MY FTP What is it? What alters it? How to interpret it? How can you use it to your advantage?

Currently we all talk about FTP, and say it is the only true measurement variable for cyclists. This is not true, since we would be leaving aside physical capacities such as recovery, anaerobic capacity, tolerance to fatigue, including other important metrics like FRC.
MY FTP
What is it? What alters it? How to interpret it? How can you use it to your advantage?<br><br>Currently we all talk about FTP, and say it is the only true measurement variable for cyclists. This is not true, since we would be leaving aside physical capacities such as recovery, anaerobic capacity, tolerance to fatigue, including other important metrics like FRC. But it is true that it is a relatively simple concept to understand and very useful especially for amateur cyclists. For which in this blog we will seek to define it, clarify certain aspects, and shed some light on how to use this number in the best way. <br><br>The functional threshold power, better known by its acronym in English FTP (functional threshold power) is a theoretical value that ESTIMATES the watts that we can maintain continuously for one hour. This is calculated from an equation applied to a performance test done in field or indoor trainer. Currently it has been reconsidered the amount of time we can hold this wattage, it’s been said that it will vary between 40 minutes and 60 min, depending on the type of the cyclist. Its closer to 40 minutes for the most explosive riders and closer to the hour for the most resistant riders. This value has been shown to have a close relationship with VT2 (ventilatory threshold 2) and with MSSL (maximum stable state of lactate).<br><br>Here comes the first aspect to consider, FTP is a variable number, which will be influenced by internal and external factors, so it will be normal for both my threshold and my training zones to change a few watts up or down depending on the conditions in which we find ourselves
External factors which affect FTP:

Altitude above sea level, we can say that production of watts is affected approximately 1% to 1.5% for every 300 meters above sea level.

 Extreme temperatures, these can generate; hydroelectrolytic imbalances that lead to a severe decrease in our ability to generate energy, the decrease in nerve impulses and the force of contraction in stages of very low temperatures, and psychological difficulties that lead to a complete blockage of the athlete.

Internal factors:

The nutritional and electrolyte status: A loss of 2% to 3% of body weight during exercise due to fluid loss, could translate into a decrease in our FTP of 10 to 20%. As well, hypoglycemia induced by the exercise, due to the lack of carbohydrates during high intensities can take our ability to generate energy to almost 0.

The state of nervous activation: Known as “the tone”, will depend on the genetic conditions, making the total rest day affect some riders more than others.

 Usage of ergogenic aids: Making use of ergogenic aids that we normally do not use during training can generate a slight increase in our FTP, for example: caffeine, gels, hydration drinks, etc.

Psychological aspects: In general, high competition can be a great motivator, pushing itself to the limit usually makes us score better numbers in competition than in training, for this reason we should not use the numbers of training to guide our competition and worst use the competition numbers to prescribe the training, since we would make it too demanding for normal training conditions.

Fatigue: It will not be the same FTP after an hour of warm-up as after 4 hours of competition, nor after a day of active rest or activations as after a succession of days of competition.

How do I take advantage of my FTP?

 Knowing the terrain that I am going to face, to be able to select the moments where it is more prudent to reserve energy and the moments where I will seek to make a difference

 Knowing and studying my rivals, in such a way that I seek to neutralize their strengths and exploit their weaknesses.

Understanding how my FTP is today based on the factors that can influence it, both external and internal.

How do I efficiently use my FTP to perform a PR (personal record) on strava?

  I must guarantee my best conditions, be hydrated, with full glycogen reserves, in the best possible balance between training and freshness with an adequate tapering technique, taking fluids and food according to the duration and intensity of the effort, using ergogenic aids tested in previous raining and that are not contraindicated (consult a sports nutritionist).

 Guarantee the best possible external conditions, look for the time of day with the best weather and less headwind, ideal tailwind, ensure that the bicycle is in optimal condition and carry the least possible weight in tools, keys, cell phones, etc.

Depending on the duration of the segment use a different % of the FTP. The ideal would be to use the critical power data corrected for altitude, but in the following graph we will make a general approximation from the FTP.<br><br>Duration of continuous effort % of FTP<br><br>10 minutes                               110% of FTP<br>15 minutes                               108% of FTP<br>20 minutes                              105% of FTP<br>30 minutes                              102% ftp<br>40 minutes -1 hour                  100% of the FTP<br>1h and 30min                           90%FTP

 Finally applying the pacing strategy, this strategy consists of printing more intensity in the hardest and slowest segments, since the greatest resistance in cycling during flat terrain is the air, pushing more watts when the speed is slower will help me to waste less energy than if I did it in a faster sector and take better advantage of my numbers, also if we go with rivals they will not be able to benefit as much from going on the wheel in the most inclined segments, finally it will almost always be easier to apply a greater intensity in the steepest segments.

Pacing example:

Individual flat time trial between 2 runners, distance 60 kms. The first rider goes at 60<br>km/h, the second rider goes at 59 km/h.<br>Rider 1 takes 1:00:00<br>Rider 2 takes 1:01:01

Individual flat time trial between 2 runners, distance 60 kms. The first rider goes at 60<br>km/h, the second rider goes at 59 km/h.<br>Rider 1 takes 1:00:00<br>Rider 2 takes 1:01:01

Understanding how my FTP is today based on the factors that can influence it, both external and internal.

As we can see, although the difference in both cases is 1km/h between the speeds of both, the<br>lower the speed, the greater the difference in time between both cyclists.<br><br>By Pablo Pulido<br>Methodological director at threshold experst sas.

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