FTP variance in testing protocol and VO2 work

TR ramp test has me at 250. Intervals.icu just estimated me at 265 after a 3 minute max effort. The devil on my shoulder tells me to up my ftp in TR to 265 and smash away. The rational voice tells me to leave it as is. My question is about VO2. If my actual FTP is 265, but my TR work is based off 250, would my VO2 work actually just be threshold work, and my threshold just be SS? Fwiw, when I did Pisgah (set at 250 FTP) last week, 6 x 2:00 @125% I finished it, but was smashed at the end.

Where you hit VO2 is gonna be somewhat individual. It’s more the duration you hold an effort and RPE at that duration than a power target. The targets are a guideline. 2-8 min is the VO2 range, spending about 15-40 min total in zone typically, often with equal rest to work interval.

It can certainly vary, but that is a rough guideline to cross check against the targets you’d get from an FTP estimate. Allen and Coggan’s book has good guidelines on VO2 intervals. There was good discussion on episode 349 of TR podcast regarding VO2 work as well.

If you did a ramp test at 250W, I would go with that over 265W. You’re going to be better off in the long run training at a lower FTP than an FTP setting that is too high, and we’re talking about a 7% increase, which is substantial.

As for your question about VO2max vs. threshold, you’re touching on the reason it’s not optimal to train above threshold based on % of FTP because it’s different for everyone. So it depends.

If you’re concerned about FTP accuracy, then I’d recommend a different protocol than either of those two sources, personally.


I’m not concerned about the accuracy of the number other than for VO2 reasons. Friday I have 10 x 3:00 @ 105-109%. At 250 FTP, this maxes out at 273 watts. If my FTP is closer to 265, those toughest intervals are only 103% and likely not significantly touching the correct zone.

What are you basing that statement on: FTP = 40-70 min power and traditional training guidelines from it? Or TR w/ AT turned on?

The former I agree depending on the training protocol. If it is the latter, then the number that is input as FTP has no meaning in a traditional sense. And all the power zones are heavily blurred and overlap with one another depending on the user fitness.

Given that both estimates are skewed buy short power, It’s possible that both estimates are above your real threshold. Can you do 35-40 mins at 250watts ?


The rest interval is pretty important here as well as the last one. Assuming the 10x3:00 and the 6x2:00 are similar PL, then I’d say you should keep your FTP input the same and not up it. Rate the survey honestly at the end. If you had a lot on the table, consider that next time with what you pick.

I wouldn’t worry too much about time in zone. If your “VO2” workouts are pretty hard and you are progressing in them, then you are doing them right. That’s all you need to worry about.

he said he wasn’t overly concerned about threshold, but rather VO2.

Leave your FTP at the 250, do the 3min intervals in resistance mode, see if you can repeatedly do over 273W

(Also, doing the reps successfully at 286W still doesn’t mean that your FTP is 265W - though it could be, I don’t know - it might just mean you’re developing well at the high aerobic level.)


You could try looking at your best 5 minute power on the ramp test and using that as an estimate of your Maximum Aerobic Power. You could then use this handy dandy model to see how a workout fits with your MAP and either choose an appropriate workout or use the +/-% buttons to get the work into your wheelhouse.

A Graphical Model for Interval Training

increase your time interval for calculation to 5mins+, 20+ mins even better


It’s all the same mess IF you anchor VO2Max work to a multiple of FTP watts.

1 Like

My general view is lower FTP is a better solution then too high an FTP. For myself intervals.icu and TR have been within a watt or two of each other.

For VO2. I would use 250. Do the VO2…and if it is easy just do a stretch workout the next time. You will get to a point where the PLs align with your abilities. In 14 days you can use AI FTP to see how it all fits if you want.

1 Like

I’ll be honest here: I don’t care one iota about AT.

In the context of what he’s asking, the first part is what’s relevant. He wants to artificially inflate his FTP entry to get a higher target power for his VO2max workout and I think that is a mistake.


I would say ignore ftp altogether for VO2 work. Do them empirical cycling style at near max sustainable intensity, high cadence, and the longer the better


Fine on the first point.

Regarding inflating or deflating the FTP input to hit a VO2max, why does that matter? For the OP, he shouldn’t because it doesn’t seem like he needs to at all. But in general for VO2 you should do what you can do. The targets aren’t written in stone for anyone.

It’s no different than adjusting intensity during the workout up or down, but in an AT world, correct classification of current fitness is dependent on FTP input for the time being.


1 Like

Agreed. This is essentially what I said in my first post in this thread about the folly of tying VO2max work to a % of FTP.

Exactly right (IMO).

Both reasons why I suggested he not adjust FTP to get to some higher power for a VO2max workout. The two shouldn’t be tied together in any rigid way in my opinion. Keep FTP at 250. Do the workout using a sustainable power for the intervals prescribed (and preferably in resistance mode or outdoors, again IMO).


Doesn’t it make sense that what ever training program/system/coach one chooses, they should stick with their recommendations/philosophies while using their training plan? Comparing different protocols for “FTP” probably is a waste of brain power. If you want to know if you are getting faster, do a time trial effort, always on the same stretch of road, long enough to meet your goals. The difference in time will tell you how much faster (or slower) you get. FTP doesn’t matter except for setting training zones in a specific training plan The different philosophies of training from a coaching service (TR, or any other) should be followed as much as possible.

Sorry for the diatribe. No one wins anything from simply having a “high” FTP. Its a relative number. Just ride!

1 Like

I think so. If you’re going to do TR, use TR’s system. I wouldn’t do a ramp test, then change my FTP number just because some other algorithm gives me a higher value based on whatever.

1 Like