Monday, December 29, 2008

Power Profiles of Elites, Others

I received this comment recently for this blog, and felt it asked a great question...

"Hi there

I was wondering what a pro male triathlete power profile looks like
if you don't mind that would be cool


Haley asks a great question, as many people don't know what good power values are. Many athletes think the higher the numbers, the better. Generally, this is true, especially when compared to a single person over time, but comparing person to person, this is not the case. Power is relative to two values, weight and aerodynamic drag.

Power to weight is a key value in general, but is especially meaningful when considering a hilly, or mountainous bike course. If a course is flat or lightly rolling, which allows athletes to stay in the aero position, then aerodynamic drag is the limiting factor. Weight can actually help in some instances, as the mass moving allows it to maintain higher speed much easier than a low mass person, especially on a flat course.

Also, the quality of these values depends on whether you are a cyclist or triathlete, as well as the distance or event you focus on. A match sprinter on the track would not care about their CP 180 value, and in contrast an Ironman athlete doesn't really care too much about their CP .2 -6 values.

Haley is an Ironman triathlete, so it would seem obvious she is looking for a good value to base on for that. She asked for males, so here is what I have come to find, as well as talked with other coaches to be the standard for CP 60, or what we call FTP, Functional Threshold Power. This is the value you can hold for 60 mins.

If you want to qualify for Kona as a male age-grouper in the more competitive age groups, you need to have an FTP very close to double your body weight in pounds. For example, a 150 lb male in the 30-34 age group needs to have a FTP of close to 300 watts.

If you're a male pro, wanting to be competitive and qualify for Kona, (which means top 7-8 places overall), you need to be over 2, closer to 2.2 times your body weight in pounds for FTP. For example, this year I had an FTP at Ironman Coeur d'Alene of 350 watts, and weighed about 165 lbs, giving a value of 2.12 times my body weight. I finished 7th at that race.

Heading into Ironman Arizona, I was seeking an FTP of 375, and weight around 160-162 lbs. This would give me a value of about 2.3, which would be very competitive.

It should be noted that my background is running, and this assumes you run competitively in your category, and swim middle of the pack to front of the pack. If this value of FTP to weight was the end-all, be-all, we wouldn't bother racing, we'd just all submit our FTP's and determine the results from that. So there is a lot to consider besides these values, but when someone comes to me and tells me their goals, this is a standard I use to see if their goals are realistic.

This was a very good question, and I will take the time to answer it over the course of a few posts, with regards to females and other age-groups. Thanks Haley!

Coach Vance


manny said...


You say cp6 does not have a lot
to do with ironman. To me if you do not have a high cp6 then you will not have a high FTP. If you say a 150lbs guy need's to have an Ftp around 300 andyour CP6 is only 310 you are far off. Now f you say cp6 has nothing to do with fnishing or doing well in a irnman race then I would agree. But it has everything to do with potential even more than vo2max. DO to the fact that that there can be as much as 15watts per liter variance. So cp6 has everything and nothing to do with ironman racing depending on how you look at it.

Jim Vance said...


Good point. I have seen athletes with incredible VO2 max and short term power values be great at longer distances. I have also seen athletes who do terrible at the longer distances despite their high CP 6 and VO2 max values. It really comes down to the individual.

Coach Vance

Chris Wichert said...

Because most triathlons (especially major ones)are on courses that are flat to slightly rolling. it seems to me that one's abosolute FTP would be more valuable than FTP relative to body weight. I've noticed that a lot of successful half ironamn and especially ironman pros are somewhere around 74-75kgs. would a smaller athlete benefit from increasing their body weight? I know that resistance training may not directly improve performance in triathlon, but i'm wondering if it would be a valuable adjunct in training for a smaller athlete (69-70kgs)?

Jim Vance said...


Yes, many Ironman courses are not mountainous, but a few have plenty enough of climbing to make power to weight ratios matter quite a bit. Also, the aerodynamics will matter more than just absolute power. This said, if you can get decent aerodynamics on a flat to gently rolling course, you will be fast with high absolute power values, despite weight. Now the run, that's another story.

Coach Vance