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4 Ways To Improve Your FTP | Cycling Workouts To Raise Your Functional Threshold Power

4 Ways To Improve Your FTP | Cycling Workouts To Raise Your Functional Threshold Power

– Your functional threshold
power has long been considered the cornerstone of the
aerobic performance. Essentially this is the
maximum amount of power that you can sustain when riding
flat out for 60 minutes. – Yes it’s the single
biggest factor governing how fast you can ride. And this is how you improve it. (upbeat gentle music) – [Man On right] The first thing to accept when wanting to improve your FTP is that it’s going to hurt, it’s going to to take time, and you will not see
improvements every week. However, if you put the work
in it will pay dividends. Now with that little
disclaimer’s out of the way, let’s get stuck in. – [Man On Left] One
point to note is why you definitely do not need a power meter for any of these intervals. You will need an understanding
of how it should feel at these intensities, but we have a link in the
description for a video on that. And yes, a power meter
will make things easier and it does remove a little
bit of the guesswork. Plus you can more easily
track your progress. (upbeat music) – [Man On right] First up
is an all time classic. Chances are if you’ve ever
read anything about training with power you’d have seen a session called two times twenty. This is because it has long
been recognized as the most effective way of boosting your FTP. – [Man On Left] There’s a reason for this, you spend just the right amount of time at an intensity that is just about sustainable without completely exhausting your system. Meaning you can recover, become stronger, and then repeat the
efforts again in relatively quick succession. Right, back to the session and I’ll describe it to you briefly. Start out with an 8-12 minute warm up. That will get the blood going
and your muscles warmed up. In the effort you are
looking around a 9-10 on the perceived exertion scale. In between efforts you’re looking around a two to eight minute recovery. Now during this effort you can sit at whatever cadence you want, whatever feels comfortable, and also your position. Whatever position you
feel comfortable to you, or what suits the event you’ll be doing. Now it is worth reminding you though, that these are hard. So we only recommend you do
a maximum of two of these sessions in a week. And only string around three
to six weeks together before moving on to something else. I guess it’s time that
I stop talking about it and I get to doing it. (upbeat music) The second way to approach this
is by shortening the effort but making it more intense. There’s been an increasing
amount of research that shows that to be
able to boost your FTP you actually need to go beyond it. So this is how. For this session complete a short warm up around 8-12 minutes before going straight into one minute at zone five followed by three minutes at zone three. Repeat this three to
four times per interval and allow four to eight minutes recovery. Aim to complete two to four
of these in any given session. (gentle music) Now this session is quite
difficult to complete on feel but it is still possible. You’re looking for an
effort that you can sustain for around five minutes, for that one minute effort. And then knock it back
subtly for the three minutes because that’s more of
a tempo style effort. Now this is a hard session
and you’re going to want to be a little fresher when
you’re coming to do them. But that’s still fun I guess. (upbeat music) – Next up on our hit
list The Ways to Improve your FTP is the one that
I’m going incredibly hard but for a much shorter period of time. Because let’s face it,
unless you are absolutely on top of your game on any given day it’s actually quite hard
to maintain maximum focus for a full 20 to 30 minutes. So, we are going to reduce
the efforts right down to 30 to 60 seconds and the total work load is three minutes to six minutes. But these are max efforts
with a really short recovery. And because of that short
recovery you will be targeting every energy system in your body. So when you recover your
FTP will be going up. Start hard, commit to the effort, and don’t ease off until
you get to the end. (energizing music) One thing I should add is
you don’t want to do more than six of these in total
and your maximum recovery between efforts should
only be three minutes. And that’s what makes it tough. One final way you can
look to improve your FTP is to increase the duration
of your longest ride each week by 30 to 60 minutes each time. Riding at a lower intensity
for a prolonged period of time will force your body to
undergo a wide variety of adaptations that are crucial to your endurance performance. These adaptations are far
too complex to go into detail on this video, but they are significant enough that you should include endurance
training in your schedule. Aim to ride at an
intensity known as zone 2. This should be sustainable
for hours on end, it should also be adhered
to fairly strictly. There are however some intervals
you can look to include to further increase your fitness. And they are, believe it
or not, short sprints. You should aim to include
four to six sprints of 15 seconds. And have 25 to 35 minutes
between each sprint. And this is because of
the increasing scientific evidence that including
short maximal efforts will further boost your fitness gains, forcing your body to create
adaptations that you simply wouldn’t get from pure
endurance training alone. (upbeat music) Good luck with those
sessions, they are four great FTP sessions that guarantee
to get your legs burning as much as your lungs. – Yeah they sure are. If they’ve helped you build your FTP then do let us know in
the comment section below because they’ve helped us haven’t they? – Yeah definitely. Big fan of the twenty
thirty minute efforts. – Hard, but effective
– yep. – If you’re hungry for
another video then we would suggest you click through to that one. Now that is a video on
how to train on feel. And hopefully it will
help with this video too if you haven’t got a power meter. – Make sure you give us a big thumbs up if you enjoyed this video, and
subscribe to the channel too. – Yeah we do hope you give us
a thumbs up, we’re worth it. Are we? I shouldn’t have said that. – No. You just always like to carry on talking.

100 comments on “4 Ways To Improve Your FTP | Cycling Workouts To Raise Your Functional Threshold Power

  1. It would be very interesting to see some further analysis on those sprint-including long rides. I think it's a big change for the most traditional approach of boringly slow workouts that is used not only on cycling but generally on endurance sports.

  2. If you are serious about cycling and being successful at it ….for example winning that road race , winning that local crit…you have to learn how to suffer and recover and love doing it.

  3. Great video as always guys, but there is 1 commonly repeated mistake: FTP has nothing with 1 hour!
    FTP is power that we can sustain for a given time (TTE or Time To Exhaustion), usually for amateur it's much less than 1 hour.
    Even "inventor" of FTP – Andrew Coggan said that many times:

  4. So if i ride for 6 hours, should i stretch the sprints out across the ride (with a time of around 60 minutes between sprints) or should i wait till halfway across the ride to start the sprints so that i have 30 minutes between the sprints? Thanks in advance

  5. I try to keep my training interesting and have a variety of workouts rides and even runs I usually try to have at least one endurance day one day where I do a longer interval also too days where I do shorter more intense interval and a day in the gym and then I usually do one run a week just to keep in interesting

  6. How about you just change your diet completely and start doing legal/natural blood doping. Try to go like 20mg iron a day with healthy values of Vitamine B12 on Sojaproducts. But keep the calories low!!.

  7. Thanks for this video. It would really help if you could insert the % of FTP for each of the zones in the workouts.

  8. The only thing that seems to work for me is volume (12+ hours), but I work full time so it's difficult coming home and doing two hours almost every day.

  9. Good exercises. But shouldn't you have done some slow, long rides at the beginning of the year before getting into that tough stuff?

  10. The first way that James can get faster is to wash that bike! Good Heavens Man! Its a mess! @JonCannings, talk to that man!

  11. Great video as allways … just one thought: which "perceived exertion scale" are you referencing for the 2X20 workout? According to the one on british cycling (—RPE-0 ) I would be dead efter a 20 min 9-10 effort 🙂

  12. Very helpfull video! Thanks! I was looking for short workouts for the winter months because 120 km or more in the cold wasn't motivating to keep cycling during winter.

  13. My favorite is one 4 hour ride with intermittent sprints per week. I grab an hour ride here and there, but that is my big training day. I have seen great results with this method, 10 min warm up and about two sprints an hour; targeting a wattage is really key for my mental game. My sprints and the endurance have come a long way… and it isn't boring or draining.

    I'd say a powermeter/ heart rate monitor is critical to starting up. Once you've used them for a number of years, you will get a feel for the cadence / wattages – but who doesn't want to see those big numbers 😀

  14. Thank You GCN for these videos. These workouts are all in Swift's Active Off season training plan. I'm into week 9 and it's been kicking my 64 year old ass!!! But it has me rated at 282 FTP now, but I just can't see me doing that for an hour. LOL

  15. There is no such thing as Boosting your FTP. Because FTP is just a marker. It is determined 98% by your Vo2Max (maximum oxygen uptake) and your VLaMax (maximum lactate production). So what you need to care is to improve either one of those two systems. This perfectly reflects GCN's choice of exercises here, because things like 2×20 will lower your lactate production (good) and exercises like "Max Efforts" will improve your Vo2Max (also good).

    How do you really want to work on increasing your ability to sustain a certain power level (FTP), if you have no clue in which energetic system you have potential to improve? Maybe your Vo2Max is already very high but your Lactate production sucks, or maybe it is exactly the opposite! And both need completely different training stimulus. (this also explains why some people have huge success with polarized training while others improve with threshold work)

    So if you actually want to improve your FTP, work on one of those two, probably best in a block periodisation. And probably even better: Get a lab test to know what you actually need to work for.

    Go listen to the "That Triathlon Show #EP 169" with Bora Hans-Grohe coach Sebastian Weber, talking about that.

  16. Where do I find a road that is long enough for a (undisturbed) 20 minute effort? Or does it not matter to have a few 1 minute breaks at the red traffic lights?

  17. Zone 4 with effort 9-10 for 2×20? Shouldn't effort level 10 be totally in zone 5 entirely? Zone 4 should be 9 maximum, IMHO.

  18. Please do not let Jon Cannings view this video. He would have a near heart attack at the state of James's bike. 🙂

  19. Zwift training sessions with Wattbike Atom on ERG is easy as to target sessions/gains like this. I've found it really help me out on the road and get strong. Cheers

  20. What if you just ride for fun? Not everybody wants to be a pro. This suffering stuff is daunting.

    This time of year my weekday rides are about 50 minutes. Can I modify the 2 x 20 to fill the 50 minutes, increasing the time as the sun comes up earlier?

  21. You guys forgot to mention leg strength training with weights in the gym during the off season. At first blush it might not seem like it would work but read into it and you’ll see that it’s getting a lot of support.

  22. Really useful tvm. Bannerdown is a great climb and love the foss way just a shame that section along the back of Colerne airfield is so rutted 😁

  23. Great timing! Thanks for this! Just had my PM delivered. Looking forward to training with it. And yes you are worth it haha :)))

  24. I had two 25 min intervals in the last week. Its so hard to concentrate on a power that long, even though it was only top of zone 2

  25. Good GCN partnerships:
    • James “Hank” Lowsley-Williams and Chris “Mr Travolta” Opie
    • Simon “spray tan” Richardson and Dan “I used to ride for the Cervélo test team” Lloyd
    • Oliver “hour record” Bridgewood and Jon “tech nerd” Cannings

  26. Having short max effort rides few times a week.
    Thx for the tips and advises! I wish your explanations of the trainings is a bit more precise! As you kind of loose yourself with rest during the intervals, and brake in between the intervals…
    Thanks once more!! Keep up the good work!!

  27. it would of been nice to add FTP percentages for the workouts for those of us who train with power meters–ie..2 x 20 at what % of FTP

  28. I will vouch for overs and unders, for ME it is a very potent stimulus for lactate tolerance but it depends on what kind of adaptation you are training for specifically…. Shorter, higher intensity workouts will boost your FTP, but it will only raise the ceiling of your anaerobic capacity whereas the long mileage lower intensity sessions will give you a stronger aerobic foundation from which to build your FTP upon . At the end of the day, FTP is just a number but there are 2 contributing energy systems (aerobic and anaerobic) – how you increase that FTP number will depend on how much time you spend on training those energy systems in relation to the demands of your specific performance goals/events.

  29. So, what I’m getting from this is do intervals of varying length and intensity with a short recovery between and make it hurt…got it!

  30. Don't get frustrated with the over under's. I use the Zwift training session named "The Wringer" and some days I kill it, and others, like today, i don't. Stick with it and know that it takes TIME to increase your FTP.

    To put it another way, I'm happy with a 2% increase over the last month. Yeah.

  31. I'm more interested in what's going on at CES and improving my gaming interests at the moment. Training can wait until the weather gets better.

  32. I'd Chris trying to hypnotize us into going faster with his flashing light at the beginning? However I do feel he should be the only presenter…Chris should be the only presenter…. Chris should be the only presenter….I feel sleepy

  33. Nice video guys. Would give you two thumbs up if I could. I was doing, 5-10 mins efforts with 2 mins recovery, using HR at 85-90%, or 3-4 hour zone 2 rides with 6-8 120%+ FTP sprints for 1 minute…so that one not much different from your last example. Also doing some sweet spot rides. Will try the others you suggest to mix it up a bit.

  34. James looked sick even at the start of this video , i think a few recovery days r in order , Dan give the lad a couple of days of or give a the bear u think has the most vitamin B 🤔

  35. Tragedy strikes before X mass , well it happened on the 29th of November ,the unthinkable after about a total of 30 miles say with a stop three-quarter way to call into my favourite hotel for a cheap sauna and swim.
    I cycled home late that evening sometime around 6:30 pm , oh down a steep hill onward through Motcombe to Mere and then just entering Mere, oh God a lapse of concentration together with the very slightly tinted glasses and low lumen head lite, in a dark zone, I saw a grey car all most to late 3-4 feet (1.22 m) away, directly in front of me braked hard and the rest is history and worse, in A&E with a right arm that looked like an elongated water melon , my right elbow took 90% of the impact a broken olecranon and now 5 weeks int he int fixation pins and wire , post-operative period of delusion and sleep less ness , jus want this stuff out . I am determined aged 59 to get back on the bike but am wary this is the first serious accident I've ever had, should I wear knee and elbow pads , should i change anything obviously better lights, it was hard breaking that did it, oh God what a X mass, suggestions ideas welcome!

  36. Theeeeese ARE THE GREAT VIDEOS from GCN… MORE OF THIS, less just selling a bike with a nonsense video about nothing. Thanks!

  37. you cannot 'improve' your ftp without a power meter. To improve a number you need to know where you start, that you are hitting the target power and measure your improvement (or not) on a regular basis.

  38. at the moment. mon. 1 hour spinning. tue. rest. wed. 1-1,5 hour race on zwift. thu. 2x 1 hour spinning. fri. rest. sat. long run 3-5 hour zwift. sun. free choise ride on zwift 🙂

  39. Presenters, what was your least favorite workout? You know the one that you knew was going to challenge you physically and mentally.

  40. It looks Chris Opie is running an old style (11speed) sram/ quarq power crank and chainrings with his Sram Red AXS setup – are these compatible? which chainrings is he running and does this mean 11 speed sram etap chainrings compatible with AXS?

  41. Hi Chris: a few months ago, I saw a data screen in the video from one of your rides. I clearly saw “gear changes” and recall it was something like 936 changes for the ride. What cycling analysis app shows these gear change data, please? (I have DI2 drivetrain and WiFly unit, my Garmin Edge 1030 will capture the gear changes, but Garmin’s Connect app does not do analytics on gear changes.) Thanks!!!

  42. My No.1 tool in my training arsenal to go from 3.2 w/kg to 5 w/kg was short sub 5 min efforts, Zone 5-7, up hills. Shorter, sharper intensity was the key. Minimise Training Stress Score, maximise Intensity Factor. Cheers for the great video GCN. 🤙🏻

  43. I'm doing a long Zone 2 effort on Zwift while I watch this.

    Tip: Watch GCN to alleviate the monotony of a long steady session on a turbo trainer.

  44. On another note. I strongly advice GCN to invest in an electric scooter or electric bike for the camera men. That background noise of the internal combustion engine is pretty annoying! I mean C'mon, It is 2020 already!

  45. so watching this wishing I could train 8 week into recovery after breaking 2 vertebrae after someone stepped out in front of me 🙁

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