Peloton FTP Test: The Ultimate Guide for the Beginner!


What exactly is the Peloton FTP Test?

If you’re new to Peloton’s Power Zone training and would like to know how FTP is linked to this program, you have come to the right place.

In simple terms, an FTP test is something that tells you at what level you currently are in terms of your cycling performance. 

Furthermore, if you know your FTP score, you can enter the Power Zone training, which focuses on specific output levels during a ride and its main purpose is to help you improve your overall performance.

In this guide, we will look at Discover Your Power Zones program available for Peloton users, how it is beneficial for a beginner, and how to take the FTP test to improve your performance over time.

So, let’s get started.

Also Read: What is a Good Peloton Output? The Ultimate Guide!

What is FTP?

FTP stands for Functional Threshold Power and it is the highest power a rider is able to sustain for an entire hour on the bike. You can identify your FTP through your average output measured over a 20-minute max effort test. It is measured in watts and your Peloton screen shows the reading for every ride.

Your FTP is used to set your training zones, which in the case of Peloton are known as Power Zones. To get the percentage, multiply the number you got in watts with 0.95 or 95%. This will be your exact power level.

FTP is an important metric that helps to improve your strength and endurance over time. It will be useful in many different events during your training including sprint triathlons and multi-stage cycle races.

If you choose workouts based on Power Zones, you will be able to quantify the intensity and duration of a particular ride based on your FTP score. This helps to stay at the right level at any given time without straining or exhausting yourself.

What Are Peloton Power Zones?

There are a total of seven Power Zones or intensity levels in Peloton with more than 400 classes based on individual power output. In other words, the instructors use these zones to determine the intensity of a workout instead of cadence or resistance.

This is quite beneficial because a lot of people don’t find cadence and resistance readings to be very descriptive. So, if you just keep looking at these readings, you have no way of telling if you’re improving over time or not.

Power outputs are calculated automatically by Peloton for each and every zone based on the FTP score. If, for example, your FTP score is 144, your power zone ranges will be different (slightly lower) from someone whose FTP score is 175.

So, basically, the power zones are different for different users even though they are taking the same class and the ranges are based on their individual FTP scores.   

Since Peloton comes with a built-in power meter, measuring your FTP is not difficult at all. For people who use other types of bikes, there are a lot of calculations involved but thanks to the new technology, Peloton handles everything automatically.

Peloton Power Zones Explained

Here is a description of the seven power zones available in Peloton that you can use along with your FTP score to get better at achieving your fitness goals.

Zone 1 (Active Recovery)

This is a relatively easy zone in which the FTP is to be multiplied by 55% or 0.55 to get an estimated output you should achieve. It’s an active recovery zone, which means the intensity will be low.

Zone 2 (Endurance)

This zone is termed endurance and here your % FTP should be in the range of 56-75%. Again, it’s not very difficult to achieve and you can work out in this zone if you are pursuing any of the endurance sports, namely running and cycling.

Zone 3 (Tempo)

In this zone, the % FTP should be between 76 to 90%. It is still a sustainable ride but things will start getting tougher thenceforth.  

Zone 4 (Lactate Threshold)

This zone is known as the lactate threshold because if you work out above this threshold, your muscles will start aching. You need to multiply your FTP score by 91-105% to find out the target output. It’s a challenging zone and you won’t be able to sustain the ride for more than an hour.  

Zone 5 (VO2max)

To work out in zone 5, you have got to multiply your FTP score by 106-120%. This zone is known as VO2max or maximal oxygen uptake. It’s a measure of the highest amount of oxygen an athlete is capable of using during a workout. The higher the score is; the more endurance you have.

At this stage, you cannot sustain a ride for more than 15 minutes but still, it’s not as hard as the zones that follow after this level.

Zone 6 (Anaerobic Capacity)

This is a very hard stage in which a person is only able to sustain a ride for about 30 seconds or a little longer. To estimate the target output, you need to multiply your FTP score by 1.21 to 1.50 or 121 to 150% to get a percentage value.

This zone is termed anaerobic capacity because now power will be generated in your body through anaerobic metabolism. The energy systems activated at this level will only be able to work for only a minute or a few seconds before they are exhausted.

Zone 7 (Neuromuscular Power)

This zone is known as the maximum effort zone because there is no zone beyond this point and a person can only sustain a ride for only a few seconds while working out in this zone. They need to multiply the FTP score by >151% to get an estimate of the power output.

Since the body will start using its stored ATP and creatine phosphate to produce energy at this level, it’s not possible to continue exercising in this condition for more than 15 seconds.

Your energy levels will be depleting and you will need time to recover before starting another workout.      

Also Read: Delta vs SPD: Which is the Best for Power Transfer?

Peloton Power Zones Summarized

Now that you know the kind of output required for each zone, you will understand how your body responds to cycling at different intensities. Riding in a particular zone will make your body adapt to its objectives and you will be able to tell if you can do better and move up or stay in the same zone for a long time.  

Triathletes and fitness experts don’t need a lot of time to achieve their objective in a hard or very hard power zone. Whereas, recreational cyclists and even criterium racers would spend a lot of time in that zone.

Cycling is an exercise that improves only over time because your body adapts slowly to the increasing energy system demands. Peloton Power Zones are therefore a great way to step into this game and slowly and gradually make your way to the top.  

How to Take the FTP Test?

Now that you are familiar with the reason for calculating the FTP and why you need it, it’s time to actually measure it and take the FTP test.

The FTP test is simply a 20-min FTP test ride, which can be easily found by browsing through the available rides on your Peloton bike. If you are unable to find it, select the “Power Zone” filter and you will see it listed there.

When your ride ends, the average output can be found on the ride recap screen. This average is your current FTP score.

This score is an estimate of your highest workout power for a 60-min spin class.  

How to Ace the FTP Test?

For any type of test, the person taking it wants to ace it. The same goes for the FTP test on Peloton. If you want to have your best possible FTP, Peloton recommends taking the “10-min FTP warm-up ride” available by one of their Power Zone instructors.

This ride will prepare you for the actual 20-minute ride that will measure your FTP and also outline some tips and tricks to ace it.

You can find the ride when you choose “Power Zone” as a class type while browsing for rides on your Peloton bike.      

Do Peloton Power Zones Have Specific Instructors?

Yes, there are only a few Peloton instructors who are trained to coach the Power Zones program. These instructors include Matt Wilpers, Denis Morton, Christine D’Ercole, and Olivia Amato.

Matt comes with 10 years of coaching experience and he’s an avid cyclist determined to help his trainees learn where they stand in terms of overall fitness. According to him, performance training should feel entertaining instead of a burden. And this philosophy helps him train people in the Power Zones program.

Denis brings an impressive 14-year fitness leadership career to Peloton users. He believes each one of us has a natural tendency to athleticism and it only needs to be discovered. He wouldn’t stress you out on the workouts, rather work within your FTP to improve your performance slowly.

Christine is a seasoned track cyclist who believes everyone has the capacity to break through their limitations and discover the maximum they can achieve. Her coaching consists of structured formats designed to push the trainees forward regardless of their current fitness level.

Olivia is dedicated to bringing a positive change to your workouts no matter which power zone you are exercising in. She will make sure that you work hard to achieve your goals and that she is with you at every step of the process. A cheerleader and a fitness expert who would support you no matter how challenging things may get!

What To Do With the FTP Score?

Ok, so you have been able to take the test successfully and now have an FTP score at your disposal. What are the next steps?

Well, it’s not necessary to start your Power Zone workouts as soon as you finish taking the test ride. You can put your output results in the profile settings to have Peloton calculate your power zone ranges. These readings will be available for all the subsequent rides that you plan on taking.

So, the FTP will still be useful even if you don’t specifically take a class listed under Power Zones. You will immediately know which power zone you have hit when you have these readings available. At the bottom of your dashboard, there will be a power zone bar that indicates which zone you’re currently on.

If you want to calculate your FTP accurately, make sure your bike is calibrated correctly. Peloton provides a complete guide on how to achieve this and you can find the guide here. It is also possible to contact Peloton support if you’re having issues with your bike or you think your FTP score turned out to be extremely faulty.

Simply follow this guide, calculate your FTP score and get ready to compete against yourself!    

Now it’s your turn…

Taking the FTP test on Peloton helps to see where you currently stand and if there is room for improvement. If you see your current score improving from 100 to 105, for example, that’s a good start.

The improvement occurs when you enter the Power Zone training offered by Peloton, which is based on your current fitness level. This type of training helps you improve in a smart way without under or overtraining or relying on metrics that don’t tell you if you’re doing any better.

Using power zones is a way to determine at which intensity you should work out depending on your fitness goals. For example, if you want to train for endurance, you should be working out in Zone 2 and 3. And if you’re training for power, Zone 4 and 6 are best suited to your goals.

I hope this guide helped to answer most of your queries related to the FTP test and power zone training like the one offered by Peloton. I also hope you’re now ready to take the test and see yourself improve over time!

All the best with your fitness goals. 

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