From Endurance to Watt – a beginner’s guide to cycling training

Terms such as FTP, interval and power are not new for many cyclists. Nevertheless, it is worth taking a look at the 101 of training theory when starting to train with a power meter. In the first part of our little lexicon of cycling training we look into the basic concepts that every cyclist should have heard of. They are the fundamental knowledge for successful training with a power meter.


The 101 of cycling training


Endurance is the basic ability of a body to resist fatigue. At the same time, “Endurance” also describes a training zone in cycling between 56-75% of FTP. A cyclist should spend most of his training time in this zone.



The fartlek (swedish, fart: riding, lek: game) describes a form of training with changing intensities. This is not about previously well-defined intervals. Especially in group rides, fartleks can be well integrated in hilly terrain or at sprints.



Functional Threshold Power. FTP describes the power (in watts) that a cyclist can maintain for a maximum of one hour. This value serves as a basis to determine the individual training zones.


heart rate

When training with a power meter, the heart rate is an important benchmark to give insights into the state of training and health. In addition, the heart rate gives an overview at long and slow endurance workouts about the trainig load for you whole body.



An interval is a part of a workout that is executed with a different intensity than the the basic (endurance) tempo. Interval training is characterized by previously planned and changing intensities during a ride.



Lactate is a waste product of the anaerobic metabolism. It is produced in the muscles at high intesities and responsible for the burning in the legs. To avoid lactate from disturbing your ride, scream “shut up legs” and go on.



The basis of modern cycling training. Power is displayed in watts on your bike computer. It is the product of force and speed measured within a cycling power meter in form of torque and cadence.



In targeted training, especially in cycling training, individual training units do not stand for themselves. In a training plan, training sessions are planned so that phases with high intensities alternate with relief phases. Seen over a season, this results in different training periods that allow you to plan performance highs for specific races or other events.


training zones

Your effort on a bike can be devided into different zones, from the regenerative area, going very slow, to the neuromuscular area, a sprint with the maximum wattage. In training science, these areas are used to design each workout. A common model by Hunter Allen and Andrew Cogan divides the training into seven zones.

Training zone | Percent of FTP

Active regeneration | <55% of FTP

Endurance | 56-75% of FTP

Tempo | 76-90% of FTP

Lactate threshold | 91-105% of FTP

VO2max | 106-120% of FTP

Anaerobic capacity | 121-150% of FTP

Neuromuscular power |> 150% of FTP



Cadence is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM). It is, in addition to force, used as a decisive factor for your performance. You can learn cadence in our blog about optimal cadence.



Watt is a physical unit that indicates the energy used for a given period of time. Your power output is displayed in watts on your bike computer and “watts don’t lie”. Watts always give you an exact count of the effort you put into your bike to move it forward.