Regular FTP testing is important because it ensures every VBike workout you do is correctly tailored to your current fitness level.
There are two ways to do an FTP Test. One way is to do a one-hour test flat out; the other is to do a 20-minute test and then deduct 5 percent from the average watts. Your functional threshold power = 20-minute critical power test x .95.
The objective of both tests is to develop a benchmark so you can progressively increase your functional threshold power over time – peaking for goal events throughout the year. FTP not only serves as a benchmark for training zones, but it also serves as a cruise-control target to help you avoid over or under training.
At VBike, we use the 20-minute critical power test to work out your FTP.
What to do the day before the test.
People ask me what they should do the day before the test. There is no right and wrong way but there are certain things that are good to do:
1. Have a rest day or a very light pedal the day before the test.
2. Increase your water intake slightly the day before the test.
3. Have positive thoughts - I see some people psych themselves out before they even do the test. It's important to focus on the goal. For example, if your current FTP is 200 and you want to increase to 220, then start visualising holding 231 watts (220 x 1.05).
4. Don't eat your evening meal too late and increase the amount of healthy carbs you eat slightly. I follow the LCHF diet (low carbs, healthy fat), so I would add a little quinoa or kumara to my meal.
5. Go to bed early and try to have a good sleep.
The day of your FTP test.
You need to plan for this.
Most of our members test early in morning - they wake up, perhaps have a quick coffee, then race to VBike and jump on their cycle. I think a better approach is to wake up and have a big glass of water and, most importantly, a very light breakfast with some carbs.
Tips for your FTP test.
Don't go out too hard. Alot of men start out like Tarzan and finish like Jane. Let your heart rate come up naturally and not suddenly. For example, if you start your test at 140-bpm heart rate and then it's 160 after 30 seconds, you've started too rapidly.
Control your pace. Consistency is the key. I start out like I'm doing a one-hour time trial but I see people starting out like they are doing a ten-minute TT. After 3-4 minutes you should've settled into your pace; then it's time to concentrate on maintaining it.
Don't save yourself for the last five minutes by taking it easy for the first 15. If you're testing correctly, you should be very tired with five minutes to go. Despite this, the secret is to lift your intensity over the last five minutes so your watts and your average watts go up. I find it helps to break the last five minutes into 5x60-second sets.
Remember this test is just as hard mentally as it is physically - but it's over in 20 minutes.