Without doubt, functional threshold power (FTP) is the most important power metric because it provides you with precise training zones, so you always get the maximum value from your time in the saddle.
Why is training to my FTP important?
Most of us weekend warriors tend to attack our cycling with a mix of under- and over-training.
Under training means you don’t push yourself enough, and your fitness won’t improve much over time. Overtraining means you push yourself too hard, prolonging your recovery and fitness gains along with it.
FTP provides you with precise training zones, so you always get the maximum return from your time in the saddle. And since FTP is a moving target it also serves as a good marker of how your training is going. You know when your FTP is rising that your fitness is improving and your training is going well.
What does an FTP test involve?
Though an FTP test measures your maximum power output over an hour, the best way (and the way we actually test you) is with a 20-minute controlled effort test. To do this we set your bike up on a special trainer in our studio, and get you to ride for 20-minutes at your maximum effort (after a 20 minute warm-up). We then take your data and subtract 5% to determine what your output would be over 60 minutes - and this becomes your FTP.
How often do I need to test my FTP?
When training at VBike, your aerobic fitness will increase every few weeks. This is especially true in the first few months after joining. In this Intro period it’s a good idea to test your FTP progress every 6-8 weeks so your training intensity always match your current level of fitness.
Why is training to power better than training to heart rate?
A lot of athletes think training to heart rate is better. That's a reactive approach. As Joel Friel puts it "the heart is not the engine, it's simply the fuel pump". When the engine (muscles) works harder going up a hill, the heart responds by pumping more blood to help the muscles keep going. Training based only on heart rate is like using the fuel gauge on your car to determine how fast you're driving.
Measuring FTP is the acknowledged way the Pros train to improve. That's why we use FTP at VBike.