What is my "expected" sea level FTP, I live and train at altitude

Hi All,
I try to use the search function but most of the questions were the opposite of my situation. I would like to know if ppl have experience or some useful references for calculating sea level FTP, when one lives and trains at altitude.

Is it as simple as use the reverse of this table?
Is the effect permanent or it wears out overtime?
I’ve never trained or raced at sea level, does it mean I never got to do true personal physiological maximal efforts?



I don’t have the answer, but I tried searching to find a “calculator” and couldn’t find one. Seems like a “simple” item with a chance of making a spreadsheet with input of FTP, Training & Event Elevations to give an effective FTP. Might be one out there and I just missed it?

You would just divide your ftp by that amount. For example, if you live at 8000ft (acclimated) and have a ftp of 300, then your estimated sea level ftp would be 300 / 0.886 = 338.
When you live at sea level, your body will lose the physiological adaptations it made it live at elevation (less red blood cells, I think). This would have your 338 reduced over time. However, I don’t think it would go all the way back to 300 because there is just less oxygen at 8000ft and your body cannot fully acclimate to it as if it was at sea level.

So you think the adjustment is symetrical ? (from sea level to altitude = from altitude to sea level)…
This is a MASSIVE difference, like a complete different rider! lol…I would go from 3.6 to 4.1 w/kg.

I have a hard time imagining the difference is generally symmetrical. Altitude imposes a restriction on one part of the energy generation process, the O2 uptake. When that’s less restricted, if other aspects of the process have the capacity, you might see that symmetrical gain – but they are almost certainly not.

Anecdotal example, I live at ~5000 ft, and when I ride hard at sea level my legs “break” in a way that I simply couldn’t do up high. So I ride harder, sure, but it’s not like I’m simply 5% faster, I have more oxygen, and can produce more power for some time, but then the rest of the biological side of the drivetrain starts to lag.


Interesting, I wonder if there’s a way to train the muscular endurance at altitude, to be able to “use” the newfound sea level watts

There was something about this on a Ask a Coach podcast I listened to today, not sure which one, but I think it was very recent.

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Not sure which might be right, but here are some likely ones to check:

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Interesting discussion/thought.

I also imagine it wouldn’t be symmetrical, though there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to support a bump going down to Sea Level.

In one regard, how can the body fully utilise the oxygen at a higher Power if it’s never experienced that Power. Obviously there’s a genetic component.

If I could use a car analogy, you could tune an engine for efficiency at altitude, it would inject less fuel. Going down to sea level, there would be more oxygen available and on a simple system it could compensate to a point of adding more fuel, but eventually you’d have to change out injectors or add more fuel some how.

Obviously that’s talking reasonably large differences, but equally, if an athlete has never produced say 400W in more than a sprint, but at sea level that’s what the amount of oxygen should support, how could the body be prepared without mitochondrial/muscular adaptations :man_shrugging:.

I bet the research does exist. It’s just an interesting thing to think about.

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I’ve noticed when I go from altitude to sea level that my TTE goes way up. Basically, I can ride at high heart rate for longer. I’m sure I’m riding at higher power output also - but I don’t have a power meter so can’t quantify.


There been some discussion on the podcast about live high/train low being an ideal scenario. In other words the body is used to living with less oxygen at altitude but training low allows the body to be used to producing high power.

Edit: I think it’s episode 360 that Chad mentions this concept.

I had always understood that this effect of altitude does work both directions. If you live at 8k feet your day-to-day FTP represents the adapted FTP at that altitude. If you go down to sea level you should see a bump in line with the chart.

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If you live at a;titude you can use supplmental oxygen on the trainer to do high intensity intervals to build the strength you can replicate at altitude. Think of it as low altitude in a bottle.

I live at 6k feet in dry climate and train a lot at 7-8k and have done so for most of my life. When I go vacation to Hawaii my FTP feels identical. I’ve never done a test there, but the RPE at given wattages feels very similar and maybe harder due to the humidity. I absolutely don’t get a 7-11% bump.

If I go to Tucson or Phoenix (2k feet but also super dry), I think I can do a few more watts but it’s very subtle. There’s definitely no obvious “oh, I can do 30 more watts at the same hr/RPE, this is amazing” effect.

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Have you actually done this? I live at 7.2k’ and would be interested in trying this but…don’t really want to go get an O2 prescription.