60 minutes at FTP

Hi,
Im not that sure I could hold my FTP for a full hour, which i by the commonly used calculation should be able to.

How many of you have even tried to go at 100% FTP for 60 minutes, and how, if so, did it go? Could you do it?

And if not, wouldnt that make it very clear that your FTP is set too high, and thus your FTP-based workouts aren’t right for you?

I’m seriously considering doing a max 60 minute effort just to get a 100% accurate number to base my training on.
I wont enjoy it at all, and I know that the resulting number will very likely be lower than standard 20min, or ramp tests, - but so what? My ego can take it, especially if i know all my future training will be perfectly adapted to my fitness.

Why are we cyclists so afraid of the full hour effort? I mean, isnt that kind of what we do?
I would love to get any kind of input on this topic.

All the best, ride on.

FTP is not your “hour of power”, that’s a myth peddled by people who don’t understand the science. To paraphrase, FTP is the highest power that a rider can maintain “in a quasi-steady state without fatiguing for approximately one hour.”

Note, it says “approximately”. But, “one-hour” became the standard go-to for duration but static 1-hour duration for FTP output doesn’t apply universally, only to about 50% of training athletes.

FTP is an estimate of the power output that corresponds most closely with the maximal metabolic steady state.

The sustainable “threshold” power of a cyclist can occupy different durations for different athletes. we should not assume that FTP should always be based upon a 1-hour effort.

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I should also add that it’s neither “95% of your best 20-minute effort”. Without the all-out 5-minute aerobic scrub beforehand, it will lead to a FTP estimate that’s 5-10% too high.

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I’ve always wondered why we bother with taking 95% of our 20 min power for Zwift cats.
Couldn’t we use the raw 20 min and save the math?
I knew a long time ago that I was not going to be able to hold that power for 60 min.
Another “legacy” practice.

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FTP testing is generally done for the purpose of estimating training zones. It really doesn’t serve any other useful purpose, nor is it necessarily the best way to establish training zones to begin with. It’s important to note that FTP can vary a fair amount from one day to the next. The question becomes what is the best testing method to predict proper training zones that is reasonably accurate, consistently repeatable, doesn’t overtax the athlete such that the test interferes with productive training, and is readily available to the masses. The 1 hour FTP test is perhaps more accurate than other FTP tests, but requires additional recovery time that interferes with productive training when done correctly. Other FTP tests such as ramp tests are perhaps not as accurate, but are more repeatable and less taxing, requiring much less recovery time before continuing with productive training. There are trade offs either way. Regular blood lactate testing to determine upper and lower aerobic thresholds undoubtedly provides the most accurate training zones (better than FTP), but simply isn’t readily available to the masses at this point in time. Cheers!

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As others have mentioned above the figure Zwift pops up after rides if it’s detected an increase purely based on your best 20 minutes that ride does not follow the proper 20 minute ftp test. Also The ramp test can lead to overly optimistic estimations in some circumstances and I know at the moment I can outperform my ftp on a ramp test.

None of this really answers your question. I only occasionally attempt a full 1 hour all out effort, but I do occasionally. In Zwift the only time I do it is when attempting a PR up the alpe. In fact the first time was when my ftp was right on 3.2 W/kg which is what is required to complete it in an hour.

I would recommend you give it a go because for me the first time I did it was more mental than anything else and after I’d done it definitely helped in future hard efforts of any duration. On that first attempt I didn’t believe my ftp number so I just went out at that power and decided to see if I could hold it up the alpe. After 10 minutes I could still hold it, but felt I’m not going to be able to sustain this for an hour, that feeling then lasted for probably most of the ascent and the last 10 minutes or so was just pain, but with the end in sight I hung on.

That is where my improvement came about, because now when I feel that pain or tiredness I know I’ve felt it before and kept going through it so I can keep going now. It also gave me a better sense of what heart rate I can sustain for long periods. On that attempt I sustained a HR about 10 bpm higher than what I thought I could before.

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Depends on the perspective and what most modern platforms define as FTP.

When it was introduced in 1999 by Bassett and was published later in 2003 by Cogan’s it was defined as “The highest power a rider can sustain in a quasi steady state form approximately an hour without fatiguing” or in other words, “FTP is the surrogate of 60 minutes Maximal Mean Power”. So, yes, in that context, if you can’t sustain it, it’s probably not your FTP.

However, most training platforms/software do not really care about the original definition but they do try to abstract someone’s aerobic performance with a number and base the intensity of the prescribed workouts. If Zwift has created workouts based on the expectation of a ramp test FTP number, even if you are unable to sustain this for an hour, then this is the number you should be interested in.

I cannot hold the FTP that a ramp tests gives me for an hour, even if my life was depending on it. But it is an OK number to use to adjust interval intensity on zwift. I don’t even call it FTP, it’s just the zwift’s ramp test results and I would use it zwift’s context but not outside. I have a “signature” 12Km/8% steady climb that I have successfully held for ~50 minutes my FTP coming from a 20 minute test, repeatedly. But I could not do this in a TT. Probably mental fatigue is the reason or trying to get more aero, even on a road bike.

As I used to train with a power before zwfit was released and before ramp tests were invented, I track my long term progression from numbers I get form 10 mile TTs or 20 minute tests. I will occasionality do a 5,10 and 60 seconds and 5 minute peak power profiles too. That’s the only way to know if my 2012 self had a better FTP than my 2022 self and how I am changing.

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it does also depend how fit you are / how well conditioned you are and the type of athlete you are.
tour de france riders can ride at “almost” their 20min max pace for an hour.
mere mortals however cannot.
pure sprinters have an even worse time of it.
95% of your 20min max effort is just a rough estimate of your FTP. if you are a sprinter, or your conditioning is not good, then you may need to reduce the % further.

by all means, feel free to do an “all out” 1hr effort, but the reason most of us don’t bother as it’s bloody miserable :smiley: and if you don’t give it ur all, you’ll end up with an FTP that’s too low anyway. and you’ll need to take a long period of recovery off the bike. 20min tests are more bearable = ur more likely to give it ur best = ur FTP will be more accurate, ur more likely to do them more often, and don’t require as long to recover b4 ur next ride.

if ur workouts on zwift feel too hard, you can turn the % down.
if u never fail a workout, then ur workouts are too easy :wink:

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Thanks a lot, @M_ountainHippieDude, for that great reply.

Them more I read, stud and test, the more I come to the same conclusion, that blood lactate testing is the one really optimal way of testing, and that basing a training plan on LT1 and LT2 seems to be the most generally beneficial approach. Sadly though, as you point out, most of us do not have access to that kind of testing and have to rely on other methods to find out what is best for us as individuals.

//Matt

@David_Stark, thanks a lot for your input.

A full agree regarding the ramp tests, - they do seem to over estimated the FTP value, and sticking to it can really hurt your training plan, both physically (being too hard) and mentally (not being able to complete it).

As for a one hour max effort, I prefer to to that out on the road, to make the test as relevant as possible (as I do most my riding outdoors). But the Alpe sounds like a great option though, and maybe I’ll give it a go. One could of course use such a route as a benchmark for progress, where atmospheric circumstances won’t effect the performance.

Also I have the same experience with feeling fatigued, usually that comes quite quick for me when doing hard efforts, but I have learnt that it’s more an attitude thing than physical.

Well done on your ride!

//Matt

@BenJones, thanks for chipping in.

Indeed it does, and also from my own experiences, nutrition and rest plays huge parts in the result.

I think it takes a bit of riding, in various wattages and lengths to really find out about what works best for you. Experience might be a better benchmark than a generic FTP test when it comes to figuring out your training zones. But perhaps a test is a good way to begin with, to get an initial reference point.

//Matt

Thanks to all who have commented and added info, as I’ve been struggling with this for a bit, thinking I was not in very good shape, and not really much of a bike lover at all, bc I can’t hold anywhere near my tested FTP for even 20 mins, let alone an hour.

This discussion helps a lot! : )

@John_Timer_DIRT is that definition a verbatim quote, from the paper or similar source? If yes, doesn’t that kind of answer it all, with the “… without fatiguing.” ?

Would this suggest it’s not the absolute max power you can output for an hour, over which by even a couple watts you’d have your head in a bucket, but rather the max you can output and still be able to do an additional 30, 60, 180 mins without much concern?

So then the tested “FTP” that Zwift and other platforms kicks out is really much higher than your true / non-fatiguing FTP.

Which would kind of make a lot of sense as a parameter that one would want to know, right? I mean, I don’t really see the value in knowing a kind of absolute max number, but that sustaining it for even a few minutes has your lunch doing an encore appearance!!

For ref, I did the proper FTP test and was given 229. I might have been able to add a couple watts if my life depended on it, but I really did crank, and aaaalmost was leaning for the garbage pail!

Late last week I had what is for me an excellent ride that was an extremely strong push, which saw me hold 212 w for 41 mins, maxing at 519 in the end sprint. HR was 159 avg, max 172. I was absolutely maxed, and indeed rolling it back a bit when my HR spiked to 162 - 163. I could not hold HR162 - 165 for anything more than a couple mins, maybe. Tried to hold HR 160 for the ride.

I would explode trying to hold 229 w for even 10 mins. Impossible.

Which had me feeling extremely down about fancying myself at least a low-level bike lover for the past 8 years or so, only to find that after all this personal growth and improvement, I’d finally achieved the rank of “nowhere near good enough, can’t even keep up with a beginner for an hour”.

And indeed, doing the workouts, for quite some time I was rolling the FTP bias back. I’m almost up to a 0% handicap, but I think I’m running them around 96% now. [Have only done a few workouts so far.]

Appreciate any thoughts from you fine people!

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It sounds like you did the ramp test to get your 229 value correct? The ramp test can easily over or underestimate your FTP (there is a scaling factor used where Zwift multiplies the last minute by .75, but the person who invented the ramp test gave a range of scaling values (i.e. perhaps .72 would work better for some people etc.), so if you think that it has overestimated your FTP then it would be a better proxy to use the 20min test that Zwift has. This will likely do a better job at detecting the FTP that will work for you in workouts.

In terms of the actual FTP, I believe when they say “fatiguing” in that document they do not mean “sorta tired”, you should be basically dying after an hour at your FTP from everything I’ve seen - but I am by no means an expert in the field :slight_smile:

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dr andrew coggan’s definition of “roughly an hour” is 40mins - 1hr+. you can probably ask him personally since he posts on forums like slowtwitch and timetriallingforums sometimes… but depending on the training you’re doing, FTP might not be very useful to you anyway

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Chris,
My 2 cents:

My initial obsession about my FTP has pretty much faded away. I used FTP in order to place a level of fitness on myself, so the workouts on Zwift would be appropriately hard and as beneficial as possible, fitness wise.
But, I just found any kind of program to eventually become to hard, and I did NOT see a whole lot of improvement to my fitness, AND I was more or less constantly tired, sore or over trained.
I lowered my FTP to make the workouts easier, but figured that maybe, just maaaaybe, the Zwift workouts weren’t the best for me, neither physically nor mentally.

I did a lot of reading, spoke to two pro riders and an acquainted who works for a big team in the pro tour, and through them I got to know about the 80/20 approach, which I’ve been sticking to that ever since then (about seven weeks now I think).
What that means, in few words, is that I do 80% of my riding at an easy effort level, zone 1 and zone 2. It should be mentioned here, that 80/20 training do NOT use the same kind of zones we normally are accustomed to.
To begin with, I had to base my power on some number, as performing blood lactate tests (which is what is recommended when setting up your zones in the 80/20 method) was not an option for me. So I used an approximation, based on the FTO Zwift gave me, Training peaks and ICU intervals. And then I lowered that initially 10%, then changed that to 5%.
My training since that moment has been fantastic! In all measurable ways. I’m never too tired, never having dips in my performances, and seeing great improvement rather quickly.
I started out at around 221 FTP, and now I know for sure it is between 250 and 256. And that is a power I can sustain for a long time.

I’ll keep following the 80/20 approach, and every week I will see some improvements, just as long as I DO NOT RIDE TOO HARD on easy days, and DO NOT RIDE TO EASY on hard days.
And also, I am a very heavy rider, 105kg, so I know that in order to really improve as a cyclist, I also need to loose weight. Minus 7kg since my new training regime, of course combined with a good diet.

The joy I now feel when I go out for my long outdoor rides is impossible to put a value on.Rides I used to really struggle with, sections of the courses I found hard, hills from ■■■■ and so on, - are now easier, thus I KNOW for sure I’m getting better.
A couple of months ago I did a century (in km’s) and I found it really hard on the body and mind. I did one recently and it was just a pleasure.

I don’t know what I’m trying to say with this, if anything at all, - but I wish I understood earlier, that Zwift and it’s FTP might not be the best way for me. I’m sure it works for some people, but not for me. And as improvement is what is driving me on, it very important hat I see progression in my training.
When I didn’t, I got depressed and love for riding my bike.

I have no affiliation at all with this site, but if you would like to know more about 80/20 training, take a look here:

And if you have any questions I’ll gladly answer them.

Good luck, enjoy your riding, or else you risk getting sick of it.

Cheers,
//Matt

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All of your questions were answered in my two posts further up and by Aaron just now: did you do the Ramp Test or the actual FTP test by Hunter Allen (in its full protocol, including the 5-min aerobic scrub I detailed in my previous post)? Even the latter is an estimate of FTP but much more accurate, short of performing a 40km TT.

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If you hold FTP (95% of 20min max effort) for 30min it’s fine, 45min it’s really good.
If you can hold FTP for 1h, maybe do again 20min max effort in the best conditions.

Of course you need a good base of aerobie for hold hard anaerobic training.

If people understood what functional’ meant, and then thought properly about why it is useful to know your FTP in the first place, there wouldn’t be a gazillion Internet threads debating minutiae that doesn’t matter.

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Its a number to set training zones - Nothing more, nothing less.

I think you are interpreting the phrase “without fatiguing” incorrectly.
I think it means - without failure.
In this case, it does not mean - without feeling very tired.