When is Work>FTP a good metric?

Comparing data from this year V02max WO, I was wondering if looking at Work>FTP could be a good way to define V02Max progression or comparing different WOs.

For example (random numbers)

  • Today I do 30/30 with a total of 50 Work>FTP
  • tomorrow I’ll go for 60 Work>FTP

Or for the comparison, how similar in terms of adapatation following two WOs:

  • 30/30 with 50 Work>FTP
  • 5 min intervals still with 50 Work>FTP

Is a 100 Work>FTP WO “always” better then a 50 Work>FTP?

edit: to better clarify, I’m talking about total Work done above FTP in a workout.
Not Watts above FTP for an interval. Updated accordingly above. Sorry for confusion

Defining work done above FTP as some % of FTP is rarely if ever a good metric. Can you do a 5x5 workout at 115% of FTP one week, then the next week you manage 5x5 at 117% of FTP and that’s progress? Maybe? Maybe you just had a good day?

To answer your question, it’s probably not “always” better, and it’s usually still better to progress time/reps vs. raw power, particularly if you’re training VO2max. Even for anaerobic work, I’d rather my athletes progress from 4 reps to 6 reps at 450W for one minute before I want them to go from 4 reps at 450 to 4 reps at 480.

Thinking about progressing POWER all the time is a prime cause of inconsistent training. I harp on consistency with my athletes, in particular: “It’s not what you can do on any one day; it’s about what you can string together consistently.” So if you progress to the absolute maximum power you can do for XX minutes, but it buries you for a week, that’s going to be less beneficial than having enough gas in the tank to get a second intense session in that week, and then two the next week, etc.

I had an athlete yesterday write comments that said, “I made sure my legs were trashed by the end of the set!” I made clear to him that was rarely, if ever, the goal.


If you are road racer - power over ftp is usefull. If you are triathlete - you want your FTP be as close as possible to the vo2 max. So as always - it depends.

Not to mention it’s always highly individual where your FTP is in relation to vo2 max. You can have huge anaerobic capacity with 500W 5min power and FTP of 250W. Is it good or bad? If your goal is individual pursuit - awesome, if TT - bad.


I’d rather my athletes progress from 4 reps to 6 reps at 450W for one minute before I want them to go from 4 reps at 450 to 4 reps at 480.

But when you add a rep at same power >FTP you are also increasing W>FTP.
I’m talking of total W>FTP for the workout not the power above FTP for the interval (I may need to better specified it in the first post)

Thinking about progressing POWER all the time is a prime cause of inconsistent training.

W>FTP is not a pure power metrics. Time in zone is a huge factor here.
But I can see from your comment how it can be miselading in forcing to think only about power

So which usefull information W>FTP provide?

1 Like

You mean Work over ftp, Watt*duration ?

Total Work done above FTP in a Workout.
I’ve updated the first post to clear it out. My bad.

primarily useful when using W’ (anaerobic capacity) to program workouts, or estimate how long you can hold an effort above threshold. The Skiba book Scientific Training for Athletes has easy to read background info, and how to design workouts using that info.

1 Like

It depends of the structure of the workout.
Just a basic example for illustration: you can do 30/30 or 30/15 with the same power. They will both have the same total Work>FTP, but the workout with 15 sec rests will be much more difficult and will be more a VO2Max workout.
In my understanding, 30/30 and 5 min intervals trigger different adaptations. 30/30 will trigger more peripheral adaptations (arterial-mixed venous oxygen difference (a-vO2diff), muscle capillary density, oxidative capacity, fibre-type distribution) and 5 min intervals will be more central (cardiac output).


I see. Work above FTP. Got it. There are some other factors in there, interval structure, etc. So again, I wouldn’t say “always”; I would say “it depends”. :grin:

1 Like

It’s a metric/target I’ll use to make unstructured rides have a bit of a goal/structure. For example, I’ll do long saturday rides with my team (ie unstructured), with structured riding to/from the ride. During the group portion, I’ll often set some time in zone targets. This is a way to have a little bit of structure without being the guy doing intervals on a group ride. It also helps me avoid cooking myself so I have decent legs for quality structured work on the way home. I’d say it’s an interesting metric and I find it helpful at times, but I wouldn’t build a structured plan around it.

1 Like