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FTP or Critical Power – which is the best cycling fitness test?

If you’re even remotely interested in cycling performance – or a user of the best indoor cycling apps such as Zwift – you’ll be familiar with the concept of ‘functional threshold power’ or FTP. Theoretically, it is the maximum power that can be sustained for 60 minutes, and is a marker of general aerobic fitness. It’s useful because it helps define cycling training intensity zones and calculate metrics such as ‘training stress score’ (TSS). The more scientifically sophisticated rival to FTP is Critical Power (CP) – but is it really a superior cycling test and, if so, why? 

Critical Power, though similar to FTP, is finding favour among cyclists who place a premium on accuracy and in-depth data analysis. For the same reason, it is the preferred benchmark among sports scientists and national cycling federations including British Cycling. So should you too be testing CP instead of FTP? Let’s face it, no one enjoys cycling fitness tests, so you probably don’t want to perform more than one type. It’s time to choose. 

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