Power to the Masses, Part 2

One of the gold standards of power is Functional Threshold Power (FTP): the maximum average power one can sustain, with or without puking, for 60 minutes. Sounds fun! If that is more excitement than you can handle in a single sitting, there are other methods or field tests that one can enjoy to determine FTP. However, I recommend first determining whether FTP is practical or applicable for your indoor cycling classes.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not down on FTP. I’ve been a competitive road cyclist for over 20 years and a coach for the majority of that time. Testing an athlete’s power to construct training zones has been a consistent metric in many of the lab tests I’ve administered over the last 16 years. So the question is not whether FTP is valuable in cycling; the question is how valuable, and practical, is FTP for a group of people more diverse than my orphan sock collection, who have chosen to “workout” together.

You might find this shocking, but I’ve never delivered an FTP test, in any form, to my indoor classes [reader stares with open mouth]. In a feeble attempt to redeem myself in your eyes, I have delivered FTP tests to small group training participants and winter training programs. Why the prejudice?

Even Competitive Cyclists Loath FTP Tests


  1. I’m doing my second FTP test this Thursday. But it’s a small-group 8-week training program, with very targeted workouts designed to increase FTP.

    I believe you still can do them in a regular class setting but in most instances NOT as part of the regularly scheduled classes. They should be events, regularly scheduled, and encouraged. Instructors can promote them, and prepare riders for them.

    Or, if you do use your regular time slot, only do it with groups that you know intimately, who are frequent regulars in your classes. If you have a newbie in that class that you scheduled an FTP test for, you should provide them with a different focus (less intense) and check in with them frequently. This is what I did for years with my 6 am class before moving to the facility where I am now. However, I can’t see that working as well in a facility with a large number of bikes (>25 or so) and a revolving clientele.

  2. Very helpful! Thank you for posting this.

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