If you teach with power and either regularly conduct 20-minute FTP tests or want to be able to bring your riders to the point of participating in a field test, it’s essential that you train them to tolerate longer intervals. Shorter HIT intervals are great, but longer intervals should also be a pillar of your training program.
ICA contributor and power coach Izabela Ruprick prefers to gradually progress her riders to the commitment required to sustain a 20-minute FTP test at the correct intensity. This interval profile is what she uses to train her riders over the course of a few weeks prior to their first (or next) FTP test.
In addition to this profile, I’ll be providing you shortly with an in-depth explanation of why longer intervals are so important—not just for cyclists, but for anyone desiring to improve basic fitness, improve performance, and to lose weight. We’ll discuss the whys, hows, and challenges of longer intervals. Some of those challenges include coaching and finding suitable music.
Cyclists call these longer efforts “cruise intervals.” They are aerobic in nature and are conducted at a sustainable pace in Zone 3 and Zone 4.
Are you using zones to coach this ride? If so, don’t you need to know your FTP in order to use zones? If participants don’t have their training zones set up yet, telling them to train in Z3-4 wouldn’t mean much. Or are the zone references just for instructors to use and we coach RPE/HR to our participants?
You can use perceived exertion to guide riders to reach the correct intensity. They may not know their actual FTP, but you can arrive at an approximation of Zone 3 and 4 by describing how it feels. By the time they get to doing their 20-minute FTP test, they will be very well-versed in how it should feel and be better at pacing.
The numbers they will get from their FTP will help reinforce what they were doing on the previous attempts. I imagine they will have a very good sense of RPE by that time!
Jennifer and Isabela thanks for this info! I’ve been wanting to do an FTP test with my riders, but have felt intimidated by it, or that they may be not as engaged as they would be with shorter intervals and tunes they love. Jennifer, can you break down what and why exactly the FTP 20 min test is helpful? To demystify it more for myself as a teacher, and also empower my riders (especially for those who most, but not all, of them don’t ride outside) for why this could be an empowering AND fun test? Thanks so much!
And also, can you tell us how you would implement a 20 min FTP in class, how to break it down etc? Thanks!
excellent questions Sara! The next article on teaching longer intervals (coming very soon) will answer some of your questions and fears about teaching longer intervals. I’l also be addressing the music challenges of longer intervals in a follow up to that.
In September, I’ll be providing a ton of tips on doing FTP tests. Stay tuned!
Couple of tunes that could fit into fast foot work or steady climb. Alex Coulton has some great 6 minute tunes. Also I like Combina/Gataka – Drop the mask
I’ll look those up, thanks!