We've posted once or twice before on Functional Threshold Power (FTP), and the importance of knowing both power zones (for biking) and heart rate zones (for biking and running). Today, we're going to revisit FTP, and give you a few quick tips on how to begin training with power. While the majority of FTP philosophy discussed here applies to both indoor and outdoor cycling, this guide's main focus is on the indoor rider.
WTF is FTP?
Simply put, FTP is your body's ability to consistently maintain, or "put-out," the highest level of power (measured in watts) over the course of 45-60 minutes (though we usually test in 20 minute increments). You can imagine power, or watts, as a number found by multiplying your speed (cadence) by your resistance. So, if you hop on the bike with very little resistance, but pedal very, very fast, your power output will be low. Conversely, if you load up the resistance but can only pedal at 30 RPM, your power output will be low. To get the most efficiency out of your pedal stroke, and make the biggest gains in your overall fitness, you will want to find the right balance between resistance and pedal stroke to maximize your power output.
During the day, when I'm at my "real-job," I spend most of my time managing software development projects and I freakin' love it! To most people though, "Project Management" means sitting down and developing long lists of requirements, tasks, risks, and resource allocations. They think of Gantt Charts, strict change management procedures, and a project plan that's printed in permanent ink!
In technology however, things change so rapidly that such a strict approach to project planning simply doesn't work. We need a system that is agile and able to respond to rapid change.
Enter "Scrum!" Scrum is a form of agile project management, centered around 5 core values (Focus, Courage, Openness, Commitment, Respect). These values allow teams to be more productive, stay motivated, and consistently deliver working solutions.
Just as I do at my day-job, when I'm working with teammates & athletes, I coach them to think about their training plan as a road map. It will provide a general direction, but we've got to be flexible enough to make course corrections along the way. Athletes should review their progress every week or two and assess what's working and what's not (in the Scrum world we call this process retrospective & planning, in running we call it a sure way to get faster).
Ken Presutti is a certified ChiRunning instructor, ACE Personal trainer, Spinning instructor, and coach. This blog is a mix of new articles and posts from his original blog, Overkill is Underrated.