Wednesday, January 13, 2010

FTP test and a pyramid swim

I train with power on the bike. In fact, I use a PowerTap as the rear hub on my rear wheel. It can be a really nifty (and expensive!) bike computer, or it can be used correctly to give you improvements on the bike.

Since training with power is based upon watts, you need a base. That base is your FTP, or functional threshold power. In human terms, its a wattage # that you can hold for 60 mins. To improve that threshold, you need to not only ride a lot, but also ride above that # to increase your threshold.

I did my first FTP test of the season today, and my magic number came out to be 200 even. Sweet! Even number!

Not so sweet that it is 20 watts lower than this time last year :(

No problem, its something to work towards to improve. So this number will determine what watts I need to ride to recover, go smooth, or go hard without burning a match. Last season, I found that I used it to limit myself during races, to save the legs for runs. I can take that number and use it to base what my wattage should be for the half ironman races I am competing in this year.

Here is the test via graph:
and specific 20 min test:
So the test consists of a 20 min warmup, 5 min @ an intense level to "open" the legs up, 10 mins EZ, then the 20 min test at a level you think you can sustain. Then a cool down.

After the 20 min test, you take the average watts (of only those specific 20 mins) then subtract 5%, because that is the estimate of what you would have done over a 60 min period. 211 watts - 5% = ~200 watts.

Ok, nerd stuff DONE! haha!

Earlier I did a pyramid swim today. Did everything on a 2 min base.
500 WU
100 EZ
200 EZ
300 EZ
400 (harder)
400 (try to beat the last 400)
300 (go hard if you can)
200 (go hard if you can)
50 to get back and forth
2550 total in 50 mins

So the intensity basically built throughout the entire swim where you were going your hardest (and possibly) the fastest by the end of the swim. The swim hurt like heck, but I could feel myself getting stronger as the swim went. This time last year a 1000 yard swim took 30 mins and was a long swim for me. I feel like a completely different swimmer!


  1. I'm so curious about power. I don't have a powertap so I train with HR but did a computrainer session last Saturday and got to see my wattage for the first time. I was much lower than you, I think I averaged around 160, but it meant nothing to me! I've been toying with the idea of power but have been considering the Quarq Cinqo so I can use it with my training and race wheels. A girl can dream :)

  2. Thanks for the lame man's terms about the power, I needed that.
    Congrats on the swimming, you've made quite the improvement.

  3. I wish that I was a strong swimmer, sadly, I am not. Good job on your work outs!

  4. Just for fun you really need to do a FTP for the full hour...great times!

    Your avg watts have dropped but has your weight too? The measure that truly matters is (power to weight) watts/kilos body weight. If you lose weight you should also lose some watts but if you recalibrate your settings your watts/kilos should actually go up.


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