power to weight ratio 293.4 / 66 = 4.45. A significant difference.

They are just numbers. Right? Well, I climb more easily, and faster. I don’t tire as easily. And, most importantly, I enjoy my rides more than ever. These are just numbers, but they do matter.

This is what I do with them. I use them to calculate power training zones, schedule workouts, and select routes accordingly –

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One number that has surprised me is my estimated VO2 Max. It is an estimate based on the Garmin Activity Tracker I wear. Since I began using it at the beginning of January, it has increased from 39 to 47, which for my age is excellent. I was of the understanding that VO2 decreases with age, and can’t be improved. I suspect that is true, and think the tracker needs several weeks to monitor your activity level. In any case, I am pleased with the number.

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If my “fitness age is that of an excellent 20 year old”, why do they beat me up the hills all the time?

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