What is FTP and why is it important for cycling?

August 21, 2023 2 min read

What is FTP and why is it important for cycling?

What is FTP and why is it important for cycling?

FTP, or Functional Threshold Power, is a term commonly used in cycling to determine an athlete's fitness level and set training zones. It represents the maximum power output an individual can sustain for one hour. Knowing your FTP is crucial for effective training and performance improvement.

Why is FTP important?

FTP is a key metric for cyclists as it helps in setting training intensities and monitoring progress. By training at different percentages of your FTP, you can target specific energy systems and improve your endurance, speed, and overall performance.

Field Testing for FTP

Field testing is a practical and accessible way to estimate your FTP. Here's a simple protocol to follow:

  1. Warm up thoroughly for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Find a flat or slightly uphill road or use an indoor trainer.
  3. Perform a 20-minute time trial at maximum sustainable effort.
  4. Record your average power output for the 20-minute effort.
  5. Multiply the average power by 0.95 to estimate your FTP.

Predicting 1 Hour Power

Once you know your FTP, you can use it to predict your power output for different durations. One common prediction is the 1-hour power. To estimate your 1-hour power, multiply your FTP by 0.95. This calculation provides a good approximation of what you can sustain for one hour.

Training with FTP

Training with FTP involves working at different percentages of your FTP to target specific energy systems. Here are some training zones commonly used:

  • Zone 1: Active Recovery (less than 55% of FTP)
  • Zone 2: Endurance (56-75% of FTP)
  • Zone 3: Tempo (76-90% of FTP)
  • Zone 4: Threshold (91-105% of FTP)
  • Zone 5: VO2 Max (106-120% of FTP)
  • Zone 6: Anaerobic Capacity (121-150% of FTP)
  • Zone 7: Neuromuscular Power (more than 150% of FTP)

By training in these zones, you can systematically improve your fitness and performance. 

Whether your outdoor racing, using indoor apps such as Trainer road / Zwift or attending Indoor Cycling Classes using the Life Fitness IC Bike - Colour by Numbers Training, these training zones become really useful to develop your performance.

Why is testing for FTP important?

Knowing your FTP is crucial for effective training and performance improvement. Here are a few reasons why testing for FTP is important:

  •  Training Zones: FTP helps determine your training zones, allowing you to optimize your workouts for specific goals such as endurance, threshold, or sprint training.
  • Progress Tracking: Regular FTP tests enable you to track your progress and make adjustments to your training plan accordingly.
  • Race Strategy: Understanding your FTP can help you develop effective race strategies by pacing yourself appropriately and knowing when to push harder.
  • Goal Setting: FTP serves as a benchmark for setting realistic goals and monitoring your performance improvements over time.

In summary

FTP is a vital metric for cyclists, providing valuable insights into their fitness levels and helping them optimize their training. By understanding what FTP is, how to test for it, and why it's important, cyclists can take their performance to the next level and achieve their cycling goals.


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