What factors determine Threshold Power?

What factors influence your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) / Lactate Threshold (LT)?

The higher your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) or Lactate Threshold (LT), the faster / more efficiently we cycle, ceteris paribus. Your LT is determined by;

a) VO2 max or how much oxygen you can deliver to your muscle, it is the size of your aerobic engine.

b) Utilisation of your VO2 max. Basically the % of your VO2 max you can sustain. This is not necessarily the same for every athlete. You could have two athletes with the same VO2 max but one can use 80% and the other maybe 85%.

c) Economy: even if two athletes have the same VO2 max and utilise the same amount of oxygen, if one rider has a stronger and more able neuromuscular system – they will produce more watts.  Rider 1 may be able to produce 80 Watts with a litre of oxygen, vs another rider who may only be able to produce 65 Watts. 

These three factors determine the power (in Watts) that a cyclist can produce at a threshold.

The first two factors (VO2 max and utilisation of the VO2 max) can be considered as metabolic components of the performance. The third factor (economy) can be considered as a neuromuscular component of the performance.

Think of it as being a blend of your cardiovascular system (heart, lungs and all that permits blood to circulate) and your Neuromuscular System (muscles and nerves). A strong and efficient supply of oxygenated blood, coupled with strong muscles is the goal, which we can develop by training across different training zones and stressing each of our energy systems along the way. 

There is no one size fits all, and this is where a good coach is worth their weight in gold.  A coach must understand you as an individual, and provide you with a unique blend of training to get the best out of you, in the pursuit of your goals. 

Article adapted from Technogym – Home Cycling Tips 9 https://www.technogym.com/gb/newsroom/vo2-max-threshold-power-neuromuscular-training/

Written by Rowe & King Coach, Matt Rowe.