How do i get to 400w 20 minute threshold?
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  1. #1
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    How do i get to 400w 20 minute threshold?

    I've just started using wattage for training at a local bike studio. After some getting used to on the computrainer, i did the following: 300w for 20 minutes, 278w average at 1-hour, and 255w average at 2.5 hours (HR average was 160).

    Most of the off season i ran and used my stationary trainer for base-type workouts, Lately I've changed to this on a weekly basis:


    • 2 x 2hr+ computrainers on the weekend (various courses or base-training workouts)
    • Squats once per week (3 sets of 4x20 reps - behind neck/infront of neck/across shoulders/in crook of elbow)
    • 3-4 sessions x 60 minutes on the trainer doing 3 or 4 minute intervals at 53-11 gearing.


    Should i spend more time with weights, or another type of strength-building workout?

    Thank you!

  2. #2
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    The 278W is your FTP (functional threshold power) and you'll need to work on increasing that in order to get your 20minute power to 400W. I recommend the book "Training and Racing with a Power Meter" by Allen & Coggan, it covers lots of training exercises to raise your FTP. 278W -> approx 380W (which will yield about 400W for 20minutes) is a long way to go, but maybe you'll get there. How big are you (height, weight, body fat, muscle composition) and how long have you been training?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by soulfly_nyc
    I've just started using wattage for training at a local bike studio. After some getting used to on the computrainer, i did the following: 300w for 20 minutes, 278w average at 1-hour, and 255w average at 2.5 hours (HR average was 160).
    1. If you want to find your best average power for either 20 minutes, or else 1 hour (which is the most common definition of FTP) then you'll need to structure a session specifically to max out wattage for that target duration. If you can ride for 255w for another 1.5 hours, then you certainly didn't go as hard as you could have in the first hour.

    2. Depending on your weight, 400w for 20 minutes or 380w for 1 hour may be a very large number to aim for. Of course, we'd all like to improve our power output, but what has lead you to believe that 400w for 20 minutes is what you should be capable of? Not saying you can't do it, just interested in knowing whether this is some arbitrary round figure?

    3. With the very large current gap between your current output and your end goal, perhaps it's better to simply implement a program to train to the best of your ability and resources, and measure progression over 1-2 years? If you start to see yourself creeping steadily up then maybe set goals from there that will have some rational basis instead of just an arbitrary number? Remember that after a certain point, law of diminishing returns starts to come into play.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for this info.

    I'm 32, 5'10" and 177lbs and pretty low body fat %. I started racing road bikes in August of last year but have ridden bikes for fun for much of my life. Racing is a new challenge, so creating more power just seemed a logical goal in pursuit of racing success.

    As far as setting such a lofty goal, i'm just aiming high. However i was quite a good swimmer for 12 years and was all-american and ranked nationally in high school.

    I've participated in 6 computrainer sessions in the past 2 months. I've seen power improvements since then (20 minute was 280w at the beginning) and some of the improvement may be from improving my pedalstroke/form. In other words, i think there are lots of places that I can improve, whether it is strength, cardio, or pedaling mechanics.
    Last edited by soulfly_nyc; 03-01-2009 at 08:06 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by soulfly_nyc
    177lbs
    Both raw power (independent of size/weight) and power in watts/kilogram of body weight over durations such as 20 minutes or 1 hour are both important measures, although not a strict measure of potential success in any discipline other than perhaps time trials. Power output over other (shorter) durations, and ability to execute strategy and tactics to best effect with your given physical resources is just as important in many events if you want to see the podium.

    On to your original topic though, you are aiming for FTP of approx. 4.7-4.8 watts/kg. While this is certainly an achievable figure for amateur cyclists, you should be aware that is a relatively high figure and there are many racers with many years of quality training, lots of miles in their legs, and are decent athletes to boot who will never hit that level of watts/kg.

    By all means go for it, but perhaps consider that your goal isn't trivial, and unless you are genetically gifted (beyond the level of a decent competitve racer) or are extremely dedicated in your training, then you may be better served by backing off that goal and work on some smaller incremental progression first with consistent riding, and sound training. After some time, you'll be able to chart out goals with a better basis for doing so.

    There are many methodologies to choose from, and it would be difficult to aruge that any of them are strictly "right" or "wrong". All will have a few common characteristics that are the underpinnings of any training for any sport. Browse through this forum, and the Racing, Training forum, read some threads, pick up some terminology and acquire some reading materials. Also consider joining a club to learn from other experienced cyclists or perhaps even consulting with a coach recommended by same experienced cyclists.

  6. #6
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    Circlip has it right. At ~80 kg a 400 watt 20 min power puts you in the 360-388 range for FTP which is roughly 4.85 ish W/kg. That's not undoable but won't be easy unless you unusually gifted, unusually dedicated, or both.

    I can tell you that you can lift all the weights you want but it's not going to increase your FTP that much. It takes more "wattage" to get up off the couch or climb a few stairs than it does climb with the leaders group in the Tour. Force is not the answer............ in fact you should lift weights for injury prevention but not as a way to increase your power.

    To give you a frame of reference, I coach a pretty successful Cat2/masters racer with a 20 min power of 415 ish. However, he weights 198 pounds, packs a wicked sprint, and looks like a linebacker.

    You need to get a PM and a coach assuming you haven't already done so.

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  7. #7
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    Are you sure you are low on bf% at 5'10" and 177lbs? Hell, even the big sprinter Tom Boonen weighs that much...at 6'4"

    Although a very rough measure, it puts you at a BMI of 25.1, which is "overweight." Even if you had a lot of muscle, it seems like you could still stand to lose weight.

    Hitting 4.8w/kg is easier than reaching 400w at threshold. Unfortunately, there's 2 parts to that equation -- power and weight. The latter is the one that will get you the results you are looking for.

    Also, if you are aiming that high, it's time to get a good coach. Or, at the very least, start reading. A lot.

  8. #8
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    BMI is a useless metric, soulfy_nyc probably has a swimmer's physique which means a lot more upper body bulk, also there are some pro level riders at that weight; 6'0 and 175lbs (Hushovd), 6'1 176 (Cancellara). So i can definitely see him having a low BF at 177 and 5'10. To give you another frame of reference, when i started seriously riding 2 years i had an FTP of 230W (at 191lbs), now it's at 340W and i'm 6'0 176lbs (8% BF). I was a regional level athlete at best in my university days and i think 360W+ is attainable if i continue training, so if you were a highlevel endurance athlete you probably have a high chance of getting there with dedication. Don't worry about weight until later, usually it'll take care of itself in the process. I don't have a coach. Good luck and be patient.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by soulfly_nyc
    Thanks for this info.

    I'm 32, 5'10" and 177lbs and pretty low body fat %. I started racing road bikes in August of last year but have ridden bikes for fun for much of my life. Racing is a new challenge, so creating more power just seemed a logical goal in pursuit of racing success.

    As far as setting such a lofty goal, i'm just aiming high. However i was quite a good swimmer for 12 years and was all-american and ranked nationally in high school.

    I've participated in 6 computrainer sessions in the past 2 months. I've seen power improvements since then (20 minute was 280w at the beginning) and some of the improvement may be from improving my pedalstroke/form. In other words, i think there are lots of places that I can improve, whether it is strength, cardio, or pedaling mechanics.

    Incorrect

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by wfrogge
    Incorrect
    Wrong. I'm a dietitian, working primarily with high school students. Athletes with a significant amount of muscle almost always end up with a BMI in the high "normal"/ low "overweight" range. I had a football player I saw last week who was 6'0", 200 lbs. His shoulders were roughly a foot wider than his waist, and he had very, very little bodyfat. BMI is a bad metric for power athletes in particular.

    Now, overweight for cycling is another matter. The OP may need to lose a significant amount of lean upper body mass (as an ex-swimmer) in order to have a desirable power-to-weight ratio.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74
    Wrong. I'm a dietitian, working primarily with high school students. Athletes with a significant amount of muscle almost always end up with a BMI in the high "normal"/ low "overweight" range. I had a football player I saw last week who was 6'0", 200 lbs. His shoulders were roughly a foot wider than his waist, and he had very, very little bodyfat. BMI is a bad metric for power athletes in particular.
    Either of you could be correct, but my prediction is that it's Frogge.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea138
    Either of you could be correct, but my prediction is that it's Frogge.
    I'm not saying the OP has low body fat. I'm saying that it's entirely possible for someone to have low body fat at his weight and height. You're not arguing that this isn't possible, right?

    Now if the OP has an erroneous concept of his own body composition, that's another issue.

  13. #13
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    I'm not arguing that it's not possible in the least, I'm just saying it's not as probable.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea138
    I'm not arguing that it's not possible in the least, I'm just saying it's not as probable.
    It's not as probable among the general population, but if you think a BMI of 25.3 (what the OP works out to) with a low body fat percentage is unusual among athletes, you've only been hanging around endurance athletes too much. Swimmers, Olympic lifters, wrestlers, track sprinters, throwers, and vaulters, soccer players... any sport where a little more muscle and strength is a positive.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74
    It's not as probable among the general population, but if you think a BMI of 25.3 (what the OP works out to) with a low body fat percentage is unusual among athletes, you've only been hanging around endurance athletes too much. Swimmers, Olympic lifters, wrestlers, track sprinters, throwers, and vaulters, soccer players... any sport where a little more muscle and strength is a positive.
    Not saying the OP has a lot left to lose or not...however, cyclists in general tend to have a skewed version of what a body is supposed to look like. At group rides all you ever hear is...I need to drop another 10 pounds...regardless of what they look like. Some need to...some can't.

    Looking at some of the best cyclists (especially the climbers) in the world is like looking at an anorexia convention.

    As far as the BMI goes...It's OK for the average person as far as a weight predictor, but for those on the fringe it honestly sucks. My self for instance...It says I should weigh 178 pounds at the highest to be considered "Normal"...I'm 199 right now and running about 14% body fat. So getting down to 6% I would need to loose 16 pounds. That puts me at 183 pounds and I'd still be considered obese at 6% body fat

    However, I'm on the fringe...A former collegiate hammer thrower, I carry lots of muscle, even on the upper body and don't lift weights other than some minor core work. I look like The Hulk on a bike compared to others around me....For me BMI is a horrible way to compare my body to others. If I went by that I would be anorexic.
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  16. #16
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    To the OP (soulfly_nyc) I take back everything I said before. If you stay in cycling the majority of your fellow riders will be more focused with wagering odds on whether you look good in lycra without ever having seen you, than they will be about providing any useful information. Maybe best to find another sport without so many wankers?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wookiebiker
    Not saying the OP has a lot left to lose or not...however, cyclists in general tend to have a skewed version of what a body is supposed to look like. At group rides all you ever hear is...I need to drop another 10 pounds...regardless of what they look like. Some need to...some can't.

    Looking at some of the best cyclists (especially the climbers) in the world is like looking at an anorexia convention.

    As far as the BMI goes...It's OK for the average person as far as a weight predictor, but for those on the fringe it honestly sucks. My self for instance...It says I should weigh 178 pounds at the highest to be considered "Normal"...I'm 199 right now and running about 14% body fat. So getting down to 6% I would need to loose 16 pounds. That puts me at 183 pounds and I'd still be considered obese at 6% body fat

    However, I'm on the fringe...A former collegiate hammer thrower, I carry lots of muscle, even on the upper body and don't lift weights other than some minor core work. I look like The Hulk on a bike compared to others around me....For me BMI is a horrible way to compare my body to others. If I went by that I would be anorexic.

    The OP has a lot to lose regardless if its fat or muscle were talking about. Weight is weight and in this sport watts to kilograms is the key...... It would be damn hard for the OP to get a 400 watt FTP without a little EPO help but its possible he could get to 350-360. Combine that with a 30lb drop in weight and he would be damn quick pro.... Keep the weight and he would be a mid pack CAT 3.

    This is an aerobic sport where V02max and FTP are king. That extra weight holds both back more than you think even if its weight from muscle. Drop more weight and your w/kg numbers go up... Drop the weight and your V02max will raise.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by wfrogge
    The OP has a lot to lose regardless if its fat or muscle were talking about. Weight is weight and in this sport watts to kilograms is the key...... It would be damn hard for the OP to get a 400 watt FTP without a little EPO help but its possible he could get to 350-360. Combine that with a 30lb drop in weight and he would be damn quick pro.... Keep the weight and he would be a mid pack CAT 3.

    This is an aerobic sport where V02max and FTP are king. That extra weight holds both back more than you think even if its weight from muscle. Drop more weight and your w/kg numbers go up... Drop the weight and your V02max will raise.
    True... though the extra weight would matter a lot less in most races around here (flat crits). I see many Cat 3 and 2 guys around here who are very crit-competitive at higher weights.

    Relative VO2 max increases with weight loss (assuming power stays the same or increases). Absolute VO2 max is unaffected.

  19. #19
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    Hey guys (and gals?),

    Thanks for the info and debate. I'm a Cat 5 racer, had great success on my first few races...and just want to keep progressing.

    I understand your points on the power/weight (emphasis on weight) argument, and while I agree that I should lose some weight, I have to realize that I will probably never be chicken-boned-skinny. After so many years of swimming, and then a brief stint in serious weight-lifting (PB in benchpress of 415lbs while weighing 182lbs), i don't think i'll ever be 140lbs of ultra-endurance climber...i'm a sprinter - at least I was in swimming and have been so far in my very short bike racing career.

    I think 7-10lbs might be a good target for weight loss.

    Do you have some tips on making more power? I have heard a lot of "off topic" recommendations about how or why I should lose weight... I agree on the power/weight ratio thing and I'll do my best on losing the weight (lost 10lbs since last season), but what I really have no clue about is what I should to do make more power.

  20. #20
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    Wink

    Well, as a dietitian, I'm better qualified to help with weight loss

    But, all kidding aside- buy a power meter and get a coach. Well worth the investment.

  21. #21

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    i seriously doubt the computrainer readings are even realistically accurate 278w for 60min is rather high for an untrained cat 5. 5'10 177 is rather heavy for any cyclist sprinter or not. unless you have big bones etc you should be around 155lbs. 400w for 20 min is a seriously hard effort. its also pretty meaningless on a stationary trainer, holding 400 watts on rolling terrain, not to mention actually dealing with aerodynamic drag from a moving bicycle, is going to be much much harder.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by kenyonCycleist
    i seriously doubt the computrainer readings are even realistically accurate 278w for 60min is rather high for an untrained cat 5.
    Seems accurate to me... had several supervised workouts with similar results. Cat 5 doesn't mean first time on a bicycle or first time in competitive sports. I've ridden bikes for years and competed in the pool for many more.

    I have several riding buddies who rate about the same, and who are also Cat 5. I've podiumed in my last 5 of 6 races...but who knows!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by kenyonCycleist
    its also pretty meaningless on a stationary trainer, holding 400 watts on rolling terrain, not to mention actually dealing with aerodynamic drag from a moving bicycle, is going to be much much harder.
    Oddly enough, watts are watts. They're not any better or worse indoors or out.

    They're also strangely unaffected by wind drag.

    Now, rolling terrain poses some challenge due to the tendency to mentally ease up on a downhill and work harder on a climb. But if you can average 400 watts for a given time period indoors, you should be able to do it outside.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by soulfly_nyc
    Do you have some tips on making more power? I have heard a lot of "off topic" recommendations about how or why I should lose weight... I agree on the power/weight ratio thing and I'll do my best on losing the weight (lost 10lbs since last season), but what I really have no clue about is what I should to do make more power.
    If you want poor advice, I'll give it to you.

    First, ditch the weights. Next time a bike race includes squats, call me and I'll admit I was wrong. Also, you're doing so many reps that I can't imagine any strength gains. Are you really doing 240 reps per session? You'd be better off going up a few flights of stairs.

    Next, get serious about your cycling workouts. Right now you're doing one kind of interval, and you're not doing it by power, HR, or perceived exertion, just gearing. That's not a recipe for success. Since it's early in the season, I would focus on base mileage (as much as you can get outside and do it) and 2x20 and 3x20 minute intervals around 290 watts, with 5 minutes of recovery. If you can't get power on your home trainer, go by feel or HR, you'll get pretty close.

    If you want better advice, buy a book on training, or get a powermeter and a coach who knows how to work with power. Oh, and last thing, I am 6'1" 180, with some muscle and a decent little gut. Racing weight would be 165 for me. So 10 pounds of weight loss would be a good start for you.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by soulfly_nyc
    Do you have some tips on making more power? I have heard a lot of "off topic" recommendations about how or why I should lose weight... I agree on the power/weight ratio thing and I'll do my best on losing the weight (lost 10lbs since last season), but what I really have no clue about is what I should to do make more power.
    It's sort of interesting how everyone knows what your ideal weight should be and whether you even desire to be that skinny. Anyway, apart from getting "Training and Racing with power" i'd also recommend reading the following;

    http://www.fascatcoaching.com/sweetspottraining.html

    http://biketechreview.com/performance/stripped_down.htm

    And finally, find some local training races or fast paced group rides with cat1,2s

    Good luck!

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