Cycling is one of the most entertaining physical activities and with greater benefits for the body. The practice of this discipline, both in the traditional and indoor modality, attracts hundreds of athletes who enjoy training through pedaling.
Cyclists with less experience and professionals seek to make the most of their abilities and skills to obtain a better result. Hence, they usually apply some tests to know their level of performance.
One of the most performed tests in this and other disciplines is FTP, Functional Threshold Power, which in Spanish translates as Functional Power Threshold, UPF. With this test, the maximum power that a cyclist can generate in 60 minutes is measured. It is not a simple test, because the simple act of thinking about staying in an activity of physical exertion for an hour is already exhausting, so it requires a high condition and previous rest.
Although the original test is applied for one hour of pedaling, the time can be reduced without problem to just 20 minutes, this being an accepted version. Through this test application, the user can determine if he has achieved better pedaling performance or if it is just an impression.
With the results obtained, you can know details about the physical condition, since it is the threshold of functional power or maximum strength that the athlete generates in a set time. When making one of these fitness tests, many questions arise so that we will discuss certain details below.
Once the values related to the generated power have been obtained, it is possible to calculate the training zones. These are expressed in several pulses and watts by the known heart rate and power zones.
How is the test done?
Many wonder what is needed for this test and how it is done. First of all, depending on the modality, the athlete needs to have a potentiometer and a bicycle roller with a power sensor. These elements will facilitate the generation of reliable data.
According to the physical condition of each user, some various modalities or versions fit the physical condition. Versions vary by the duration of the test and equipment.
The most precise modality is that which lasts 60 minutes of training, but because it is a long time and requires a high condition, it is a little-used practice.
Some of the factors that play against for the 60-minute FTP, in addition to time, is that it requires physical demand and constant terrain. Therefore, there is a version that has adapted to 20 minutes.
The 20-minute test
To perform this 20-minute test, it is necessary to have a comfortable space with a constant slope and not exceeding 6 or 7%. Overcoming this level of the slope would yield irregular data so that the test would be distorted.
Also, it is necessary for the cyclist to warm up properly. It is not convenient to run the 20 minutes starting to train. It is recommended that you take a few minutes with gentle pedaling and then start the test. Upon completion, it is necessary to return to the initial position by gradually lowering the intensity.
One of the frequent recommendations for this test is that the athlete must be mentalized and motivated since this will lead to better performance, and the 20 minutes do not become eternal. First of all, it is important to know that the maximum physical capacity should be given during the test. Some coaches explain that music and the weather affect better performance.
Another consideration is to manage the effort and intensity to distribute the force throughout the 20 minutes of the test. It is useless to start with high intensity during the first five minutes if the rest of the time, you do not have similar power. It is necessary to remember that counting is done considering the average power of the interval. It is appropriate that a high rate is carried, but it is possible to maintain during the entire test.
Some recommend applying a five-minute test for a lower intensity level since it has less demand and serves to have an impression of performance.
FTP in roll
Some decide to perform this test less conventionally, using a bicycle roller. In this case, the same 20 minutes of training should be executed, with their previous warm-up time on the roller.
For some trainers, this mode turns out to be more reliable, because some variants can be handled, so that the conditions are maintained. Such is the case of slope inclination and weather.
With a roller, there is a constant effort that will not be limited by the appearance of signs, traffic lights, changes in the slope, the weather, presence of cars on the road, among other variants. For this test mode, an interactive bicycle roller is required to adjust the slope and resistance.
After taking the test, it is time to ask yourself, how are the data analyzed? There are different ways, but most coaches apply the 0.95 coefficient for the 20 minutes of training.
For example, if the result in the 20-minute test is of a power of 340, it must be multiplied by 0.95, and the result, in this case, would be 323 watts, which means that the maximum average power is of this amount.
Although the value is close to reality, it is not entirely accurate, and there may be alterations due to variants such as fatigue, physical state, among others. This leads many trainers to repeat the test from time to time to update the training zones and thus analyze the progression.