Increasing your FTP is the dream for any new and experienced cyclist who happens upon a power meter (or trains with an online training software like Zwift or TrainerRoad). But it can seem like a confusing process to increase that number in the most efficient way possible.
What are the most effective ways to increase your FTP?
It all comes down to the right workouts at the right time. All High-Intensity won’t get your there, and neither will all endurance work. In fact, not even just cycling workouts will paint the perfect picture for you. Variance is your friend when it comes to smarter training, but make sure you keep your goal in mind. Below (and in this video) I detail out some of the best workouts and training plans for boosting your FTP quickly, and keeping those gains for the long term.
Break up your training regimen into segments, that are usually 8–10 weeks long.
Doing this will ensure that your body does not overexert itself, and keeps your muscles improving their endurance as well as their anaerobic capacity steadily. If you’re just starting to increase your power numbers, the first segment that you should add to your training should High-Intensity. I know I just mentioned that HIIT workouts all the time won’t benefit you, but this is a small dose of it at the right time.
No more than two or three HIIT workouts per week should be your limit (during the higher intensity segment). Space them out through the week, with either rest days or easy mile days in between. If you can, working these intervals into days where you will be on an indoor trainer can also be very helpful (no one likes to stop at a red light right in the middle of a hard 2-minute sprint).
When you are on the endurance segment of training, keep steady mileage and heart rates so that your body can continue to lock in the gains that you made over the 8–10 weeks of higher intensity.
Test your FTP consistently to see that gains that you are making!
A common FTP test is the 20-min all out effort. Push yourself all the way through the 20 minutes and record your average power throughout the time. Once you have finished, take 95% of that average and voila! That is your new FTP.
Testing your FTP every month, or every other month, will help you to see how you are gaining over time. If you don’t know how much you are improving, it will be harder to stay motivated during those harder sessions. Keeping close track of your progress is essential!
Make sure you are staying focused even while off of the bike.
Your nutrition, weight training, and other athletic activities will also have a significant impact on how quickly you are able to boost your FTP. You can make great progress by spending more focused time in the gym working on your power output!
Keep an eye on your nutrition as well. Make sure that you are fueling your body well to perform in these high intensity, or longer rides. If you feel sick or have trouble completing a workout of FTP test, take a look at how you are fueling in the hours leading up to the ride. Many times if you put too much sugar, bad fats, and other toxic foods into your body, it will clearly manifest itself when you ask your body to perform well in a workout.
For more detail, feel free to checkout the video posted above! Best of luck to all of you who are working hard to improve your cycling! If you want to follow along my journey to improved athletic ability (through applied technology) please feel free to check out the full YouTube channel!