80/20FTP Test Protocol vs. "standard" | 80/20 Endurance

80/20FTP Test Protocol vs. “standard”

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    Hi there,

    I was reading through the 80/20 FTP test protocol that is mentioned on the 80/20 website – more out of curiosity as I follow the “standard” test protocol ever since I do FTP tests and don’t want to change anything to keep things comparable.
    Anyways, the “standard” protocol as I know it calls for a warm up with a few short hard efforts, a recovery, a 5 minute all out effort, recovery and then the 20min test.
    The 5 minute all-out effort (blow out effort) is key to avoid an artificially high FTP due to anaerobic impacts during the 20min effort – at least that was/is my understanding.
    The 80/20 protocol is as following: The time-trial method starts with a 15-minute warm-up that combines easy pedaling with a few 10-second bursts at the effort level you anticipate sustaining through the upcoming time-trial. When your warm-up is complete, ride as far as you can in 20 minutes, taking care to avoid starting too fast and losing power before you finish. 95% of your average power for that 20 minutes is your cycling functional threshold power, or FTP.

    So there are a few 10-sec bursts but no 5min all out effort?
    I wonder if there is a specific reason to no do the 5min?

    Here is the protocol I’m using ever since I do FTP tests:
    10 min WU – ramping up slowly
    1 min 100% FTP followed by 1min at 65%
    1 min at 105% FTP followed by 1min at 65%
    1 min at 110% FTP followed by 5min at 65%
    5 min all out effort (likely around 115% – 125%) followed by 5min at 50%
    20 min test – highest output that can be maintained for 20 min
    10 min CD – ramping down slowly

    I take 95% of the average power I achieve during the 20 min effort which is then my FTP.

    Now, if I would not do the 1min bursts but only lets say 10sec bursts and also completely skip the 5 min all-out effort, I’m pretty sure my FTP would be quite a bit higher which would result in completely different zones. I would actually assume that the FTP would be at least 5% higher. If somebody tests 250 Watts using the protocol I just described, the very same person could see a FTP of maybe 262 Watts without the 5 min effort? Just guessing….

    I’m looking forward to thoughts and comments.


    David Warden


    Great stuff. It’s interesting that you use the word “standard” test, but of course you also put it quotes. Because, there really is no standard test FTP or LTHR test. In fact, I’ve coached for 15 years and have never heard of the 5 minutes all out. I just pulled out Joe Friel’s Triathlete’s Training Bible, and his test has a warmup, no 5-minute all out, and not even 10 second efforts. Just warmup and go (3rd edition, page 81). Jim Vance’s Triathlon 2.0 doesn’t even have a warmup. Just do the 30-minute TT from any condition (page 43). These are two credible coaches, and add me in the mix (humbly) and you have 3 different protocols from 3 reputable sources.

    Why don’t we use the 5-minute all out and 1-minute bursts? I’ve never heard of that protocol until now. If I read some research that indicates a better method, we’ll change it, including 5 minutes all out.

    I will say that our 10 second bursts has empirical data behind it that leads me to believe they are enough to stimulate VO2 and suppress the anaerobic system. See Chapter 16 of the book Triathlon Science. Those brief intervals and a 20+ minute warmup are enough to address the anaerobic risk you bring up.

    I can’t fully address your very accurate observation that your method will be some 5% lower FTP than our method. I suppose I would say that I think our method is better, and that your FTP is probably 5% higher!



    Hi David,

    Sorry for calling it standard.
    I should have called it Coggan protocol:

    According to Coggan, for an FTP test you need a 5 minute ALL OUT effort before the 20 minute test. This burns off any anaerobic contributions that you are providing towards the number, and truly hones in on what watts you can aerobically produce.

    You don’t think that makes sense?

    David Warden

    I think it totally makes sense, but I think that the 10 second bursts provide a sufficient benefit. I’d call the 10-second bursts the “maximum effective dose.”

    I would be curious to read more about this. Given that an anaerobic state can only last up to about 75 seconds, that means only 75 second of test would be altered from anaerobic activity.

    But, guess what? If I were asked to recommend Coggan or me, I’d recommend Coggan. He knows his stuff. The real answer to the lack of the 5-minute all out could just be ignorance on my part. I do feel that our protocols work and successfully identify FTP, but I’m open to change them.



    I will try your protocol next time and see what the FTP looks like.
    BTW: what do you think of the fancy ramp tests like TR or Zwist?

    David Warden

    I’m good with those protocols. I think there are several ways to identify FTP. I also think that while there may be a “best” method for our system, there is also a “best” method for another system or for an individual.

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