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Functional Threshold Power Is Not Equivalent to Lactate Parameters in Trained Cyclists

Jeffries, Owen1; Simmons, Richard2; Patterson, Stephen D.2; Waldron, Mark2,3

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: July 01, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003203
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Jeffries, O, Simmons, R, Patterson, SD, and Waldron, M. Functional threshold power is not equivalent to lactate parameters in trained cyclists. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000–000, 2019—Functional threshold power (FTP) is derived from a maximal self-paced 20-minute cycling time trial whereby the average power output is scaled by 95%. However, the physiological basis of the FTP concept is unclear. Therefore, we evaluated the relationship of FTP with a range of laboratory-based blood lactate parameters derived from a submaximal threshold test. Twenty competitive male cyclists completed a maximal 20-minute time trial and an incremental exercise test to establish a range of blood lactate parameters. Functional threshold power (266 ± 42 W) was strongly correlated (r = 0.88, p < 0.001) with the power output associated with a fixed blood lactate concentration 4.0 mmol·L−1 (LT4.0) (268 ± 30 W) and not significantly different (p > 0.05). While mean bias was 2.9 ± 24.6 W, there were large limits of agreement (LOA) between FTP and LT4.0 (−45 to 51 W). All other lactate parameters, lactate threshold (LT) (236 ± 32 W), individual anaerobic threshold (244 ± 33 W), and LT thresholds determined using the Dmax method (221 ± 25 W) and modified Dmax method (238 ± 32 W) were significantly different from FTP (p < 0.05). While FTP strongly correlated with LT4.0, the large LOA refutes any equivalence as a measure with physiological basis. Therefore, we would encourage athletes and coaches to use alternative field-based methods to predict cycling performance.

1School of Biomedical Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom;

2School of Sport, Health and Applied Science, St Mary's University, London, United Kingdom; and

3School of Science and Technology, University of New England, New South Wales, Australia

Address correspondence to Owen Jeffries, owen.jeffries@newcastle.ac.uk.

Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.