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2018-10-27 8:44 PM

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Subject: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?
I am not the most powerful cyclist, but I have completed an Ironman, finished a triathlon most every year for the past 20 years, and am generally able to podium in my age group in small local triathlons. I completed a marathon in 4 hours 28 minutes last weekend, which is slow for me.

But when I get on the smart trainer and try to do an FTP test, it seems ridiculously out of reach even to complete the test. I can't do 130 watts for 10 minutes followed by 140 watts for 10 minutes, for example.

Am I doing something wrong?

The Zwift one was 45 minutes long, which seemed an insane amount of time to try to go full out.

I tried the one on my Garmin watch, which was shorter but no less intense. I just did my best, which was WELL below the power range it was asking me to hold, and it still gave me a result of 125W.

According to Garmin, my VO2Max is 46.

Thoughts?


2018-10-27 9:59 PM
in reply to: #5251203

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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?
FTP is not the be all end all for cycling. A better metric is watts/kg. You may be a lighter rider and can’t push huge numbers on watts but have a very good watts/kg ratio. Someone much heavier than you may be able to push out more watts but their ratio isn’t as good.

What trainer are you using and are you sure it’s calibrated correctly? If it hasn’t been calibrated in a while it may be putting out wonky numbers.
2018-10-28 5:57 AM
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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?
Take your 20 min number and divide it by your body weight in KG.
For example if your20min number is 125w and weight 55kg (121lbs) it gives you 2.27

Then see where you fit on this table

Mid cat 5 here

These table also exist with FTP rather than 20min power





Edited by marcag 2018-10-28 6:01 AM
2018-10-28 7:09 AM
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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?

Hey Alice,

Doing an FTP test is an acquired skill.  You'll get better at it with each successive test.  You need to learn how to pace and you need to become comfortable with suffering.

That said, doing a ramp test is an alternative to the traditional 20-minute FTP test.  The cycling purists will argue it isn't as accurate however I've found it's more than accurate enough to set training zones.  Trainer Road is now using the ramp test as the testing protocol for all of their training plans so there must be something to it.  I've created the workout in Training Peaks,  PM me and we can talk about how to get a copy of it to you (if I simply export it the embedded FTP won't be the same as yours).

The test is very straight-forward.  Start with a 5-minute warm-up around 50% of your expected FTP.  Then raise target power by 6% in one-minute intervals.  Continue raising target power in one-minute 6% steps until exhaustion.  Cadence isn't important to the test, however whatever cadence you start with, hold that same cadence throughout the test.  Once you fail to hold power the test is over, immediately go into an easy spin to cool-down for 5-10 minutes.  Your FTP is 75% of your peak one-minute power.  (In Trainer Road, as soon as you can no longer hold power the workout automatically goes into cool-down, using the Training Peaks exported workouts you'll simply have to recognize you are no longer able to hold power and begin your cool-down).

2018-10-28 8:01 AM
in reply to: k9car363

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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?
Originally posted by k9car363

Hey Alice,

Doing an FTP test is an acquired skill.  You'll get better at it with each successive test.  You need to learn how to pace and you need to become comfortable with suffering.

That said, doing a ramp test is an alternative to the traditional 20-minute FTP test.  The cycling purists will argue it isn't as accurate however I've found it's more than accurate enough to set training zones.  Trainer Road is now using the ramp test as the testing protocol for all of their training plans so there must be something to it.  I've created the workout in Training Peaks,  PM me and we can talk about how to get a copy of it to you (if I simply export it the embedded FTP won't be the same as yours).

The test is very straight-forward.  Start with a 5-minute warm-up around 50% of your expected FTP.  Then raise target power by 6% in one-minute intervals.  Continue raising target power in one-minute 6% steps until exhaustion.  Cadence isn't important to the test, however whatever cadence you start with, hold that same cadence throughout the test.  Once you fail to hold power the test is over, immediately go into an easy spin to cool-down for 5-10 minutes.  Your FTP is 75% of your peak one-minute power.  (In Trainer Road, as soon as you can no longer hold power the workout automatically goes into cool-down, using the Training Peaks exported workouts you'll simply have to recognize you are no longer able to hold power and begin your cool-down).




Hi Scott

The ramp test was discussed a looooong time ago by Alex Simmons.
https://wattmatters.blog/home/2006/12/map-testing-where-failure-is-s...

Like many of these tests people do their own spin on what the ramp rate should be and what % to use to establish FTP/CP which leads to these tests having lesser value.

Over on ST I think Coggan himself has given his opinion on this form of testing. It scored relatively well in the 7 sins of testing but he did highlight that ramp rate and the protocol was an important consideration.

I agree these tests are much more practical to do than the 20min tests especially on smart trainers

2018-10-28 11:40 AM
in reply to: marcag

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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?
I'm using a Wahoo Kickr SNAP and I calibrate before almost every ride.
I can see my watts/kg when I'm riding in Zwift and there are fast people who pass me, but I'm not terrible on there. More like a little below average.

Thanks for all of the advice and tips!


2018-10-28 12:03 PM
in reply to: alicefoeller

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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?
How's your HR when you are doing your rides and tests? Does it match up with how you are feeling?
2018-10-28 5:10 PM
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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?
I think there is an art to draining oneself in 20 minutes. Unless you're a sprint specialist, it may not come easily if your training has mainly focused on endurance for longer races. Normally 20 minutes is on the short side for an event I would do, but I did come to tri with a background as a cross-country runner (in both HS and college, we ran 5000m, which usually took me 17 minutes and change) and distance swimmer (the 1500m/1650 yards took me about 22-23 minutes). So despite a comparative lack of cycling background I did have a lot of experience with wearing myself out in something that lasts about 20 minutes! All my FTP and run threshold tests have a very distinctive pattern--whether or not I am observing HR, it will slowly rise to a certain level and then basically flatline--not dead, just not going up or down. I know what I can take, and I get there and then just hang on until I'm done. It works for me.

It really is a lot about pacing--not starting too fast and burning yourself out, but also pushing hard enough to do an optimum performance. FTP will of course be lower for lighter people--I'm always amazed by what I hear from guys and bigger women, then remember that at 115 pounds, most people outweigh me by quite a bit. It also may be that your absolute power isn't high, but you're quite good at holding a fairly high % of max for a long time. Thus you are holding your own in races although it might not look that impressive on an FTP test.

I really wonder about those tables. They have me as a mid-range Cat 1 cyclist based on watts per kilo. In reality, the bike is by far my weakest leg in tri at all distances, and I would never think of entering a bike-only race--I'd be laughed off the road. In a good race (big HIM), I'm in the top 20-30% in my AG (45-49 until December) on the bike. To win or podium, I have to pull off a very strong swim and run. That has always been the case. I've gotten a lot faster on the bike, but so, it seems, has everyone else in my AG!

Not sure about your training or goals but I know for me, big-gear work has really been instrumental in helping me improve on the bike, both in terms of FTP and race performance. It's helped me me progress from absolutely awful (123 out of 136 on the bike in my first Oly--really!) to FMOP in a big event.

Edited by Hot Runner 2018-10-28 5:16 PM
2018-10-28 7:15 PM
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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?

It turns out that I go to a lot of college XC races.......17 :XX was rolling.....that's good work.  This year, that would have won the SEC college championship by over a minute.  It would have been top ten in virtually every college conference race.  You were a stud.

ETA - that SEC race was a 6k.....so they were killing it at 19:00.  Fast course.....mens winner in 8K was 22:20.



Edited by Left Brain 2018-10-28 7:19 PM
2018-10-28 8:03 PM
in reply to: Left Brain

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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?
Maybe things were faster in my day. I was consistently #5 runner on one of the top teams in the country (Oregon) the year we won NCAA's. Our top runners ran low 16's on a rolling course. I think my best XC time was around 17:15 or 20 for 5K. I'm not sure I was ever top 20 in our conference (Pac 10), definitely never top 10, never All-American either. 17's were thick and fast at Nationals--something like one girl per second across the line! Maybe being on such a powerhouse team warped my perspective. I quit college running at 20 and just jogged recreationally till 41, because I felt like I didn't have the talent to get anywhere. Sure wish I'd discovered tri back then!
2018-10-29 8:48 AM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?

Wow!  That's pretty cool.  Today, mostly the Africans dominate the men's races and the African women are a force as well.  The times are so course specific that it's hard to tell if things are faster or slower, but obviously, fast run times haven't changed much in the last 20 years.  I suppose, for the most part, the times you were running and the folks you were running with are right up at the limit for humans, give or take a hand full of seconds.  Certainly, on the track, the records get lowered by very small margins over many, many years.



2018-10-29 9:06 AM
in reply to: Left Brain

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Master
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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?
????? Totally irrelevant to the OP, but.... You do realize these are my 5K times, not 6K? There's nothing amazing or near-superhuman about a 17 minute + 5K for a well-trained young woman. There are a few HS girls running in the 16's for XC at nationals. My road PB at 16 (on a hilly course, certified) was 17:15, and I didn't qualify for high school XC Nationals that year--at least 4 or 5 places out of that. Our #1 runner at Oregon went to the Olympics in the 10K; I think #2 and 3 may have qualified for Trials in 5 or 10K; I "only" did for the marathon (as did our #4 runner after college).
2018-10-29 9:23 AM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?

Sure.....the same way there is nothing phenomenal about a 15 minute 5K for men......except that only about .0001 percent of the population can do it. LOL

I've probably watched a hundred  XC races the last 7 years, from HS dual meets to Nike Championships to NCAA Championships.....a low 17 minute 5 K for women is at the tip of the spear on most courses.

2018-10-29 9:26 AM
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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?

Here's a really quick example......Big 10 women's championship this weekend....6K.....nobody (OK, very few, if any) in that race is breaking 17 for 5K.

http://entries.pttiming.com/system/results/files/21419/original/BigTen-WomensResults.pdf?1540747907



Edited by Left Brain 2018-10-29 9:28 AM
2018-10-29 9:40 AM
in reply to: Left Brain

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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?

I will also say, for certain, there is a big trend the last 5 years or so to make cross country courses look like tracks (it's actually quite controversial in the XC world)......and the number of people who can run a "fast" times on one of these tracks, when it's dry, certainly goes way up.

2018-10-29 10:12 AM
in reply to: Left Brain

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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?

Here's what a mid-major D1 conference women's "best list" from this season looks like......5K

WOMEN (5K only)
Name School Time Date Place
Lindsey Brewis LUC 17:05.67 09/29 Chicago, IL
Gabby Juarez BU 17:17.9 10/27 Peoria, Ill.
Tyler Schwartz BU 17:19.7 10/27 Peoria, Ill.
Brooke Moore INS 17:33.03 09/28 South Bend, Ind.
Ayah Aldadah BU 17:38.1 10/27 Peoria, Ill.
Grace Breiten MSU 17:38.2 09/15 Joplin, Mo.
Audrey Janik ILS 17:55.05 09/28 South Bend, Ind.
Brooke Nusser BU 17:57.1 10/27 Peoria, Ill.
Mimi Reimers LUC 17:58.13 09/29 Chicago, IL
Anna Lowry UE 18:00.54 09/29 First

 

 



2018-10-29 10:57 AM
in reply to: alicefoeller

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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?

Originally posted by alicefoeller I'm using a Wahoo Kickr SNAP and I calibrate before almost every ride. I can see my watts/kg when I'm riding in Zwift and there are fast people who pass me, but I'm not terrible on there. More like a little below average. Thanks for all of the advice and tips!

so i'm not 100% certain, but i'm fairly certain that wahoo kickr SNAP isn't an accurate power meter.

 

2018-10-29 12:50 PM
in reply to: dmiller5

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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?

Originally posted by dmiller5

Originally posted by alicefoeller I'm using a Wahoo Kickr SNAP and I calibrate before almost every ride. I can see my watts/kg when I'm riding in Zwift and there are fast people who pass me, but I'm not terrible on there. More like a little below average. Thanks for all of the advice and tips!

so i'm not 100% certain, but i'm fairly certain that wahoo kickr SNAP isn't an accurate power meter.

 

+/- 3% according to specs (and DC Rainmaker's review)

2018-10-29 12:58 PM
in reply to: dmiller5

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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?
Originally posted by dmiller5

Originally posted by alicefoeller I'm using a Wahoo Kickr SNAP and I calibrate before almost every ride. I can see my watts/kg when I'm riding in Zwift and there are fast people who pass me, but I'm not terrible on there. More like a little below average. Thanks for all of the advice and tips!

so i'm not 100% certain, but i'm fairly certain that wahoo kickr SNAP isn't an accurate power meter.

 




In my experience; most power meters read quite different. Then there is rider weight, and probably more importantly to this sport; aerodynamics. Point is; ignore the absolute number of FTP or watts. Accept that it's relative. Never compare your power numbers to other people's, it's pointless.

My power meter reads super low (or I'm insanely aero....which I'm not), but I don't sweat it. It makes no difference to me what my absolute FTP number is. It could be 50 for all I care, as long as my power meter reads consistently. FTP is just a number to set your workouts by. Don't read into the actual number. Do the test and run with whatever it give you.
2018-10-29 9:23 PM
in reply to: 3mar

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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?
Thank you. I think the problem is that while doing the test, it gives you a bar you are supposed to meet (cycle at 130 watts for the next 5 minutes!) and I'm like, right, I could do that for about 30 seconds. It makes me want to give up, or I think that I'm not doing the test correctly, or that I won't get any results at all if I'm not holding that wattage. And if I do the one inside Zwift, if I'm not putting out the wattage it wants, it just makes the resistance HARDER AND HARDER until I can't pedal at all. So then I really do have to quit.
The one on my Garmin at least I could complete.
Can people really do the one in Zwift? I get that I'm a small woman, but really, I should be able to do the test that is supposed to allow me to compare my progress over time, right?
2018-10-29 9:31 PM
in reply to: alicefoeller

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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?

I've done and seen (way more) a lot of FTP tests.....never seen one that told the rider what he/she was supposed to do, or expected them to do.....what the hell is that??



2018-10-30 9:04 AM
in reply to: Left Brain

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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?
I think it's a pre-programmed test. I would just do the test on the Garmin so you can start at the level you need to and increase/decrease as needed. I'm not familiar with this program. Is it controlling the gearing on your bike like a Computrainer? In that case the resistance may be too high for your weight/strength. Power is a combo of force and cadence--for lighter women, it's probably going to look like somewhat higher cadence and lower resistance than for a heavier man. Could it be that the way this thing calculates power is skewed toward force (I've ridden spin bikes that seem to do the opposite, giving me crazy-high power numbers when I'm spinning at 100+ RPM with little resistance), and/or it is increasing power only by increasing resistance, and not leaving the gearing choices to you?

FWIW on my FTP tests, I'm riding a somewhat higher than race cadence (about 94-95 RPM; race cadence would be more like 82-87). I'm using a Garmin 520 and Power2Max; most of my recent 20-minute tests have been in the 205-210 range. I recall one "epic fail" test early on where I was doing okay at about 155 watts, and then our 6'5" tri club coach (not my coach now!) came by, looked at my bike, said, "What are you doing in the weenie gear?" and changed the gears way up on me. Needless to say, it didn't work out too well!
2018-10-30 6:16 PM
in reply to: Left Brain

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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?
Originally posted by Left Brain

I've done and seen (way more) a lot of FTP tests.....never seen one that told the rider what he/she was supposed to do, or expected them to do.....what the hell is that??




It might be a setting in the program. I know for Trainer Road and the ramp test they have you input what you think your FTP is so that you don't have to spin forever at too low of a power before getting to the hard part of the ramp.
2018-10-30 7:55 PM
in reply to: 3mar

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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?

Originally posted by 3mar
Originally posted by Left Brain

I've done and seen (way more) a lot of FTP tests.....never seen one that told the rider what he/she was supposed to do, or expected them to do.....what the hell is that??

It might be a setting in the program. I know for Trainer Road and the ramp test they have you input what you think your FTP is so that you don't have to spin forever at too low of a power before getting to the hard part of the ramp.

Well, there is some over-thinking if there ever was any.  How about get on the damn bike and go as hard as you can for 20 minutes. 

Those programs are some made up chit for people who will buy anything in the name of "fitness".  This is not friggin' rocket science.

2018-10-30 9:25 PM
in reply to: alicefoeller


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Subject: RE: Are FTP tests designed to make me feel inadequate?
Originally posted by alicefoeller

I am not the most powerful cyclist, but I have completed an Ironman, finished a triathlon most every year for the past 20 years, and am generally able to podium in my age group in small local triathlons. I completed a marathon in 4 hours 28 minutes last weekend, which is slow for me.

But when I get on the smart trainer and try to do an FTP test, it seems ridiculously out of reach even to complete the test. I can't do 130 watts for 10 minutes followed by 140 watts for 10 minutes, for example.

Am I doing something wrong?

The Zwift one was 45 minutes long, which seemed an insane amount of time to try to go full out.

I tried the one on my Garmin watch, which was shorter but no less intense. I just did my best, which was WELL below the power range it was asking me to hold, and it still gave me a result of 125W.

According to Garmin, my VO2Max is 46.

Thoughts?


If you're not able to complete the tests, it sounds like you need to reduce your output to a point where you can and then calculate your FTP. If those numbers seem low, have you calibrated your smart trainer recently? Have you trained with power in the past?

Or better yet. . . forget it all, find yourself a cross bike, and come out and ride in the Cap City CX races in Columbus this weekend. You'll forget all about triathlon after that.
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