If you train with a Computrainer (or other power measuring device), you’ll want to use that device as a tool for improved performance, not just to provide some nice numbers to look at (“ooh, I just rode at 15 watts more than I did last week!). One of the key performance indicators that you’ll need to determine is your Functional Threshold Power. This test can easily be performed on your own. The protocol for this test has been adapted from Allen and Cogan’s “Training and Racing with a Power Meter”.

Set your Computrainer up to ride on a flat course (e.g. Ironman Florida Course, Long.3dc, or other very flat course).

You do not have to reset your Computrainer (or other power device). You can let it run through this entire ride and then extract the 20 minute time trial portion from the graph that you use within whatever software you upload your file to (e.g. WKO+ or Training Peaks, etc.).

Warm Up
Ride for 20 minutes at a easy to moderate (endurance) pace (up to lower zone 3).

Calibrate your Computrainer
3 x 1 minutes at 100 RPM’s with 1 minute recovery.
5 minutes at endurance pace
5 minutes at “all out” pace. Go hard, but not so hard that you die before the end. You should have just a bit left in the tank to kick it at the end.
10 minutes at endurance pace.

Time Trial
Ride a 20 minute time trial at a strong and steady pace. This should be your hardest pace that you can sustain for the full 20 minutes. Be careful not to go to hard in the beginning. The first time you do this test, you should start a bit easier than what you think is your hardest pace and build up within a few minutes.
Record your average power (wattage). Subtract 5.0% from this average and record that in your training log. That will be your Functional Threshold Power (FTP).

Cool Down
10-15 minutes at your endurance pace
10-15 minutes at an easy spin.
Every time you do this test, duplicate all conditions possible:
• Do the test at the same time of day.
• Do the test when you are reasonably fresh each time (no hard training for two days prior).
• Use the same nutrition/hydration plan, unless you are experimenting with nutrition.
• Use the same Computrainer course, and be sure to calibrate your Computrainer EVERY TIME.
• Be sure your warm up is the same routine and the intensity is the same each time.