ASK COACH FRED

What is FTP? And Why is it Useful?

Editor’s Note:

Last week, Coach Fred answered a question from reader John H. about working to recapture the power he had when he was younger. John had shown good form in recent years, riding several centuries a year. However, after a couple of injuries kept him off the bike to start the 2013 season, he’s been unable to regain that strong form. John mentioned his FTP numbers to show where he is now, and has been in the past. Several readers questioned Coach Fred about what FTP stands for. Here’s his answer.

Coach Fred Matheny Replies: 

In last week's Coach Fred section, John H. commented about his "FTP," and I've received several questions asking what the initials stand for. FTP is Functional Threshold Power.

This is usually defined as the average wattage you can maintain for a certain length of time -- usually 60 minutes.

You can determine your FTP by checking average wattage for a 40K time trial -- but that's a tough way to get the information! An easier way to determine it on a bike or an indoor trainer with a power meter is to go as hard as you can for 20 minutes.

The resulting average wattage figure will be slightly higher than your true FTP due to the shorter duration, so simply subtract 5% from the average wattage to get FTP.

FTP is useful to know because it is a good indicator of your fitness. And it's the baseline for all training zones. For instance, you can train for short, hard climbs with climbing repeats of 3-5 minutes at an average wattage about 5% higher than your FTP.

And you can peg your recovery day intensity at about 75% of your FTP to make sure you're not going too hard.

Climbing performance is determined by your body weight as well as your wattage output, so FTP is divided by your weight in kilograms to get a "watts per kilogram" figure. If you determine your FTP to be 280 watts and you weigh 70 kilograms (154 pounds), your watts per kilogram is 4.0.

This is predictive of performance at various levels of cycling. A Tour de France rider may average close to 6.0 watts per kilogram on long alpine climbs.

FTP is a valuable piece of information for all cyclists because it helps you determine how hard you can train, how easily you should go on recovery days and can also predict how you might fare against different levels of competition.


New Premium Member Give-Back

For new, and renewing, Premium Members (dating back to January 1 of this year), I’ll kick in One Free eArticle of Your Choice. That’s a rebate, in effect, of $4.99 off the annual $24.99 membership. You can choose from among any of our 67 individual eArticles (bundles are excluded). Click to see the entire array: http://www.roadbikerider.com/all-earticles.

Of course, you’ll also get all the other great benefits we’ve pulled together for you, including discounts on all our eArticles and eBooks, great cycling product discounts, access to our full treasure trove of searchable content and, when you can’t find what you’re looking for, the Ask RBR a Question feature – which allows Premium Members to ask our experts directly; we’ll tap our network to find your answer.

Here’s how it will work: Your receipt (emailed to you after purchasing your Premium Membership) is your coupon. Just hit Reply on that email and write in the title of the eArticle you’d like. I’ll drop it in your Downloads folder in your RBR account. (If you can’t find your receipt, just let me know. I’m happy to help you out.)

New Give-Aways

--- 5 RBR-logoed Walz lightweight cycling caps per month through April (at least).  RBR’s high-quality Walz Caps 3-panel logoed cycling cap in moisture-wicking 100% circular knit polyester. 

Perfect for wearing anytime, including under your helmet while riding. NOTE: In Black with WHITE stripe (not orange stripe, as pictured), or White with Black stripe. RBR logo embroidered on one side of the cap.

I’ll announce the next 5 winners of these great cycling caps, valued at $24.99 eachMay 15, from among new and renewing Premium Members in April.

--- Tailwind Challenge package (that’s four large bags in each of their flavors) of Tailwind Endurance Fuel sports drink. That’s a value of $125. Tailwind already offers a 15% discount to our Premium Members off any size package they sell.

Coach Fred gave Tailwind Endurance Fuel 4.5 out of 5 stars in his Tailwind Product Review last year, and I back that up; I have been using it regularly myself for several months.

I’ll announce the Tailwind Challenge winner in June.

Click to learn more about the Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel!
view counter
Click to learn more about the Espresso Inflate and Repair Cartridge by Effetto-Mariposa
view counter
Visit BicycleGifts.com for Great Cycling Gifts and Gear!
view counter
Click to learn more about Freewheeling Adventures Bicycle Tours!
view counter
Click to learn more about the pioneering Cervelo S2 carbon road bicycle.
view counter

view counter