Peloton gives you the option to exceed your performance and personalize your training to get the most benefits by using the power zone training, which requires doing an FTP test. In this article, I will explain everything about the peloton FTP test, what is it, and how you should prepare for it in advance.
As a whole, the peloton FTP test stands for functional threshold power and is defined as the highest power output you can maintain for approximately 60 minutes. The FTP can be determined by 95% of the power output taken in a 20 minutes max effort class.
Keep reading to learn who is this test for and should you be doing it in the first place.
NOTE: Please keep in mind that the accuracy of the FTP will require a correctly calibrated bike. You can learn more about “peloton calibration” in my article here.
What Is Peloton FTP Test?
In general, the peloton FTP test is an assessment tool to establish your personal fitness level and gives you guidance on how intense you should train to reach specific goals. It provides you a score that suggests your relevant training zone.
How long is the peloton FTP test? In general, the peloton FTP test lasts for 20 minutes where you progressively increase the effort level. However, the FTP class needs to be performed with a sufficient warm-up that lasts between 10 to 15 minutes for optimal performance and safety.
You can find both peloton FTP test and FTP warm-up in the same “power zone” category in your peloton app by either search function or by filtering the duration (20 minutes for test, and 10-15 minutes for warmup).
There are 5 peloton instructors that perform FTP classes on the peloton. I personally like Matt’s classes because not only he shares a lot of handy tips, but also keeps you motivated throughout the class.
|Peloton FTP Class||Peloton Instructor|
|10 minutes FTP Warmup Ride||Matt Willpers|
|15 minutes FTP Warmup Ride||Matt Willpers|
|20 minutes FTP Test Ride||Matt Willpers|
Keep in mind that you can use any warmup class to get ready for the test. For the warmup, I prefer to do low-intensity longer rides (more on that later).
How Does Peloton FTP Test Work?
The peloton FTP test work by measuring your output for the duration of 20 minutes. The more resistance and higher cadence you can produce, the higher the FTP score you will get. Every person has a different fitness level, therefore, the results help to personalize the further training program.
The goal of this test is to establish the effort level you can maintain for a 60-minute ride, without reaching the lactate threshold.
What is the lactate threshold? The lactate threshold is basically the point in training where the muscles produce lactic acid at a higher rate. The more intensity we add to the workout, the more lactate we produce. Eventually, the body starts to produce lactate at a rate higher than we can eliminate.
The point where we produce lactate at the rate where the body cannot keep up with the clearance is called functional threshold power (FTP).
As you can see in the graph above, the red dot represents the FTP point. Exercising above that intensity will immediately produce excess lactate and significantly reduce performance. This is the feeling where the muscles start to “burn”.
On the other hand, training below that point allows for a longer duration. However, if you spend time only on that aerobic threshold, you will hit the plateau.
To improve performance you need to train with an intensity around the FTP point. This allows you to progress, without muscle fatigue.
Keep in mind that every individual will have completely different FTP results. This is based on the fitness level, experience, body weight, age, etc.
Where should you train to get the best results? For the best results, you should train just around the FTP point. However, going too hard for too long will lead to burnout. On the other hand, going too easy won’t trigger training adaptations. Finding the FTP and then training according to the results allows for the most optimal progress.
As you can see in the graph above, there is a fine line between being in optimal training zone to reach peak performance, and going too far and feel tired, burned out, and plateau with progress.
Also keep in mind that doing the test is beneficial for people who just want to see where they are, even without any specific performance goals (more on that later).
Why Is FTP Important In Peloton?
In general, the FTP is important in the peloton for people who want to improve their performance and progress with their fitness level. It helps to train at the right intensity and it’s part of the training plan of most advanced cyclist and triathlon athletes.
Knowing your FTP helps to choose a training program that is suitable for your fitness level. It is also a great assessment tool that helps you see accurately how much progress you’ve done.
Is Peloton FTP Test Accurate?
As a whole, the peloton FTP test is accurate because it’s calculated based on the power output, heart rate, and oxygen uptake from a 20-minute ride. The results are automatically converted into the peloton app and provide immediate feedback on your power zone.
There are multiple ways to track your performance. Some of the most tried and tested are the VO2max test and FTP.
However, studies have shown that results from an FTP test can give more accurate data for the performance of moderately trained cyclists, compared to traditional VO2max (Sørensen et al. 2019).
What I like about the peloton FTP test is that it doesn’t require sophisticated equipment like a power meter to measure your output.
All you need is to join the class and the peloton bike will automatically do all the calculations for you, provide you a score, and save the data in the metrics tab.
This means you have easy access to compare your history and see how your progress is going.
Learn more: Click here to learn more about “are peloton calories accurate“.
Can Anyone Do Peloton FTP Test?
Now let’s look at who is the peloton FTP test for.
As a whole, anyone can do a peloton FTP test, as long as they feel they can endure 20 minutes at maximum effort. The FTP test is good to track the progress, however, people who just getting started may not need to perform that their best.
Let me explain.
Untrained individuals will notice much greater early adaptations to training, comparing to skilled cyclists. If you’re getting started, you will likely double or even triple your stats in a very short period of time.
However, the more experienced you’re, which means the body is getting used to training, you will see progress coming slower than before (Hughes et al. 2018).
This is good news for beginners because as long as you go hard, you will be getting better. In the first few weeks, your fitness level will progress constantly as long as you stay consistent.
In fact, in the beginning, there is no need for any advanced training protocol. The body will respond to any exercise stimulus. However, after a certain time, the body starts to plateau, and to progress further, you need to implement more advanced and precise training methods.
One of the advanced training methods is working out at a specific power zone. This helps to continue eliciting the training adaptations, which is good for people who are chasing the performance.
The peloton FTP test will tell you where you’re and based on calculations, it will guide you on which training zone is right for you.
The FTP is nothing new. In fact, it’s the industry gold standard in measuring fitness levels for people willing to take up their training to the next level.
How To Prepare For Peloton FTP Test
When I prepare for the peloton FTP test I like to think of it as a regular workout. In fact, I always start my week from higher intense sessions (Monday to Wednesday) and as the week continues, I reduce my intensity but keep the volume higher.
I have 2-3 days where I go super hard. That’s when I do my FTP. As the week starts, instead of doing a high-intensity session on Monday, I start my week with the FTP assessment.
In other words, you want to be doing an FTP test when you feel fresh, rested, and recovered.
NOTE: For beginners, I wouldn’t recommend doing FTP because you will get better each week. So the results won’t be as accurate.
You can still do it just to see where you’re, but because the rate of your improvement at the beginning is so high, you would have to retake the test every 1-2 weeks.
One way to make your FTP test more effortless is to supplement with an amino acid called beta-alanine. Beta-alanine helps to reduce or buffer lactic acid accumulation in the muscle.
Studies have shown that beta-alanine increases the concentration of carnosine in muscles, which delays OBLA (onset of blood lactate accumulation) and improves the lactate threshold.
(It’s like riding the bike with higher output, but you don’t feel muscle soreness).
You can check out the prices for beta-alanine on Amazon via my affiliate link. Details here.
(if you buy through links on this page, I may earn a small commission).
How Often To Take The FTP Test Peloton?
As a whole, you should take the peloton FTP test once every 6 to 24 weeks, depending on your goals. If you train for performance, you should do FTP once every 6 to 8 weeks. If you train for body composition, you can retake the test once every 6 months.
In general, there it’s good to have your FTP up to date, especially if you train hard for some type of endurance events like a marathon or triathlon. This will help to optimize your workouts in the most accurate way.
However, if you just want to get fit, lose extra weight, and get into the smaller size jeans, doing an FTP test too often isn’t necessary.
It’s better to spend more time on actual rides and consistency, rather than calculating output and chasing scores.
In other words, if you just want to use a peloton as your cardio equipment, stay in shape and burn calories, there is no need to worry about FTP. To burn the most calories, it’s better to do a long-distance ride.
Still curious? Click here to learn more about “peloton rides that burn the most calories“
How To Take Peloton FTP Test?
Taking a peloton FTP test is like taking a hard 20 minutes class. The only difference is that after the test, the peloton bike will automatically save your score. The results show you which power zone you should be training at to get the most benefits from your power zone workouts.
Here are the best tips on how to take the peloton FTP test and how to do it well.
#1 Rest before the FTP test
I use the peloton FTP test more to establish my current fitness level, rather than get access to power zone rides.
I see it as an opportunity to really measure my progress and compare it with the last results. So to get the most accurate data I need to be in the full swing, ready for maximum effort.
Why you should rest before taking the peloton FTP test? As a whole, you should rest a couple of days before taking the peloton FTP test because it allows you to train hard and do your best at the time you take the test. Being fully recovered and ready to perform gets the most accurate results.
You don’t want to do your FTP test after doing long-distance rides for 5 days in a row because the body will be too tired to perform at your peak performance.
You also don’t want to take a whole week off. Getting 24 to 48 hours of rest is enough.
#2 Use it as your workout
I treat my FTP test as a normal workout and try to plan ahead for the times of the day that I know I have the most energy. And in case you wonder, there is no “perfect” time to train.
Why doing a peloton FTP test around your workout time is important? As a whole, conducting a peloton FTP test at the same time as the regular training is important because the performance and training adaptations are the highest at the time of day at which the training is done regularly.
In other words, you have the most energy, strength, and power during the time of the day that you normally train (Chtourou 2012). If you’re the morning person and your body is used to train before 7:00 AM, then that’s when you get the most output.
On the other hand, if you used to train in the evening, don’t schedule the FTP test in the morning. Use it instead of your regular workout.
Keeping the same times of your workouts leads to better, more precise results. It also gives you more energy to perform at your very best. On the other hand, if you keep your workout schedule all over the place, you may not get the most out of your buck.
#3 Take a good warm-up
Before taking the peloton FTP test it is recommended to do a warm-up session. A warm-up helps to ramp up your power and strength by stimulating sympathetic response, which leads to better performance (Park et al. 2018).
Why warm-up before the FTP test is important? As a whole, doing a warmup before the peloton FTP test is important because not only it helps to increase the muscle temperature and blood flow, but also contributes to improved exercise performance and reduced risk of injury.
However, doing a longer warmup isn’t always better.
In fact, doing an extensive warmup can actually lead to lower performance and faster respiratory compensation point (RCP). That’s when the muscles produce more lactate than the body can eliminate, reaching the maximum effort (Takano 2000).
One recent study has compared a group of trained cyclists and the effect of different warmup protocols before doing the FTP test. The results showed no difference in FTP scores, with or without a warmup (Barranco-Gil et al. 2020).
So keep that in mind.
I don’t go hard before the FTP test. I like to keep my resistance low and cadence a bit faster.
#4 Follow the class instructions
On the surface, the peloton FTP tests look like regular classes in the peloton library. However, they all follow a rigid protocol. Each class takes around 20 minutes and is divided into four 5-minute blocks.
The goal of this setup is to progressively increase your power and give your max effort more toward the end, rather than going all out in the beginning.
This will help you spread the energy throughout the 20-minute, and provide the most accurate data.
#5 Stay in the saddle
In general, you can take the peloton FTP test uphill by adding more resistance. This will help to establish an accurate output. However, you should not stand during the ride as this can give you inaccurate results.
Can you stand during the peloton FTP test? As a whole, you should avoid standing during the peloton FTP test because being out of the saddle changes biomechanics and generates more power. This gives an artificially higher score because once your sit down, you can struggle to maintain this output.
How do you pace a 20 min peloton FTP test? In general, you pace the peloton 20-minute FTP test by gradually build up the output and cadence. By progressively adding more resistance you will spread the energy evenly throughout the session. However, if you increase your intensity too fast, you may reach muscle fatigue.
Is Peloton FTP Test Hard?
Now let’s talk about the difficulty level and the expectations of the peloton FTP test. I personally treat this class as a regular high-intensity workout. The results are just the bonus that comes after the session.
How hard is peloton ftp test? As a whole, the peloton FTP test is really hard because it requires you to cycle at maximum effort. In fact, according to Denis Morton, the peloton instructor, the 20-minute peloton FTP test is ten out of ten on the difficult scale and should be considered as one of the hardest workouts.
In other words, the test will be as hard as you push yourself. And to get the most precise data, you want to go all out.
Peloton FTP Improvement
One feature that I like about the peloton FTP test is it records your history, so you have a clear indication of your improvement. This not only helps to adjust your current workout routine but also creates intrinsic motivation.
What is a good peloton FTP improvement? As a whole, a good peloton improvement is any number that will be higher than your previous score. If your previous FTP score was around 100 output, and your current one shows 105, that’s good progress.
However, keep in mind that the results are just the information that you use to make an outcome-based decision. It’s not the reflection of who you’re or where you should be. Everyone is different. This means you shouldn’t compare yourself to others.
This is your show.
If you made a progress, hi-fives. If you haven’t made the progress, that’s good too because it’s information that you use to adjust your workout to get better next time.
How much can you improve your FTP on the peloton? Overall, you can improve your FTP on the peloton between 30 to even 70 within the first 6 to 12 months. People who train a lot at a higher intensity will see faster improvement, where people who train at minimum effort will see slower changes.
How Do I Increase My Peloton FTP?
Our body is highly responsive to training. If you lift the weight, the muscle will adapt and respond by getting stronger. If you lift more, it will adapt again and get even stronger. If you stop lifting, it will adapt again, and get weaker.
In general, the only way to increase your FTP is to train at your recommended power zone for a number of weeks. This creates training adaptations where the body can increase lactate threshold and allow to maintain the higher output for longer periods of time.
In other words, the more often you push yourself to train around the anaerobic threshold where the muscles start to feel fatigued from the lactic acid, the quicker you increase your FTP.
Here are some tips to improve your peloton FTP.
|Tip||What does it mean?|
|Train hard and train easy||Divide your week of training into hard, medium, and easy training days. This will help to maximize progress and reduce burnout.|
|Train at regular times of the day||Doing workouts at the same time helps with performance. Don’t change your training times more often than necessary.|
|Get a training partner||Traning with someone helps to stay focused and increases motivation to exercise longer.|
|Sleep regularly at the same times||The more you train the more the body needs sleep to recover from it.|
|Nutrition||Adding high-protein meals helps to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, speed up recovery, and maintain lean body mass.|
|Hydration||Drinking water rich in minerals and electrolytes helps to balance micronutrients, especially if you’re sweating a lot.|
Retaking Peloton FTP Test
I personally like to retake my FTP test on the peloton once every 8 weeks. But that’s because I don’t have currently any endurance goals. However, if my focus would be to run longer, faster, or participate in a triathlon, I would do it more often.
How do I retake the peloton FTP test? As a whole, to retake the peloton FTP test you just need to retake any of the 8 FTP test rides. After the class, the peloton bike will automatically update your results and show you your score. You can access your score in the metrics tab.
How often should you retake the FTP test? In general, you should retake your FTP test at least once every 6 months, as long as you use the power zone training classes. This helps to stay up to date and be mindful of your current fitness level. However, if you don’t do power zone classes, it’s not necessary to retake the FTP test often.
FTP Test Without Peloton Bike
Now let’s look at some hacks to do the peloton FTP test without the peloton bike.
Can you do an FTP test without a Peloton bike? As a whole, you can do an FTP test without a peloton bike, as long as you have a power meter. The power meter helps to record your output and gives you the numbers that you can manually calculate and convert into to FTP score.
Then, you can use that FTP score when you’re doing the power zone classes.
Alternatively, you can do an FTP test in the sports performance center near you that specializes in fitness assessments. This way you can get the most accurate data and recommendations from the exercise physiologists about your current fitness status.
As you can see, doing an FTP test may seem like a regular class, but if you want to use that information to create your workout plan, you should spend some time and prepare for it in advabce.
What I like about the peloton is it actually allows you to perfom the FTP test in the comfort of your home, suggests workouts based on your results, and hire qualified instructors that live and breathe cycling.