Truthfully, Functional Threshold Heart Rate (FTHR) test’s suck… They are hard. They hurt. And that 20 minutes somehow always feel’s like an hour. But the good news is that the pro’s outweigh the cons with this one, and that’s the exact reason that you will find FTHR test’s (or FTP’s for those with power meters) scattered all over a professional cyclists annual training plan.
Putting up with 20 minutes of discomfort can bring you huge rewards in your performance. Not only will this allow for you to accurately calculate your training zones, but it will also allow you to get a precise understanding of what your highest level of physical activity that you can sustain for one hour.
Although the word ‘power’ is in the name, this doesn’t mean that you need a power meter to complete this test. All you need is a long, flat stretch of rode or even better, a static trainer and a heart rate monitor. An added benefit would be to include a cadence sensor and power meter, but this is not essential.
So now that you know what to expect, let’s get down to it!
Once you’ve made sure all your equipment is working and ready to go, hop on the bike and warm-up with the following cadence specific 20min shake-up:
05:00 @ 90 RPM
02:00 @ 95 RPM
02:00 @ 100 RPM
02:00 @ 105 RPM
01:30 @ 110 RPM
00:30 @ 120 – 130 RPM
02:00 @ 90 RPM
Then, repeat the following sprints 3X:
00:06 – Seated, max effort sprint
00:54 @ 90 RPM
Keep your leg’s spinning at around 90 RPM with little resistance as you get your HR device set-up and ready for the test.
Note: if you don’t have a cadence sensor, spend 10 – 20 minutes gradually building through your heart rate zone 1 and into the top of zone 2 (if you don’t know your zones, gradually work up to a perceived level of effort of 6 out of 10) before completing 3, 6 second maximal effort sprints.
After you’ve warmed-up, start to ride as hard as you can for thirty minutes.
After 10 minutes into your 30 minute time-trial, start your heart rate monitor and begin to record your average heart rate. Try and ensure that you maintain a steady pace throughout the test (if you have a cadence sensor, maintain a cadence between 90 – 100 RPM). After 20 minutes is up, stop your workout on your watch and record your average heart rate for the final 20 minutes.
After your test, it’s very important that you spend 10 – 20 minutes to cool-down, allowing your heart rate to gradually return back to a steady state. During this time, make sure to catch-up on your hydration and replace all those electrolytes that you just poured out.
Now that you have your latest FTHR result, make sure to head over to my previous post, “How To | Calculate Heart Rate Zones” to update your device to your latest (and hopefully improved) stats!