Cheat FTP test by targeting current ftp + 3%?

So ftp is calculated as 20m power * .95.
My current ftp is 234.
ftp gains happen in small amount, let’s say 3% during my current 6-week training block.
So let’s assume I expect to gain 3% … 234 * 1.03 = 241
254 / .95 = 241
So if I can average 254 watts during the 20m segment of my test ftp test (I use the 20m test obviously) then I’ll hit my target of 241.

My question is, is this a useful pacing strategy or is this cheating the system somehow?

I don’t know that I’d call it cheating, since you still have to hold it, so there’s risk that you’ll come up short, but what if you don’t perform to your fullest potential because you pace to a specific number instead of going as hard as you can? After I completed the most recent SSBLV1 block, I saw a 7% gain. It might be lower in future tests, but if I’d only assumed that I’d grow by 3%, I’d be missing out on potential improvements in the next block of training.

I guess even after typing this, targeting a gain, even if you could do more, isn’t cheating the test, but it is potentially cheating yourself (depending on your long-term goals).


I don’t understand your question… Holding a higher power for longer isn’t cheating, that’s growth. Maybe I don’t understand how you’re asking it?


Because I assume the goal of the ftp test is to pace yourself at first but end up going as hard as you can. I have a history of going out too hard and having a miserable middle/end of the test. So I thought of this strategy to help pace myself.


Oh, fair. I think I got confused by your phrasing of cheating. No, pacing isn’t cheating. Yes, you always have to pick some new number if you do the 20min, and your reasoning is sound. You could also do a ramp test, get a number, then do a 20min with the new number to ‘confirm’ it.


Are you planning to do it in Erg mode?

The TR 20 minute FTP test auto-disables ERG.

Pacing it is key. Or even essential I’d say.

So, no, it’s not cheating, it’s a logical approach. Either you will hang on at your target average or you won’t.

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It might not be cheating. But it might be wimping out early :slight_smile:

A 20 min test is all about pacing. If you have anything left to surge at the end you’ve done it wrong. Likewise if start dropping towards the end you’ve done it wrong.

To nail a 20 min test you need to know the outcome before you start, it is one of the reasons someone could recommend a ramp test instead.

Your method is very sensible and not cheating at all.


This TR resource is relevant, mentions pacing but also other considerations,


It’s exactly how I used to pace the 20 & 8 min tests. It’s not cheating, it’s smart.

I thought FTP was something you could hold for much longer than just 20 minutes? Where does that number come from?

Yes correct. It’s a generally accepted standard though there are limitations. The shorter duration is why you only use 0.95 0f the achieved figure

Pacing is so important for a 20min test so you dont overcook yourself too early or similarly leave anything out there by the end. The best advice I have for it is to break it down into 4x5min time trials. That way you can adjust your target up or down slightly during the test

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With a smart trainer you can use the App to govern your watt output so that way you just set it and ride for the 20 minutes which is why I think he thinks it is cheating.

When I have done the 20 minute test I typically start around my current FTP then after 5 minutes ramp it up then at the 10 minute mark I put an all out effort for 10 minutes. Seems to work but the Ramp test is a much easier test to take


Related question - how much variation in power is allowed in a continuous (8 or 20 min) test? How much variation in power would invalidate the results of such a test?

Or to state the question differently - under which conditions could one use the best 20-min power of a 30-40min event as a proxy to a 20 min FTP test?

A lot of people seem to like the ramp test. I did it once and was absolutely wrecked at the end. I took the instructions at their word and fought until I simply could not turn the cranks anymore. I hit a new max heart rate. The experience was quite miserable and I scored significantly lower than my 20 minute test. So I’ve stuck with the 20-minute test.


I do a similar thing pacing wise. Also I know all the time equivalence of various fractions and check them off as I pass them (1/5th, 1/6th, 1/7th remaining, etc).

Something I read recently in Allen & Cheung’s book which made sense to me is that energy that you cross the finish line with is wasted energy. Just another way of saying don’t kick to the line but made more sense to me. As such I’ve tried to pace such that I’m fading in the last 3-4 minutes. Seems to be ‘helping’ a bit.

I also don’t particularly like the ramp test. The times I’ve done it I’ll do a 20 minute test a day or two later and get 15ish watts higher.

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Why wouldn’t you just use your best 30-40 min power?

Because the event(s) I’m looking at were slightly shorter than 30 mins.