Rider Categorization Based on FTP: How Do I Rank?

Rider Categorization Based on FTP: How Do I Rank?

Many riders discover their FTP for the first time on Zwift. And once they’ve done that, the next question is usually, “Is my FTP good?”

There are many ways to answer that question, but let’s start by saying the most important thing is that you’re working to get stronger, no matter your fitness level. Constantly comparing yourself to others can be discouraging, since there’s always stronger riders out there!

That said, let’s look at two ways to compare your FTP to others, so you can see where you stand in the universe of cyclists.

A Quick Intro to FTP

If you’re new to riding with power, you’re probably unfamiliar with the FTP (functional threshold power) as well. Read “All About FTP and Why It Matters On Zwift” to learn the basics of this important cycling metric.

Method 1: Coggan’s Chart

Here’s a handy chart showing typical power numbers for various categories of cyclists in real-world racing. (The “FT” column is your FTP number.) This chart was originally created by Andy Coggan.

The numbers are in watts per kilogram, so you’ll need to know your weight in order to calculate your FTP in w/kg.

Example: if you weigh 75kg and have an FTP of 250W, your FTP w/kg would be 250/75=3.33

ftp-table

This is a useful chart if you race IRL, or want to begin doing so. It helps answer common racer questions. Are you racing the “right” category? Are you underpowered for your category, overpowered, or in the right place? And what sort of potential do you have as a racer given your current fitness level?

The chart can also help you spot weaknesses holding you back from top race results. Two examples:

  1. If you’re racing as a cat 4 but have a cat 2 FTP, this might indicate a lack of racing skill. Perhaps you ride very efficiently, wasting that cat 2 power and thus allowing yourself to be beaten by smarter cat 4 riders.
  2. If your FTP places you in cat 3, but your 1-minute power places you in cat 5… you need to train that 1-minute power!

Method 2: ZwiftPower’s Critical Power Charts

If you’ve signed up for ZwiftPower (highly recommended for all Zwifters), the site has built a power profile for you based on your ride history. This includes a chart showing your highest 20-minute average power in the past 90 days.

Note: 20-minute power is a good proxy for FTP. Just reduce it by 5% to estimate your FTP – so a 300W average power would work out to a 300 x .95 = 285W FTP.

How does your FTP rank? Mouse over the two 20-minute bars to see a percentile ranking against a sampling of “serious cyclists”. (More on those numbers here. The percentile grade is split by gender.)

For more on ZwiftPower’s critical power charts, see our post “All About Your Critical Power Chart on ZwiftPower“.

What Next?

Looking to improve your FTP? Of course you are! There are plenty of resources available to guide you, but you’ll have to put in the work!

Zwift has FTP Booster training plans, and here are the two most popular books around for helping cyclists train smart with power – increasing not only your FTP but your overall racing fitness!

Questions or Comments?

We hope this post helps to the “how good is my FTP” questions. Got FTP-related questions or comments? Share below!

About The Author

Eric Schlange

Eric runs Zwift Insider in his spare time when he isn't on the bike or managing various business interests. He lives in Northern California with his beautiful wife, two kids and dog. Follow on Strava

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Curtis Repen
Curtis Repen (@crepen)
1 month ago

Hi Eric, this old guy wonders how age factors into it? Any ideas?

Steve Reynolds
Steve Reynolds
1 month ago
Reply to  Curtis Repen

Joe Friel’s book “Fast After 50” will tell you a lot about how age affects performance. But as for FTP, it’s an individual measurement that has nothing specifically to do with age. At some point in a person’s life, your FTP will go down, but when it happens and why it happens is dependent on a lot of variables, not just age. I started riding at age 61 and since then (now age 66) my FTP has varied from a low of about 210W to a high of about 282W (which it is now). I doubt that I’ll ever get… Read more »

John
John
1 month ago

I’m 55 male . Can I improve my fitness to go from cat c to cat b .

Keith Maclure
Keith Maclure
1 month ago
Reply to  John

definitely!

Keith Maclure
Keith Maclure
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith Maclure

If you can put the work in…

Steve Reynolds
Steve Reynolds
1 month ago
Reply to  John

I suspect most people, including 55 y/o’s can improve their FTP unless they have health or physical issues that prevent them. It’s just a question of putting the work in as Keith replied to your question. Simply riding more and at higher effort will even provide some gain. But the best way is to do specific training with a goal, a plan, an understanding of what it takes to achieve the improvement and the commitment of time needed to do it. I recommend you check out the books in the article above and also Friel’s other book “Fast After 50.”… Read more »

Peter R
Peter R
1 month ago
Reply to  John

Yes, I am 56 and was able to briefly move from C to B by Zwifting regularly for about 8 months. Admittedly other life priorities pulled me out of regular riding/racing in Zwift and I am back down to a C.
The lesson is you can certainly improve by working for it.

Steve M
Steve M
1 month ago
Reply to  John

I’m 52 and for the last 10 years I’d been happy to finish in the bottom third of the CX races I entered. I just didn’t think I could improve much, so resigned myself to lowly end finishes. During lockdown, I really got into Zwift and training with power. I started to track my power curve on Strava, using a spreadsheet to keep a record and trying to beat last months numbers. Over the course of the last 12 months my FTP has increased by 101 Watts, moving me into cat B. Firstly I’d say you need to put in… Read more »

CGBROSSEAU
CGBROSSEAU
1 month ago

How come my FTP calculated outdoor with my Garmin vector is at 305W or 3,5W/kg and on Zwift it’s at 240W or 2,8W/kg?

Joakim
Joakim
1 month ago
Reply to  CGBROSSEAU

Do you use two different power meters, Vector outside and your trainer inside?

If so I think that’s the answers. The vector pedals needs to be installed very exactly to be reasonable accurate, for what I know they are not the most accurate power meter and power could vary between training sessions.

Turn The Damn Cranks
Turn The Damn Cranks
1 month ago
Reply to  Joakim

The only ones had to be installed carefully; the new ones are like installing any other pedal. Calibration is key, of course, but they are more than acceptably accurate; there’s a reason DCRainmaker says the Vectors are his go to pedal.

slowridr
slowridr
1 month ago
Reply to  CGBROSSEAU

As Eric says – it’s common to go less hard indoors, even if you *feel* like you’re absolutely emptying yourself out in the ‘safe’ environment of a trainer (can’t fall off, can close your eyes, you’re already home so no need to worry about getting home etc).
It’s at least partly because when you’re sitting on any static trainer you’re mostly just using your legs and lower back, but riding IRL uses your core more, you pull on the bars more effectively, all of which adds a few percent.

Mark McVan
Mark McVan
1 month ago

Just a small correction. “Overall cycling population” isn’t quite right. It is the population who uses Cycling Analytics. They categorize their average user as a “serious cyclist” and half of their user base races. Definitely not a representative sample of the overall cycling population.

Ricardo Parker
Ricardo Parker
1 month ago

Thanks Eric, keep up the great work!

Joel
Joel
1 month ago
Reply to  Ricardo Parker

I second that! 💪work!

Jozsi
Jozsi
1 month ago

And we have so many 40+, 50+ and even 60+ WorldClass Pro riders on ZwiftPower, even in teams and the team leaders dont realize these people’s power are all fake numbers..

Joel
Joel
1 month ago

I’ve got an FTP of 225 W which gives me 3.125 W/kg or mid-rage for CAT4 🙂

But now I am sad about my 5 second power…

I really thought that 850 W (11.8 W/kg) was good (turns orange when I hit it!) till looked at this chart that puts me on the bottom….the BOTTOM of CAT5

Any thoughts about sprint training? 5-10s all out every 1-5 minute(s)? how many reps?

Angus
Angus
1 month ago
Reply to  Joel

The Coggan chart doesn’t work for sprinting in the sense you are thinking of it. World class on there are track sprinters who are only sprinting, not doing 200km and then sprinting. These numbers might make you feel better (but perhaps not much)! Bear in mind that when Viviani races on the track, he does the endurance events. https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/racing/data-reveals-the-most-powerful-sprints-of-2018-and-the-numbers-are-pretty-mind-blowing-359140

Beth
Beth
1 month ago

I did my first ftp test and noticed I couldn’t maintain 90rpms if my life depended on it. Was I supposed to be in ergo mode or switch gears? Thanks!

s poke
s poke
1 month ago
Reply to  Beth

Free ride all the way for FTP. 5 mins warm up then 45 mins at 6/10 RPE and go harder if you’re still feeling strong in the last 15 mins. Should end about 8-9/10 RPE. No specific RPM required, 70-95 is an ok range. If you’re going under or over then switch gears to keep within a comfortable RPM range.

Steve Ward
Steve Ward
1 month ago

Brand new to Zwift , 65 years old , 5’8” 192 lbs , I know my w/kg will be very low . Today I averaged 63 watts for 19km over 43mins .It seems unusually low .How can I improve .
l ve been riding for 20 years outside and average around 27km an hour for 60km through the year .

Mark
Mark
20 days ago

checked my hover % on zwiftpower (thanks for that tip Eric) … 48.1% on the 20min, let’s say it gets far worse on the shorter timeframes. I’m putting the pants numbers down to only the upper end of talent hooking up with ZP (I’m often inside the top 20% in races/group rides & claimed a few sprint jerseys) … anyway, I’m loving riding indoors this last year, definitely getting fitter/smashing PBs when do get to go outside & beer handles are much smaller (49yrs / 78kg / ~3w/kg … lost nearly 2 stone since I jumped back on the bike… Read more »

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