If you’re new to Zwift, or new to cycling and unsure what FTP means, you are not alone. It’s a question asked by many on their way to better performance. FTP, or Functional Threshold Power, is the wattage you can stay below and sustain for longer durations, while going above it causes fatigue to occur very quickly. It is one of the key training metrics used in cycling, and Zwift has built-in tests to measure it.
Think of FTP as a benchmark for you to try and beat, the same way you try to beat your max rep at the gym. It’s a number that indicates your current level of fitness, and sets the bar for improvement. It also shapes your training zones in workouts, personalizing your experience. Don’t bother comparing your FTP to anyone else’s – we all start somewhere.
Inputting your FTP
If you know your FTP number, you can enter it when you create a Zwift account. When it needs updating, you can do so in game from the ride menu. Once you’re on the menu screen, select the edit box under your name.
You can change your FTP using the box on the right beside your max heart rate
Take the test in Zwift
If you don’t know your FTP, we recommend taking one of our FTP tests. Choose them from the workouts page in Zwift.
There are two FTP tests to choose from: 1 hour, or 45 min. The one that is a little over an hour just has a longer warm up period.
A warm-up gets you primed for the 20 minute trial. Make sure you’re well rested, and have plenty of water on hand. The test determines your highest threshold - so there will be sections where you’ll give it your all. For more tips on how to tackle an FTP test click here.
If you have a smart trainer the warm-up will utilize ERG mode. Once the 20 minute test begins Zwift automatically turns off ERG mode. ERG mode needs to be off during the test so you can generate as much power as possible. If ERG mode is left on your trainer will hold you at a target watt range regardless of how fast or slow you pedal. Resulting in inaccurate test results.
What to do after the test
Done with the test? Nice work! Now try to beat your score. Dive into workouts and give the 6 week FTP Builder a spin - It can be found in the same workout module as the FTP test. It’s a great way to increase your FTP in a short amount of time. We suggest retaking the FTP test at the end your training plan to see your progress.
If you want an alternative to the FTP test, enter a race! They are a great, motivational way to push yourself to put out high amounts of power over a set period of time. Zwift is constantly tracking your FTP, so if your FTP does go up during a race we will be sure to let you know.
Is my FTP good?
FTP is just a number and an indicator of fitness level. It can go up, if you put in training to increase it. It’ll go down if you sit on the couch for weeks on end. Also, your FTP is related to your size - a heavier rider will tend to put out more watts than a lighter rider at similar fitness levels. Just focus on your number and how it changes over time. We recommend testing once every 6 - 12 weeks, depending on your fitness goals.
Learn From the Pros
If you really want to drill into FTP and how you can maximize yours, check out the Zwift Coaching Podcast with Matt Rowe, Greg Henderson, and Kevin Poulton. They breakdown FTP and how you can reach your full potential.