What is FTP and how to increase it?

If you’ve been into cycling for some time then I’m sure you’ve heard people talk about the term FTP but what does it mean?

Functional Threshold Power,  is one of the key training terms in cycling and is effectively the maximum power you can sustain for an hour.

As a result, FTP is seen as a crucial figure in determining your all-round ability on the bike, and is a number you will soon become very familiar with in your cycle training.

FTP is also an vital figure in setting your training zones, which you can use to guide your rides in order to extract the most bang-for-you-buck from your time on the bike.

How do I find out my FTP?

Luckily there is an easier way to find this figure the riding flat out for an entire hour. Ideally this should be down with a power meter and the most common way to find this figure is to ride at your max effort for 20min then take 95% of this figure.

The full session would look something like this….

Warm up well over a 20-minute period, including a few fast cadence efforts.
Do five minutes hard aiming for a tough but sustainable effort.
Recover for around 10 minutes.
Do your official 20-minute test. The first five minutes should feel difficult but sustainable, the last five should be an all you have left to give.
Calculate your FTP: Take 95% of normalized power produced for 20 minutes test.

Increase your FTP

As we have said earlier this figure is very important and a great indicator of you fitness ability on the bike and luckily it is trainable.

Training sessions to improve your FTP……..

All three of these sessions can be done on a turbo trainer or incorperated into your normal road riding.

2 x 20min efforts

A popular session for working on FTP is a 2×20 session with consists of two 20-minute efforts, either side of ten minutes recovery.

The 20-minute efforts  should at 100% of your FTP ideally using a power meter if not then using heart rate but remember there will be a lag as your heart responds to the effort.

The session

Warm up for 20 minutes, riding at zone two (endurance) with a few efforts of around 45 seconds where you increase cadence to around 120rpm. The idea is to open up your lungs not fatigue your leg muscles.

Ride for 20 minutes at FTP power, Ten minutes recovery (zone one) then another 20min at FTP . If using a heart rate then aim to build it up to your threshold rate after around 8mins.

Warm down for ten minutes (zone one).


Over and under’s

The ‘over and under’ session involves riding above your FTP and dipping just below, with the short session also allowing plenty of scope to adjust the intensity according to your fitness and training targets. It is about getting used to the build-up of lactate and teaching your body to deal with it.

This session really lends itself to the power meter as will give an instant response to effort and allow you to quickly and accurately gauge the intensity rather than your heart rate with will have a delay in responding.

The session

Warm up for as long as you have time for but at least 20min working through your zones to the lower end of zone 4.

After warming up, ride for around 30 secs at 130% of FTP power (zone 5 or VO2 max).

Without any rest go straight into 30 secs at endurance (zone two) and repeat for ten to fifteen minutes.

Warm down for ten minutes (zone one).


Time-trial pacing efforts

Time trialling is a discipline which benefits greatly from having a high FTP, so it make sense to incorporate TT efforts into your training.

The session

Warm up for 20 minutes, riding up to endurance pace with a couple of efforts of around 30secs where you increase the cadence to around 120rpm

4×6-minute efforts at or slightly above ten-mile time trial pace, just over FTP, around 105%, with four minutes easy recovery in between each.

Once you are comfetable with this session then increase the efforts to 8mins but keeping the recovery at 4mins.

Warm down for ten minutes (zone one).