When I decided I wanted to try Power Zone training on my bike, I knew I would have to take the Peloton FTP test. Maybe you’re in the same boat–looking to get into Power Zone training on Peloton and wondering what this whole FTP thing is about. Well, I can help.
This blog post will answer some of the most common questions about the Peloton FTP test. This includes:
- What does FTP stand for?
- What is the FTP test?
- Where do you find the FTP test on the Peloton?
- How to take the Peloton FTP test?
Also, this blog post will not answer questions like what is a good FTP score or the average FTP by age. That’s because your FTP test results are personal to you. Also, they’re unique to your bike and how it is calibrated.
How bike calibration affects your FTP results
Before I get into the who, what, where, etc. of the FTP, I wanted to share this photo, below, of what my FTP results looked like before and after I calibrated my Peloton bike.
I mention this because every Peloton bike is different. Well, every original Peloton bike is different when it comes to calibration. The Bike Plus calibrates automatically so if you have a Peloton Bike Plus, you can skip to the next section.
But if you have an OG Peloton like I do, then you need to know that these bikes can feel different to different people. You may have a bike that’s too easy or too hard or just right. It’s impossible to know this unless you’ve ridden a Peloton at a hotel or maybe you tried a friend’s bike.
So keep in mind that if you ever recalibrate your Peloton like I did, it will affect your FTP test results. But that’s OK.
What is the Peloton FTP test
So, what is the Peloton FTP test and why would you want to take it? For starters, the FTP test isn’t a written exam or anything like that.
Actually, it’s a 20-minute class that you take on the bike. You take it in order to get a result that shows your average output–output being a combination of cadence and resistance).
Why do you need to know what your average output would be? In order to enable the Power Zone bar on your bike. See an example, below, of the Power Zone bar on my Peloton screen during a ride with Christine D’Ercole.
Anyway, the Power Zone bar is a measure of your power on the bike. Remember: power is the result of your output.
What does FTP mean
So, what does FTP stand for? Functional Threshold Power. It isn’t unique to Peloton, by the way. Anyone who is into cycling might want to know what their FTP is.
FTP is defined as the highest average output that you could sustain on the bike for an hour. However, having you cycle at that highest average output for 60 minutes would be torture.
That’s why the Peloton FTP test is only 20 minutes long. Then, it calculates what that 20 minutes would be if you’d actually ridden at that intensity for 60 minutes. It’s not as simple as multiplying your FTP by three but it’s pretty close.
Why would I want to take the FTP test
The primary reason most people I know (myself included) take the FTP test is they want to start doing Power Zone training. Peloton offers two programs devoted to Power Zone. They are Discover Your Power Zones (25 classes over five weeks) and Build Your Power Zones (16 classes over five weeks).
In fact, if you look at the Discover Your Power Zones program, it starts with the FTP test in Week 1 and ends with the FTP test in Week 5. Additionally, in Build Your Power Zones, you’re expected to take the FTP at the end of Week 5.
Why would you take the FTP test multiple times? Because you want to measure your progress from when you started training until the end. Trust me–you will see improvement, even if it’s just a one-point increase in your FTP test results.
You’ll need test results for PZ challenges
Another reason might be that you heard about the Power Zone Pack challenges. The Power Zone Pack is a super popular Facebook group of Peloton enthusiasts. As of this writing, there are about 124,000 people in that Facebook group.
I started doing Power Zone challenges a few years ago. For the past few challenges, I’ve co-lead a team of a few hundred riders.
Due to an injury a few months ago, I sat out the most recent challenge, called Rock and Roll Zones. However, now that I’ve completed physical therapy and am feeling better, I’m definitely doing the next challenge. I’ll probably have to take my FTP test again since I’m sure my fitness has changed since the last time I took it.
Where is the FTP test on Peloton
You’ll find the Peloton FTP test under cycling on the Peloton app (if you don’t have a bike). Or if you do have the bike, use the filter on your bike. Tap Class Type, then select Power Zone. Next, go to Length (class duration) and select 20 minutes. Then you’ll see 20 min FTP Test Ride in your results.
Currently, the following Peloton instructors lead that FTP Test Ride:
- Ben Alldis
- Olivia Amato
- Christine D’Ercole
- Denis Morton
- Matt Wilpers
In fact, these are the five instructors teaching all of the Power Zone classes. Also, because Matt and Denis are the original Power Zone instructors, you’ll find multiple FTP Test Rides with them.
Always take the FTP warm up before the test
If you go back into your filter, and add 10 minutes and 15 minutes under Length, you’ll see FTP Warm Up Rides. In order to prepare for the Peloton FTP test, these warm up rides are a must.
Why? One, the instructors explain exactly what to expect during the FTP test. It’s helpful information. And, two, given the intensity of the FTP test, you’d be crazy to go into it cold. So a warm-up ride is a must.
FYI, I’ve never taken a 15-minute FTP test warm up ride. I’ve always stuck with the 10 minute ones, and they’ve served me well. However, if you’re interested in the longer warm up ride, you’ll find that only Matt Wilpers offers one for the FTP test.
What is it like to take the FTP test?
The first time I took my FTP test, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. Towards the end I was negotiating with myself about quitting versus finishing. I had to channel Peloton and Power Zone instructor Christine D’Ercole’s mantra: I am I can I will I do.
Basically, you’re supposed to start off in your Zone 4 effort. There are seven zones in Power Zone training. However, if you’ve never done Power Zone training or don’t have the Power Zone bar on your bike’s screen, then Zone 4 won’t mean much to you. Thus another reason to take that FTP warm up ride.
What happens after your FTP test
After my FTP test I was able to take my average output and plug it into my bike settings. However, these days the bike “knows” when you’ve finished your test. Therefore, it will prompt you when the test is over and ask if you want to adjust your FTP in your settings. Tell it, “Yes.”
These numbers will be added to your Preferences in your Profile (little gear sign above your profile pic on the bike table). On that same screen you can check the box to “Display Power Zones.” This will give you the Power Zone Meter on the screen for every ride after.
Now you’ve got your zones. They are unique to you, based on your performance on the FTP test. What I love about Power Zone is that I’m training based on my current fitness.
Keep in mind that the more you ride, the fitter you’ll become. And then one day you’ll realize that your zones are feeling easy and guess what? It’s time to retest. That is, take the FTP test again.
How often should you take the FTP test
I mentioned above that you should retake the FTP test when your Peloton zones start to feel easy. But the opposite is true, too.
Because I sat out the last eight-week Power Zone challenge, I’m sure my fitness has changed. I’m not writing as long or at the same intensity as I was when I was taking Power Zone classes regularly. So, it makes sense for me to retest.
Additionally, after I had COVID in 2020, I knew that my fitness had regressed. I mean, being sick definitely affected my lung function. Also, it took me many months to get back to where I was before I got sick, as I wrote about in this essay about how my Peloton helped me recover from COVID.
Final thoughts on the Peloton FTP test
I’m not going to lie–the Peloton FTP test isn’t easy. But it’s only 20 minutes of your life, and you’ll feel so proud when you finish.
Also, as you get started with Power Zone training–now that you can have the Power Zone bar on your screen–you have a bona fide metric for measuring your fitness. In addition, the Power Zone bar lets you turn any ride on the Peloton into a Power Zone ride.
So, if you’re ever wondering if riding your Peloton is worth it, taking the FTP test and then retaking it when you feel stronger will give you results that you can see, literally, on your bike’s screen.