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  1. #1
    Not actually Tmonk TMonk's Avatar
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    FTP testing protocol

    Can anyone here recommend an FTP testing protocol? I am getting ready to perform my first test in a couple weeks.

    According to Allen and Coggan in Training and Racing with a Power Meter, the testing protocol is as follows:

    *warmup, w fast pedaling
    *5min all-out effort, 100% FTP
    *10min rest
    *20min TT effort, taken as 105% of FTP

    This is fine and dandy, but because I have never tested my FTP before, the 5-min all out effort will be a shot in the dark. Additionally, I am just getting back on the back after some time off due to injury, so my fitness is kind of in limbo right now.

    Can anyone comment on the appropriateness of the above protocol for a beginner, or recommend an alternate one?

    Thanks.
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    so high, my heart cannot bear the strain." -A.C. Jobim, Triste

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    \_(ツ)_/ Ygduf's Avatar
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    do it, get a number. do whatever workouts based on that number for a few weeks. do it again.

    you just need somewhere to start. you'll never get a perfect test, and if you somehow did, you wouldn't know it because you have no baseline. If you do have a baseline and you get a perfect test you won't know which one is right.

    It's just not worth worrying about.

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  3. #3
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    There are a number of numerical inconsistencies in the book and this appears to be one of them. A 5 minute all-out effort will be done at a power level much greater than 100% FTP, since A&G's definition of FTP is "the highest power that a rider can maintain in quasi-steady state for approximately one hour without fatiguing."

    The protocol is fine if you do the 5 min at an all-out effort. It will give you more data points for generating a Critical Power curve. Pacing for both efforts can be challenging for the novice, but gets better with experience. I've developed a feel for the efforts with my breathing rate and tension in the legs.

  4. #4
    fuggitivo solitario
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    i don't use it. i prefer to do a long warm up, at least 30-35 minutes, and definitely nothing all out, though you should throw in a few hard efforts. get your HR up, but don't tax yourself too much; that's for later.

    afterwards i do two 20-min efforts, the first one not all out, the second one all out. If say i get 310 and 320 for the efforts, i'll take 310 and call it a day. You'll know how good your protocol is based on the ease with which you complete your subsequent workouts.

  5. #5
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    I look for consistency between tests. You want repeatable results that will highlight small changes in fitness. If the Allen/Coggan method looks attractive, then use that. It really is just a matter of picking one and seeing how it fits for you. Your first FTP test is pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

    That said:
    • My favorite overall is the MAP test (ramp test), because it is very sensitive to fitness changes, and my zones always feel perfect when based on a MAP number. What I don't come out with is an FTP number -- I just have to go with a % of MAP. Again, this is a great number for training.
    • My second favorite method is a fully-recovered 20-minute test. This really doesn't provide a direct FTP, and everyone will be a different %. I can still subtract a %, and train on zones from that number just fine. The advantage of this test is that I feel like I should be kicking ass. Like a TT -- very motivating, and that's good for my consistency.
    • The other test I've done that deserves mention is the all-out 3' CP test (you can search for it if interested). This one has the advantage that the number you're looking at for the last 30 seconds is your CP (so really close to FTP, and easy to convert accurately). So this is possibly the most accurate FTP test I've done, it only takes 3 minutes, and it doesn't wreck your training day or your week. The bad thing is that it is the most painful thing I've done on the bike, including crashing. There's this point shortly after 2 minutes where everything stops hurting, and you can just go at 100% every pedal stroke like it's determined by a dial. Getting to that point is bad news though.

  6. #6
    Not actually Tmonk TMonk's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, just looking for opinions here. I realize that whatever I do won't be put into context until I've performed multiple training blocks, and therefore, tests.

    Quote Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
    I look for consistency between tests.
    This seems like a good bit of wisdom here.

    I am intrigued by the MAP testing protocol - but I must admit I know nothing about it. I see myself performing a 20-minute test, with some kind of short, mildly anaerobic opener effort prior to the test.

    Finally, there's no ****ing way I am doing that 3' test lol - that sounds horrible
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    Senior Member furiousferret's Avatar
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    I just do the 20 minute over a consistent course. When I started doing a lot of training with power and using zones, I learned you almost don't have to test. You will know if the FTP is too low or too high just based on workouts.

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    \_(ツ)_/ Ygduf's Avatar
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    ^^ is about right.

    I do a weekly or bi-weekly 16-25min climb at 100% and check ftp from that.

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    You blink and it's gone. rbart4506's Avatar
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    I use to do the 20min test, but ran into issues here in finding suitable roads to perform the test. There's only one suitable road that allows a constant 20min effort and it's pretty busy. I've since switched to the CTS 8min field test. You warm-up then do 2x8min all out efforts with 10min recovery between. I then average between the two and take 90% of that to set my FTP. All my workouts are then based on the CTS power levels.

    To be honest I prefer the 8min test. I find it much easier to perform indoors as well as outdoors. The number I get for FTP seems to correlate with numbers I get from workouts and races.

    I tend to test more in the winter since during the summer there's race efforts to give an idea where my FTP stands. It might not be the best way to do it, but it is what it is...
    "On the other hand riding down a hill at 55 MPH wearing (essentially) women's underwear and a Styrofoam cup on your head is the epitome of rational life-extending decisions." - RacerEx

  10. #10
    Not actually Tmonk TMonk's Avatar
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    Fortunately for me, I have Fiesta Island, a ~25min z1 spin away from my apt.

    At Fiesta, distance and/or time is effectively infinite.
    "Your beauty is an aeroplane;
    so high, my heart cannot bear the strain." -A.C. Jobim, Triste

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    Senior Member Wylde06's Avatar
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    First year with power for me...but I do a longish (30-45 minute..or however long it takes me to get to my spot) warmup, 20 minute test, resist puking, then wonder if I screwed it up

  12. #12
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    For me it's 95% of a 20min all out. I don't do the 5 min all out beforehand, but I do try to do a good warmup. As has been said, you'll know if it's pretty close, but more riding and especially more testing will help you get a better feel.
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  13. #13
    Not actually Tmonk TMonk's Avatar
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    Yep.
    "Your beauty is an aeroplane;
    so high, my heart cannot bear the strain." -A.C. Jobim, Triste

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    do it, get a number. do whatever workouts based on that number for a few weeks. do it again.

    you just need somewhere to start. you'll never get a perfect test, and if you somehow did, you wouldn't know it because you have no baseline. If you do have a baseline and you get a perfect test you won't know which one is right.

    It's just not worth worrying about.
    Thank you, feel the same way. But testing requires some learning. How often would you test? I know it's the start of the off-season, but I want to raise my FTP gradually and as consistently as time/job/family permits.

    I have the same protocol as CDR, I believe it is the Coogan method, if I'm not mistaken, with a few simplifications.
    Last edited by pecos; 09-22-14 at 09:33 PM.

  15. #15
    \_(ツ)_/ Ygduf's Avatar
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    I dunno. I do a 20min effort just about every week. some guys probably follow 3 week build, 1 week easy routines where you could test, do 3 weeks build, easy week, test, do 3 weeks build.

    20 minutes all out shouldn't wreck your week or even the next day.

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  16. #16
    These Guys Eat Oreos Creatre's Avatar
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    I don't really believe in FTP testing. I've found it much more reliable to take numbers from interval days. 3x20min interval session, average all three numbers (assuming linearity, ie: 275, 274, 280 not 295, 260, 245), there's your approximate FTP. This will translate to real world results very well and is easily comparable to other 3x20min interval days.
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  17. #17
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    The 8 minute CTS protocol is pretty quick to knock out, and makes you dread the test less.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
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    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    ^^^ +1. You want a test that gives you a repeatable measure by which to gauge training, but the less complicated, time consuming, disruptive, and daunting it is, the better. IMO.
    Eschew simplistic dogma.

  19. #19
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Do you guys look at your power readings on the 5' or 20' tests?
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  20. #20
    \_(ツ)_/ Ygduf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    Do you guys look at your power readings on the 5' or 20' tests?
    you mean, during? I do.

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    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Yes. I have a decent sense of where my FTP is so I figured I would go out with a target number in mind and adjust accordingly.
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    Senior Member Wylde06's Avatar
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    I do. If I don't look at it power is all over the place.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    Do you guys look at your power readings on the 5' or 20' tests?
    During the test? Of course not.

  24. #24
    You blink and it's gone. rbart4506's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    Do you guys look at your power readings on the 5' or 20' tests?
    Yes... I have a number in mind and I shoot for that...
    "On the other hand riding down a hill at 55 MPH wearing (essentially) women's underwear and a Styrofoam cup on your head is the epitome of rational life-extending decisions." - RacerEx

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
    I look for consistency between tests. You want repeatable results that will highlight small changes in fitness. If the Allen/Coggan method looks attractive, then use that. It really is just a matter of picking one and seeing how it fits for you. Your first FTP test is pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
    this.

    set your zones or levels, train and repeat

    on whether the first test is meaningful, i think it is but keep in mind you'll likely improve from test to test for a while based on improving pacing during the test

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