FTP test: Workout or velodrome?

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Picture: BKOOL

The FTP test, also called UPF (Functional Power Threshold) is one that determines the maximum average power that could be maintained during a specific time interval, usually one hour. The question we are going to discuss today is how this test is performed in a workout and in the velodrome.

Why is it important to perform an FTP test?

An FTP test determines the functional power threshold, in other words the maximum average power that can be reached. From this value, the different heart rate training zones and power zones can be calculated.

Knowing our heart rate and watts allows us to optimally program our training and to better understand our limits in order to efficiently regulate our energy stores.

How should we do this test?

The FTP test for cycling has different versions adapted to the cyclist’s needs and physical condition. These test models are differentiated mainly by their duration.

On the one hand, there are the 60-minute FTP tests, but they are rarely used nowadays due to the physical and mental demands involved. Therefore, to avoid muscle fatigue, the most suitable option is a 20-minute test.

In terms of conditions, calculating the maximum average power on the smart trainer is the best option, as it maintains a constant effort while minimizing the risks of doing the test on the road. Influential external agents such as traffic lights, cars or sudden changes of gradient are eliminated on the smart trainer.

The BKOOL app offers the possibility to perform a 20-minute FTP test and a fully specific 5-minute FTP test in which BKOOL Cycling automatically calculates the power and heart rate zones at the end of the test. Depending on the test results, you will be assigned different training zones, from the easiest, Z1, to the most demanding, Z6.

How to perform an FTP test in a workout?

To perform a reliable FTP test in a workout you must control some conditions (try to standardise the variables) so you must apply the same patterns before performing the test:

Recording the weight right after getting out of bed on the day of the test.

HC preloading: you must make sure you arrive at the test with enough energy to perform the test.

Adequate rest: the days prior to the test must be done a proper rest and activation, so that fatigue or lack of activity can not affect the test result.

Motivation: the predisposition to perform the test must be high.

Standardised warm-up.

When creating the workout to perform the 20-minute FTP test, you should look for a suitable place, with a constant slope and under 5%. Perform a good muscular warm-up – this also in the case of the velodrome, always – so that the time measured is a performance at the highest level.

Once the test has started, you should regulate your energy as best as you can so as not to have a drop in the last minutes. Multiply the value obtained in the FTP test by 0.95, this is a correction for the value that would be obtained in one hour.  After finishing the test you can establish your training zones by observing the evolution and variation of the power.

How to do an FTP test in the velodrome?

When performing the FTP test in the velodrome there are different circumstances, since this feature involves more users. If you want to know your maximum average power, the ideal option would be to access this activity without rivals. To adjust this option you must set up the session with a password and eliminate the ghosts.

A previous muscular warm-up should be thought of as a mandatory ritual. This helps to start the test with the best possible performance. Although it may seem that it is too demanding and that you will start the test with fatigue, it is essential to prepare the body to withstand the intensity and prolonged effort.

It is very important to know that it is a continuous 20-minute test and, therefore, the intensity and pace must be constant. There is no point in running at a pace above our capabilities for the first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes at a lighter pace.


Regardless of the activity you choose to perform the FTP test, knowing your maximum average power will help you establish training zones to achieve maximum performance during your sessions.


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