Topics Coach Adam Pulford Covers In This Episode on Cycling FTP:
- How to test your FTP
- 2 important ways to build your FTP
- Establishing your training rhythm
The concept of a “Threshold” has many nuanced forms and definitions in the world of physiology. There’s Lactate Threshold, Onsite of Blood Lactate Accumulation, Ventilatory Threshold, Critical Power, Anaerobic Threshold, Functional Threshold Power – the list goes on – and we can apply many of these terms to not only cycling, but running, swimming, any other endurance sports as well. It can all be very confusing when you’re trying to set up your own training program or understand what you’re reading or listening to, like in this podcast. My goal today is to help clear up some of the confusion around this topic and describe how I work with athletes on building and developing Functional Threshold Power.
A Few Fun Disclaimers:
- This is part 1 of a 3-part “How To” series, where we start first with FTP, Then VO2 Power, and finally Anaerobic Capacity.
- Threshold training is not the only thing to consider in one’s plan obviously… in fact, I’ve done several episodes discussing the bigger picture of training concepts, developing all three energy systems, specificity of training, and so on. You can find them especially in episodes #44, #46, and #48.
- I pull facts and resources from a variety of places during this episode, of which I site on our landing page in the show notes. Mentors like Tim Cusick, Andy Coggan, & Dean Golich as well the network of our CTS coaches have all contributed in some way too. I’ve interview Tim a few times on podcast and I use the WKO5 software that he and Kevin Williams are the project managers for via Training Peaks. Many of the concepts and terms will be similar to what you’d hear if you watch some of the WKO5 webinars on YouTube, which I’ll encourage you to do if you really want to go deep, but I am also pulling for CTS Methodology, human physiology, and my own experience as a coach.
- Now, because human physiology is the most PHUN, lets start there 😉
- 3 Energy Systems:
- ATP-PCr system –
- using Phosphagen as a primary fuel source,
- Fast movements like sprints (1-5s type efforts @ MAX)
- Glycolytic System –
- Uses Glycogen for primary fuel source
- Hard efforts, 6-60s @ near max
- Aerobic (Oxidative) System
- Uses Oxygen as primary fuel source
- Efforts starting over that anaerobic cross-over point: for most of us, between 60-75s
- but our body doesn’t perfectly use one system at a time… it’s multiple all of the time. This means while we’re sprinting or time-trialing, riding, running, swimming… listening to podcasts… we’re always using Phosphagen, Glycogen, and Oxygen to fuel our life. However, when we are trying to develop an adaptation, we want to know how these systems work, so we can manipulate them to get the results we desire.
- ATP-PCr system –
- Threshold Concept:
- This point at which we have indicators to suggest fatigue is starting
- It’s a blend of all three systems, mostly Glycolytic and Oxidative.
- The higher your threshold is, you can do your sport at a higher % of your VO2 Max, thus, making you, generally, better suited for your sport, overall.
- At this point, you can then hone in the specifics of your sport to optimize performance.
- FTP = Functional Threshold Power is the power you can maintain in a steady manner for about 1hr, before you fatigue.
- It can actually be ~35-65min – we’ll explore that more
- It’s steady in nature
- We can test and get good estimates or really test and find your true edge!
- TTE = Time To Exhaustion is the time stamp of how long you can currently hold your FTP
- Key Concept: There are now better ways to define and quantify performance for the individual athlete. Not just power, but power duration for performance.
- Show Slide of PD Curve – For those watching the YouTube version of this, you can clearly see where the FTP is and the TTE time stamp is, as well as how the power duration curve starts to dive down vs stays steady.
2 Ways to Build Your FTP:
- Intensive = increase your FTP power without changing TTE
- Extensive = increase the duration (TTE) you can hold FTP without changing FTP itself
Where to Start: Field Testing
- 1 Week of Testing:
- I thought it best to show how I structure a week of testing, the way I actually build it on Training Peaks. Those on YouTube can see it, for those listening, I’ll walk you through it:
- Monday = Rest
- Tuesday = 5min Field Test: 5min @ MAX
- Wednesday = 20min Field Test: 20min TT @ Max
- Thursday = Easy, recovery ride
- Friday = Neuromuscular/Anaerobic Capacity Testing:
- 3x20s Sprints @ Max
- 1x1min @ Max
- The reason why I like a week of testing is because it tests all three energy systems, represented in various areas in the athletes mean max power curve, giving the best, current representation of where all-around performance is at
- When using WKO5 or other software programs with predictive analytics, you can then have better models of FTP, VO2, TTE, and other metrics. These are the tools I rely upon when coaching an athlete.
- 1 Day of Testing
- Just do the 20min Field Test we saw above, make sure to come into it fresh.
- Take the highest average power (mean max power) of the test, multiply by 95%, and you’ll have your estimated FTP.
- Next: Training Zones
- Take your FTP you found from your field test and plug this into your Training Peaks calculator
- Choose CTS Methodology, or what method you prefer, hit calculate, and you’re good to go!
- I round all of my ranges to the nearest 5W because it’s easier for the athletes to remember and it’s a good reminder that when training, just like in energy systems, it’s a bit more broad and not as perfect as we think.
- Now that we have our training zones established, it’s time to look at some training sessions that will build FTP
Example Training Sessions:
- Climbing Repeat Intervals
- Intervals at 100-110% of FTP
- Aim for 25-35min of total Time in Zone (TiZ)
- Recovery periods of at least 2:1 if not more
- i.e. 3x8min, 4x8min, 4x6min…etc…
- The goal is to do work that will increase your FTP and do that work in a condensed amount of time
- You can do these on a hill, as the name suggests, or do them in flat terrain, inside – whatever you have to work with. % of FTP is the goal
- Climbing Repeat Intervals
KEY POINT: harder is better here, but not so much that you can’t finish the work sets… your staying above FTP and below upper end of VO2 power… it’s hard workout, but not a failing workout
- Steady State Intervals:
- Intervals at 95-105% of FTP
- Aim for 35-60min of Time in Zone (TiZ)
- Recovery periods of 2:1
- i.e. 3×12, 2×20, 2×30, 1×45… etc…
- The goal is to extend the time you can ride at FTP, or increase your TTE
- You can do these on any terrain so long as it’s consistent: some may have long enough climbs, some will have long flat stretches or loops where they do these intervals, whereas others will have to go inside to train these properly. Either way, the % at FTP is the key aspect.
- KEY POINT: Longer is better here… and really, must to sub-LT and over your TTE to improve
- Steady State Intervals:
Plan Your Plan:
- Ideally, you start building your FTP after a solid base period
- Doesn’t really matter if you choose Intensive or Extensive first
- If early in season, I’d choose whatever is a limiter or weakness to develop first
- Close to a racing block, choose what is more specific to the event
- If you don’t know, I’d advise simply starting with Extensive, then Intensive
- 4-6 weeks in EXTENSIVE focus block
- Then 1 week easy/recovery Week
- 4 weeks in INTENSIVE focus block
- Then 1 week easy/recovery week
- All in, we’re looking at about a 12-week period of training to build your FTP properly
Establish Your Training Pattern or Rhythm:
- Finding a pattern or rhythm that works with your daily routine or your body is going to maximize your success in training.
- I do cover the importance of rhythm more in-depth is episode # with Tim Cusick
- Let’s look at a few example weeks, first with EXTENSIVE:
- I like to use a Threshold Training Modality during this period
- You can see I block days up, back-to-back. This is because we’re doing aerobic and sub-threshold work, which we should be able to recover from in a 24hr time period just fine, thus overloading the system a chunk or block of days before taking a full day off.
- Now let’s look at a few example weeks with INTENSIVE:
- The Polarized Training Modality works well here because these workouts are more intense, they deplete and drain the muscles and systems more, thus having good contrast to training with full recovery between training sessions is ideal.
- You can see here I have hard days slotted in every other day or so.
- FTP is the power you can produce in a steady manner for about an hour, before you fatigue.
- It is best understood with TTE (Time To Exhaustion) which is the specific time you can hold FTP and gives very good insights to the athlete’s individual, current physiology.
- We can build FTP in two ways: INTENSIVELY or by increase the power we can produce, or EXTENSIVELY by extending the time we can hold the same FTP power
- It’s best to know your current threshold so you can set your individualized training zones before starting in on a program to train
- Plan out your training ahead of time so you can stay focused on WHY as well as WHAT you’re doing with your training.
- Finally, if you want to have a plan to build your FTP, you can find training programs specifically for this from me in the Training Peaks – just head over to TrainingPeaks.com. If all of this really excites you and you want more: try our CTS membership or heck, hire a coach! I know that’s a bit of a shameless plug, but our network of CTS coaches are trained to help expedite your knowledge and experience to help you increase your performance.
That’s it for today. It was kind of a lot actually… longer than I originally had planned, but I really wanted to equip you with the best methods, as well as an understanding of how best to build FTP for you, our listeners, as you carry on in your journey of developing performance and becoming the best athlete you can become! Thanks for listening and be sure to come back for part 2: Building VO2 Power.
- 3 Energy System: https://www.squarecodefitness.com/the-science
- 3 Energy Systems Explained: https://www.acefitness.org/fitness-certifications/ace-answers/exam-preparation-blog/3256/the-three-primary-energy-pathways-explained/
- Importance of Threshold Training:
- WKO5: Building FTP & TTE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9cMtn3pe8A&t=1929s
- CTS Membership: https://trainright.com/membership/
Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform
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Please note that this is an automated transcription and may contain errors. Please refer to the episode audio for clarification.
Speaker 1 (00:06):
Adam Pulford (00:07):
Concept of threshold has many nuanced forms and definitions in the world of physiology. There’s lactate threshold onsite of blood lactate accumulation than dilatory threshold, critical power, anaerobic threshold, functional threshold power. The list goes on and we can apply many of these terms to not only cycling, but to running swimming and other endurance sports as well. It can all be very confusing when you’re trying to set up your own training program or understand what you’re reading.
My goal today is to help clear up some of that confusion around this topic and describe how I work with athletes on building and developing functional threshold power. First, a few disclaimers. This is part one of a three part how to series where we first start with building FTP. The second will be how to build VOT power. And the third final one will be to how to increase anaerobic capacity.
Adam Pulford (01:11):
Also at threshold training is not the only thing to consider here. And I think that’s obvious. In fact, I’ve done several episodes discussing the bigger picture of training concepts, developing all three energy systems, specificity of training, a lot of other stuff. In particular, you can find that information on episodes, 44, 46 and 48. On today’s episode, I pull facts and resources from a variety of places.
During this episode, which I cite on our landing page in the show notes, mentors like Tim Cusick, Andy Coggan, Dean Golich, and a network of our CTS coaches have all contributed in some form or fashion. The way I like to think about it when I’m developing stuff like this that are, that are far ranging. I’ve interviewed Tim actually on a few episodes in the past. And I use the WKO five software that he and Kevin Williams are the project managers for over at training peaks.
Adam Pulford (02:13):
Many of the concepts in terms that I’ll be talking about are pretty familiar, um, for those who have seen some of their stuff on YouTube with his webinars, which I’ll encourage you to, if you want to go deep on encourage you to go check those out, if you like what you’re hearing here today, but I’m also pulling from CTS methodology human physiology in my own experiences as a coach now because human physiology is basically the most fun place to start.
Let’s, let’s go right there. Very quick, very quick overview of human physiology. I want to remind all of our listeners who already know, but, uh, need a refresher on the three energy systems in physiology. And that is the ATP PCR system as number one. Number two is a glycolytic energy system. Number three is the aerobic or the oxidative system go back to the first one.
Adam Pulford (03:14):
The ATP system uses fossil phosphagen primarily as a fuel source. It’s used in fast movements like sprints that are one to five seconds in, in nature. Okay. So really fast high level efforts. The glycolytic energy system uses glycogen for a primary fuel source. Those are hard efforts that range between like six and 60 seconds in. Finally the third, the aerobic or oxidative system uses oxygen as a primary fuel source. These efforts start around that anaerobic crossover point, which for most of us are between 60 and 75 seconds.
And you can see that on the slide that I’m showing right now, but here’s the thing like our body doesn’t work as perfectly as that. We’re not just in one of these energy systems at one time. Okay. It’s, it’s more complex than that. So, well we’re sprinting or time-traveling or riding, running, swimming, listening to podcasts.
Adam Pulford (04:20):
We’re always using phosphagen glycogen and oxygen to fuel our life. However, when we’re trying to develop an adaptation to something and we’re trying to develop performance, I want you to know how these systems work so that we can manipulate them and get the results that we desire. Let’s go back to this concept of a threshold. It’s a very simplistic form. This is the point at which we have indicators to suggest that fatigue is starting.
It’s a blend of all three energy systems, mostly glycolytic in oxidative and the higher your threshold is you can do your sport at a higher percentage of your VO, two max, which is the ceiling thus making you generally better suited for your sport overall. And that’s the point where you can then hone in on the specifics of your sport to optimize your performance. And that’s why I wanted to start with how to build FTP.
Adam Pulford (05:26):
Now, before we really get into this more, uh, I would like to start with definitions and terminologies. So what is FTP functional threshold power is the power that you can maintain in a steady manner for about an hour before you fatigue can actually be a range of 35 to 65 minutes. And we’ll explore that more here in a bit. It’s steady in nature, and we can test this.
We can get really good estimates by going out there on the, on the bike and in estimating where it’s at the, you can really go for it and do what I call finding your edge and going for that full 60, 60 plus minutes to see, you know, at max to see where it’s at another terminology or a definition is something that many may not have heard before, unless you’re listening to some of Tim’s stuff or, or my stuff here on the train rate podcast, but it is called TTE or time to exhaustion.
Adam Pulford (06:26):
And it’s the timestamp of how long you can currently hold your FTP. The key concept here, and you can see it on the slide as well. Is there are no better ways to define and quantify performance for the individual athlete. It’s not only just power or power to weight, but power duration for performance. And as you can see on the slide or those watching the YouTube version of this, uh, you can clearly see where the FTP and the TT timestamp is as well as how the power duration curve starts to really change there. And it’s going down effectively. It is a point in your performance where things change and that thing is fatigue. You’re getting fatigued and it’s very specific the way we measure it with the data and the analytics we have at our fingertips these days for most coaches.
Adam Pulford (07:22):
Now, there are two ways to build your FTP. I refer to them as intensive and extensive, and I will give a nod to Tim Cusak here. Uh he’s you know, I’m sure there’s other coaches that use these terms. Um, but, uh, he has developed that quite well. And I am sharing or stealing, uh, this concept you’ve heard on the podcast before. So, and it’s also something that I teach to my athletes. Okay. So a very simplistically, two ways to do it intensive or extensive.
What does that mean when you build your FTP intensively, you’re simply increasing your FTP power and you’re not changing your TTE. When you build FTP extensively, you’re increasing the duration that you can hold your FTP without changing the FTP itself. So effectively, you’re just going longer when people ask, well, how does that improve performance? And you can see this.
Adam Pulford (08:25):
If you’re watching on YouTube, I’d say, well, how can that change performance? If I don’t increase my functional threshold power, meaning intensively go up with the power. I say, well, if all you can do is hold FTP for 35 minutes right now. And if we develop it so that you can go all the way out to 60 minutes, do you not think that that is a performance improvement? So, when you start to think about it, you actually just doubled how long you can hold FTP, which is a huge improvement.
Now, in the past, and in many athletes out there, they, they don’t think about that time duration component of it. And I really want for the listeners here, I really want you to start to think about not only that absolute power that you’re holding for functional threshold power, but also how long you can hold it. And then the balance of when do you want more power or when do you want the duration of that power? More on that as we go.
Adam Pulford (09:31):
So where do we start with all of this? If you’ve been listening to this podcast, you know, I’m a pretty big believer in finding where you’re at finding your edge or field testing. There are two ways that you can structure your field testing and I’ll first start with what I do with my own athletes. And then I’ll go toward a self coached athlete, what I would recommend. So the first suggestion I have is to do one week of testing.
I’ll pull this up for everyone who’s watching YouTube and for those listening and want more of a visual example, uh, encourage you to pull it up when you, when you can. But keep on listening because I’ll walk through it with you here. You can see just a general, uh, just a general week on training peaks, where Monday we start with rest. I also give a description of what the, for my athletes I’ll give a description of what the whole week looks like.
Adam Pulford (10:26):
So you can see that a Monday two, then we move into Tuesday and this is a five minute TT five minute field test, five minutes at max there, we’re testing the edges of that VO to power for an athlete on Wednesday. We go in and you know, this is including warmups and cool downs, and you can see the visual on there, but in just in general, Wednesday’s 20 minute time trial at max Thursday is easy recovery ride, or sometimes they’ll put in a rest day.
And then Friday is what I call neuromuscular and anaerobic capacity testing where it’s essentially three sprints. I use 20 seconds at max and then I’ll do a one minute maximum effort toward the end, before a final cool-down. And I use 20 seconds because really I want 15 seconds. But for some people who don’t maybe know how to sprint very well, um, it gives them opportunities.
Adam Pulford (11:22):
It gives them three tries effectively to get in a really good 15, 15 second effort. And for the minute I’m basically looking for anything that is around that anaerobic crossover point to get that test. Now, the reason why I like to do a full week of testing in multiple, um, aspects on this power duration curve is because it tests all three energy systems and gives a really good representation of the various areas in the athletes, mean max power or their performance to give a really good current representation of where they’re at when I’m using WKO five.
If someone else is using a software programs that are similar with predictive analytics, you can then have better models of FTP VO to TTE. And in other things like this, as you go to make your strategies for developing this athlete, and these are the tools that I rely upon when I’m working with an athlete now, for those who don’t use some of these other analytical tools, and maybe you’re a self coached athlete, what do you do?
Adam Pulford (12:34):
I suggest one day of coaching and, or sorry, one day I suggest one day of testing. And what you do is you go back to this week that I have up and you just basically take that 20 minute TT, okay. Make sure that you come into it fresh, warm up. Do what I call a few openers, which are just ramp up style, um, sprints that are not at max efforts. Okay? And that’s to get the lactate system going and you do your 20 minute time trial. From there, you take your highest average power or what we call mean max power from the test. You multiply it by 95% and that will be your estimated FTP.
Adam Pulford (13:18):
Now let’s talk about training zones real quick. I just want to walk you through this because this is also important when it comes to determining what the energy systems you’re going to do, or the zones that you’re going to do in order to build your FTP, I’ll pull this up and you take your FTP that you found from the field test in 95%, again of that MMP. And you put it into the training peaks calculator there with says threshold, you choose CTS methodology or whichever method you prefer hit calculate, and you get your train ranges for me.
When I’m working with an athlete, I round all of my ranges to the nearest five watt, because it’s easier for the athletes to remember. It’s also a good reminder that when you’re training, just like in energy systems and human physiology that we just talked about, it’s more broad than we’d like to think.
Adam Pulford (14:11):
It’s not just one watt. It’s not as precise as that. Okay. And life’s just not as perfect as we want it to be sometimes. And that’s why I like to round off now, now that we have our training zones established, it’s time to take a look at training sessions and examples of how we’re going to build FTP. Okay. So let’s look at example, training sessions.
I’m pulling this up for everyone watching on YouTube and really the, one of the great workouts I like to use to build FTP. Intensively is something that at, we call it climbing, repeat intervals, and again, intensive FTP builds. This is to try to increase your FTP, the absolute number. We’re not as concerned about TTE right now. And so climbing repeat intervals generally are done at around a hundred to 110% of FTP. When you’re doing these, you want to aim for around 25 to 35 minutes of total time in zone or total work time.
Adam Pulford (15:20):
What that means is if we’re doing a, say three by eight minutes, that’s 24 minutes of total work time, which is right around close enough to that 25 minutes, four by eight would be 32 minutes of time in zone. And that’s where I’m coming up with those numbers. The recovery periods should be at least a two to one work to rest ratio. Meaning if you’re doing eight minute intervals, you want at least four minutes. Sometimes I’ll go, uh, five or six minutes. I really want the athlete to produce good power on these. So a little bit more recovery is going to be, um, is going to be the way to go.
And then again, some of these examples is three by eight, four by eight, four by six, five by six. And the goal of this whole workout is to, as I said, increase your FTP and do that work in a condensed amount of time. As the name insinuates, you’ll be doing these on a hill up and down, up and down, and you’ll be going hard, a pill, and you’ll be going easy and coasting downhill. And maybe you circle around at the base before you go again.
Adam Pulford (16:27):
The key point here is harder is better and I’ll pull up some examples of this on training peaks once again. So you can see a real training examples of what I’m giving to my athletes. And I guide them each week by giving them descriptors of if you’re feeling good, go ahead and push a little higher power. Okay, don’t go longer. Cause we’re interested again in increasing FTP, but I also don’t want them to go so hard that you can’t complete the main set. So there’s a bit of a pacing and a bit of a keeping yourself in check here. Okay. It’s a really hard workout, but it’s also not one where I want them to fail necessarily.
We’ll get into a workout like that com VO to power time period. But again, climbing repeats, climbing repeat intervals are a great way to increase your power at FTP. Next, let’s take a look at an example of an extensive FTP workout for this. I use steady state intervals. These intervals are done at 95 to 105% of your FTP. You want to aim for 35 to 60 minutes of time and zone recovery periods are about a two to one work to rest ratio. So you’re actually, uh, working a little bit more than you’re recovering in this. In this scenario.
Adam Pulford (17:56):
Examples will include three by 12 two by 22 by 31 by 45, even one by 60. And I’ve talked about this concept on the, on the podcast before, but really when we’re looking at something, that’s going to move the needle on your TTE. We want to start doing work. That’s going to push you beyond there. And that work can be cumulative with short recovery periods. So say like a three by 12. Um, and I’ll even go a little bit shorter, even down to like a four minute recovery periods to try to fatigue the system, to do a lot of work in a short amount of time period, or if the athlete is feeling good or they’re training really good, all extend out toward past TT, their current TTE. So if you look at the example, this, this athlete is his current TTE is 35 minutes.
Adam Pulford (18:55):
So when fresh and he’s in and he’s got an optimized FTP and things like this, I’m going to encourage this athlete to do intervals that go, that go beyond that TTE. So 35, 45 and even 60 minute intervals sub threshold, we’ll get that job done. The goal here is to extend the time that you can ride at FTP or increase your TTE. And when doing these, you know, the listeners, you know, you’re probably listening to this and saying, where the heck am I going to do a 45 minute effort?
Well, for those living in the west, we have long hill climbs may not be an issue for those of us living in the east or living in other parts where metropolitan areas, you’re not going to get that time unless you’ve got flat stretches or loops where you can really rack that up. This is where inside training is awesome.
Adam Pulford (19:47):
I see a lot of people going into [inaudible], you know, when, when the, uh, the cold starts, it hit and they start to see these they’re hitting peak powers for 40, 50, 60, 70 minutes sometimes. And they say, well, uh, is swift as an awesome training tool. Look at this. I just increased my power. Well, I say, well, you just haven’t done that before. That’s why you’re hitting some of these, these peak powers, because you’ve never put yourself in an environment where you’re motivated without interruptions in order to hit that duration for power and this, and that’s a really good example. I think for many listeners to really find that relationship between power duration and how it can be a very good performance indicator.
Adam Pulford (20:33):
Now with extensive power training, the key point here is longer is better in really, uh, four sub LT efforts. We want, we want to move that needle on TTE. So is better meaning if the athlete is feeling good on the day, I want them to extend. So if it is two by 20 and they’re feeling really good, I’ll say let’s do 25 minute efforts. Let’s do 30 minute efforts. If you’re feeling really good, because I want to, I want to move the needle. Okay. I really want them to push, but not more power. I want them to go longer.
Adam Pulford (21:10):
So now that you have those two examples of the workouts intensive and extensive it’s time for you to plan your plan. What I mean by that is to, to lay it all out of how many weeks that you’re going to be spending in, in these intensive or extensive, uh, time periods. Ideally you start building your FTP when you have a solid base period.
And I have another episode on, um, what a base period looks like, okay. And that’s going to probably take around minimal 12 weeks to get very fit to the point where all this threshold training is going to be very influential and, and good for the training. It doesn’t really matter if you use intensive or extensive first. So when you’re trying to decide if it’s early in the season and you have a good base built up, I’d say, choose whatever is a limiter or, or a weakness for you first.
Adam Pulford (22:04):
So, you know, if you’re a, say a really good hill climber in your extensive power is awesome, but you don’t, your FTP is not as high or maybe the short punchy hill climbs aren’t as good for you. That’s when I would choose intensive first. And then the opposite is true. If you’re really good on short hill climbs, but have that extensive powers and good, then I would choose extensive.
Now, if you’re maybe listening to this and you’re coming up to a closer race block, I would choose what’s more specific to the event. So again, if the event has short, punchy, hard hill climbs, I would start with intensive FTP building. If it has long hill climbs or has a T a really important time trial and a stage race or something like that, I would choose extensive FTP workouts first. But again, like I said, it doesn’t matter either way.
Adam Pulford (23:01):
Uh, because in theory, we would just be aiming to build FTP and optimize so that then we can go on to a VO two in a sports specificity phase thereafter. So say we choose extensive FTP building first. I’d want that to be a four to six week build of extensive FTP development. Then you would take one week easy before you would go into a four week intensive focus block. You’d take one week easy there again. And then you’d probably do another, a field test, either a one day 20 minute FTP test or a week of all the battery that I talked about.
Okay. But all in, if you do this well, we’re looking at around a 12 week period of training to build your FTP properly. Okay. So once you’ve established your, your plan, it’s now time to establish your training pattern or what I call rhythm, finding a pattern or rhythm that works with your daily routine or your body is going to maximize your sleep success in training.
Adam Pulford (24:09):
And what I mean by that is how to get it all done in, in a, in a workweek. Okay. I covered that, the importance of this rhythm or finding the rhythm in depth in an episode with Tim Cusak. And I don’t have the number in my show notes, it’s either 44 or 46. So you’ll have to go and look that one up, but let’s take a look at a few examples. And first starting with an extensive FTP build, I like to use a threshold training modality during this, during this period.
And we talk in that episode two, we talk about what a threshold training modality, uh, looks like and why we use it. But essentially because we’re doing sub threshold aerobic in maybe up to threshold training, uh, I’d like to block days up back-to-back. This is because we’re doing efforts that are again, like I said, sub threshold.
Adam Pulford (25:00):
And even though it’s medium hard work, as long as you’re sleeping, eating, and taking care of yourself, we should be able to do this back to back to back before we need a recovery or easy, or a rest day or something like this. And you can see the example here of hard, hard, and Durance easy. Oh, that’s what a block would look like. And so I’m trying to overload the system before we really pull the reins back and take that, that rest day. And then on the weekend, I’ll what I would do say if we had a hard day on Tuesday, a hard day on Wednesday, a medium day on Thursday, Friday would be off Saturday.
I’d come back to another hard day. It might look like intervals. Um, or maybe like I have here a hard threshold day with maybe a small group of people, a group ride of sorts, and then Sunday would be the endurance. And for those listening, the two Tuesday and Wednesday workouts here, the example is three by 12, again at 95 to 105% of FTP.
And then the next day I would block it up with two by 15, again at the same power prescription before we would do like a zone two, three day on Thursday, and then off on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, we do a bit of a mixed threshold with endurance work, and then we’re off, uh, with a recovery, uh, railroads stay on Monday.
Adam Pulford (26:23):
Now let’s take a look at a few example weeks of what an intensive FTP build would look like here. I changed the modality to a politer polarized training model, if you will. Okay. And it works better here because these are simply more intense intervals. Okay. We’re taxing the muscular system more we’re depleting and draining the body a little bit more. And so it’s better to have contrast to the workweek as I like to call it.
And that contrast means basically hard every other day. Um, and this, this example I have is Monday is your rest day. Tuesday is a hard day. Wednesday is easy, Thursday’s hard, Friday’s easy. And then Saturday, an option of hard or group I, this is where I start to weave in group rides. There may be some specificity or short hill climbs, and then Sundays endurance, specifically Tuesday, I’m looking at a three by eight climbing repeat interval workout, which the intervals are done at a hundred to 110% of the FTP.
Adam Pulford (27:34):
So pretty hard stuff. Then Wednesday is that recovery ride. On Thursday, I come back to a four by six climbing, repeat interval, a hundred to 110% of FTP and a little bit of writing at the end of that before Friday is another easy day what’s going on there. And the reason why I walk you through that is because these training sessions will have either 36 to 48 hours of recovery time. That means you’re doing your work. You’re sleeping.
All of this comes up to replenish the glycogen to replenish the muscles. It also resets the brain before you go back and start, you know, smashing yourself against these hill climbs again. So, it’s both the physical as well as the cognitive that needs restoration between these. That’s why I think the polarized model works a little better like this, in theory, the polarized model would probably only have two really hard days like this.
Adam Pulford (28:30):
And I would probably, if that’s the case, I would, I would do more time in zone here in that. And that is the second week that you see here. Um, I, up the game there four by eight, and then, um, that should have been like a five by six on Thursday, but very intense days with very contrasted days in between. And I really wanted to walk you through that and show that as, as a visual. Okay.
So as we’re coming to a close, I want to say in summary, FTP is the power that you can produce in a steady manner for about an hour before you fatigue. It’s best understood with TTE or time to exhaustion, which is the, the specific time that you can hold FTP. It gives very good insights to the athlete’s individual current physiology. We can build FTP in two ways, intensively by increasing the power you can produce or extensively by extending the time that you can hold the same FTP power and both increased performance.
Adam Pulford (29:32):
It’s best to know your current thresholds, that you can set up your individualized training zones before starting in on the training program. Plan your training time so you can stay focused on the why as well as the what in your training program. Finally, if you want to plan and build your FTP, and you want to know where to do it. You can go and find training programs on training peaks, just head over to trainingpeaks.com.
You can find, you can go into four athletes and you can type in my name and you can find examples like this year. And if you, if you want more help with that, hire a coach. And I know that’s a, that’s a, it’s not a shameless plug. I mean, if you really want help, uh, the S the network of CTS coaches, we’re, that’s our job.
Adam Pulford (30:21):
That’s what we do. And I really encourage you to do that. If you’re listening to this it’s complicated, but it’s also interesting. To learn more, hire a coach for awhile, expedite your learning knowledge. I think what you’ll find is a really refreshing way of using all of this information. Using the science to improve your performance, and then it will empower you when you go out on a bike.
Adam Pulford (31:24):
Um, and we went a little bit longer today, but that’s fine. I wanted to get all the information in. This is how I think you best develop and build your FTP. And it’s the best way I could use this means of communication to show you that. Thanks again for listening. Be sure to come back for part two. If you want further insights, go ahead and go to our landing page. There, I linked to several articles on different thresholds that may help you in your journey. So, Coach JP, over and out. Thank you again.