The ability to go hard for long is tough. Too hard and you’ll burn out, too slow and you’re off the pace. The types of situation where you need your FTP (Functional Threshold Power – or an approximation of the power you could sustain for an hour) would be in a 25 mile time trial or a long road race, getting to the finish sprint is good, but, if you’re too tired to be competitive in the sprint it’s game over.
Alternatively you can look at it from the point of view that with exceptional FTP you could win from a break-away or at least tire your competitors out enough to give yourself the best chance at the line. You might also consider that the higher your FTP, the faster you’ll be able to ride, while still remaining at a ‘low intensity’.
Let’s consider though that it isn’t just about competition, if you can go hard for longer you’ll be quicker than your friends. You’ll be able to conserve energy for those tough climbs or that sprint to the sign post. FTP is as much a part of any ride as it is any race.
Do you train inside or outdoors for this though? Well, you may get better results from training inside, but, you might get better technical ability and have more fun out!
While it might seem like the best way to boost your FTP is to simply train at this intensity, you might actually find that dropping the power slightly will give you a better adaptation. Focusing on training at around 88-93% of your FTP, the commonly known ‘sweet-spot zone’ provides a good level of adaptations, while not being as fatiguing as FTP. With less fatigue, you’ll be able to train more, thus improving your FTP year around.
Other than looking like a boss with a big FTP, you’ll also get an improvement in your body’s ability to metabolise carbohydrates, some of your muscles will change from fast twitch to slow twitch, oh and did I mention you’ll start to look like a boss?
If you chose to train your FTP outside it is important to be able to see your power output while riding, this will stop you pushing too hard. If you are outside, rides should last anywhere between 30 minutes and two hours, effort should increase as duration decreases.
If you can’t monitor your power during, you struggle for time or it is wet outside (sigh) you might consider simply completing these sessions on a turbo trainer. The type of intervals here will vary but can range from 2 intervals of 15 minutes to 4 of 8 minutes, anything really. If you want to test your progress, other than the standard 20′ test (take 95% of your average 20′ power) or a shorter 3′ test (take 70% of this average), a 25 mile time trial is perfect.
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