How can I fully use my FTP outside?

I do probably 90-95% of my rides inside and see good gains in FTP using TrainerRoad, last year FTP topped out at 284 from below 240 at the start.

My challenge is when I get outside I just can’t seem to use anywhere near all my power, for the 19 mile bike leg of my A race Tri, I averaged 227w (80%) when I was trying to go all out. I know coasting will reduce the AP but the NP was still well below my FTP and it always is, regardless of how short the ride is.

As I’m 8 weeks from my A race again, should I stick with only distance specialty or are there specific workouts I can do to get better at holding my full FTP for an hour? Or could it be more a technique issue and I need to get better at riding fast? Last year I was using same power meter inside and outside, on the same bike.


Do you normally do your FTP tests after a 1.5km Swim?


Great that you’re using the same pm inside and outside, and the same bike. Are you using the same position? Are you calibrating the PM every time? You say you averaged 80%, but what did the curve look like? Did you try to start at ftp and then fade dramatically under it? Lots of things can affect how you actually perform on race day. Did you taper properly? Fuel? Sleep? Sorry for all the questions - trying to get at the root of the problem.


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Not often, no, and that might explain the difference in triathlons.

What it doesn’t explain is that any ride I do outside I struggle to get close to my FTP.

Does anyone else get that and if so how do you bridge the gap?

Try a MTB race for variety, you will get to experience being pinned and using all of your FTP and above in a very non-steady way. The intensity training from the MTB race may help you dial it up during your TRI’s.

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You should not expect to hit your FTP on a bike leg in a tri if it isn’t really short in my opinion. If you did ride for an hour at your FTP, how’s that run going to look? :stuck_out_tongue: Getting it closer to 100% and having the energy left to run how you want is the key to being a triathlete. Make sure you are looking at the entire race and not just the bike leg. Focusing on the bike is great, but if that made you skimp on the swim or run… Try to do your saturday ride right after your swim if you think that might be an issue. Its an important brick many don’t do. Bring your bike to the pool so you are not driving home between and add a gel or what ever race nutrition you have using.

Happy hunting!


I struggled with this after first reading a Joe Friel book saying you should hit 95% of ftp in a Olympic distance race. That was never realistic once I started talking to some coaches and other based on what I was doing.

  1. You’re probably swimming really hard before hand so that’s going to have an effect on your bike.

  2. Going from horizontal to vertical as you’re having to sprint out of the water is going to jack your heart rate way up and have you gasping for air!

  3. Cornering, descents, just the min or two in the beginning while trying to get your breath all throws off those numbers.

  4. Your training probably didn’t include going from swimming to biking. I did some of those workout when getting ready for a few draft legal races and holy crap were those hard. It’s just that it’s so different.

Biggest thing I found is try and keep the power up on the steady sections. When you look down during races make sure you’re around 90+% (only if you’ve trained longer intervals for that) and go from there. Then you can work on keeping the gas on a bit more as you lead into corners/out of corners. Good luck!

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Good questions, thanks.

Yes calibrated power meter every time, same position.

In fairness it wasn’t a bad ride or a bad race, 900m swim, 1k uphill transition run, 19 mile bike (1.2k ft climbing 19mph average) and a 4.7 mile run - 2:02 (12 minute PB from previous year). First 10 minutes on the bike was 217w so I didn’t go out and smash it immediately.

Overall I was happy, but I would like to average closer to FTP on any ride and I think @dennenj hit the nail, I need to do more, long intervals @90% I guess.


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I guess rides like Dunderberg would be ideal

Target for an OLY leg is still usually .9 to .95 IF, not .8 for a 3/4 distance leg so he’s got some room to work with, even getting to .85 would still be an improvement. Also is @Dancollett performing the test in aero or not? I’d guess that’s a 5% difference right there if testing upright.

This is similar to the FTP test topic that is going on now… So it really depends on how your FTP is set, to determine your pacing for the bike leg. Some people are only getting about 20-30 minutes at the FTP from their ramp test. Training time to exhaustion will improve what you can hold, but so will also being a much better swimmer. A big question for Dan is do you think you can hold FTP for the bike leg of that race if you were doing it as a relay?


Thanks for pointing me to the FTP thread, very interesting reading. I’m going to give the “hour of power” a go and see what happens.

To answer your question, no I couldn’t hold my FTP even in a relay and that’s really my question. On reflection I shouldn’t have used a tri race as my example because it seems to have distracted from the issue as I see it. My best ever 60 minute outdoor power is 227w, that was when my FTP was 284w and after a swim. Why can’t I hold more of my ftp for an hour?

From the answers so far and reading the other thrread I’m going to start doing longer intervals at 90%+ to try and train the ability to hold close to threshold longer. I’ve also learned something about what ftp is and isn’t. Thanks :+1:

If you don’t extend your SS intervals to one hour+ at .95% of FTP, you likely won’t be able to do it. It’s not easy to hold FTP unless you train your systems to do it. The best way to do that is to work your intervals to longer and longer time periods. You can do it more safely at .9 or .95 easier than trying to do it at 1.0 as it won’t tire you out as much - even with 1+ hours at .95.