If you train with power on the bike, a challenging point is in determining where to set your FTP when you do start training regularly on the bike again. In-season FTP will not be a good measuring stick because your fitness at the beginning of the off-season is nowhere near what it is at the height of racing. Certainly, you could perform an FTP test “out of the gate”, but when moderately out of shape, the test becomes both mentally and physically distasteful, and the results can be a bit skewed.
So, what’s an athlete to do?
Here’s a simple way to establish a baseline FTP that will be close enough to get you training at the right intensities for your various zones. Take your weight in pounds (1kg = 2.2lbs) and double it. If you weigh 150lbs, then it is 150 x 2 = 300. If you are over 35 years old, subtract 0.5% from this number for every year above 35. So, if you’re 45, you subtract 5% from 300, which equals 285. This is your ballpark FTP.
Remember, training zones are “zones” for a reason. There are no absolutes in terms of an ideal or best percentage at which to train a specific energy system. So, if the above estimate is off by 10-20 watts – in either direction – the effect it will have on your training zones is minimal. My suggestion is to start with the above formula, use it for the first 4-8 weeks of your off-season training, and then complete an actual FTP test.
By giving yourself a few weeks of buffer from your final race to no training to unstructured training to beginning preparation for next season, you will allow yourself to better ease into your regimen with little to no downside in your actual preparation. And, you're removing any initial pressures about either conducting a stress test in which you're really not ready to perform, or puzzling over how to establish some preliminary training zones on the bike.