As a Peloton fan, the Peloton FTP (Functional Threshold Power) test is an essential tool for measuring my cycling performance and overall fitness. It's used in Peloton Power Zone Training and has been called "personal training on the bike"
The FTP test determines the maximum power output one can sustain for an hour on a stationary bike, which is then used to create tailored workout programs to improve endurance and efficiency.
As a runner, I love that the FTP test gives me precise zones to work toward during cycling classes.
The process for taking the FTP test begins with a proper warm-up to ensure my body is prepared for the intense workout ahead. Once I am adequately warmed up, the actual test consists of a 20-minute, high-intensity ride where I am encouraged to maintain the highest possible power output throughout the entire duration.
Upon completion, my FTP score is calculated by taking 95% of my average power output during the 20-minute test.
With this personalized metric, I can better understand my current fitness level, track progress over time, and adjust my training plan accordingly. When I take PowerZone specific classes, my Peloton will even display my personalized zones.
This allows me to optimize my workouts effectively for maximum performance gains, ensuring that I make the most of my time and effort on the bike.
In this post, we'll go over the basics of the Peloton FTP test and my tips for maximum performance.
Peloton FTP Test Basics
Purpose of the Test
The Peloton FTP Test is designed to measure Functional Threshold Power (FTP), which represents the highest average power I can maintain for one hour.
This test allows me to determine the proper training zones for my workouts, personalize my training plan and monitor my progress over time. If you've ever taken a PowerZone class and heard the instructor tell you to hit a certain zone, this is what they're talking about.
Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is a key metric in cycling, as it represents the maximum sustainable power output I could maintain for a one-hour effort.
By understanding my FTP, I can tailor my training to my specific capabilities and focus on improving my aerobic endurance, anaerobic capacity, and overall efficiency.
My FTP also allows me to set realistic goals and benchmarks for my cycling performance.
Test Duration and Structure
The Peloton FTP Test itself is a 20-minute class, but it's highly recommended to do a warm-up before. Here's the ideal test structure:
I will start by warming up for 10 to 15 minutes to get my muscles ready for the intense effort ahead.
This will include some light to moderate cycling and a few short bursts of harder efforts to wake up my legs and cardiovascular system. Peloton has 10- and 15-minute classes that are specific for warming up for the FTP test.
After the warm-up, I will give my maximum effort for 20 minutes, trying to maintain the highest possible power output throughout the entire duration.
It's important to pace myself and try not to start too hard, as this can lead to fatigue and a drop in power later on in the test.
Once the test is completed, I will spend 5-10 minutes cooling down with easy spinning to help my body recover from the intense exercise.
After I finish the test, my average power during the 20-minute effort will be multiplied by 0.95 to estimate my FTP (if you have a Peloton bike, it'll do this automatically for you).
This number serves as the foundation for my personalized training plan and workout zones.
Preparing for the Peloton FTP Test
Before taking the Peloton FTP test, it's essential to have the right equipment. I recommend a Peloton bike or a compatible indoor bike trainer with power measurement capability.
Next, it's crucial to have a heart rate monitor to accurately assess my level of effort. Additionally, wearing proper cycling shoes can make a significant difference in the efficiency of my pedal strokes.
Physical and Mental Preparation
In the weeks leading up to the FTP test, I must focus on my physical and mental preparation. I need to ensure that:
- I gradually increase my riding volume and practice intervals of varying lengths and intensities.
- I work on building up my aerobic base, focusing on training in zone 2 (65-75% of FTP) to improve my endurance.
- I maintain a balanced diet and stay hydrated to support my training and recovery.
- I strive to get enough rest and sleep as it is vital to my overall performance.
I find it helpful to practice mental preparation exercises, such as setting realistic goals for the FTP test and visualizing my success during the test.
Focusing on my breathing and staying present during workouts can also make a significant difference in my mental preparation. I also like to take a lot of PowerZone classes in the weeks before so I know the right cadence and resistance I need to hit certain zones.
To learn more about preparing for the FTP test, read my guide on my Peloton FTP test Strategy and how I break down the test.
Taking the Peloton FTP Test
Before starting the Peloton FTP test, I make sure to complete a proper warm-up.
I begin with an easy 10-minute FTP prep class at a low resistance to get my legs moving and my heart rate slightly elevated. These classes are especially great because the coach talks about strategy and tips for taking the test.
Once I've completed my warm-up, I begin the FTP test by choosing a suitable resistance. The test is divided into four phases, each 5 minutes long:
- Phase 1: In the first phase, I start at a comfortable pace and gradually increase my effort until I reach a somewhat challenging but sustainable resistance.
- Phase 2: I maintain this effort for 5 minutes in the second phase, focusing on consistent cadence and breathing. I aim to stay in a heart rate zone indicative of my lactate threshold, typically around 85-95% of my maximum heart rate.
- Phase 3: As the test progresses into the third phase, I aim to slightly increase the intensity. This helps ensure that I push my body to its limit and accurately assess my functional threshold power.
- Phase 4: Finally, in the fourth phase, I go all out. This is where I push myself completely and try to lift my average output as much as possible.
Once the FTP test is complete, I make sure to properly cool down.
I spend 5-10 minutes spinning at a low resistance to help flush out any lactic acid buildup in my muscles. I also perform some light stretching to aid in recovery and help prevent any stiffness in the following hours or days.
This cool-down process is essential after any high-intensity workout but is especially important after an all-out effort like the Peloton FTP test.
Analyzing Test Results
Interpreting Your FTP Score
After completing the Peloton FTP test, the first thing I look at is my FTP score. This score is a numerical representation of my functional threshold power or the maximum average power I can maintain over a 20-minute period.
This value can then be used to calculate my training zones for future workouts. If you use a Peloton bike, it'll automatically do this for you!
To get a sense of how my FTP score compares to other riders, I can refer to the following table
|Category||Men (watts)||Women (watts)|
It's important to remember that these categories are just a rough guide and may vary depending on factors like age, weight, and fitness level.
Setting Training Zones
Once I have my FTP score, I can use it to set personalized training zones for my workouts. These training zones are helpful for targeting different aspects of my fitness, like endurance, strength, and power.
Here's a summary of how I calculate my training zones based on my FTP:
- Zone 1 (Recovery): Below 55% of FTP
- Zone 2 (Endurance): 56-75% of FTP
- Zone 3 (Tempo): 76-90% of FTP
- Zone 4 (Threshold): 91-105% of FTP
- Zone 5 (VO2 Max): 106-120% of FTP
- Zone 6 (Anaerobic): Above 121% of FTP
For example, if my FTP is 200 watts, my training zones would be:
- Zone 1: Below 110 watts
- Zone 2: 112-150 watts
- Zone 3: 152-180 watts
- Zone 4: 182-210 watts
- Zone 5: 212-240 watts
- Zone 6: Above 242 watts
By incorporating these training zones into my workout regimen, I can better target specific aspects of my fitness and track my progress over time.
When taking PowerZone specific classes, your zones will automatically come up using your specific ranges.
Progress Tracking and Retesting
When to Retest
In my experience with the Peloton FTP test, retesting every 6-12 weeks is generally recommended.
This frequency allows me to monitor my progress adequately while also giving me enough time for fitness adaptations to take place, and it aligns with the PowerZone Pack challenge schedules.
Of course, if I feel significant improvements or changes in my fitness level before the scheduled retest, I may choose to retest earlier.
Measuring improvement is essential for gauging my progress and adjusting my training accordingly. Here are some key factors I use:
- FTP score: Comparing my new FTP score with the previous one helps me understand my improvements in raw power output.
- Consistency: I track my power output during the test to ensure I maintain a steady pace throughout. Consistency in pacing shows better control and fitness.
- Perceived exertion: If I feel that the same effort is becoming less difficult over time, this is an indication of progress in my overall fitness.
In addition, I may track other metrics, such as heart rate and rate of perceived exertion (RPE), to get a more comprehensive view of my performance and improvements.
My Experience with the FTP Test
I've been taking FTP tests for a few years now. Over the years, I've learned a lot about the test and preparing.
One of the biggest things that's helped me with the test is to no longer look at it like a test. I found that mentally it was intimidating to me when I looked at it like a big test.
I now look at it like another hard workout. I want to push myself but know that if I have a bad day or know I could do better, I can always take the test another time and get different results.
Tips and Tricks
Here are some tips and tricks I learned during my FTP test experience:
It's essential to warm up before starting the test. I suggest doing an FTP specific 10-15 minute warm-up class, gradually increasing the intensity to get your body prepared.
One crucial aspect of the FTP test is pacing. I recommend starting at an intensity you believe you can maintain for the whole test and increasing the effort if you're comfortable during the last half.
In some of the classes, the instructors will pace you through this.
Focus on steady, deep breaths throughout the test to maintain a good oxygen supply to the working muscles.
Keep your mind in the game by concentrating on maintaining a consistent effort and remembering that the effort is temporary.
Remember that every individual's experience with the FTP test is different, so be open to discovering your personal strengths and areas for improvement.