FTP: Just Test It!

MYTH: FTP Training is only for “serious” cyclists!
At BreakAway, all of our cycling classes are guided by rider FTP. We call our style “Performance Indoor Cycling”, and it’s what sets us apart from a typical spin class.
You don’t have to be a cyclist to benefit from BreakAway performance-based classes. While we do have many cyclists riding with us at BreakAway, our classes are great for everyone!
By using FTP as a training tool, we are able to claim that every ride is your ride, and really mean it.

What is FTP, you ask?
FTP (Functional Threshold Power) is the intensity that you are physiologically (and mentally) able to sustain over a 60-minute period.
To improve your FTP, you must know your starting point.
Best practice for every form of training is to have some sort of testing to help guide you to improvement.
-For general fitness, it may be a step test
-For running, it might be your best 5k time
-For weightlifting, your 1 rep max
-For cycling, it’s your FTP
Every client can and should take an FTP test to get the most out of their classes at BreakAway!
Without FTP testing, when it comes to getting fitter, faster, and avoiding overtraining, you can only hope for the best. Of course, improvement may come, but out of luck rather than smart training.
Another point to note (something that’s rampant in the indoor cycling world), is that not training using your FTP can lead to overworking. And, overworking only leads to discouragement, possible injury, and burnout.

What’s an FTP Test?
The FTP test we run at the studio is 20 minutes long (with 20 minute warm-up prior), so about a 50-60 minute class.
We ask you, during that 20 minute testing period, to find an intensity that you can sustain for the full testing period. There may be a bit of up and down, but what we look for is a steady effort with no recovery.
After testing, we take 95% of the average power that you were able to sustain over that 20 minute testing period, and that becomes your “cycling fitness baseline” or FTP.

FTP & Training with VismoX (
To guide our classes, we use a program called VismoX. This program allows us to project the class plan/profile and rider’s individual power gauges at the front of the room. Riders are guided through class by both numbers and zoning colors.
The FTP from your test is entered in to your VismoX profile and when you ride, all of your zones are based upon this number.
So, you won’t ever be comparing yourself to other riders. You’ll have your own baseline and they’ll have theirs. Every ride is perfectly adjusted for you as an individual. Also, there will be no more guessing whether or not you’re working hard enough or too hard. Your training just got really SMART!

Why should I care, you ask?
8 Benefits of riding with FTP:
1) Knowledge: FTP allows you to understand and to see your fitness level in a very black and white way, and to recognize how it improves with consistent training.
2) Goal Setting/Motivation: Having something very specific to work toward is a great form of motivation!
3) Power: Creating more power on a bike comes with focused training using zones based upon rider FTP.
4) Speed: More power means you’ll be faster!

5) Mental Fortitude: Training is not simply a physical act. In fact, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to suggest that 80% of training is mental. Using FTP to train                       brings focus and purpose to your workouts, which can help to foster a long-term commitment to the process, even as it gets mentally challenging.
6) Smarter Training: Without testing your FTP, your workouts might go something like this:
“Man I feel great, I’m gonna conquer this 8 minute effort!”
2 minutes later…”Ugh, I gotta slow down”
1 minute later, “Ok, I got this, let’s go!”
30 seconds later…”Whoops, too much, gotta take a break.”
Class ends and you’re sweaty, but did you REALLY improve anything? The sad truth is: probably not. Real improvement requires more than just sweat.
7) Calorie Burning/Fat Shredding/Feeling Awesome: This one is for those out there who are thinking…”I don’t care about power and speed, I just want to lose weight, look amazing, and feel great!”. Well, guess what?
Being a more powerful rider (indoors or out) also means you’re a BIG calorie and fat burner!
AND, you have to admit that nothing makes you feel more accomplished, proud, and just generally awesome than setting a goal, putting in the work, and becoming better, stronger, and more confident!
8) Results: We know you want them, no matter what they are or who you are. Training smart is the best way to ensure that you will achieve your goals!

How will my FTP increase?
#1: Find your current FTP by attending one of our full-length testing sessions to obtain your baseline.

New Riders:
FTP may initially increase quite quickly. There are several reasons for this quick improvement:
-Learning better pedaling efficiency
-Developing more confidence working with discomfort
-The increased cardiovascular conditioning that comes with regular exercise.

Seasoned Riders/Recreationally and Competitive Athletes:
FTP increased will take longer (3-6 months). Regular, purposeful training is essential to improvement:
-Variety: Working in a variety of different intensity zones is the best way to improve your power. Training as hard as you can, every time you ride, will likely not improve your FTP.
-Guidance: Your instructors will incorporate different efforts into your rides.
You’ll train 7 zones in our classes:
Zone 1: Recovery
Zone 2: Endurance
Zone 3: Tempo
Zone 4: Lactate threshold (this is your FTP zone)
Zone 5: VO2 max
Zone 6: Anaerobic Capacity
Zone 7: Neuromuscular Power
-Timing and Recovery: Training each of these power zones requires spending the appropriate amount of time expending an effort AND the appropriate amount of time recovering from that effort.
-Self-control: Train the zone that most indoor cycling classes ignore! Zone 3 and low Zone 4 – the efforts just under and at your Lactate Threshold are an essential part of building aerobic fitness, and the capacity to do more work for longer periods of time without excessive fatigue (bonking/having to back off).

Elite/Competitive Riders:
As with any sport, the better you get, the smaller and slower the gains. At the elite level, any edge is welcomed (lighter equipment, lower body weight, dialed in nutrition, super efficient technique). And, regular training is still obviously a critical factor in improvement and maintenance of fitness and power levels. Elite Riders require very specific training and so will need resources outside of the general programs that we currently offer at the studio.

The BreakAway Difference: Don’t just get sweaty, get BETTER by riding with FTP!
At BreakAway, we enjoy educating our riders as much as we enjoy cranking the tunes and running fun and entertaining classes. We know that it’s not enough to just sweat, to get better you’ve got to work smarter.
Knowledge is power, and BreakAway is ALL about power!

Check our schedule at, and next time you see an FTP test listed, be sure to reserve that class!

Next testing date: This Friday!!
November 18th – 5:30am-6:30am

BreakAway Cycle & Strength Studio has two great locations:

439 Main Street, Longmont, CO (BreakAway Cycle & TRX)

655 S. Sunset St., Longmont, CO (BreakAway Strength – Kettlebell, Pilates, Barre, Group Fitness)

Details at: