How to improve your Functional Threshold power?

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How to improve your Functional Threshold power?

How to improve your Functional Threshold power?

Having explained all about Functional Threshold Power last week, I’ll now give you some tips for improving your FTP.

For reasons of simplicity I like to use just 3 training zones.

Anything below 80% intensity (max heart rate or functional threshold power) is the “Aerobic Training Zone”; I often call this the “Guilty” zone because at this effort level many athletes feel guilty that they are not going hard enough.

Anything above 90-92% is known as “Aerobic Capacity Zone”. A term I use for this zone is “Red Mist” because that's what you see when you train this hard.

The middle zone between 80-92% is known as the “Threshold Zone". That's because it's between the two thresholds at 80% & 92%; I also call it “No Where Land”. That's because you don't really want too spend much time there. Actually, you do, but only for short, specific periods (6-8 week). My training plans generally have athletes spending the following training duration in each zone:

Aerobic Zone - 80-85%

Threshold Zone - 10-15%

Aerobic Capacity Zone - 5-10%

To boost your functional threshold power I’d suggest that you try to fit in the following sessions on the bike:

  • High intensity intervals Start out with 15 x 60s and build through a 15 week period until you can manage 5 x 5 @ 110% ftp. Rest periods are at very low effort and of equivalent duration to the work period. On alternate weeks hit your upper threshold (90-100% ftp) by doing 6-10 x 3 minute intervals with two easy recovery periods at 50% ftp

(If you ride 4 times per week then include both types of intervals explained above)

  • Sustained tempo ride This ride is 90-120 minutes long, and can be done on either an indoor trainer or outdoors. After you have warmed up, aim to ride for 60-90 minutes at 78-80% ftp.
  • Long ride - This is to build endurance. Effort level should be 70-75% and duration anywhere from 3-6 hours depending upon your race goal. Include between 1 & 3 efforts @ 78-80% ftp.

Keep this up with a 3 or 4 week cycle (2 hard + 1 easy or 3 hard + 1 easy) and aim to make the sessions a bit harder each week by: 

  • Adding 1 more rep
  • Keeping the reps the same but increasing the length
  • Adding 10-15 minutes to the long rides


Simon Ward