How To Improve Your Cycling: Understanding Functional Threshold Power

Whether you are an amateur cyclist looking to improve your training routine, or an athlete looking to understand your physical limits and train more efficiently, it is important to understand your Functional Threshold Power

Image via Breakaway Triathlon Club

It is no secret that recreational cycling and spinning classes are on the rise. However, some of us may want to take cycling to the next level, and what better way to do that than to improve our Functional Threshold Power (FTP)?

Or perhaps you are not an elite athlete but a weekend warrior that has hit a plateau and are looking at ways to optimise your workouts and exercise so that you can perform at an optimal level to have more efficient workouts.

Image by Malek Roslee, SportPlus.SG

Understanding Functional Threshold Power

But firstly, what is FTP? We spoke with Breakaway Triathlon Club’s Head Community Coach Eugene Lee to find out.

FTP in a nutshell is the highest average power you can sustain on a bicycle for an hour, and there are many ways to calculate it.

Essentially, all you need is a power meter to measure your average power output over a 20-minute ride at maximum effort and multiply that by 95 per cent.

But perhaps the easier way would be to run a test with the help of professionals who can further direct you on what steps you can take to improve your FTP.

For example, Breakaway Triathlon Club uses a Wattbike to calculate FTP, and have coaches you can consult on how better your cycling based on the results.

Wattbike: For Athletes Beyond Cyclists

Many people think that FTP is only useful for elite cyclists. But in reality, even recreational cyclists and athletes from sports other than cycling can benefit from it too.

In fact, getting on a Watt Bike has been known to improve the performances of athletes across a wide genre of sports, from football, to rugby, athletics and even rowing.

Image via Breakaway Triathlon Club

But how exactly can FTP improve your overall sports performance?

1. Use FTP to categorize levels of exertion

Since your FTP represents your average maximum power output for an hour, it can then be used to calculate what a medium or low intensity ride would look like for you in terms of power output. This would help you to quantify your physical capabilities in a tangible form.

2. Use FTP to establish your Training Zones

Training zones represent a variety of ride intensities, and each zone relates to a specific aspect of fitness you want to work on. For example, if you want to work on a training zone that builds endurance, your FTP can be used to calculate exactly how much power output and for what duration of time would help you to do so.

Image by Malek Roslee, SportPlus.SG

3. Making training routines more efficient

After using your FTP to establish training zones, naturally your training routines will become more efficient and effective. More intentional rides will get rid of “junk miles” which are periods of your ride which do not serve to improve any aspect of your fitness.

4. Prevents Injuries from Overexertion

Knowing what your maximum riding intensity is through FTP can prevent you from engaging in rides that are currently too strenuous. Of course, it is beneficial to keep pushing your limits by increasing your FTP score. However, knowing your FTP will prevent you from doing too much too fast.

5. Improves Coach-client Relationship

Finally, communication between you and your coach can improve by knowing your FTP as it provides both of you with an accurate way of quantifying your efforts in training.

So, if peddling non-stop on a stationary bike to the beat of pounding music in a spin class is not your cup of tea, you could try signing up for Breakaway Triathlon Club’s digital programs and level up your future cycling trips.

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