FTP TEST: Lessons Learned So Far
I believe that sharing this post will greatly benefit others, considering the numerous comments I’ve come across from individuals expressing their apprehension towards the Peloton FTP Test, alongside those who are keen on devising a successful scoring strategy. Let me emphasize that my personal numbers hold no significance in relation to your own scores or any other metrics.
FEAR of The FTP TEST:
It is perfectly natural to feel a sense of unease when faced with the unknown or when approaching a challenging task that we have experienced before. As Bruce Lee famously stated, “One must jump into the water to learn to swim!” In our context, this means getting on the bike and taking the test. For those attempting the test for the first time, it is completely acceptable to have what may be considered a “subpar” performance, as the test serves as a valuable opportunity to learn how to effectively manage our energy expenditure and become more efficient cyclists.
After completing the initial test and engaging in subsequent workouts based on our assigned zones, we gain not only improved fitness but also a better understanding of how to approach the re-test. With this enhanced knowledge, we can strive for a higher score by simply becoming better riders, focusing on smoother techniques and greater efficiency, while also developing a strategic plan for optimizing energy utilization during the intense 20-minute test.
At this point, many may express their belief that the test is undeniably challenging. It is true that any endeavor demanding our utmost effort will be tough. However, it is important to recognize that without this benchmark, there is no precise way to tailor a training regimen specific to each individual’s needs. Consider it an investment: we have invested significantly in our bikes and now we desire the results that match our commitment. Power Zone training, being a scientifically grounded and logical approach, offers a method for anyone to enhance their fitness.
FTP Test Strategies
When embarking on our first test, we often find ourselves unsure of how to pace ourselves, how much to gradually increase our effort throughout the test, and we may experience a deep fear of pushing too hard and crashing midway. This is precisely why I encourage those who are hesitant about starting Peloton Power Zone training to take the leap and try the test. It’s important to remember that there are no Peloton Police who will penalize you for what you perceive as a disappointing result. On the contrary, the Power Zone Pack consists of incredibly supportive individuals who will cheer you on and inspire you to achieve better performances.
For beginners, it’s recommended to commence at a moderate pace, specifically Zone 3 as described, where you can sustain the effort but would find it challenging to hold a conversation due to the need for proper breathing. Every 5 minutes, there will be a gentle prompt to slightly increase your output. If you feel comfortable, go ahead and raise the resistance by a point or two. However, if you find it challenging, maintain the current level for a few more minutes. As you approach the end, you’ll likely want to further increase the resistance, so be prepared to give your all in those final moments. If you are accustomed to pedaling out of the saddle, the last minute or two provides an excellent opportunity to boost your output while standing. In the picture displaying my 3 FTP Tests, you can observe the finishing sprint, completed entirely in a standing position. Even if you feel like you have no “sprint” left in you, take pride in the fact that you are nearing completion and should be commended for undertaking something that most inactive individuals would never dare to attempt!
Retaking FTP Test
Since those of us who have already completed the test and engaged in several PZ training rides have established our zones, we now possess a more solid framework to strategize our approach for the re-test. When examining the picture of my three tests, you’ll notice a simple method to enhance your output without exerting extra effort. Focus on the beginning of the ride. In the initial two tests, I didn’t start at my target output but gradually worked my way up to it. This slow start, while listening to Matt’s instructions, resulted in lower output affecting my overall score. However, observe how I approached the start gate in the third test, accelerating just before the countdown timer reached the test commencement. Those initial free watts truly make a difference!
Next, I suggest starting either at your current FTP value, which is more conservative, or at the average output corresponding to your FTP, which is a bolder approach (similar to how I initiated test #3). Beginning with a lower output during the initial phase of the test means you’ll need to “catch up” later on, necessitating even greater effort if you aim to improve your score. This tactic is crucial because attempting to catch up can drain your energy prematurely if you’re not adequately prepared to sustain that output. The mathematics of averages support the fact that attempting to catch up demands a considerable amount from you.
Lastly, avoid coasting through the third five-minute block and holding back too much. While a significant sprint at the end does contribute to your average, its impact is not as substantial as you might assume due to the shorter duration. Instead, allocate a bit more energy as you approach the finish line. A longer period of moderately increased output will have a more favorable overall effect on your score.
In the last minute or so, if you desire to sprint, I recommend giving the resistance knob a quick additional turn and standing up. Utilize your body weight to generate a significant output towards the finish line.
Oh, and it certainly helps if you’ve been faithfully participating in PZ rides and ensuring you are well-rested and hydrated before your test!
I genuinely hope that these insights provide you with valuable considerations as you approach the FTP TEST. I took the time to share this because of the immense impact this group, the instructors, and the bike have had on my training journey.
Best of Luck 😊
This article is part of an ongoing series on Power Zone Training. You can find the other entries below in suggested reading order:
#1 – What is Peloton Power Zone Training?
#2 – Peloton FTP Test Strategies & Lessons (This article)
#3 – Peloton Power Zone Training – My Zones Are Too Easy!
#4 – Living with new zones & more FTP test
#5 – Post Peloton FTP Test New Zone Struggles (Mental & Physical)
#6 – Decreases in Peloton FTP
#7 – Age-related limitation & degradation of FTP in Power Zone Training
#9 – Resting Heart Rate: Why Power Zone Training reduces it
#10 – The “Training Effect”