ratio FTP / 5 min max power getting worse



blackmamba44

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May 10, 2007
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Hi,

currently i am using powermeter on my home trainer (TACX) and each month, i am doing the Coggan test to see progress (use same protocol as in the book, calibrate each time TACX).

After long inactivity (2 years without sport), i started again doing bike end of March 2009.

I was looking at the test since March (after 150h / 4500 km training) and I have been surprised by the trend of my FTP (based on 20 min ride) versus 5 min max power. I have seen my 5 min max power increasing faster than my FTP.
I start with Pmax(5 min)=313 W and ftp= 231W, now last test show Pmax(5min)=396W and ftp=272W. The ratio (FTP/P(5 min)max) pass from 0.73 to 0.68.

Looking at Coggan book table and comment about "pursuiter" profile (that will be a trend for beginer but with training they will tend to all-rounder), this ratio seems to be pretty low (the table show ratio of around 0.82). As i am trageting bike marathon (150 km), the 5 min max power is pretty useless compared to FTP.

Is it just genetic and i have to live with my limitation ?What can i do to correct this trend ? I always heard about 20' series at FTP level. Right now, i find it difficult to do this exercice on the road i use (i can have maybe max up to 5-6 km without stop, village, etc .. so i can do maximum around 10 minutes without stopping ride at FTP).
Can you replace for ex. 2 x 20' at FTP by 4 x 10' at FTP or 8 x 5' at FTP ? do you need to increase the intensity for shorter interval (105 % of FTP, etc. ...) ? How much recovery time between the intervall ?
Is long ride at tempo level (<90% FTP) more beneifical for FTP ? how long should they be ?

thanks in advance for your comment.
 

frost

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Oct 25, 2007
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As long as your ftp keeps rising, I wouldn't be too worried about the ratio.

I also don't think you can say that one workout is more beneficial than another. It is about your available time, ability to recover and of course the specific need (even you talk about ftp, your specific need is actually that 150km marathon, if you were just a number geek like myself it would be a different story ;)).

So if you have time for a longish tempo ride, then that is quite useful. How long is "longish" depends on how you can recover so that you can keep up a good workout frequency (saying that 4h tempo ride probably is not the best option because unless you have a huge training volume behind, you will not recover to be able to have a good quality training the next day).

If you need to replace 2x20 (or I would actually prefer 2x30 or 1 x40, there was some nice saying by rmur about shortening time...) by 4x10 or especially intervals shorter than 10min try to keep the recoveries as short as possible and keep on eye at the longer term (eg. 40 minutes) average power and normalized power.
 

Piotr

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Jan 29, 2007
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I've been at it for a few years and my 5 min power is also consistently above my FTP on "the chart". I concentrate on increasing my FTP by riding 1hr or more at 90-95% of FTP and the occasional 2/3 x 20min, but my 5 min power always seems to rise concurrently. I think it's primarily genetic and I no longer worry about it. All it means is that we have a decent anaerobic capacity and provided that our aerobic fitness (FTP) is good enough, we'll have an advantage in the last mile or the last hill of a race.
 

frenchyge

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Apr 3, 2005
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blackmamba44 said:
After long inactivity (2 years without sport), i started again doing bike end of March 2009.

From an untrained state, my feeling is that one's natural traits will respond to the initial bouts of training more quickly than those abilities which are less gifted. A completely untrained person might appear to be an all-rounder because they suck across the board, but after a period of general training I think one's 'profile' will begin to show in the testing.

That's how it is for me anyway. My highest columns will improve quickly whether I'm specifically training those abilities or not, while my lower columns might improve very slowly despite an extended training focus.
 

frost

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frenchyge said:
From an untrained state, my feeling is that one's natural traits will respond to the initial bouts of training more quickly than those abilities which are less gifted....

I don't know if it appears the like OP described but not only natural traits but VO2Max and anaerobic capacity (and NMP) respond much faster than metabolic fitness regardless of talent profile.
 

DancenMacabre

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Jul 17, 2009
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frenchyge said:
From an untrained state, my feeling is that one's natural traits will respond to the initial bouts of training more quickly than those abilities which are less gifted. A completely untrained person might appear to be an all-rounder because they suck across the board, but after a period of general training I think one's 'profile' will begin to show in the testing.

That's how it is for me anyway. My highest columns will improve quickly whether I'm specifically training those abilities or not, while my lower columns might improve very slowly despite an extended training focus.

Why wouldnt somebody who is really good at something show up from the onset based on gentics and genes? So omeone like those bike champions of the big euro tours such as Contador or the great sprinter Cavendish, wouldn't they show some obvious talent in an area from the beginning?

Do I count as untrained after 2 months or so of actual training? Because my power profile is not horizontal. One part seems fairly good, one is so bad that the number doesn't not even register on the chart, and the other two are quite low but improving.


 

frenchyge

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DancenMacabre said:
Why wouldnt somebody who is really good at something show up from the onset based on gentics and genes?

Well, genetics really set the upper limit for our development, rather than governing our performance at any point in time. It's possible that the most genetically gifted athlete in the world weighs 400 lbs and is bed-ridden somewhere, having been overfed and sheltered from sports through their childhood by over-protective parents. Who knows?

DancenMacabre said:
So omeone like those bike champions of the big euro tours such as Contador or the great sprinter Cavendish, wouldn't they show some obvious talent in an area from the beginning?

I wouldn't put good money on my ability to guess the highest column for either of those two. Remember that the chart is based upon world class riders from all disciplines. Besides, when was "the beginning?" Are you assuming Cavendish outsprinted everyone in his town the first time he sat on a bike? Genetics play a big part in how our body will respond to training, but that's about all.

DancenMacabre said:
Do I count as untrained after 2 months or so of actual training? Because my power profile is not horizontal. One part seems fairly good, one is so bad that the number doesn't not even register on the chart, and the other two are quite low but improving.

IMO, if that's not *untrained*, it is still nearly so. How many hours per week have you been riding?
 

DancenMacabre

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frenchyge said:
Well, genetics really set the upper limit for our development, rather than governing our performance at any point in time. It's possible that the most genetically gifted athlete in the world weighs 400 lbs and is bed-ridden somewhere, having been overfed and sheltered from sports through their childhood by over-protective parents. Who knows?

LOL - I'll keep telling myself that my slowness on the bicycle is an inevitable product of being, um, overfed and sheltered from sport. :)

I think I know what you mean, seriously. The idea of potential vs. actualized and realized potential.



frenchyge said:
I wouldn't put good money on my ability to guess the highest column for either of those two. Remember that the chart is based upon world class riders from all disciplines.

A little surprised at that comment just as I'd assume Contador must have the highest w/kg in the 60 minute category to win the big tours. I can see a bigger person like the time trial specialists having a higher power, but prolly weighing more too. But I am sure you know the sport better and the finer points.


frenchyge said:
Besides, when was "the beginning?" Are you assuming Cavendish outsprinted everyone in his town the first time he sat on a bike? Genetics play a big part in how our body will respond to training, but that's about all.

See now that actually makes a lot of sense. What you said about how good genetics = good response to training. As opposed to being good from the very first moment.



frenchyge said:
IMO, if that's not *untrained*, it is still nearly so. How many hours per week have you been riding?

I have been increasing every week, little by little. Started with 2 hours, then 3, then 4, then 5, 5.5, 6, and finally last week I did 7. I would like to get to 8 hours. There was a thread of posts that I read through recently which talked about how a person can do quite well on 8 hours of good quality, smart training. So that's what I am aiming for.

Here's my not so horizontal power profile. I do not even register as untrained in the 1 minute power metric :mad:

 

Alex Simmons

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Mar 12, 2006
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It takes many years to develop our potential, and even then some do not (usually since they have other priorities in life, like earning a living etc).

As for 1-min power, that requires a dedicated, full bore, all out, 1-min test effort. The chart only shows what you have done, not what you can do. So if you do not have any full bore once off 1-min efforts in any of your training/riding data, then the software is only picking the best 1-min it can find. The same applies to all the durations in the power profile chart.

Broadly you sound like you have the right general approach, gradually increasing training loads, understanding your relative strengths and areas for improvement etc. Be patient and stick with the work. and keep asking questions. Maybe ride with some stronger riders every so often to stretch yourself.
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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DancenMacabre said:
...A little surprised at that comment just as I'd assume Contador must have the highest w/kg in the 60 minute category to win the big tours. I can see a bigger person like the time trial specialists having a higher power, but prolly weighing more too. ...
Yes, it's a pretty solid guess that Contador in his TDF winning form would rank very high in the FTP column, and Cavendish probably does all right in the 5 second column but not when compared to pure track sprinting specialists who don't have to ride all day races, get over major alpine passes and sprint after many hours of racing. They train differently and likely start with different genetics but their events are quite different and the power profiling chart considers the best known records regardless of discipline.

So it's unlikely either Cavendish or Contador will top the scales on say 1 minute power relative to a world class kilo specialist nor exceed the five minute abilities of a world class pursuiter. But they'd both be likely to blow even top level amateurs out of the water on any column of the chart...but not necessarily.

But back to your question above, I wouldn't worry too much about your power profiling at this stage. All it tells me is that you like to sprint and you've got plenty of room to improve. As folks point out above it takes not weeks, but years to realize your potential as a cyclist and in general it takes a lot longer to build fitness for the longer durations, especially the FTP column of the profiling chart. The good news is that you haven't been at this very long and you'll almost certainly improve if you stay on course and don't let yourself get discouraged or start chasing magic bullets instead of solid steadily increasing training loads and intensities.

Give it time, make sure you really target a given duration if you want to profile your abilities at that duration and take the long view and your numbers will almost certainly rise.

Good luck,
-Dave
 

blackmamba44

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May 10, 2007
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Thanks for the replies, bottom line i should not worry how non flat profile (i did not talk about 1min / 5 sec (i am not even in the table, way below untrain person) but i am not racing so not interested). As far as i understood, short stop due to road obstacle (<1 min) in 20' intervall should not a big issue as long as average power is at FTP. I am relief also that i do not need long tempo ride (i do not have possibility to do ride longer than 2.5 hours, the only long one will be the bike marathon race i do)
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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...As far as i understood, short stop due to road obstacle (<1 min) in 20' intervall should not a big issue as long as average power is at FTP...
Short breaks up to about 30 seconds wouldn't effect things much, but when you get to a minute which represents 2 half lives of adaptation you really should consider that two back to back efforts not a single effort. Personally I wouldn't consider it a sustained 20 minute L4 effort with more than about 15 seconds of coasting along the way. Yeah it's hard to find suitable venues and sometimes traffic or road construction (or in Wyoming large mammals like Bison) get in the way on an otherwise good road for sustained efforts.

It doesn't make it bad training, I just don't view a 20 or 30 minute effort with breaks along the way (or worse a 10 to 12 minute effort with breaks) the same as a sustained effort when doing L4 work.

The good news is that the average power doesn't have to be exactly at FTP, hold an AP of 90-95% of FTP during L4 sessions and you'll get most if not all the training benefit and most likely be able to do a second or third effort on the same day. Sure it's nice to hit or exceed FTP sometimes, but it's not a requirement in terms of training stress and encouraging adaptation.

-Dave