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.
I ask my students all the time, “what’s the difference between a sprint and a hill?” Do you know the answer I usually get? “Resistance, right?”
For new riders, that’s a good guess. It makes sense that the steeper you imagine a hill becoming, the more resistance you need to mimic moving up that hill. In fact, even Spinners who have been taking classes for years often answer the same way. And to be honest, at the end of the day, they're all half right, but resistance is only one part of the equation.
Just as important as resistance is your cadence. Over the years, many indoor cyclists begin to develop the habit of using higher and higher cadences in their spin classes. Many participants do not ride outside, and therefor don’t have a full understanding of how cadence needs to shift on different terrain. Others are under the impression that a high cadence class with low resistance is the only way to prevent “getting bulky legs” (the reverse is actually true). Some even get use to speeding up to a point that the bikes fly wheel does most of the work!
Round 2 on the Four Hour Body
Wait, it’s spring already? If you’re like me, you’ve probably picked up a little winter weight and might now be realizing you need to get it off!
I need to be ready for a marathon in May, the beach on Memorial Day, and beginning to train for the Savageman 1/2 Ironman! Sure, I’ve been keeping up with a lot of the physical stuff I do, but my diet has definitely fallen to the weigh side.
For the most part, I try to eat pretty clean by avoiding too many white carbs, access sugar, and empty calories. When I’m not eating clean I feel tiered, slow, and tight in my joints. Lately, I’ve been less strict and it’s starting to take a tool! Last week I decided I had to change things up.
A few years back, I really enjoyed following Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Body program. Like most of Tim’s stuff, the core content is excellent (though some of it is a stretch). Because it’s simple, and encourages clean eating, I decided to give it another go. I’ll be posting about my progress and encourage you to either follow along, or start a new program of your own!
Recently I had the good fortune of traveling to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. It was an amazing place, full of awesome people and unbelievable food! In fact, I ate my way through the entire city!
Friends here in Pittsburgh know how much I like the Pho at Pho Kim 88, but I can tell you it doesn't compared to eating the authentic stuff, on a small street, next to the Saigon River!
While the trip itself was totally epic, the 20+ hour flight time was not! And while having no issue with any of the "different" dishes I tried in Vietnam, some nasty airplane Bibimbap left me with some...let's say stomach issues!
I know what you're thinking. "Why the hell would you eat Bibimbap on an airplane?" Normally I always go with the vegetarian meal when I fly, but after 7 hours on the first plane, and another 15 to go on the second & thrid, I obviously wasn't thinking clearly (ie; Bimimbap for breakfast).
If I told you that your body was actually made up 37.2 trillion cells, each one a unique and individual building block of life you probably wouldn't be all that impressed. Sure, the way they all work togeather is incredibly impressive, but ever since high school biology we've been aware that we're made up of an unbelievable number of cells.
Now, what if I told you that your 37.2 trillion cells were vastly out numbered by other entities, or microbes, in your body? Just like your cells, they're individual and alive! What would you guess the ratio of your cells vs. your microbes are? Two-to-one, three-to-one, or maybe four-to-one? What if the number wasn't four-to-one, but actually more like ten-to-one! So, while we may think of ourselves as completely autonomous individuals, the truth is we're more microbe than human!
Luckily, most of the time these microbes work in a symbiotic relationship with our bodies. They help us properly digest food, absorb nutrients, and fight off disease. Sometimes though, our microbes get out of wack and that can cause problems.
A growing body of research seems to indicate that a lack of healthy microbes, or even worse, an abundance of unhealthy microbes, can influence everything from our mood, to our physical health, propensity for disease, and even the foods we crave.
So, what can you do to make sure you keep the good microbes flourishing and the bad ones at bay?
Every Thanksgiving I think the same thing, "Instead of shoving my face with as much turkey and pumpkin pie as possible, I'll just take it easy." A statement which is usually followed a few hours later by, "I am doing that 'Turkey Burner' spin class tomorrow, I guess I could have a fourth piece!"
And if that attitude prevailed over just that one day, no worries, but for most of us Thanksgiving is the kick off to a season of indulgence. If sticking to your fitness routine over the holiday season stresses you out, consider these tips to keep yourself on track (or even start your new year's resolution early!).
A few weeks back the World Health Organization (WHO) classified processed meats as a carcinogen. They also said that red meat is “probably carcinogenic.” In the wake of that announcement, I was hit with an onslaught of social media posts from vegetarians & vegans saying "I told you so!"
So what's upl with this classification? Has the veg community been right all along? If if you're not on a plant based diet, should you just chuck it up as a loss, crack open a carton of cigarettes, and lay down in a tanning bed with your burger?
Now, I'm not an oncologist, scientist, or even nutritional, but I'm going to say probably not. Here are a few things I'm considering when it comes to this report and my own diet.
I'm sure you've seen posts from "Beachbody" Coaches on Facebook or Instagram, promoting programs like the "21 Day Fix," "T-25," P90X," "Shakeology," and more. You've probably seen a number of friends regularly post half-naked pictures of themselves, countless before/after photos, and instagrams of healthy homemade meals, I know I have. Personally, I had never seriously considered joining them, however two things recently happened that changed my mind.
Fall is an awesome time to start running! For new runners, the cooler temperatures mean a lower rate of perceived exertion (making it feel easier to cover longer distances). For more experienced runners, this time of year means a winding down of race season, and an opportunity to focus on improving form.
For me, the changing weather also generates excitement about setting goals for the following year's Pittsburgh Marathon! Registration is now open and November is a great point for first time marathoners and half marathoners to start training. With a 20-24 week plan, novice runners can easily train to complete the full 26.2 miles, while those with almost no running experience can be ready for the half marathon.
So, where should you go to get the plan and the support you’ll need? PittsburghRunner.com of course! We'll be spinning up a FREE training group for anyone running the full or half marathon, and even the weekend 5K.
All three plans will include:
Monday's can be rough! They're the first morning of the week and set a tone for the next five days. Roll over on the right side of the bed and you'll be ready to take the world by storm... Fall over the wrong side, and who knows where you'll land.
So, how can you be ready to crush Monday? Everyone's different, but here are a few tips I use to start every day on the right foot.
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.