With our recent focus on power training and determining FTP, this article by Jennifer Snow Ashbrook has been updated.
We’ve discussed various methods for estimating functional threshold power (FTP) in past articles. In this article, we focus on an alternative method for establishing power-based training zones—the maximal aerobic power (MAP) test. We also provide you with a downloadable profile complete with play-by-play coaching cues and music suggestions, as well as a downloadable spreadsheet to determine your riders’ FTP and calculate their training zones from their MAP test.
The MAP test is a “ramp” test, a testing approach commonly used in Britain and Australia. TrainerRoad, an online cycling training software, has replaced its previous suggested 20-minute and 8-minute FTP tests with this very same ramp test.
The ramp test has some advantages and some disadvantages compared with FTP testing protocols previously discussed.
One advantage is that the test is over pretty quickly and pacing is not an issue like is with longer FTP tests. However, since the endpoint of this test is “failure,” it’s probably not a good choice for new or deconditioned riders. On the other hand, it’s only the final 2 or 3 minutes that are “hard,” and only the final minute that is “very hard.” If your riders can do an all-out 3-minute test, they should be able to do this one.
The test protocol itself is pretty simple: After a thorough warm-up, riders gradually ramp up power in steps until they cannot sustain the effort any longer. The average power from the final successful minute of the test is used to estimate FTP, which is then used to establish training zones.
Following is a more specific description of the test:
Be sure to check out these articles on FTP training.
And to prepare your riders for the rigors of FTP testing, here is a 5-part series on teaching longer intervals.