The pre-season is just around the corner or even for many people it has already started and it is time to check how the physique is after the period between seasons. In order to check this condition, measurements such as FTP (highest average power that can be maintained for one hour) have to be taken.
A large majority of people involved in sport know the benefits of doing this type of test, but there are still doubts about how to do an FTP test and its two most popular modalities: the 20 and 5 minutes test.
How do I perform an FTP test?
Apparently, performing an FTP test does not involve any complications. The real difficulty lies in finding the right pace, as many people do not know if they are pushing too hard or being too conservative. At BKOOL there are two ways to test that FTP, the 20-minute and the 5-minute test.
Tips for the 20-minute FTP
The main purpose of this test is to test your maximum steady state strength. In other words, the maximum power you can put out over a prolonged period of time, without undergoing too much change. If you add the warm-up, the 20 minutes of the test itself and the cool-down, the test will last one hour.
Before getting in the saddle, remember to be rested and 100% energized. During the warm-up (lasting half an hour) you can make short efforts in a steady state. In the race itself, you will have to go to the limit, but without having the feeling that you are going to burst at any moment.
You should increase power quickly, but in a controlled manner, at a point where you are able to keep it high and steady. Don’t even think of setting the sprint of your life two minutes before the end of the test, as this will distort the results.
Check your pace every 5 minutes. Many athletes opt for a conservative option, saving their strength for that last effort. You should arrive at the last 5 minutes with the ability to hold on and maintain power.
What about the 5′ test?
This test has similar characteristics to the 20-minute test, with the difference of the warm-up and cool-down parts, since here they are more exhaustive. The individual efforts must be of a higher intensity, because they represent the power at VO2max.
The efforts must be, as in the previous test, sustainable in time. To keep the idea in your head: the graph of the results should look like a small smiles. You must print a little speed at the beginning and at the end of each interval. If this graph shows a sharp peak or several sharp peaks, it is a sign that you have not done the test correctly.
The intervals, of course, should be one minute, but any pace adjustment should be subtle for the reasons explained in the previous paragraph.
When is the right time to do an FTP test?
As a general rule, this kind of test is performed at the beginning of each training block, which can be every 4 to 6 weeks. Evaluating on a monthly basis is the only way to appreciate any physical changes. And as mentioned above, it is a good idea to do it after the preseason.
The result obtained from an FTP test is used to calibrate your training zones and see what power threshold you should move above. That’s why it’s important to know what it is and recalibrate it according to your fitness: it won’t be the same when you’re a beginner as when you’ve been training for 6 months.