Is it possible to teach a challenging FTP (functional threshold power) test without ever having put yourself through one?
After all, it is a fairly straightforward assignment: ride at the highest power output/RPE you can sustain for 20 minutes. Simple, right? (Although there are other iterations of the test, for the purposes of this article we are going to assume instructors are using a traditional 20-minute FTP test.)
While the description of the test is simple, anyone who has completed a few will tell you that performing them is anything but. Something described as our “best effort” already provokes a certain level of apprehension and anxiety. During those 20 minutes, there will be a sustained wrestling match between the mind and the body about what is doable and what is not. The reality is that many variables affect the rider and, ultimately, the test outcome.
So let’s rephrase the question slightly…rather than “Can you coach an FTP test without having done one yourself?” (to which we must answer yes, you could), the more relevant question is, “Will doing an FTP test make you better at coaching it?”
Spoiler alert: I’m gonna come down solidly in the “yes” camp on this.