Are you a cyclist who wishes to improve their performance? You’ve definitely heard of Functional Threshold Power (FTP), a cycling fitness and performance indicator. So what precisely is FTP, and how can you figure out what FTP is appropriate for your age?
This post will cover all you need to know about FTP to improve your cycling performance. Understanding your FTP is essential to setting and attaining your goals, whether you’re a novice or an expert rider. So, let’s dive in and figure out your optimal FTP!
What is Power to Weight Ratio (PWR) in Cycling?
Power to weight ratio indicates how much power you can generate per unit of body weight. It is computed by dividing your body weight in kilos by your wattage output. For example, If you weigh 70 kilograms and produce 280 watts, your power-to-weight ratio is 4 W/kg.
Because it impacts how quickly you can accelerate, how quickly you can climb hills, and how effectively you can maintain a high pace over long distances, power to weight ratio is an important factor of cycling performance. Generally speaking, the faster you can ride on a bike, the higher your power to weight ratio.
Understanding the Different Time Intervals Used to Measure Power to Weight Ratio
Power to weight ratio can be measured over different time intervals. The longer the time interval, the more important endurance becomes, and the less important pure power output is.
Here are the chart illustrating approximate power to weight ratios at different time intervals:
|Level of Cyclist||5 sec||1 min||5 min||20 min||60 min||2 hours||4 hours||12 hours|
|Cat 4/5 Racer||14.0||7.0||4.5||3.5||3.0||2.6||2.2||1.8|
|Cat 3 Racer||16.0||8.0||5.0||4.0||3.5||3.0||2.5||2.0|
|Cat 2 Racer||18.0||9.0||5.5||4.5||4.0||3.5||3.0||2.5|
|Cat 1 Racer||20.0||10.0||6.0||5.0||4.5||4.0||3.5||3.0|
Note that above FTP values are estimated and can vary depending on a few factors such as age, fitness level, and cycling discipline.
What is a Good Power to Weight Ratio in Cycling?
Depending on the cyclist’s experience, degree of fitness, and cycling discipline, a decent power to weight ratio will vary. For instance, a power to weight ratio of 3 W/kg would be considered appropriate for an amateur cyclist but insufficient for an experienced one.
According to a general rule, a professional cyclist should have a power to weight ratio of 4-5 W/kg, whereas a recreational rider should have one between 2.5 and 3.5 W/kg. The average power to weight ratio for elite cyclists is 6 W/kg or higher.
The power to weight ratio is only one aspect of cycling performance; endurance, bike handling prowess, and tactical awareness also play significant roles. Also, while boosting your PWR can help you ride faster, it’s crucial to do so in a safe way that doesn’t jeopardize your health or well-being.
Factors That Affect Power to Weight Ratio in Cycling
A number of factors including fitness level, age, diet, and cycling equipment, might affect the power to weight ratio. The major factors affecting your cycling power to weight ratio are as follows:
- Fitness Level: Your level of fitness is the most crucial factor influencing your power to weight ratio. Studies show that cyclists with better power-to-weight ratios also had higher VO2 maxes, an indicator of aerobic fitness. VO2 max is frequently between 70 and 85 ml/kg/min in elite cyclists. The VO2 max of recreational cyclists is 35–40 ml/kg/min, compared to 20–30 for untrained individuals. By improving your level of fitness through targeted cycling training and workouts, you can increase your power output and lose weight, which will enhance your power to weight ratio.
- Age: As you become older, your metabolism slows down and you gradually lose muscle mass, which could affect power-to-weight ratio. Strength decreases after the age of 30 due to a 3–5% decline in muscle mass per decade. With consistent exercise and good nutrition, you may, however, keep your power to weight ratio within acceptable bounds.
- Nutrition: Your diet has a big impact on how strong you are compared to your weight. Elite cyclists have a higher power to weight ratio due to their body fat percentage, which ranges from 6 to 10%. A well-balanced diet can help you lose weight and perform better.
- Your Bike: The type and quality of your bike equipment may also have an impact on your power to weight ratio. You can ride faster with gear that is lighter and more aerodynamic, according to a 2017 research. When climbing, a lighter bike will frequently save you between 10 and 15 watts.
Strategies for Improving Your Power to Weight Ratio in Cycling
Cycling quicker, climbing hills more effectively, and achieving your cycling goals can all be facilitated by increasing your power to weight ratio. You can use the following methods to raise your PWR , along with some sample numbers:
- Reduce Weight – Improving your power to weight ratio can be accomplished by losing weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise. For instance, your power to weight ratio would rise by about 5% if you were 200 pounds and lost 20 pounds.
- Improve Your Power Output – By exercising specifically for cycling, you can improve your power output and your power to weight ratio.
- Optimize Your Bicycle Equipment – You can increase your power-to-weight ratio by spending money on lighter, more aerodynamic bicycle equipment. For instance, switching from a bike at 15 pounds to one at 10 pounds will increase your PWR by about 5%.
- Concentrate on Nutrition – Good nutrition helps you lose weight and fuels your workouts.
You may attain your riding objectives and increase your power to weight ratio by putting these techniques into practice. Yet, it’s crucial to keep in mind that improving your power to weight ratio requires patience and persistence.
Real-World Examples of Elite Cyclists and Their PWR
Since elite cyclists must be able to climb mountains and maintain high speeds over long distances, they often have very high power to weight ratios.
Below is a table showing several sampling cyclists’ power to weight ratios:
|Team||Cyclist||Race||Weight (kg)||Max Power (W)||Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg)|
|Ineos Grenadiers||Egan Bernal||Tour de France||60||408||6.8|
|Deceuninck-Quick-Step||Julian Alaphilippe||Milan-San Remo||62||380||6.1|
|Jumbo-Visma||Primož Roglič||La Vuelta||68||462||6.8|
|UAE Team Emirates||Tadej Pogačar||Tour de France||66||423||6.4|
|Bora-Hansgrohe||Peter Sagan||Tour de France||73||900||12.3|
|Trek-Segafredo||Vincenzo Nibali||Giro d’Italia||64||400||6.3|
|EF Education-Nippo||Rigoberto Urán||Tour de France||68||408||6.0|
|Groupama-FDJ||Thibaut Pinot||Tour de France||64||400||6.3|
|Astana-Premier Tech||Miguel Ángel López||Vuelta a España||62||400||6.5|
|Movistar Team||Alejandro Valverde||Vuelta a España||61||370||6.1|
In general, professional male cyclists typically have PWR of 6-7 W/kg, whereas female cyclists typically have ratios of 4-5 W/kg.