I’ve done the ramp test a few times now. My last test was my best, as I expected given the training I put in. However, looking at the HR data for my ramp tests raises a few questions.
I have never formally tested for my max HR - I don’t train by HR zone so never saw the point. However, I have a number I regard as my max HR - being the highest I have ever seen during an all out effort. If not my actual max HR it must be pretty close, and close enough for the purposes of this post.
In all but one of my ramp tests my HR has risen to about 95% HR max. The odd one out was my last test where my HR hit my HR max. Does this mean my FTP hadn’t really risen much for my last test, I just worked harder during the test? Does it mean I tested so well because I was better rested than for previous tests? Does it represent nothing more than a blip due to other factors which affect daily HR?
So I am curious, what % of HRmax do other people reach during the ramp test and is this fairly consistant from test to test?
Wish I had something of value to add, I actually have my own question about HR and ramp tests. But I will note that I took a ramp test yesterday and my HR was getting pretty darn close to the low 180s, which is where I’ve seen my absolutely hardest effort, but I think I’ve let mounting fatigue in my legs let me quit before I’ve actually maxed out
My own slightly related question for folks who use HR for ramp tests is what HR do you generally observe on the threshold step? Does it align closely to what your LTHR is?
Mine pretty much goes up to MAX on the ramp test. I’ve seen my highest recorded HR ever on the TR ramp test.
Generally about 98% HR max in the final seconds.
I barely tough my max HR it is 194 and on ramp test I hit 180hr tops.
Without research to back this up, and just a long while of being a bit neurotic about my HR/Power relationship for training, I would say that the HR typically achieved in a Ramp Test is definitely in the 95%-99% range. The test is to exhaustion, so that should make sense. I don’t think you can relate the max HR in a Ramp Test to your LTHR. At least for me, the HR I achieve in a ramp test is higher. Your LTHR is the point of no return and i’d say that happens 2-3 steps in the ramp test before you’re done.
I have hit 1 beat less than what I used to consider my max HR in both of my last Ramp Tests. As such, I increased what I consider to be my Max HR (est. 187bpm for age 45, 145lbs, 5’10" and 25 years cycling).
In general, HR is so variable that you can’t rely on it as a single measure. You need to look at the entire context of any efforts to compare, and include many things outside the efforts themselves (sleep, hydration, caffeine, and all other common contributors to HR variability).
I would not take HR as a clear indicator without the consideration of the items above. I do think a person will likely hit close to their Max HR, but that may well be different on the individual, their personal strengths, and current conditioning.
I.E. it will vary a lot and it’s probably not a great thing to try and generalize.
I don’t actually know what my true maxHR is, I only know that I hit 196 on the final throws of a ramp test. I’m 38 years old for reference.
That’s an interesting question! I went back and checked. It does! It’s maybe two beats more than what I’ve traditionally trained as my LTHR.
That’s just me, though. I read a lot on this forum about folks who have highly variable heart rates at similar efforts form day to day. I typically don’t. At a given effort relative to my TR MAP ‘FTP’ I typically observe a given HR without much variation. Probably means I just don’t train very hard!
I am guessing that my HR on the Threshold step is about 10 beats lower than my actual LTHR.
However, I am guessing based on prior workouts and races, so I don’t claim to know it conclusively.
Thanks for sharing! Yeah, it’s tough to view HR/power on an isolated basis like the ramp test, but when I did it yesterday, I see a step at 290w where my HR was 161, a little lower than what I believe my LTHR to be (I’m guessing I’m in the mid 160’s). I quit the ramp test with an FTP of 268 but my workout today based on 285w was a-OK. so it kind of piqued my curiosity as to how HR progresses in the ramp test
just editing to note at the end of the 290 step my HR was 164, so it was getting there to threshold HR
The max I have ever recorded is 201, but I hit 200 on a ramp test last Friday and I’m nearly 48.
My heart rate increases a lot before tests like this, I believe due to nerves, so I actually run 10-20 bpm higher than usual for the same power during the test, but at the last few mins at max it doesn’t really matter
This season, I hit max HR (190) at failure during one ramp test. The next ramp test six weeks later I hit 178 at failure, but I couldn’t generate the power in my legs. I think my aerobic fitness improved enough such that my aerobic capacity was no longer limiting my ramp test performance, but my muscular ability to put out 320W at the end of the ramp was my limiter. That said, I also felt like I might’ve had a touch more gas in the tank a minute or so after the second ramp test, where the first one I about fell off the bike.
So I think the answer is “it depends”. I think you should definitely be within 5% or less of max HR when you really bury yourself, but if your legs are your limiter, you probably won’t actually achieve that max HR before failure. That said, it’s tough to know exactly what your max HR is because the age formula is pretty bad for trained athletes. That first ramp test showed me my max HR. At going on 42 years old, the forumla tells me 178 is my max, but I’ve seen 190 in the last 7 weeks.
but, that could have been down to existing fatigue, or you may well be right. But I think its a good approach to assess FTP accuracy across a number of workouts when you start the next phase of the plan.
Looking at past ramp tests (i’ve done about 8) I’m typically within 2 beats of the highest HR I reach on very hard outdoor efforts, which is also the max HR I would see in the 8 minute test format. In one ramp test I was about 4 beats higher than my typical max; not sure why I was so jumpy that day, but it was only once.
For some people (or for some test experiences), legs are the limiter, for others its their aerobic system. If you ride with a high cadence, you’re putting more of the burden on your aerobic system, and I think you’re likely to reach very close to your max HR if you truly go to exhaustion. Whereas with a slower cadence, your legs are likely to give out well before you approach your max HR.
For what it is worth, I had a similar experience in my last Ramp Test. Hit a high HR of 181 vs what is typically a 177 to 179 max. Knowing that I was coming out of a bout of illness, I attributed the higher HR to that. The new FTP was higher by about 4.2%, which surprised me–I actually expected it to go down. My 181 HR may have actually caused me to quit 3-5 seconds sooner than I might have actually been able to go. I was concerned about sustaining the new FTP in SSB2 mid-volume, but everything has gone just fine–very encouraging.
I just looked at my last ramp test in Nov and in the 275w step (my ftp at the time) my HR averaged 161 and hit 164 at the end of the min, and yesterday that HR happened on the 290w step, so maybe my FTP is 290 lol (i’m not pushing my luck just yet, sweet spot workout at 285w today felt not overly easy but not overly difficult either), but I do like observing the longer term trends
For sure. I’m pretty confident my FTP is accurate since Kaweah was very difficult, but achieveable, and then I had to dial down and eventually bail on Geiger +2 the next day. While I thought I maybe undershot my ramp test based on my previous experience, in future training efforts it seems like it’s pretty darn close.
The first time I did the new Ramp Test, I had my HR monitor on. I found that when my HR got toward what my max is, mentally, I said “I’m done”. That is, I let my HR tell me when to quit. I found that pretty frustrating because I felt like I could have gone harder. So…the past 3 Ramp Tests I’ve done, I’ve skpped the HR monitor. I think that has worked out better for me. I find HR to be an interesting piece of data, but ultimately, not particularly useful in the Ramp Test.
HR is much more useful to me when running. I know, for example, if I’m running a half marathon, I can’t let my HR go above a certain level or the wheels are going to fall off much too early.