FTHR Test. How do you ensure hard is not too hard?

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  • FTHR Test. How do you ensure hard is not too hard?
  • flanagaj
    Member

    Planning on doing this in the next few days. Most likely will do it on the turbo, but I am struggling to understand how you determine whether you are going to hard and will have to back off and invalidate the test. Articles suggest covering up the HR reading whilst doing the test, but I have become so used to looking at a bpm figure when I ride, I am lost without it.

    ianfitz
    Member

    It’s hard to get it right first time, are looking for 20mins of data? As you need a good lead in so ensure you HR is already steady.

    If it’s the first one then maybe better to do 10 mins lead in at a pace you think is doable then ramp up with 10 minutes left. I’ve done this with power and the cardiac drift is noticeable. Maybe 10bpm over the 20 minutes I was recording.

    TiRed
    Member

    You can probably determine it from past hard efforts if you have a lot of data. Cover it up and if you think you can go harder then you can. At threshold you aren’t really able to think 😉

    Turbo tests always underpredict real world racing levels for me. I’d go and find a decent loop of 20 minutes and after a good warm up, ride it as fast as you can!

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Subscriber

    I was told to set out to do a 30min TT effort, and then take the average of the last 20 mins, on the basis that what you think you can sustain turns out you can’t, hence after 10mins you’ve found the true level.

    flanagaj
    Member

    So given it can be so hit an miss for us mere mortals, how can you ensure you have an accurate test result which can be used as the basis for winter endurance training?

    I now envisage that I don’t do any winter riding, but spend the whole winter trying to get an accurate FTHR test completed.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Subscriber

    If it’s vitally important to be accurate, go and get it tested by a sports science lab. If it’s not worth spending the money to get it tested, then i suspect you aren’t exactly pushing the top echelons of performance and a number that’s within a few bpm of the accurate one will be plenty good enough.

    ianfitz
    Member

    Test, plan based on the result then re-test in 6 weeks and see what’s changed. Maybe with just HR this won’t change but if higher intensity training is new then you will still likely get a more accurate result as you’ll be more used to that sort of riding.

    fifeandy
    Member

    Warm up, 30mins flat out, press lap after first 10 mins so you can capture last 20mins of data.
    If using garmin, set up a screen that only has lap time, fill any other fields with something useless like battery life.

    Breathing should be very heavy, but not ragged/gasping.
    At 5 mins, there’ll be a slight burning in the legs, but feeling good.
    At 10 mins, its going to be starting to hurt and you’ll have the first doubts if you’ve gone too hard.
    At 15 mins it’ll be hurting really badly and it starts to become a mental game
    At 20 mins it’ll be horrendous, everything will be telling you to stop, but you keep mentally focussed on pressing the pedals and keeping the pain constant.
    At 25 mins the pain is blotting out everything else, you begin to shuffle hand position etc and lose your form slightly – but only 5 mins left to endure.
    At 30 mins you are a wreck, don’t forget to press lap again.

    Enjoy!

    Edit: it doesnt need to be a masterwork of accuracy. If you get the value +/- 2bpm you’ll get good zones, and the more often you do the test and do LT interval sessions the better you will get a feel for it.

    alwillis
    Member

    “If it’s vitally important to be accurate, go and get it tested by a sports science lab. If it’s not worth spending the money to get it tested, then i suspect you aren’t exactly pushing the top echelons of performance and a number that’s within a few bpm of the accurate one will be plenty good enough.”

    As the person on the other side of the white coat, this.

    fifeandy
    Member

    Regarding you being lost without bpm to look at, that’s a bad place to be – you need to learn to RPE.
    How is you breathing?
    How do your legs feel?
    How does the pressure feel under your feet?
    Are you spinning smoothly?

    Take all those things and then use HR to verify your feelings.

    Race CX 😉

    In V40 I race for 40 mins. Last season my average HR for each race was 172 (+/-1). This season it’s 178 with a similarly small variation. Point being you need to do more than 1 test to make sure your result is meaningful.

    At threshold you aren’t really able to think

    Rubbish.

    flanagaj
    Member

    I did a lap at CwmCarn and average was 169 for 1:07hrs. That felt ok, so I suspect the 30 min test will be around the 175 mark.

    Yes, I agree that I have become very reliant on HR.

    Premier Icon scaredypants
    Subscriber

    “If it’s vitally important to be accurate, go and get it tested by a sports science lab. If it’s not worth spending the money to get it tested, then i suspect you aren’t exactly pushing the top echelons of performance and a number that’s within a few bpm of the accurate one will be plenty good enough.”

    [quote]As the person on the other side of the white coat, this. [/quote]
    Not doubting this at all, but how do they/you ensure that a rider’s genuinely working at threshold in a lab – is there a measurable variable ?

    fifeandy
    Member

    @scaredypants, in a lab they take blood samples and measure the concentration of lactate in the blood at intervals during a ramp test.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Subscriber

    at the point you go aerobic to anaerobic (which for the purposes of this discussion is your FTHR) then you’d see a big jump in the lactate as your body can’t process it out any more.

    alwillis
    Member

    As above, measurement of blood lactate concentration (a by product of anaerobic respiration). Plotted against a series of known wattages (power outputs) and correlated to heart rate as well. This is your common or garden ramp test.

    We can also measure inspired and expired gases, and the differences between them to get information about which fuels are being used at each stage, as well as how much of each fuel, but that’s much harder to do accurately and precisely due to the nature of gases!!

    vdubber67
    Member

    Most of the advice above is useful. About the only thing I can add is basically don’t worry. I had the same stresses when I first did one – it worked out ok.

    They are ‘nicer’ to do outside though 🙂

    FWIW you’ll not get a “good” result until probably your 3rd or 4th attempt at a home FTP/FTHR test.

    First one will be ok to start building a training plan around, second will be good enough to refine the training plan and leave it for a bit, 3rd will be pretty accurate. If you are lucky.

    Last guy i know who did this sort of stuff found about 60W and 15bpm between first and third tests. The 60W is fairly unusual, the 15 bpm isn’t.

    If you go to a lab, you’ll probably be able to get the right result first time. (as you’ll probably be in a position of already knowing how hard to hurt yourself before dropping several hundred quid on lab work!)

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Subscriber

    in a lab you don’t need to know how hard to hurt yourself, the point of the ramp test is that it takes you beyond that point, when the blood lactate spikes, and that’s the answer. It’s also different from a MHR or VO2 test, which is to exhaustion and is deeply unpleasant as opposed to just very unpleasant.

    Agree in a real world test that it’s harder, you want to be goosed by the end of the 30 mins but 26 mins of not quite and then 4 of balls out to end up goosed doesn’t count. But if you do one and at the end of 30 mins think you could have gone harder, you at least have a number now to iterate from (say you find 160, try a few days later to do the same ride at 165, if you die after 10 mins then you’ll know the answer’s between the two, which’ll be good enough for approximating training zones from)

    Premier Icon scaredypants
    Subscriber

    Ah, thanks all – didn’t realise the lab versions involved direct sampling

    kcr
    Member

    The short answer is “experience”. Lots of hard riding, particularly riding races, will teach you what threshold is really like. It takes most people some time to develop that feel.
    It’s hard to do the test properly on a turbo, and most people will find they they can do more work in a real world situation like a club time trial. Just being outside with the mental stimulation of a race situation will boost your performance.

    I’d consider doing 2 x 8 minute tests on the turbo instead, and then factoring the result to get your threshold value. If you search online you should find information about how to do this. Easier to concentrate and do a good quality effort for 8 minutes.

    It is very important to do a good warm up with some intense race level intervals before you start the test.

    matts
    Member

    (say you find 160, try a few days later to do the same ride at 165, if you die after 10 mins then you’ll know the answer’s between the two, which’ll be good enough for approximating training zones from)

    …for a given day. The thing with HR is that the heart is a muscle, so it gets tired and fatigued like any other muscle. And your HR is affected by stress, caffeine, adrenaline, temperature, hydration…the list goes on.

    The short answer is “experience”. Lots of hard riding, particularly riding races, will teach you what threshold is really like.

    This.

    Current HR is just one of a number of factors that help give you context with which to evaluate whether you are riding below, at, or beyond a sustainable level. Like many things in life, experience to evaluate the context is the key.

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