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Why Cyclists are so Damn Skinny ...

Posted Feb 14 2013 8:00am

I train with power on the bike.

I believe everyone should train with power and hopefully after this brief analysis you'll see why?

Each year I usually cycle very sporadically over the winter and run lots of miles. By the time Feb/Mar roll around I am ready to get back in the saddle and this means I need to do a Functional Threshold Power Test(FTP).  An FTP test is simply the maximum amount of watts you can hold for one hour. This number is than used as your baseline for training and you retest every 6 weeks to track improvement and reset the baseline. Simple, right?

I did my FTP test last Wednesday and here are the results I wrote in my Training Peaks log
- My FTP is 207.1 on 2/6//13.

- FTP is down from 218 on 3/18/12.- In March 2012 my weight during that FTP Test was 153lbs, which is a w/kg of 2.98.

            - Sidebar: W/Kg stands for Watts per Kilograms. This is the avg watts push divided by my weight in kilograms. The higher the number the better.- However, on 2/6/13 my weight was 142lbs** which makes my W/Kg 3.215 (nice).So ...  I lost 11 watts from LYs FTP Test at the same time BUT my W/Kg went up by .23. This means I am pushing less Watts but climbing better and riding faster despite the drop in power. This is why Cyclists look like bean poles!

Now what the heck does this all mean to a Triathlete?

Well, this was my first FTP test after being sick and a long layoff. I expected it to be low and over the next 8 months my goal is to get my weight down another 3lbs to 139lbs and increase my FTP to 221w. If these two goals are accomplished my W/Kg's would be 3.51.

Now these numbers become relevant when you plug them into a calculator ( ) to figure out what can be accomplished on the bike course. My "A" race this year is Ironman Florida so it will be the course I use for the calculations.

Here is what things will look like:

At 139lbs and an FTP of 221, which would be 3.51 w/kg, the bike split on a flat course like Florida would be:

- @65% FTP = 144watts avg  = 5hr 29min

- @70% FTP = 155watts avg = 5hr 19min
If I rode the course today at an FTP of 207 and @65% FTP = avg watts 135 = 5hr 37min.  
These numbers do not take into account wind or road conditions but are nice to use when trying to estimate performance.
By training with power I have clear and concise metrics with clear and concise goals. An FTP of 221 is very attainable for me, even at a lesser weight then last year. It is something that I am very excited to go after because by training with power it is measurable and as I move through my training my fitness level will be a known entity as opposed to something I am guessing at.
Do you train with power? After reading this are you going on a crash diet?

Thanks for Reading,
** I have not weighed 142lbs since I was 13yo.

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