Kolo t.c. Does Science! Can Wes Increase His FTP in One Month?

I haven’t done an FTP test in at least four years. Why? Well, numbers have never really been a motivator for me. 3.2 w/kg or 7w/kg; it doesn’t matter if you’re having fun, and I’ve just been focused on the fun part for some time now. 

But recently, I started watching some pro cycling coverage by Latern Rouge on YouTube. He references watts per kilo routinely in his coverage, and frankly, the numbers are stunning. So, I sort of want to know where my FTP is these days to provide myself with some perspective on my fitness and just how far off my phone call to join Ineos at the Tour de France is. 

My Current Fitness

That call to suit up for the Tour is unlikely to come anytime soon, unfortunately. While I’ve been solidly mid-pack in the DIRTy Mitten racing series on Zwift this year, I’m well off the pace of the fastest guys in the group. Yankus, Gibney, Schnieder, et al. routinely leave me in arrears, particularly when the road goes up. Frankly, hanging with that group isn’t attainable in a month. Or a year. Maybe ever. But narrowing the gap sure would feel nice as we get closer to outdoor bike season.

I’m getting in around 7.5 hours of trainer time per week, with my riding largely consisting of Zwift races and unstructured rides. I feel fit, but I’m also in peak winter mode. That means I’m carrying around a little extra insulation to deal with our harsh winter temperatures. 

The FTP Test on Zwift

This was my first time taking an FTP test on Zwift and it was… strange. The warmup that I had to do was either way too easy (185w for 10 min) or way too hard (395w for 1 min? No way!) and really didn’t work for me. Next time, I’d like to find a way to just do a normal-ish warm-up and then just get stuck in on the FTP test. If you have any tips for that, I’d love to hear them.

The test itself was great. The 20-minute test absolutely flew by. I average 314w for 20 minutes, which means an FTP of 298. The down and dirty digits:

  • FTP: 298
  • Rider weight: 181 (mostly muscle)
  • 3.64 w/kg

The Plan to Improve My FTP

March 15 is circled on my calendar for round number 2. I’m going to work in at least one structured workout per week in addition to my usual 1-2 Zwift races. I also will do at least one endurance-focused ride per week (90 min) to build a bit more stamina. 

Sure, it’d be nice to lose some weight. But I really think I can increase my FTP by focusing on adding a little structure to my workouts to build power. Lopping off 5lbs wouldn’t hurt either, of course. 

Follow me on Strava if you’d like to see how my training goes. I’ll also do a blog post after my FTP test in March to see how things shake out. 

2 responses to “Kolo t.c. Does Science! Can Wes Increase His FTP in One Month?”

  1. Follow the Zwift 30 day ftp build program. I did it and increased about 4 watts. Very structured. It is very hard to Increase a legit ftp more than a few digits in a month. I usually test every month to 6 weeks. Also my current Tri coach says an ftp number is “slow to ripen but quick to rot”. Good advice. Once increased it can move backwards quickly.

  2. I increased my ftp through racing and resting. I am only riding once or twice a week these days but I haven’t lost much fitness cause when I ride, I go really really hard. I think the key to improvement is to fully recover from hard workouts/or in my case races. Make your easy days insanely easy like 100 watts for thirty minutes easy, then race once every 5 days or so (that really depends on the person: I tend to need a lot of time to recover). One more bit of unsolicited advice: try changing the times you eat so that you don’t ever get too full and so that you never get way too hungry (a little hungry is necessary) then don’t eat before you sleep for the night. I can’t seem to do this during this time of th school year, but when I do I drop about ten pounds and lose very little power. Good luck. Curious to see how much you improve.

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