AI FTP vs FTP Tests ... why?

Isn’t that something you should learn one way or another when training? I’m not sure that’s one of the purposes of an FTP. It took me about 2, 3 years to identify the feeling right at the threshold.

Knowing what it feels like to be at the limit has has the advantage that one’s choice of FTP test becomes unimportant, just pick one and consistently stick to one. Personally, I don’t think more elaborate FTP tests are a good investment of my time and energy. The more involved a test is, the more it will take out of me and the more can go wrong. And I cannot really see the big payoff.

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How many riders actually do a 30-45 minute sustained effort? How do they learn it if they don’t attempt / train it?

I’m not sure what you mean by more elaborate tests. The KM test is actually easier to perform IMO than the 20 minute test because the pacing is better.

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Are we still talking about an FTP test or are we talking about training specific to 30–45-minute climbs? I was under the impression we are talking about the former, not the latter.

As far as I understand, there are (at least) four different versions. But all of them require you to spend 35+ minutes at intensity and pick a target wattage. That means a lot more fatigue than a 20-minute or a ramp test. I’m not sure it is worth it, it seems much easier to use a different FTP testing protocol and validate my numbers by threshold workouts.

The longest I do is 3 x 16 = 48 minutes at the end of a polarized block or 2 x 20 minutes. If I were to do a hillclimb, I might do a 1 x 40 minute threshold workout or so to prepare, but that’s rare.

However, the big difference between threshold workouts and one of Moore’s FTP tests is that the latter are without break. We all know that 4 x 10 minutes at threshold is a lot easier than 2 x 20 minutes or 1 x 40 minutes. So I don’t think it is correct to look at the time spent at threshold and conclude that one of the flavors of Moore’s FTP test are the same as a regular threshold workout.

Moreover, I think the duration is significant: depending on which of the four versions you pick, you might end up spending up to 70 minutes mostly at threshold. Even with the shortest (basic) version 35 minutes is the lower bound.

What is more fatiguing, a 4 x 10 minute threshold workout or a 40k TT at race pace? Moore’s FTP tests emulate a 40k TT (the basic version is a little shorter, Progressions 2 and 3 can be significantly longer). Just mentally, the latter is draining and incurs quite a bit of fatigue.

In contrast, at least in my experience, a ramp test generates much less fatigue than a threshold workout. And it is only hard for about 5–6 minutes.

TTE tests have their place, but in my mind TTE test ≠ FTP tests, you are really looking to measure a different metric. I don’t find it necessary to torture yourself for that long just to validate your FTP.

Most of the KM tests are in “Team Gold”

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@OreoCookie It seems like you just want to debate for the sake of debate. Try his baseline test and then give an opinion. It’s not more fatiguing than a 20 minute test. It’s actually mentally easier to achieve IMO.

A 20 minute test is going to be 20 minutes @ 105%. And don’t forget the all out 5 minute blowout effort before the test. I actually think it’s hard for the average recreational rider to ride for 5 minutes all out and then do 20 minutes above their threshold.

The KM Baseline test is going to be: 15 minutes @ 92-95%, 10 minutes @ 100%, 10-15 minutes of gradually rising power until you are done. The first 25 minutes should be fairly easy to accomplish for most riders. Then you do what you can do for the last 10-15 minutes.

I think it works better because he gives you the pacing instructions. Also, I’d bet that most cyclists skip the 5 minute blowout effort that is supposed to precede the 20 minute test.

And most cyclists will not need to jump to his longer tests (as he says in the notes). I’d see those as applicable to higher level racers and elites.

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Kolie would say the same exact thing. In fact, in his article about the test he says essentially, “Don’t ride any longer than you want to.” For many, actually nailing your TTE in a single set isn’t necessary. Ultimately you push TiZ as long as you can or reasonably need.

So then it becomes, would you rather test your FTP by actually riding at and determining your FTP, or would you rather estimate it based on… whatever… and probably overestimate it by quite a bit?

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I’m only going by what Moore posted: according to the blog post the basic test lasts 35–45 minutes, the others take longer.

This, to me, is another reason that makes it a different animal than an FTP test. Some TTE test protocols, and I regard the various KM tests to be TTE tests, prescribe a ramp test before the actual TTE test so that you can make an informed decision as to what number to shoot for.

I beg to differ here. I have not done a TTE test, but I have done hill climb TTs that were on the longer end (1:10 hours, i. e. 70 minutes). I can tell you for sure that this needed much more recovery than a threshold workout with breaks in between.

Having done anything from 1x40 to 4x10 and 4x8 threshold workouts, in my experience, the former require specific training to work up to and you need to bring your mental A-game. I found them more taxing as a result. E. g. I can knock out 4x10 in suboptimal conditions (lack of sleep, etc.). That’s much, much harder with 1x40.

Why would they yield the same information? And why do you have to do them back-to-back? I wouldn’t recommend someone doing a 30-minute endurance workout before a 2x20 threshold workout. (I always frontload the hard workouts and tack on endurance workouts afterwards.)

A KM test is more of a TTE test for powers close to FTP. A ramp test gives you an idea where your FTP is. With experience, you can pinpoint your FTP with the help of a ramp test result. There is no need to validate the result right away, it suffices to do that later in the week.

The way ramp tests are integrated into TR’s training plans, you get a chance to find out two, three workouts afterwards on a MV plan. That’s IMHO more than sufficient. Whether you do the Wednesday endurance and Thursday sweet spot workouts at slightly higher wattages won’t have any lasting effect.

I have done 1x40 workouts and hill climb TTs (<= 70 minutes at race pace) in the past, so I have done very similar efforts in the past and know what they feel like and how taxing they are. (Evidently, the hill climb TT was outdoors and power was not nearly as constant because of the terrain. But most of them are quite similar to the long versions of a KM test: you have flatter bits in the beginning where you ride as a group, which lets you warm up, then in the long middle, you try to be close to FTP on average (undulations, hairpins and the like means you have some variations in power) and then you empty the tank on the last 2 km or so.)

I am not against people using whatever FTP test protocol they want, but IMHO most people overcomplicate the issue, which is my main point.

I’m not dismissing the KM test, in my mind it is just a version of a TTE test, not an FTP test. It is useful information, but different from measuring your FTP :man_shrugging:

Why would you claim that you then base it on “whatever” and “overestimate your FTP?” I validate my FTP with threshold workouts. With experience, I can tell if it is off by even a few watts. In my legs I feel a particular tingle/burn right around FTP, and when I feel it I know I am within 3 W of my FTP (roughly 99–101 %, and within the margin of error of my power meter). I don’t think I am special in that regard, all it takes is experience.

I find the workout variations TR offers in the polarized block particularly useful, they offer 4 x 8 at 100 %, 4 x 8 at 102 %, etc. You just have to learn to be honest with yourself. Validating your FTP during a sweet spot block is a tad harder, I prefer steady-state workouts rather than over-unders. However, in my experience at least, the relation between ramp test result and my FTP changes very slowly if at all, so you can rely on experience. I also know what gains to expect within a block at a particular phase in the season.

Of course, if you don’t yet have a good handle what your body feels like right around threshold, perhaps a KM test might be useful to probe that systematically. I can also see the utility for people who are struggling to pinpoint their FTP using other methods. But again, that’s different from an FTP test in my book.

I think none of the FTP tests give accurate information for beginners. Just have a look at Mark Lewis’ video where his wife does a VO2max running test. From the measurements we know she didn’t even make it to her threshold. Beginners don’t know how hard they can go.

I also don’t understand why you think a KM test is easier for a beginner, because they have no clue what number to aim for. In my mind the ramp test is the easiest, and it is the easiest to explain.

You are right, though, that you have to learn how to do your preferred FTP test protocol well. I probably would struggle the first time I’d do a 20-minute FTP test and I reckon I’d under test initially. But over time I’d get used to it and get reliable numbers. This is not because I think I don’t know how to pace, it is that I don’t typically pace for this intensity. When I ride outdoors, I still need to at the very least ride back home, and after you have really emptied your tank, riding home on empty just sucks. (Ask me how I know :grin:) The same is true for any other test protocol.

TTE tests still leave plenty of room for interpretation: if you can hold 2 % more power for 5 minutes less (e. g. 45 minutes vs. 50 minutes), which of the two numbers is your FTP? If you find the answer obvious, slightly change the numbers. In my mind that is not a ding against KM’s test protocols, just an inherent truth for any FTP test protocol, be it the venerable 20-minute test, the ramp test or some other test.

Just to be clear: If I were coaching somebody, I’d let them use any FTP test protocol they want. I’d encourage them to try others if they were not happy with the one they had been using, including one of KM’s test protocols. (Although I wouldn’t suggest a KM test to a beginner.) A lot of people hate all-out efforts, period. Likely, they’d ideally pick AI FTP over any physical test. But if you prefer the kind of pain you feel in a KM test over a ramp test, stick to that. I think there is utility in actually testing your FTP rather than only relying on AI FTP. So if you like doing KM tests and you get an accurate FTP out of them, then keep on doing them! :slight_smile: :muscle:

with all due respect, I think you are over-analyzing. Come to one of the many Tue/Wed/Thur worlds out here and you will learn what its like to either blow up, or surf around your threshold for 30-60 minutes depending on the ride and your group.

In other words, FTP is not some abstract concept to set your training zones. Its the border between stable and unstable physiology. Purists will debate MLSS and Critical Power, but there is simple field based way of finding it.

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Worlds? Are you referring to Zwift? I don’t do Zwift, I never found the idea appealing. On group rides, I usually don’t look at power numbers. Outdoors, things are different anyway, some of my team mates are better at descending and pull away on descents, and I need to catch them on the flats.

In my mind I’m being pragmatic: I’m picking a simple test, interpret the test result with the help of the experience I have gained over the years and validate it with suitable workouts and outdoor rides. (Currently, I cannot validate my power numbers outdoors, for safety I only use my mountain bike for outdoor rides at the moment, and it lacks a power meter.) To me the job of finding my FTP in the context of structured training is simply to set my training zones correctly.

  • Not Zwift. He’s using the term like many to for the hard weekly group road ride in each of our own areas. “Wednesday Night Worlds” and many other permutations are just a name for the group ride where people usually try to beat each other up in the effort to measure their… fitness :wink:

  • Depending on the group and individual, they can serve as a decent yardstick for checking numbers and progress. It’s not perfect or a catch all, but can be another data point for looking at things.

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yeah, right from the start of my group riding in 2016 is where I learned the meaning of FTP. Teeter tottering on the verge of blowing up. Without a power meter. You should see my HR graphs LOL.

Anyways, if you ever get to Northern California, come out to Sacramento and we have a smorgasbord of hard Tue/Wed/Thur group rides that will let you field test your threshold. Riding into headwinds where there is no hiding :wind_face: :wind_face: :biking_man: :+1:

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Actually even before then, here is one from spin class in March 2015:

about 17 minutes at “ftp” (LTHR), then 9 minutes, then another 9 minutes.

And by spin class in October 2015, two months before I bought a road bike:

I’m going to call that a solid 40 minutes at threshold.

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I’m pretty new to training but I’ve found that shorter efforts fall off just as fast as FTP and they don’t take nearly as long to test. Personally I have just lately taken to doing occasional all out efforts in the 3-8 minute range and intervals.icu will give an eFTP. In a way that is just my version of the FTP test I suppose.

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I’d love to. I guess the spirited group rides I participate in are not as stacked against me. I’m more towards the front of the pack, and it is more a battle of different strengths rather than one of us being completely outclassed. E. g. two guys are definitely better sprinters than I am, but I let them get ahead and just a longer, more sustained high-power effort to catch them. Our junior is especially strong with sharp efforts, but doesn’t know how to pace properly yet and peters out more quickly. Going downhill with them is super fun, because while my buddies are better, they are not worlds better so that they say sayōnara at the first corner and all I see are their butts and bibshorts.

We do have much faster people around, but since Covid I rarely got to ride with them. One of them is a former world tour pro, and it is clear that he’s heads and shoulders above us still. Even the strongest Cat 1-equivalent team does things like motor pacing, which was above my pay grade.

But I’d love to come and visit California again to go riding! I spent 4.5 months in the Bay Area in 2007 and loved it. The roads are prefect for road riding, and I’d love to explore mountain biking, too.

Just to be clear: my comment was more about fatigue, including mental fatigue. Building mental fortitude is IMHO just as important as getting stronger physically. I reckon that in a spin class, like on a group ride, the excitement, competitive instincts and encouragement from the instructor will help you push yourself further.

I think some are getting lost in the weeds here. You are forgetting the functional of FTP. It is a field test to estimate a functional threshold. It is not a physiological measure. Were you at your MLSS? Maybe , maybe not.

I think too many have got stuck into thinking you’ve got to hold exactly this power or that power during an interval. A symptom of indoor trainers and ERG scaling off FTP as how do you program a range in this mode?

Does it really matter if you are doing a few more watts or a few less because you used a different test or AI to estimate FTP? Probably not.

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I agree totally, there is also the other thing related to all testing as may have been said earlier but I have not read every comment. Testing is a snapshot and an estimate, sometimes a good one sometimes a bad one. Also the more often you do any type of test the better you get at that test. It is plain and simple the better you get at the test the more consistent your result. However does the test related to anything actionable is always a major question. That is why AI or other types of submaximal/ intermitent maximal estimates may be better, they look at a variety of elements of improvement and infer how that is related to a subjective (estimated) measure (it could bel FTP) that can be used as a means for determining exercise intensity. What is important is are you improving, and no matter what the metric, as log as it is determined in a consistent manner, then you have the picture. Too many people get too wrapped up in the metric and forget the destination.

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“Whatever” because there is no basis in science or math or anything else that says .95x20min power done after a 5min blowout is your functional threshold; or that .75xlast minute power of a 1-min ramp test is your functional threshold. They’re estimates intended to help people ballpark their threshold.

But if you know how to actually find your functional threshold power, why wouldn’t you?

So in your case, why bother with the tests at all?

But most people don’t have a good feel for threshold. Hell, I still struggle with it some days. That’s why you have SO many people who are training way too hard, even using test estimated thresholds.

Point being, developing that sense for your functional threshold is a critical skill for racers. Why avoid it?

Keep in mind I am NOT talking about your n=1 here.

I think you have this logically backwards. You use the tests to estimate FTP and then pinpoint it via the workouts. Others use the workouts to estimate FTP gains and then actually go ride long TTE sessions to pinpoint it and then start their progressions based on the results.

After a layoff, I always have athletes test various MMP points and derive ballpark FTP from there. We then validate that through workouts, and then I sometimes have them do TTE before threshold progressions start if we don’t already know TTE.

TL;DR: your threshold is what you can actually DO… it’s not some number derived by mathematical formula. You don’t pinpoint it with “FTP tests”. You pinpoint it by riding at threshold.

Exactly.

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Yup.

No basis in science? Things like the FTP-to-MAP has been subject to studies, and to claim there is no basis in science or math seems odd. Statistics is a branch of math.

The thing is, of course, that the easy equations just hold for the expected value (or what the expected value was at the time). I’m fully aware that few of us are actually average in the sense that these simplistic equations are applicable to us directly.

To me the difference between training and tests is simple: during regular workouts (apart from sprints) I never do all-out efforts. That’s deliberate because one core component of endurance training is fatigue management.

In contrast, tests are — supposed to be — all-out efforts. I need tests to get into regions where I ordinarily would not be during workouts. And you want a protocol to make that process repeatable so that you can more easily learn from the past and compare efforts.

Isn’t this exactly what I have written: do an FTP test of your choosing (= estimate your FTP) and then validate it with workouts (= pinpoint it). (And this isn’t something I have just written here, it is something I keep repeating whenever the topic of FTP and FTP tests comes up.)

I don’t see any points of disagreement. My only addition is that you can pinpoint your FTP with other types of workouts, too. I haven’t found TTE sessions are necessary for that, I find that threshold sessions, especially those in polarized blocks, suffice.

Going back to the context of the quote, I was just saying that TTE protocols like one of KM’s might be useful for athletes to understand better what being at threshold feels like since this is not something you do during regular workouts. Also this, at least to my reading, is completely consistent with what you wrote and as far as I can tell we are in agreement. (Or, if you see disagreement, I have yet to understand where you think it lies.)

Yes, exactly.