FAQ for the Rubber Glove FTP test

Our video, Rubber Glove, isn't quite like the other Sufferfest videos. Yes, there is still the structured workout, the killer music, the humour and the clear instructions, but Rubber Glove has a purpose, and that's to help you determine your Functional Threshold Performance (FTP). Here are some of the more common questions.

What is FTP? Most often, FTP means Functional Threshold Power. We prefer Functional Threshold Performance, however, since we can also talk about thresholds in terms of heart rate, not just power (watts). In either case, FTP is a key metric for cycling performance. Defined as the maximum sustained effort a cyclist can maintain over one-hour. It's a general indicator of how fit you are.

What is an FTP test? It's a repeatable test that helps you consistently determine you FTP. The most common test, developed by Dr. Coggan, is based on a 20minute interval in which you go flat out for the duration. When you're done, you take your average power and subtract 5% from it (as the assumption is that you could ride for an hour at that level). FTP tests can be done inside or outside - what's important is that the test is done the exact same way every time so you can compare results over time. The workout in Rubber Glove was designed by our partners at Dig Deep Coaching, so you know it means business.

I thought FTP meant you had to have a power meter. Is that true? Without out a doubt, the best way to determine your FTP is with a power meter. However, they are expensive and not everyone has one. So, we suggest you can also use a heart rate monitor to determine your threshold by heart rate.

What does an FTP number look like? It looks like a number. That number will vary for everyone, depending on your fitness, age, etc. Just as an illustration: Here at Sufferfest studios, our Chief Sufferlandrian measured his FTP in power and it is 270 watts. For someone doing a FTP test using heart rate, the resulting heart rate would look something like 150 beats per minute.

I did my FTP in power and my friend did his in heart rate - can we compare them? No. Only power-based FTPs can only be compared with other power-based FTPs and the same goes for heart rates. If you're comparing power-based FTPs, be sure to divide by your weight in kilograms to get a watts per kilogram number. That's the best way to compare.

What equipment do I need to do the test? You need all the stuff you normally need to do a 'fest video, plus either a heart rate monitor or power meter. If your equipment doesn't automatically record your data, we suggest you have a Minion around to record your performance for you, as you need to be fully concentrating on the task at hand, not taking notes.

Once I've got my FTP, what do I do with it? If it's good, brag to all your friends about it. ; ) Then you can use it to help you maximise your training. The first thing you can do is use your FTP to map against power zones (if you measured by power) or heart rate zones (if you measured by HR) and against our recommended perceived exertion (RPE) scale. When you've done that, and if you're following a structured training plan that tells you how often to train in what zones, you're ready to make the most of your training time.

How often should I test my FTP? It all depends on the kind of training you're doing, but if you're on a structured plan in which you're progressively building up, we'd suggest doing it every 10-12 weeks.

What kind of changes should I see in my FTP number over time? If you measured FTP by power, you should see an improvement in your FTP number. If you measured by heart-rate, you won't see a significant change in your heart-rate, but you should see your distance covered and average speed improve for the same heart rate.

I just want a good workout. Can I use the video for that without doing the FTP test? Yes, of course. Rubber Glove has a great warm-up based on increasing the effort from 2/10 up to 7/10 in one-step increments every three minutes. You then get four fast-cadence drills and then a maximum-intensity interval and a short cool-down. It's a great workout even if you're not measuring for FTP.

Why did you name this video Rubber Glove? Calling it "FTP Test 1.0" or something boring like that would have been pretty boring, no? We think Rubber Glove gives you a good idea just how uncomfortable you'll be during this examination.

David McQuillen
David McQuillen


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