Alternatives to FTP to measure your progress

Ok, that is a tricky one. FTP is a great number. You do the 20 minutes test (or cheat via the ramp test or something else), get a number that you can abuse for bragging, modify into peak W/kg, do more bragging. And that’s it. Other than a base line reference for your structured workouts, it’s pointless.

Who on this forum here can really put down a number close to the measured FTP down on the road, over 60 minutes ? Because if not, what’s the point !

My last synthetic measured FTP was 269w (May ? something like that), so nothing to really brag about. The last FTP that coach accepted (resultantly, but that is a different story) was 264w, on a real climb, outdoors, but barely longer than 20 minutes.

On the other hand, I did put down 261w on a TT over 60 minutes (guess semi-motivated there). So decently close to FTP. Same TT (spying via Strava/Souce) another competitor close to me in time put down 271w over 60 minutes, but with a claimed FTP of 292w.

So overall it’s not obvious that a FTP number reflects performance in real life. And real life, outdoors is everything that matters, at least to me.

The interesting question now is what to use otherwise as performance indicators and predictors to track your performance during training ? Actually tracking 60 minutes or 90 minutes during training, indoors or outdoors ? Set aside time within a long ride and put in a good effort over a known segment ? How often, weekly, monthly ? Or a real simulation, say a ZWIFT race up the Alpe ?

1 Like

To me it’s just a metric to help set training parameters around. At the end of the day your FTP changes every time you get on the bike, based around how good was last nights sleep, how recovered are you from the day or days before.

Equally I might be wrong here but you are going to get individuals who can put out a great 20min power but then blow as you go over 30mins. Equally you might get a more of diesel rider who while they don’t have a great 60min power might be able to sustain just a fraction below what they have as an FTP for 2hrs or more.

Also HR based is obviously a reaction to the effort of the input (power). So on shorter intervals your HR will be lower until you hit the point that the body has had to pickup and react to your effort. So sprints for example you couldn’t train to a HR goal as you in theory you would have finished the interval before your HR increases.

1 Like

Agreed on this. Holding FTP is trainable, but no one should expect to be able to just hold 95% of their 20 min best without training towards it. I guess there is enough evidence to support this being a legit way to test FTP (given that most people will fail to get 95% from their 20 min best), but raises plenty of questions about reliability and co-efficiency of error.

Best advice with testing is to try to make it relative to your goals. Sadly, until we move away from systems that run on FTP (TrainingPeaks for example), there will always be a need to test that too.

All true about FTP, but what else could you track, easy, convenient to track your performance over time.

With FTP, the slave driver (@pav) does not let me do this more than every 2 months (or so). But being an engineer, I love to track something, measure things. So I am looking for alternatives, especially given the limits of the FTP idea (and ATL / CTL / TSB, TSS, which are great for me as engineer, but might not be the real thing).

Haha!! Following this with anticipation :slight_smile:

For me I wouldn’t even bother every two months. Often not done an FTP test once per year. For me if Zwift/Garmin have detected a new FTP I have just considered whether to change it or not. These would often come from a Zwift race TTT for example. I used to be more observant of my Zwiftpower data from a race and comparing that to how I felt.

In a similar way with my running I tend to use my local ParkRun 5k as a gauge. While I don’t run it every week I would only let myself push hard every other month or so. However I would also take into account what am I training for? My focus this year has been to run 50k so I’ve not been doing as much speed and therefore I would expect my 5k times not to improve but possible increase a little but I also factor in how I felt on the day and the weather.

It will depend a lot on anticipated of expected changes in FTP. If you are someone who has trained consistently for many years and have had little or no interruptions to that, then the likelihood is you are at a stable FTP and seeing minimal changes to that over the course of many meso cycles (hopefully upwards!).

For anyone who has to have some time off the bike or is new to structured training, testing at a higher frequency is going to be necessary. If you race, then races could be used as testing.

I do like the 5k idea for running. A whole new world for me as well ;-).

But back to the real topic. FTP is cool for adjusting workouts in ZWIFT. But to track progress and real performance, I don’t know. So what I am hearing underneeth all the suggestions is to pick something that is repeatable, and repeat it, and look. Anything will do.

1 Like

This one is all zwift’s fault. The stars and confetti when you advance by two watts or whatever.

It is just a number. Increasing it tells you you’re getting stronger sure - but if FTP increase is your sole goal I’d say you’re doing it wrong - it’s a road to better fitness and achieving more - not an end in itself

Exactly you can train for an FTP test but that doesn’t mean you good out on the road riding. Also as it is an hour based measurement it might not be a good metric to be looking at if your goal is a 6hr ride or 12/24hr events.

That said lifting the ceiling can lead to more capacity lower down and longer perhaps at an increased power.

On the Zwift marker it is more about watts/kilo and how often you have a rider who has a big FTP but their weight drops them back. Which I guess is similar out on the road where your big power sprinters ain’t getting to the top of the climb ahead of a number of lighter less powerful riders.

1 Like