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Cycling Fitness with Adam Copley: What is FTP?

Hello and welcome to the ADAM COPLEY: PERSONAL TRAINING blog. Over the coming weeks I will be introducing you to the world of cycling specific fitness. Highlighting the importance of training on and off the bike. As well as covering mindset, nutrition and all things cycling.


As a keen cyclist and mountain biker. It is my passion to see cycling become as inclusive as possible. welcoming people into the world I love and also doing my bit to help these people be the best version of themselves.


Whether you ride for fun, fitness or to compete, I hope this blog will provide you with some interesting reading. Let’s get into it:


This week we are going to have a look into the training side of cycling, with FTP: Now, before you all expect a science lesson don’t worry. The aim of this article is to simplify FTP and put it into a practical context. So, let’s get into it:


What it FTP?
FTP or Functional Threshold Power is essentially your average watts per hour of cycling. Or over the course of your ride. It is essentially how many watts you are putting down while you are working at a high but maintainable level on the bike. FTP is commonly used to test performance in cycling as it can be done indoors, eliminating factors such as wind, road undulation/conditions and traffic that can affect outdoor testing. Watts are also unaffected by things like stress, and lack of sleep as they are purely measured as watts. To some extent this is true.


I personally like FTP as it is easily accessible if your gym/home has a wattbike, you have a turbo trainer or power meters. You can also use most regular exercise bikes to see your watts albeit these may not be as accurate as the above.


So, to sum it up simply:


FTP is your average power over the course of a ride. And you can test this in a wide variety of ways.


Why is FTP important?


It isn’t. If you are happy cycling purely for enjoyment and/or a bit of fitness, then you don’t need to worry about what your FTP is at all. You can look at stats that strava gives you like average pace, moving time or just simply how you feel during and after a ride.


If you do want to start getting more serious though, FTP is a good way to start your performance testing. Having a higher FTP will effectively mean you are more powerful, and theoretically faster but it isn’t the only way you can test this.


So, it’s a way to measure performance, but it isn’t the be all and end all.


How can you improve your FTP?


Let’s say you want to get a bit more serious with your training. Let’s dive into how you can work on your FTP. The first method to improving your FTP is by becoming lighter while maintaining the same level of strength. Essentially if your max weight on squats is 100kg and you weigh 100kg. You have a power to weight ratio of 1kg per 1kg of bodyweight. If you drop this to 80kg and keep the same numbers on the squat, your power to weight ratio is 1.25. Now take those numbers with a pinch of salt. You don’t need to drop 20kg at all. But you get the idea of how your power to weight ratio improves as you get stronger and lose mass. In the same way cycling with a 2litre camel back feels slower than a 500ml water bottle.


So essentially, developing strength while losing weight you have to carry around will make you a faster, more efficient rider.


The second way you can improve your FTP is by pushing your body through some intervals. This can again be done indoors or outdoors. If you fancy pushing your body, then find a hill near you and push your body through some hill intervals. This is a sure-fire way to improve your power as you are working at full gas for about 1-2 minutes with a longer rest period. In the gym you can do sprints at a high resistance on a spin/wattbike for similar intervals. This will develop your leg power without going near the weight room. Which is one of the best things to tell a cyclist as many of them do not have confidence in the gym.


So, to summarise:


FTP is one of the most common ways to track performance in cycling, it’s only as important as you want it to be, and it is much simpler than a lot of cyclists will have you believe. You can improve your FTP if you wish by getting lighter and more powerful.


I hope this article has simplified FTP for you, and that it has also been an interesting read. If you have any questions.


Feel free to email me at accopley11@gmail.com if you have any questions, or head over to my Instagram @acopleypt