Different FTP on different trainers and platforms: reconcile or maintain separate?

I know, yet another FTP question… but bear with me. I searched quite a bit and read many many FTP threads, but somehow didn’t come across this particular question/situation, which I thought odd since I imagine this might be fairly common. Anyway…

I started structured training for the first time ~ 18 months ago, in a 2-day a week (1 hr each) cycling class that uses computrainer equipment (wheel on) and software.

Around the same time, I bought a Hammer H2 for home, intended mostly to supplement my training, and hadn’t used it all that much (maybe 10-20 times) until the recent lockdown. At home, I typically use TrainerRoad. Since March, I’ve used my home setup much more frequently (probably averaging twice per week).

In my cycling class, we do 20-min FTP tests every 6-8 weeks. I never did a different type of FTP test until recently, when I did a ramp test on my home training setup on TrainerRoad in June. When I did that ramp test, it gave me 235 as my FTP. I felt like that was pretty low since my workouts in my class on the computrainer were feeling pretty easy and were using 230 as my FTP (from my prior test earlier in the year) and I thought my FTP had gone up a good amount. When I did my next FTP test in the class a couple weeks later on the computrainer, I came in around 250 and I actually thought I undershot it (could have gone harder, didn’t feel like puking afterward, which is how I usually feel).

I can chalk it up to different trainers, different type of tests, different software, etc. and that is ok.

So, my question is… should I maintain 2 different FTP values, one for each “environment”? i.e. keep using 235 at home on TR, and 250 on the computrainer. And just maintain the separate tracts?

Or should I “force” a reconciliation between the 2 and use 250 in TR at home (or some compromise value)?

Depending on your specific angle, there are plenty of “different FTP” threads that have some existing discussion.

There are even feature requests related to different FTP from environment and or equipment.

Interesting. I skipped over all of those “outside” vs. “inside” FTP difference threads because I didn’t think it had anything to do with my situation since my situation had nothing to do with outdoor workouts/performance. I’ll take a peak and see what I can glean.

As I was writing my original post, it did occur to me that I could almost hear Coach Chad’s voice saying that FTP is not an absolute number that has inherent value to the exclusion of everything else, and to rather look at it from the perspective of what value on each platform gives me the productive workout experience I need for performance improvement.

Are the computrainer rides uploaded anywhere? Are you doing analytics on them? If they only exist at the trainer studio I’d be inclined to use the TrainerRoad FTP for TR workouts and higher FTP in the class.

Could you get a power meter on your bike and use it for both? That might be the best solution.

  • Well, about half are the “in/out” type of discussion. Many others are equipment based (power meter vs trainer) and others are situation (hot vs cold temperature, rider position like road vs TT or MTB and such).

  • There are broad concept conclusions that apply from each situation above, even if the pure title or content are not a precise match to your specific question. Look for the broader concept hiding in each one and you will see much similarity that can be applied to your situation.

Edit to add: to your question, there is no “easy” answer. TR chooses to recognize only one FTP, and that makes issues like different trainers, power meters, bikes and such a pain to handle.

In short, likely set the FTP for the one you use the most. Try to learn the differences in the situation you have, and make “manual” adjustments as appropriate when doing work on the alternate device(s).

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