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  1. #1
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    How long between FTP tests? How many during the season?

    This is my first season training with power, but only on the road bike.
    First test was on Nov 2, and FTP came in at 295w for 81kg (6'0 tall). Second scheduled test was this past Saturday, and after a week without riding due to numerous circumstances, came out with 303w at 80kg. Test were done uphill.

    I still have another Base period until I move to more specific training, which will start just as my racing season begins. I have two targets this season; one in April and another in July.

    When and how often should I monitor FTP?

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    I tend to only do formal testing during base period and it's usually about every 6 weeks for me. You get a pretty good idea of where your FTP is once you train with power for a while. You don't need exact numbers to train off. When you do test, make sure you are coming off a few days of rest or easy days because you don't want to be fatigued for it.

  4. #4
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    When you have Power and HR, you get "test data" every time your ride your bike. By correlating your power output with HR.

    If your FTP=300, then that makes your zone 2 from 168-225W. Look at your HR during that riding. As the weeks progress during base, you should be putting out slightly more power at the same HR. If your power starts getting pretty high at your normal zone 2 HR, then it's probably time to test FTP again.

    Some people like to write off HR once they get a powermeter, but HR is still useful IMO. It is good data more often than not. Combining HR and power is pretty powerful and a great way to track improvement during base (i.e. generating more power at same HR).
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    When you have Power and HR, you get "test data" every time your ride your bike. By correlating your power output with HR.

    If your FTP=300, then that makes your zone 2 from 168-225W. Look at your HR during that riding. As the weeks progress during base, you should be putting out slightly more power at the same HR. If your power starts getting pretty high at your normal zone 2 HR, then it's probably time to test FTP again.

    Some people like to write off HR once they get a powermeter, but HR is still useful IMO. It is good data more often than not. Combining HR and power is pretty powerful and a great way to track improvement during base (i.e. generating more power at same HR).
    Most of training rides with the PM during the week are done on the trainer so I can easily correlate power with HR. When going out without the OM on the MTB, I try and match the endurance and tempo with the same HR as what I had with PM numbers. For exmaple, every time I am around 142-157 BPM, my power is between Endurance and Tempo, so I try and replicate the same effort. The only times I don't use the HR monitor is when doing super long rides on the road...it just feels a bit more comfortable that way for me...but I do pay close attention to how I feel.

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    I have found that my tests are the most accurate at the end of a rest week, and I am also mentally ready for it (I am actually itching to go really hard at the end of my rest week!). Some of what Ponch says is true, HR can be a good indicator when you need to test, yet I have found that if I am not mentally prepared for a 20 min Time Trail I will just give up at about 8-12 minutes into the test.

  7. #7
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    How long between FTP tests? How many during the season?

    I have even less luck keeping ANT+ heart rate straps working than I do keeping powermeters working.

    I've just been riding on perceived exertion all December. It sucks not being able to review power from the rides afterwards but it hasn't made much difference to what I've actually been doing performance wise during them.

    In terms of FTP tests I'll usually try and do one every 1 to 2 months. They count as a good 20 or 60 minute training session in themselves so have the benefit of giving a decent workout as well as a progress check.

  8. #8
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    Due to a few unexpected events and a back injury, I missed my last scheduled FTP test...but since now I'm back in the saddle (only on the trainer), I decided that after a week without riding, it might be a good (or stupid idea) to do a test. I usually go with that same routine into it, but today, since the idea occurred to me 25 minutes into my training, the routine was not the same as past tests. As a result, I started at the 30 minute mark after 15 min of endurance and 15 min of Tempo. Since I was feeling good at the time, I decided to give it a go. But 10 min into it, I could not hold it any longer a stopped like it was an interval. 10 min later and fully recovered, I went at it again, repeating the same once more for a total of 3x10 (10 RI). When I downloaded everything, I saw that my power was higher in the first two intervals than what my FTP is, with the third interval being equal to my FTP.

    Should I take this numbers into consideration and re-evaluate my zones and FTP?

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    What testing method were you using? As you explained above I personally think the method you used is highly unreliable. I would fully recover from this test and do a the standard 20 minute FTP test.

    It sounds like you went out to hard and below up 10 mins in. How I approach a FTP test is the 1st 10mins of the test are done at my current FTP then at min 10 I bump it up a few percentage points for another 5 mins, the last 5mins depending on how I feel the hammer is dropped as to finish the test pinned with nothing less to give.
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  10. #10
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    Sometimes I feel like we get too anal with these power zones.

    With FTP of 300 zone 2 power goes from 170-225W, tempo from 228-270W. Those are pretty wide ranges. If your FTP improves by 10W, then new zones are 173-232W and 235-279W.

    Those training zones still have A LOT of overlap. So training doesn't really change with small improvement changes, especially considering the noise and unsteadiness of outside riding. If long tempo intervals feel easy at 280W 10 minutes into it, then by all means, hit 290. How your last interval feels (and corresponding HR) should tell you if it still too easy.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by irishpitbull View Post
    What testing method were you using? As you explained above I personally think the method you used is highly unreliable. I would fully recover from this test and do a the standard 20 minute FTP test.

    It sounds like you went out to hard and below up 10 mins in. How I approach a FTP test is the 1st 10mins of the test are done at my current FTP then at min 10 I bump it up a few percentage points for another 5 mins, the last 5mins depending on how I feel the hammer is dropped as to finish the test pinned with nothing less to give.
    I usually follow Hunter Allen's method as described in Training and Racing with a PM. But when I compared all three intervals, power numbers varied by less than 3%. I know I blew up on the first one, but without any training in a week, I knew this might happen...and it did...On the last two intervals a started being more progressive into it and hammering/holding for the latter part of it, and on both occasions, even though I was exhausted, I recovered very quickly and was ready to punch it again very soon...

    One thing to take into consideration...this was done on a trainer, while I usually to my FTP test on a 6-10% 10K climb...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    Sometimes I feel like we get too anal with these power zones.

    With FTP of 300 zone 2 power goes from 170-225W, tempo from 228-270W. Those are pretty wide ranges. If your FTP improves by 10W, then new zones are 173-232W and 235-279W.

    Those training zones still have A LOT of overlap. So training doesn't really change with small improvement changes, especially considering the noise and unsteadiness of outside riding. If long tempo intervals feel easy at 280W 10 minutes into it, then by all means, hit 290. How your last interval feels (and corresponding HR) should tell you if it still too easy.
    This is my first year training with a PM, and understanding all this, even though new to me, has been very helpful in my progression. My first two races have yielded very good results and faster times around those courses. But now that I'm getting into the thick of the season into my first priority race in mid April, I have to manage my hours and intensity more precisely. One thing that I've seen, is that gradually, my watts have gone up with the corresponding HR zones...when I use to suffer at certain intensity, now I don't...so maybe all this is working for my advantage...

  13. #13
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    How long between FTP tests? How many during the season?

    The main thing is to be consistent in your testing procedure.

    If you think there's a definite improvement you could always adjust the FTP figure for your training zones but you really want to try and do the same test route that you did before to verify it.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    Sometimes I feel like we get too anal with these power zones.
    Yes, definitely. I watched a Hunter Allen webinar earlier this season where he emphasized that duration trumped everything. So I've focused more on completing the planned trainer session, even if I reduce the Ws, than on keeping it at a set level.

    As far as testing, once so far this year for me. I always intend to do them frequently, but find them easy to skip. The data is interesting if you have year over year results at similar points in time.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ACree View Post
    Yes, definitely. I watched a Hunter Allen webinar earlier this season where he emphasized that duration trumped everything.
    My experience has been the same. Stay consistent, ride lots, stay within the zone. And it looks like Carlos has done that. he has gotten some pretty good performance solely from large base training.

    But with a key race coming up, it's probably time to turn it up a notch, and then taper. I usually try to keep the weekly volume similar (or slightly lower), do tempo,SST, threshold intervals and/or race 3X a week (which will put you in a bit of a hole), then follow up with lower volume and shorter intervals to hopefully get some better performance (i.e. supercompensation).

    It's definitely a tricky thing to get right. When I've hired this one great local coach a couple of seasons, there's no question that I was fastest when we said we would be (A races). When I self-coach, I'm usually get those "magic legs" on a weekend with no race.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    When I self-coach, I'm usually get those "magic legs" on a weekend with no race.
    I think we've all been there at some point...

    But back on point, I never focus munch on zones unless I'm doing intervals or something else that is specific. Most of my volume is made up in endurance/tempo. But like I said before, doing a 3x10, even though I was targeting doing a 1x20 only, I just felt and saw my numbers considerably higher even though I had trained in a week...since this was my first all out 3x10 of my season, and have also another scheduled in 3 weeks, I'll compare those numbers just to make sure I didn't had magic legs yesterday...

  17. #17
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    I spent a few years going crazy with power numbers, ftp tests (including blood lactate threshold), training ranges, re-reading coggan's book etc. I absolutely loved it... in theory.

    In reality, there's one thing I rarely see talked about that messes it all up for me. I recover poorly and my energy levels and recovery levels go up and down quite a bit from day to day. A few days of solid training and I might be really beat for a few days. I'm more extreme than most, but I'm guessing no one is perfectly consistent.

    This creates two problems:

    1) Testing: if I'm testing every 4 weeks, how do I ensure I bring the same fatigue level into each test? And if I don't, what's the point of the test?

    2) Training: on days I was weaker or less recovered, I would struggle to hold my power zones. At first I forced it -- MUST COMPLETE WORKOUT!!! -- but this just put me deeper in a hole. So I started going more by feel. Do the workout if it feels right, otherwise alter it.

    This eventually morphed into an even more relaxed model of: 1) do what feels right during training, and monitor it with power so I understand how I'm progressing. Then 2) Set a power goal for the first half of races (TT's, not mtb) to ensure I don't go out too hard. Second half you give it whatever you got.

    I find this not only more enjoyable, but more effective. Everyone's different. Do what works for you.

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