For those of you who are new to cycling, your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is the maximum average wattage that you can hold for an hour. At Athlete Lab, we use it to set our systems so that everyone gets the required intensity and training benefit from their session or real ride.
Talking of real rides, after more than 3500 kilometres, nearly 90 hours of riding and burning over 120,000 calories, Vincenzo Nibali has ridden his way into the history books as the winner of the 2014 Tour de France. He becomes only the sixth rider in history to win all three grand tours. His name now etched alongside the greats of Merxck, Hinault and Contador. While most of us can only dream of even riding- let alone winning- the greatest race of all, many of the training methodologies and principles used by the world’s best riders are available for you at Athlete Lab. Training in an environment where all ride data is accurately measured and recorded allows an unparalleled level of accuracy and reliability in tracking and increasing your fitness, making you stronger and faster.
Though your raw numbers may be (slightly!) lower than those of Nibali’s, the rider displays that we all focus on during our sessions at the Lab show the same key data points focused on by the world’s best: heart rate, cadence/RPM, watts, and most importantly, watts per kilogram (W/Kg). It is certainly humbling to compare oneself to these hugely gifted athletes; the latest winner of the maillot jaune produced an estimated 6.1 w/kg for 32 minutes to take the win atop the fabled Pyrenean climb of Hautacam. At a racing weight of 64kg, this equates to roughly 390 watts. This is made all the more impressive when you take into account the accumulated fatigue of two weeks of brutal racing that he had in his legs. For the average 75 kg male hanging with Nibali in the mountains would require a Functional Threshold Power (FTP, or the power you could hold for a full hour) of roughly 460 watts. Think of that next time you’re suffering through an Hour of Power of HIIT Hurt Box!
But don’t be disheartened by the gap between us mere mortals and these genetic anomalies. Each and every one of you can raise your own FTP and reach your fitness and racing goals through the structured training provided at the Lab. An FTP test, a service we highly recommend, allows us to pinpoint your exact power training zones so you can make the most of your sessions. You should also be utilizing Shane Sutton’s ‘Newbie’s Guide to the Lab’ (coming soon) to ensure your ride selection matches your current goals. While a variety of training sessions and general riding may raise your FTP in the long-term, longer intervals of 10 to 20 minutes completed at 80-95%, known as the ‘sweet spot’, can provide real gains in a much shorter timeframe.
For a Watts/KG goal to aim for, whatever your current level, see the rough guide below:
|2-3||Good weekend rider|
|3||Good weekend racer/Cat 3|
|5||Cat 1/Semi Pro|
|6+||Get on the Tour Baby!|