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How To Improve Your Triathlon Training | What Is FTP?

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Published on Nov 5, 2017

Thanks to Quarq for the products used in this video. All opinions expressed are the presenter's own.

If you've spent a little time doing triathlon or cycling, you'll probably have heard the term "FTP." But what on earth is it? Well, in cycling terms, these three letter stand for "functional threshold power." And knowing your own FTP is a pretty powerful tool for determining your training zones, measuring your improvement, and setting your rate intensities.

Simply put, your FTP is the highest average power you can sustain for an hour. But you will be pleased to hear you don't have to do a 60-minute time trial to get your FTP; there is a shorter test, the 20-minute FTP test. And the nice thing about this test, and probably the only nice thing, is that anyone can do this, more or less anywhere. There's no need to go into a special laboratory to be tested; you can easily do this yourself in your own time, meaning you can retest regularly from time to time.

All you need for the test is a bike and a means of measuring the power, and that can be a power metre on your bike, a smart trainer or a static gym bike with integrated power. And from my experience, having a power metre on your bike is perhaps the ideal, because it not only allows you to do the test anywhere, it also allows you to utilise your power metre and your new FTP data on every ride.

Before anything, we need to make sure we do a good warmup with a couple of hard efforts to really prepare the legs. And this isn't the sort of thing we can warm up for in five minutes, either. You should allow yourself a good 15 minutes or so to really make sure you're ready to nail the test. The test itself requires you to ride as hard as is sustainable for 20 minutes. Now, there are a few different FTP test variations, but the 20-minute test is a proven test used by many of the pros, and relates well to the style of riding we do in triathlon.

Once you've completed your 20-minute effort, the number you want to be looking at is your average power. Now currently, that is only for 20 minutes, so we want to translate that to your 60-minute FTP. And to do that you want to take 95% of that average power and you can do that by multiplying it by 0.95, or you can input it into a number of online calculators. And once you have your new FTP, you can then calculate your training zones. And again, you can do this with a number of online calculators, or even some training software will do this for you.

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