Is my FTP set too high?

ftp

#1

I’m new to trainer road and just started this week with a ramp test. My FTP was set at 240 and I set about my first weeks training. First workout I struggled but put that down to training at a new level. Today I was faced with Kaweah and 5x10mins in and around FTP and I blew up during the 3rd interval. So question is… is my FTP too high? Couple of considerations that may have influenced the ramp test. I was fresh having not trained on the 2 days previous and I was doing the ramp test on a wattbike and have done the subsequent workouts on my smart trainer. Appreciate your thoughts on this and in the meantime, have dropped my FTP manually to 220 for the next ride.


#2

That’s your problem there, doing the test on a wattbike and training on a different trainer. you really need to do the FTP test using the trainer that you will be training on.

I had the same problem as you when I did the FTP test on a wattbike then transferred that to the trainer. In fact I have had to redo the FTP test when ever I have changed trainers / power meters.


#3

It could simply be a difference in power measurement between the wattbike youndid the test on and your normal setup. Repeat the test on the setup you intend to train on so that everything is consistent. When the ftp level is set right sessions should often be hard but doable, and you’ll really progress through training plans. If it’s too high then sessions will feel horrible and you’ll fail to complete a lot of the time. Training should really stretch you, not break you


#4

Thanks Jamie - good shout, I’ll redo the ramp test on my smart trainer


#5

Thanks Paul… feeling broken not stretched after that session so I’ll redo the test and make sure the levels are right for my home setup


#6

Yeah, the virtual power is only consistent to your individual setup (bike / trainer / hardware)… changing any of them would require a re-test. Even keeping the same tyre pressure as what you used during the FTP test for every workout ensures more accuracy. My friend said that changing the laptop he was using to connect to had quite a big effect on the FTP he tested at.


#7

Set your TR FTP to make the workouts challenging but able to be completed with something left in the tank. FTP is only a marker to adjust the workout intensity to the point mentioned in the first sentence. If you can’t finish a workout, FTP set too high. If workout is too easy, FTP set too low. Workouts should be challenging without being exhausting. If you start dreading the approaching workouts, you are working too hard and the FTP is set too high. Adjust the FTP up or down but try not to worry about the number. It is what it is.


#8

I agree with the other answers: the issues is in the difference in power measurents between Wattbike and the trainer.

Something that was not yet mentioned but may be good to remember when discussing about this subject: if the test is technically ok, you should not be able to test too high. This has been stated several times in the podcast.

It may seem like your FTP is set too high, e.g., when doing VO2Max intervals; but that’s just because your power at maximum oxigen uptake is lower than what people generally have (when compared to your FTP).


#9

Here’s a question though… new to indoor training this past fortnight. Did ramp test and it came out at 234. Set about my plan SSB MID VOL 1. Hard, very hard at times, particularly the over under blocks. However, as far as the 234 feeling like it has set my workouts correctly - yep, bingo.

However - am I right in thinking FTP is what I am supposed to be able to hold for an hour? Basically I don’t think I could. Maybe I’m wrong and I could but I honestly don’t think so. ??


#10

The thing that FTP is your hour power is nothing you should be concerned about. Basically, it isn’t: many people can’t hold their FTP for an hour and still it’s absolutely right for them to train with that FTP.


#11

The thing is: it was once said that FTP is your hour power but the guy himself denies ever saying that. (I think the person was Andy Coggan).

There’s some truth in the fact that somebody can hold their FTP for an hour: if you are good at hour long efforts you might be able to do it. However, it takes time and training to be able to hold that power for that long. And it has to be noted that that’s absolutely brutal: you’re on the edge for so long. So, you might not be mentally able even if you physically was.

One thing to remember also is that FTP in TrainerRoad has to work only when doing TR workouts. In other words, the Ramp Test is made so that the FTP may not be your hour power but it definitely is the power which you can use for over-unders in TR plans. From some Fast Talk episodes I have got the idea that testing with one hour FTP test would most likely result in a lower number. However, in that world you would do differeng kind of workouts, too.


#12

Thanks - yes that all makes perfect sense. One of the things that I am most pleased about with trainer road is the accuracy of the workouts for my current ability - based on the ramp test. Find the hard ones are just right - very hard to finish with good form but crucially they are doable with some grit…


#13

Just started using Trainerroad following the SweetSpot base - Mid Volume.
I used the 2x8mins test rather than Ramp Test to set my FTP.
The first week sessions have all been hard but doable - so consistent with other peoples suggestions/observations of what a correctly set FTP should feel like.

What I have found was that the long “Tempo” intensity ride (7x10min blocks - no recovery) was by far the hardest session - maybe more mentally than physically - I bailed out on the last interval.

I also found the Sweetspot session at high revs harder than the SweetSpot at low cadence session - which felt relatively easy.

All the other sessions, hard but doable - even with a little extra stress from run sessions, outdoor rides and even a kettlebell session…maybe I’ll pay for it this week!

Interesting findings in the first week, but at least tells me the key sessions that I need to work particularly upon.

As others have stated, the FTP is set up specific, as I’m fairly certain my FTP will be different on the Wattbike I use at work - possibly more due to ambient conditions (warmer and less air movement) than measurement discrepencies between powermeters.


#14

You would be surprised about what you can do. I rode and raced for over 14 years before I finally got up the nerve to attempt a 60 min power test last month. I used a Wahoo KICKR on ERG mode (at a number I thought I could do) to help me out and it was challenging, but I got it done and now I finally feel like I have an accurate FTP assessment.

Steve


#15

Really helpful, thanks.


#16

I think a lot of people get really stuck on FTP and wear it almost like a badge!! I tend to think about it as simply a tool to weight certain types of workout and a ballpark figure for pacing on TT’s. There’s a lot more to training with power though than FTP. This year I’ve been paying close attention to my overall power curve, and targetting improvements in certain areas rather than looking to improve my FTP. In fact this summer, I pretty much completely abandoned the concept of FTP, and got a much clearer picture of what I was doing. I stopped thinking about what I shoud be able to do, and more about what I could do.

FTP is supposedly what you could hold for 1hr. But based on what I’ve figured out about myself, it overestimates this. I can only hold 92% of the max avg power in a 20 min test, as opposed to the 95% suggested.

With all that in mind, I found that if I simply worked off what my FTP estimate was, certain types of workout were much too difficult, and certain types muct too easy. Understanding my power curve led to a greater improvement in key areas that I wanted to see gains.

I found that I needed to adjust the FTP setting for certain types of workout to stress the systems that I was trying to adapt.


#17

Thanks Andy

Be interested if you can expand on how to understand power curve?

Or point to an article somewhere

Jonny


#18

This isn’t strictly true, take a look at this:

Or for a much more detailed exploration, Training and Racing with a Power Meter is the go-to resource:


#19

This is something I did think about… would this mean that aspects of my fitness need work relative to the aspect that was tested in the ramp test i.e. holding just under FTP for a steady set of ME intervals?


#20

If you look at your Personal Records page, you’ll see a chart with your power records for hundreds of data points. Your most powerful 1 sec, 2 sec, … 30 sec … 5 min … 1 hour … etc. Your 1 sec power record will for sure be a lot higher than your 1 min power, which in turn will be a lot higher than your 1 hour power. As a result, your power distribution will form a curve. When comparing different riders, their relative strengths and weaknesses will come out in this power curve. For a sprinter, you’d expect to see higher wattage in the 1 sec - 1 min range, whereas a GC rider is likely to have lower sprint numbers by comparison, but likely their curve will remain at a high level for a long time (a flatter curve).

Analysis of this can help you improve in conditions that are important to you. Perhaps you like a weekly group ride, but consistently get dropped half way around because of a small climb that’s 5 mins long. In that scenario, you might look at your curve and see that while you have good sprint abilities, your power dips rapidly after 1-2 mins and your 3-6 min power range is a lot lower. This would be more of a L shaped curve. Over time you could look at a training plan that focuses on increasing this range, so that you can better put out power and stay with the pack. This is of course just an example; maybe you want to compete better in sprints, or be able to sustain your 1 hour power for 2 hours, etc.

@AndyGajda is suggesting that rather than myopically focussing on the 1 hour power number, focus on the performance metrics that are most important to you. I would add that if you’ve been doing structured training for a while, this kind of specialization makes good sense. However, if you’re relatively new to it, then there is likely a lot of room for improvement across the board and a healthy increase in FTP is likely an indicator in an increase in cycling strength in general. FTP is the kind of performance tide that lifts all boats.