Bike FTP Test Which one????


Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • Author
  • #9507

    Purchased the Triathlon Maintenance and 70.3 Triathlon plans for TraininPeaks. I am in week 6 of the maintenance plan and will be doing a FTP test for the bike. I also have the 80/20 Triathlon Book and was wondering why no mention of the Bike FTP STEP tests that are used on Zwift and TrainerRoad. Do you feel they don’t give as good results as the 30 minute or 20 minute FTP test listed in your book? Thank you in advance.

    David Warden


    Thanks for posting! I’ll try and keep this answer short and simple (spoiler: I failed).

    – The gold standard for determining threshold between low and moderate intensity is ventilatory threshold (VT) which is the foundation of 80/20 training
    – But, VT can really only reliable be found with lab testing, so we need a field test athletes can easily use
    – We choose lactate threshold (LT) as the field test. LT and VT are not the same intensity. But, it if know LT, we can estimate VT and still find that division between low and moderate intensity. It’s not ideal, but it’s just one degree of separation from a VT test.
    – LT is the maximum intensity that can be maintained for 30 minutes (this is oversimplification, but close enough for this conversation)
    – We feel the 30-minute TT field tests provides the most accurate LT results because it’s not based on an estimate. It’s based on an actual result. We’re not estimating your CP30…we’re actually performing a CP30.
    – Step tests are an estimate for LT. They are a shortcut designed to avoid the grueling nature of a 30-minute test. In general, we have no issue with shortcuts, in fact we provide them in our documentation recognizing how difficult the 30-minute test can be. Using a step test, however, we are now two degrees from VT.
    – If you feel that your step test FTP results accurately represents the maximum intensity you maintain for 30 minutes, then we’re good. Use it. However, our experience is that steps tests do not accurately reflect LT.
    – Finally, there is no industry standard on what “threshold” means, FTP definition, and no industry standard on step test protocol. For example, check out If you were to complete that step test you would get an “FTP” from Zwift. But, look at the introduction: the step test is an estimate of your CP20, not your CP30. So, if you plugged in the Zwift step test watt result into 80/20, you’d be entering a value that is too high because we use CP30, not CP20. Zwift FTP is not 80/20 FTP. I’d also point out that the step test at is completely different than the test for Zwift. Again, our CP30 test is an actual CP30. The step tests are a) CP20 b) estimates and c) different from each other. And, using a step test to estimate CP20 we are now three degrees from VT.

    In summary, I think if you are going to adopt the 8020 system, stick with the 80/20 system. Mixing and matching will probably work, but you really need to understand where the competing systems compliment or contradict each other. Additionally, the CP30 test is just one degree of separation from the VT gold standard.

    But, again: if you feel that the step test accurately represents your CP20, we can take 95% of that and that is your estimate CP30, which we can use to determine your 80/20 zones. Even we recommend the CP20 as an alternate (but again, our CP20 test is an actual CP20, not an estimate).



    Thank you David for the time and detail given to answer my question. I only started cycling last year and used TrainerRoad’s triathlon program and did not like it at all hence the move over to the 80/20 system from you. So the only experience I had was with the TainerRoad step test which I never thought gave a good “number” for me as I wasn’t able to finish some of their workouts but others I could. I never tried the Zwift one.

    Given your detailed answer and reasoning I will be doing the CP30 test. Thank you again for taking the time and answering my question. It will be a learning curve for sure because I am not even sure what power number to shoot for to complete the 30 minutes. Have a great rest of your week.

    David Warden


    How about using your latest step test as a point of reference for your 30-minute TT? It’s better than nothing!

    Or, just ask your self: what is the peak output I think I can maintain for 30 minutes? More often than not, that is 90% accurate.



    Thank you again.


    So let me get this straight David; I did a 20 minute FTP test on my bike. I got 203 watts. I then put that into my trainingpeaks and all my workouts were way tougher than expected. I just thought maybe I needed to stop complaining because hey progress was made. But now it sounds like I am supposed to take 203x.95 to get my zones for 80/20 on trainingpeaks. Is that correct?

    I started originally with a ramp test on zwift and used those and it worked fine but then again those were my first tests and I am still gaining newbie gains.

    Secondly, I am sad about my low watts =[ should I take time off and just get better at the bike?

    Since I already initiated a post ONE LAST QUESTION: I somehow came down with golfer’s elbow after my virtual triathlon. I am assuming I stressed it during swimming. One: have you ever heard of this happening from swimming? Two: any advice? I am doing exercises and reluctantly taking time off swimming even though I really don’t want to.

    David Warden

    Plant, correct, FTP in the 80/20 system is CP30 (30 minute TT) or you can use 95% of CP20 to estimate CP30. In our defense, this is specified in the document Intensity Guidelines for Triathlon:

    As with the Run Pace test, you may perform a shorter 20-minute test and take 95 percent of your average power therein as your cycling FTP.

    Regarding your low watts, first, be sure to use power-to-weight ratio as your gold standard, not raw watts. Can I take it from your name that you are a vegan/vegetarian? If so, you are probably pretty lean, yes? A 200-watt FTP should be compared to weight. If you weigh 65kg, your power to weight ratio is 200/65=3.07. Anything over 3 is considered good, over 4 is amazing.

    Next, do you have weight training as part of your regimen? That’s essential for peak cycling FTP.

    Finally, yes, you can use a dedicated cycling plan. I would not spend more than 2 months on a dedicated FTP plan.

    Regarding the golfers elbow, I’m assuming this is diagnosed correctly and you are experiencing pain on the inside of the elbow. If so, this is caused by excess movement of the fingers and wrist, has nothing to do with the elbow itself.

    Buy a Fini Fulcrum which will isolate the wrist and fingers, both to help the current condition subside, and to train your fingers and wrists to stay relatively stiff.


Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Posted in


You must be logged in to create new topics and to reply to topics.