Is watts/kg and FTP the absolute authority in determining fitness?
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  1. #1
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    Is watts/kg and FTP the absolute authority in determining fitness?

    This is probably like opening Pandora's Box but hear me out.

    I'd say my overall fitness has been steadily improving over the past few years after I finished racing for 15+ years. There was a 6 year gap between when I quit and started riding again. Back to a good level now but my FTP has actually decreased while my endurance has improved and my ability to accelerate has definitely increased. Some of this could be attributed to no longer living in an area surrounded by steep climbs and only using an old LeMond trainer for indoor work. I got REALLY strong using those hills and the trainer, hence a big FTP number. It was more brute power and not necessarily cardio fitness.

    So my question is whether FTP is the only true measure. Live in Boulder now and have access to rolling/flat and big mountains depending on my mood. I think the varied terrain is helping me get more long distance miles and high-intensity workouts but lacking the steep stuff that makes it more like weight-lifting.

    Be interested in hearing everyone's thoughts on this.

  2. #2
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    No. Power metrics are primarily an avenue to compare oneself to others. Training with power will not make a person any more fit than training with heart rate.

  3. #3
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    There are lots of ways to look at fitness using power and HR or both. If you are 'training' for something specifically, using that as context for your fitness measure is better than something arbitrary like FTP which may or may not fit with your objective. FTP is just a section of your overall power curve, and the shape of the power curve is different for different people and changes based on your training. A person can have a higher FTP than another person but lower high end power, or lower endurance on long rides.
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  4. #4
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    Because of my age and a permanent health ailment I am on a steady decline. I've lost 60watts in the past three years.

    I measure my fitness by power to weight, power endurance, and recovery time, (both muscle and heart).

    As far as heart rate and recovery alone as measurement to many variables such as heat make it less reliable than power. That includes absolute power, power to weight, FTP, and just plain muscle endurance or response on long rides.

    The above is just me. I let others determine what the formula is best for them.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by adilosnave View Post
    This is probably like opening Pandora's Box but hear me out.

    I'd say my overall fitness has been steadily improving over the past few years after I finished racing for 15+ years. There was a 6 year gap between when I quit and started riding again. Back to a good level now but my FTP has actually decreased while my endurance has improved and my ability to accelerate has definitely increased. Some of this could be attributed to no longer living in an area surrounded by steep climbs and only using an old LeMond trainer for indoor work. I got REALLY strong using those hills and the trainer, hence a big FTP number. It was more brute power and not necessarily cardio fitness.

    So my question is whether FTP is the only true measure. Live in Boulder now and have access to rolling/flat and big mountains depending on my mood. I think the varied terrain is helping me get more long distance miles and high-intensity workouts but lacking the steep stuff that makes it more like weight-lifting.

    Be interested in hearing everyone's thoughts on this.
    Some of this sounds a bit confused about FTP - FTP is basically cardio fitness - as a first approximation the steady state power you can maintain for about an hour (I know that's not technically correct, but an OK starting point). Also not sure what you mean re endurance has improved while FTP has decreased - that would mean you can go longer at a slower pace. For climbing it's not just FTP but watts/kg.

    That said, a power curve that gets created via a power meter and analysis will show power as a function of time. Some people have excellent 1 min power, 5 min power, but mediocre 20 and 60.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by adilosnave View Post
    ... some of this could be attributed to no longer living in an area surrounded by steep climbs...

    Live in Boulder now ...
    No climbs in Boulder? Have you glanced to the west?

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