FTP Testing

When I used to train I’d open up my carefully created (and beautifully designed) training plan, and run my finger along that days work out. “Base, cool – Zone 2 – long ride”. I’d jump on my bike then blow out of my arse for the allotted time in zone 4 and 5. The worst situation for me when trying to stay in Zone 2 would be to have another cyclist on the horizon or worse still someone overtaking me. Even though the guy in the horizon was oblivious to my existence I’d need to prove I could beat them.

At 42 with a considerable gap of five years in my training and legs that have shrank down to the size of that of a granny, I’m taking things a little more seriously.

As almost everyone I know is a better cyclist than me, I’m starting the Base period mostly on the turbo trainer. I know it’s boring but I know from experience that it will give great gains and also ensure there’s structure to my training without me trying to beat the world when I’m out on the road.

First up I’ve done an FTP test on Zwift when I first bought the TACX Neo to give me a barometer moving forward. Zwift is also clever in that it adapts your training to the results of the FTP and structures training around your ability.

My First FTP Test
I haven’t ever really done a test like this as any tech I had before wasn’t sophisticated enough — I’m pretty sure it’s a poor man’s VO2 Max test.

Sm my first attempt — generally quite a poor show on my part and very badly managed re time, pace and energy during the ride. The ftp test starts off with a simple warm-up then switches quickly into intervals, if you’re not feeling fit (which I’m not) this initial blast will wear already you out. This is followed by a break then a 5 minute effort at around 220 watts. 220 didn’t feel too bad so I figured I could manage 220 or more in the final effort, it seemed pretty comfortable even though I was in a bit of trouble breathing wise.

After a 10 minute warm up/down is the full 20 minute test. I’ve never been particularly good at pacing myself. I have a tendency to bomb off fast and try to keep it up. Obviously nothing wrong with that (as demonstrated by my two 4hr 40min marathons, I’d done the first halves in both in under 1hr 40mins). Similarly I used to get great times in the 40k bike ride on the triathlon (under 1hr10mins) and have no legs for the 10k run (over 50mins). This was to be no different. When the counter hit “GO” I set of with a steady 350 watts, after a few seconds this was down to a comfortable 320 then 310 the 290 then 250… you get the picture. I ended up at a pathetic 201w weighted average. Oh the shame.

I finished gasping for breath, and feeling like my heart was pounding out of my chest, almost falling off the bike — and hugely disappointed by my efforts.


I’m going to do the test once every two months but here’s how the first one went:




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