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Out of "Koggan's power chart" - how does it come?

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Out of "Koggan's power chart" - how does it come?

Old 03-22-16, 07:00 AM
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Redbullet
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Out of "Koggan's power chart" - how does it come?

Hello,

After 7-8 months of riding and some 5000 km, I can keep now 30-32 km/h average speed alone for 1- 2 hours, on a flat and no windy road, or I can ride faster in a pack.
I was curious to make some testing. A FTP test (20 min) on my indoor trainer ended with a (no surprise) low FTP: 207, which means 2.7 W/kg for my weight of 76 kg.

The big surprise came from my 1 min. maximal power: with a maximum of 400W for one minute, which means 5.26 W/Kg, I’m totally out of “Koggan’s table” (the minimum value in the table, for untrained men, is 5.64) - reference here:

https://d4nuk0dd6nrma.cloudfront.net/...rprofiling.jpg

Now, given the fact that I "lost" around 10 kg during the months of training (although I was not a fat man) and I probably gained some power in the meantime, I would estimate that my "one minute" performance at the beginning of the period was around 380W/86kg = 4.4 W/kg – way above the minimum in the table. Seen as such, one could say that I had a serious physical handicap at the beginning of the period and now I am still struggling hard to overcome it – which I definitely can’t believe.

Alternatively… is my trainer power meter wrong, or do I make some wrong interpretation of the figures?

Thanks,
R.
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Old 03-22-16, 07:18 AM
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You, or anyone for that matter, may not line up straight across that chart. Those are typical numbers for each category and you could fall into any level at any point. One could have great 1 min power, but lousy FTP or vice versa. The table is only a general guideline.

At least now you know something you can work on.

I've only gotten back into cycling for a couple of years and my FTPis about 3W/kg, but my 1 min and 5 sec power is less than the corresponding numbers on the chart. I think it will take more time to build up the base to produce better short term power numbers. It's something I need to work on too.
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Old 03-22-16, 07:19 AM
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Congratulations on your weight loss. 10kg is impressive and will help you at all intervals.

What does it mean? It means you're improving. Keep going!
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Old 03-22-16, 07:21 AM
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How are you measuring power? What type of trainer do you have?
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Old 03-22-16, 07:27 AM
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I agree, don't worry about the numbers so much. I showed an FTP of 275 W last time I tested, but I weigh 100 kg At least you have a good head start on the "kg" side of the equation; the watts will come with time (as long as you are using the same device to measure for consistency).
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Old 03-22-16, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by mvnsnd View Post
You, or anyone for that matter, may not line up straight across that chart. Those are typical numbers for each category and you could fall into any level at any point. One could have great 1 min power, but lousy FTP or vice versa. The table is only a general guideline.
totally this - I have the opposite problem. I'm still big at 93kg, and I have been doing a lot of lifting, plyo, and sprint workouts. I haven't done a full FTP test but I bet my number are even lower than that. with that said, using some power formulas and estimates, I've hit almost 1300watts peak and I can "jump" in a sprint incredibly quickly, but I can only maintain that power for under 10 seconds and I'm toast. I know guys who can lead a paceline for hours but can't sprint to save their lives. genetics gives you a starting point, and then you can train your weaknesses or your strengths, depending on your goals.
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Old 03-22-16, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Redbullet View Post
After 7-8 months of riding and some 5000 km, I can keep now 30-32 km/h average speed alone for 1- 2 hours ... which means 2.7 W/kg for my weight of 76 kg.
... a maximum of 400W for one minute, which means 5.26 W/Kg, ... is my trainer power meter wrong, or do I make some wrong interpretation of the figures?
The "untrained" section of the table doesn't represent the "average" person (or even average cyclist). It mostly represents cyclists who were entering a training program with the intention of becoming racers (which is why they signed up with a professional coach). A new cyclist without the benefit of training in other disciplines (running, swimming, ball sports, etc.) will typically be well below the "untrained" level in all columns. But they don't go to cycling coaches, so coaches don't have data for them.

Your hard work (good job on the weight loss) has brought you up to the "Fair" level in long duration (FT) efforts. But the other areas each require different physical adaptations. If your self-training hasn't included the variation needed to develop those adaptations, you'll still test poorly in those areas.

1 min power is looking at your ability to make power at VO2Max and relies largely on anaerobic energy production. Your training (probably mostly sub-threshold work) has built a good aerobic base, but it's done little for anaerobic conditioning. To bring those numbers up, you need to do more high-intensity interval training. Essentially, repeated 1 min max efforts. Likewise, the remaining columns also have unique training requirements. The 5s power is all about neuromuscular recruitment and you train for it with very short duration max-effort intervals with very limited recovery time and supplement that with weightlifting. 5 min power will benefit from both aerobic and anaerobic training, but you can specifically target it with something like over/under intervals.

Don't get discouraged. You've built an excellent base, now you just need to supplement your training with some high intensity, low volume work to round out your abilities.
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Old 03-22-16, 09:47 AM
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Coggan has said several times that his chart is meant more for a generalization and not to be considered a hard rule for any individual person. I think he has even chimed in on this forum to say that.
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Old 03-22-16, 12:25 PM
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Thanks for the answers.

@caloso : In fact, I lost most of the weight within 4-5 months, then it remained relatively stable. Like throwing away what was not necessary. I think that anybody can do that if instinctively rides close to the treshold as much as possible. I almost physically felt melting the fat, not to mention that I needed to eat more to support the effort... I think that a fat person would present even a more spectacular effect like this.

@gregf83 : I use a tacx Genius (Ironman) smart trainer to measure power; I have no power meter on the bike - it is very expensive for the moment.

@Kopsis : I have just started "power intervals" - 1 min. max and 1.5 min recovery, 2x3 for the moment, once or twice a week. That is where I made the measurements (trainer session). It looks that this is the "secret" of not being dropped...
Do you have any idea (roughly) about how long it will take for a visible improvement?
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Old 03-22-16, 01:07 PM
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Power is only good to measure if you use it to train. Otherwise it's like comparing average speeds: pretty vague without some context and generally not the only indicator of "racing performance" depending on the race, etc.

What are you truly wanting to know? If you can race? You can race if you pay the $ and pin on a number and toe the line. Until you do that then you can't race. Once you do that you can race. It really is that simple.

Are you trying to figure out if you're some sort of closet olympian or next tour hopeful? Even if that power measurement is remotely accurate then no - you are not and won't be. No sense fretting about it.

If you want to use that power figure to train then do just that. It's not really an important number outside of that context as it turns out we don't decide races based on numbers before the event. Turns out there's a lot more to racing than strictly numbers.

If I had to guess....you'd be a cat5. That's solely based on your power numbers....oh wait - no it's not. It's based on the fact that all racers are cat 5 when they start. We don't technically offer upgrades based on power data so...
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Old 03-22-16, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Redbullet View Post
It looks that this is the "secret" of not being dropped...
The secret is to learn to hold that wheel in front of you and not let it go. Comes with practice that can't be had on the trainer unfortunately.

Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
If I had to guess....you'd be a cat5. That's solely based on your power numbers....oh wait - no it's not. It's based on the fact that all racers are cat 5 when they start. We don't technically offer upgrades based on power data so...


I would imagine that chart has stopped many from trying to race. The ones who weren't stopped probably got a big reality check once they gave it a try.
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Old 03-22-16, 05:46 PM
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@PepeM : Yes, I can draft pretty well (in fact, I practiced that many, many years ago as a junior and it was the only skill remaining for today). But the guys in the pack usually do "attacks", to train themselves (or maybe to drop the newcomers?) and if you don't have that 1-3 minutes "flame" on your feet, you loose them.

@Psimet2001 : Yeap, maybe cat 5, but it is not relevant. There are no categories where I live – there are far to few people practicing this sport, to rank them in categories. Racing would not be so fun - I assume. Imagine a mix of 50-100 of not ranked riders, of which more than 75% have 2000 km per month or more in their legs (I call them “semi-professionals”) and average far above 40 km/h on road races. A few professionals might also show occasionally, and they are sometimes hardly chased by the best of those “amateurs” with 2000 km/month in their feet. I guess such mix would rank around your “cat 3” level, or maybe higher; there is pretty much nothing below or above around here.
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Old 03-22-16, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Redbullet View Post
about how long it will take for a visible improvement?
I'm gonna make a wholly unscientific statement based on my experience. It took about 3-4 weeks of specific interval training 4-5 days a week on the trainer to see noticeable improvement. This was after a winter-long weight lifting program designed to increase my sprint and peak power. I followed the GCN videos and tried to mix it up every time. Each session was 20-45 minutes, although I hate riding the trainer for longer than 30 mins. The sessions were VERY hard, much harder than road rides 5x as long, even with sprints thrown in. I did this during Jan/Feb when I couldn't ride outside at all.

I didn't even notice the improvement on the trainer per se, but when I got outside in some good weather for a ride with a buddy who, last summer, was much stronger than me, I literally smoked him. About halfway through our ride, I asked if he was cool to try a couple stop sign sprints on quiet roads. He said sure. On the first one, he dropped my wheel in the first few seconds, I was able to sprint to over 35 mph, which topped my previous road top speed by 5mph, and he was gone. We tried another one about 15 minutes later and it was like he wasn't even trying. The gap was over 50 yards by the "finish" sign. I offered to do a few more, and he declined. By the end of our ride, I was slow rolling at like 13 mph and he was still off the back.

DO NOT underestimate the impact of your ability to make peak power. If you want to ride fast, you have to ride fast. Not only should you practice threshold type intervals, but you should also practice peak power 10 second sprints in a big gear, as well as smaller gear efforts where you try to hit 150+rpm. You should be able to hit over 45mph wheelspeed on the trainer with the resistance set low. This way, when someone decides to up the pace on you, you can drop the hammer, get them winded, and then take their wheel back. A couple efforts like this and they'll be toasted, and you will ride away. This can be a successful tactic in a crit if you are part of the lead pack. I plan on doing a few crits this summer, and assuming I can hang with the front, I know I can't maintain a super high pace all day and ride away from the field. What I CAN do is sprint and recover. My general plan of attack will be to try to blow the field apart early by surging, then hanging in for the sprint. If I can make it come together, it is a proven strategy.
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Old 03-23-16, 03:51 PM
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Thanks.
So, the answer seems to be Intervals, continued by intervals and... finished by intervals...
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Old 03-23-16, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Kopsis View Post
The "untrained" section of the table doesn't represent the "average" person (or even average cyclist). It mostly represents cyclists who were entering a training program with the intention of becoming racers (which is why they signed up with a professional coach). A new cyclist without the benefit of training in other disciplines (running, swimming, ball sports, etc.) will typically be well below the "untrained" level in all columns.
Very interesting; I hadn't considered that. I just started training with power a few weeks ago. 51 yo, 90 kgs (more than a bit of upper body muscle), coming up on two years of riding with somewhere around 9,000 miles logged so far, and my FTP tested out at a pathetic 230, which places me at the bottom of Cat 5 levels. I thought that was a horrid number, especially for the time I had already spent in the saddle. I guess that shows that time spent training without a plan is not spent well.

Keith
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Old 03-24-16, 05:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Redbullet View Post
I have just started "power intervals" - 1 min. max and 1.5 min recovery, 2x3 for the moment, once or twice a week. That is where I made the measurements (trainer session). It looks that this is the "secret" of not being dropped...
Do you have any idea (roughly) about how long it will take for a visible improvement?
Good start. I'd shorten the recovery and increase the reps. My favorite 1 min interval workout is the Sufferfest Revolver video. Two sets of 10x1 (10 reps, 1 minute) with 1 min rest between intervals (RBI). That's a total of 20 reps in a one hour workout. It's best to mix things up and not do the same set of intervals each workout. Two or three sets of really short stuff (20x15s, 15s RBI) is "fun". Descending ladders (start with 2 min effort, 2 min rest and decrease both by 15s each interval) are good in that you cover a range of efforts in a single workout. And of course you can mix stuff up in a single workout (10x1m set followed by a 20x15s set, for example). If you're doing it right, you'll suffer a lot in a one hour interval workout. If you feel like you could do anything other than a cool-down after your last set, you're not going hard enough.

How long it will take to see results depends entirely on your physiology. Some people adapt quickly, some don't. Genetics, nutrition, sleep, mental stress, previous conditioning, etc. all factor in. "Beginner gains" might let you see some improvement after only a few sessions. Improvement continues after that but at a lower rate. For most people, 8 - 10 weeks of consistent quality training will usually result in measurable results.
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Old 03-24-16, 07:08 AM
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FTPs of 207 and 230 are not 'low' or 'pathetic.'
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Old 03-24-16, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by PepeM View Post
FTPs of 207 and 230 are not 'low' or 'pathetic.'
At 90kg its not great. I struggle with an FTP about that and I weigh considerably less.

Last edited by therhodeo; 03-24-16 at 07:26 AM.
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Old 03-24-16, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Redbullet View Post
Thanks.
So, the answer seems to be Intervals, continued by intervals and... finished by intervals...
Sort of. You also need base and rest.
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Old 03-24-16, 07:24 AM
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Good no one said that then. Depends on one's goals really, but for someone who doesn't race to fall towards the lower spectrum of a 'racing chart' makes perfect sense, doesn't it?
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Old 03-24-16, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by trainsktg View Post
Very interesting; I hadn't considered that. I just started training with power a few weeks ago. 51 yo, 90 kgs (more than a bit of upper body muscle), coming up on two years of riding with somewhere around 9,000 miles logged so far, and my FTP tested out at a pathetic 230, which places me at the bottom of Cat 5 levels. I thought that was a horrid number, especially for the time I had already spent in the saddle. I guess that shows that time spent training without a plan is not spent well.
FTP is a popular metric because it's relatively easy to test and coaches have observed strong general correlation between FTP and racing performance. But if you're not racing, using it as a measure of overall fitness can be misleading. Your training time has only been misspent if FTP was your goal. If you're not racing, there's something to be said for just enjoying time on the bike (which isn't always that enjoyable when following a rigid training program).

It's also worth mentioning that though 9K miles in 24 months is an excellent achievement, it's by no means a lot of miles by competitive cyclist standards. There are always exceptions, but I think you'd find most cyclists at Cat3 and better are doing 200 miles a week or more. It takes a really focused program to get strong on anything less than 6 hours a week of training.
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Old 03-24-16, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Kopsis View Post
The "untrained" section of the table doesn't represent the "average" person (or even average cyclist). It mostly represents cyclists who were entering a training program with the intention of becoming racers (which is why they signed up with a professional coach). A new cyclist without the benefit of training in other disciplines (running, swimming, ball sports, etc.) will typically be well below the "untrained" level in all columns. But they don't go to cycling coaches, so coaches don't have data for them.
Reasonable guess, and close, but it's wrong. Coggan has said exactly how he anchored the top and bottom of that chart. The top is anchored at the highest observed w/kg for athletes specializing in events that value that output; that is, world-class sprinters for the short time intervals and world-class endurance athletes for FTP. Being world-class in one discipline basically ensures that you won't be world-class in all, so the top of the columns come from different people. The bottom of the chart is anchored at non-sedentary, active, non-cyclists, such as you might find if you took someone who regularly jogged or played tennis -- not a couch potato, but not anyone who is training to be a racing cyclist. Think of someone who doesn't race or play team sports and is thus "untrained" but who has an "active lifestyle." The "distance" between the top and bottom anchor was split into 40 equal-sized steps, each 2.5% of the total overall distance. Female tables are simply the male tables scaled down by a constant.

I explain all of this not to criticize Kopsis, but to point out that the construction of the original chart was pretty arbitrary and it has been misused over the years (and from the first moment he released it). Coggan put it together at a time when there was little other information available but those days are long past. He tried a couple of times to delete the "cat" labels but people kept adding them back in. He barely pays attention to the profile anymore, and I'm guessing he's not interested in updating it. For the purposes of "performance profiling" he's moved on to other measures. Most of us probably should, too.
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Old 03-24-16, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by RChung View Post
For the purposes of "performance profiling" he's moved on to other measures. Most of us probably should, too.
Like pinning on a number?

Thanks for the correction. So much context gets lost as a chart like that floats around the interwebs -- trying to put some of it back is never a bad thing.

The problem is that I don't know of many well-documented objective metrics that recreational cyclists can use to judge the level of their ability and potential for improvement. Competition (formal or informal) is obviously an excellent yardstick, but not everyone has access to events, clubs, or even well-represented Strava segments. The Coggan table may be awful, but that doesn't mean it's not still the best thing that some people have access to.

Maybe this should be a new topic, but what would be the recommended alternative?
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Old 03-24-16, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Kopsis View Post
FTP is a popular metric because it's relatively easy to test and coaches have observed strong general correlation between FTP and racing performance. But if you're not racing, using it as a measure of overall fitness can be misleading. Your training time has only been misspent if FTP was your goal. If you're not racing, there's something to be said for just enjoying time on the bike (which isn't always that enjoyable when following a rigid training program).

It's also worth mentioning that though 9K miles in 24 months is an excellent achievement, it's by no means a lot of miles by competitive cyclist standards. There are always exceptions, but I think you'd find most cyclists at Cat3 and better are doing 200 miles a week or more. It takes a really focused program to get strong on anything less than 6 hours a week of training.
Also good to know, thanks!

Keith
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Old 03-24-16, 01:32 PM
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I guess I just don't get why a recreational rider needs a well-documented, objective metric to judge his ability. There is no such thing in soccer (or basketball, or...) yet no one seems to complain about it.
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