Ramp test under achiever

Russel, I have to update my post after just completing my FTP test an hour ago. I thought my max HR was 188 based on my last FTP test. Nope, lol, just hit a max HR of 189. Tough but I’m happy with the result and had that metallic taste in my mouth for about 10 minutes afterwards.

I had the same issue. My ramp test was significantly lower than my 20min test. I think some of it comes down to which energy systems you’ve been training and if that matches up to the 20 minute or ramp test better.

the first ramp test I did after 4 weeks off I did 3 different times in a week and took the highest one. Like you everything in SSB felt manageable, so much that I’ve done every workout in the aero position on my tri bike, something I have never been able to do before. So if nothing else, that’s been a confidence builder.

I noticed some discussion about Max HR. My max is theoretically 177 based on age - 220. On the ramp test I felt good and could have gone more but my heart rate hit 181, so I called it quits. Didn’t want to over stress the heart. SSB l mid has been relatively easy so far. Can I push beyond my theoretical max HR?
By the way, first week on trainerRoad, so still new to indoor and structured training.

Ignore the HR max calculation. It is garbage and not a good way to set your limits.

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220 minus your age is not reliable. I’ve never heard of anyone stopping because of a theoretical max HR. You, and likely I, have never reached our true max HR. As you get fitter you are able to push closer towards your max HR. Aside from a medical condition recommended by your physician, there is no reason to hold back any effort because of HR.

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My physician is a marathoner, I’m a hypochondriac. I get a lot of rolling eyes, followed by laughter. Then lectures on why I need to step up my running. Thanks for heads up, next time I’ll test the pain threshold.

I’ve seen a whole raft of posts about people being unsure that the ramp test is providing an accurate ftp. If you are unsure, could one solution be to just skip the first workout of the week and simply add in a 40+ min interval at your new FTP. I think by the 40 min mark you’d be able to assess whether your ftp is right or not.

A couple of workouts can be done to evaluate FTP after a test. Lamarck is a common recommendation.

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Did my second ramp test this morning after completing SSBLV1. Results were a bit better, but I still think there is a bit of a learning curve to this that I haven’t optimized. My first test said 238 as stated above. This test said 254. 254 is slightly higher than the 250 I arbitrarily chose and have been training at since the first test, so it’s perhaps more indicative. I did fail on the 16th step so I started to wonder about this test. The end of the 15th step coincides with the 20 minute mark and since I barely made it past the 20 minute mark, makes me think that getting to 20 minutes is equivalent to your current FTP. Anything beyond perhaps shows an FTP increase. I’d like to hear if others have seen something different.

If this is true, I’d be interested in knowing how many folks also fail on step 16. To me that would seem like a very common step to fail on since FTP is hard to raise. I did get my heart rate to 178 this time, but it wasn’t my heart that ended this test. My cadence was going along at a nice 95 average until the 19 minute mark (step 14). Step 15 it dropped to 80. This was the beginning of the end. Step 16 it dropped to 50 and quickly grinded to a stop.

Anyways, seemed a bit better, but definitely think I’ll be better prepared for it next time and hopefully stronger!

The “break even” point in the Ramp Test is at the 19:30 mark. If you have consistent power, that will be the point you match the FTP value at the start of the test.

The thoughts you express lead me to a suggestion I am sharing throughout for the Ramp test:

  • Assuming you are on a smart trainer and using ERG mode, hide all data except cadence, and take the Ramp test. I think too many people fixate on the time and/or steps and end up bailing too soon.
  • I have done this myself by looking at power or heart rate that seems too much, and I give up, rather than going until true failure.

Lately, I run the test in ERG from my phone, and just flip it over, run the test until I pop, and then look at the phone again. I hit my best result ever by doing it “blind”.

Not everyone needs this approach, but seeing power or heart rate in particular start to mess with my mind in a test. I am better just staring at a video or chasing a wheel in Zwift and not thinking about numbers in any way.
From here.


Yeah, you are probably right. Some of my best outdoor rides have been where I forgot my heart rate monitor and therefore didn’t know if I was above my threshold or not. I will probably try to distract myself a little better next time.

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@russell.r.sage I had been doing the 20 min test for years, and was intrigued to try the Ramp Test when I joined TR. I was rested, dug really deep (HR about 16bpm above threshold and about 7bpm below the max ever recorded during the past 12 months). I failed miserably (20W below my starting point).

As I wanted to get started on SSB MV1 asap, I just took 0.95x my fastest 20min time from my PDC and upped that by a few watts as my starting point. Since then and subsequent to learning to use TR’s Workout Creator (a great tool!), I have created Dr. Andrew Coggan’s 20min FTP test in WC. [Note: Coach Chad’s 20min FTP test misses a few key elements of Dr. Coggan’s test as defined in “Training and Racing with a Power Meter”]. I have been using that since and find it to be substantially better for me than the Ramp Test with results to show for it.

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Are you suggesting that the correctly carried out 20 min FTP protocol is flawed and overestimates FTP? If so, could you send some links?

Or are you suggesting that people misuse the concept of a 20 minute test and carry it out incorrectly?

Read this article: The Physiology of FTP and New FTP Test Protocols

A true 20 minute all out is difficult to execute; pace it too conservative and you leave too much on the table. Go too deep and you blow up. And depending on how much anaerobic contribution (which can vary both between people and also within a season), the number you get isn’t necessarily reliable.

If you are going to do a longer test, I like the progressive tests detailed in the article. They are way easier to get right and are less taxing on your body, and give you important calibration data around what riding at your FTP “feels” like.

My protocol during my test weeks right now is:

  • Tuesday: Ramp Test
  • Wednesday: Easy
  • Thursday: 1 minute and 5-15 second max efforts
  • Friday: Easy
  • Saturday: TTE test using Ramp Test number as the target
  • Sunday: Coffee ride

This spits out a pretty good number for all of the major headline numbers in WKO4 as well, and I can keep the number accurate by doing a few all out efforts in various durations over the next 90 days.

I’m testing less often than most people since I have my season structured into two race block and starting in March I’ll be racing several times over the course of 5 weeks, so I’ll just re-asses after a de-load week at the end of the race block in Mid-April


@stevemz now that I’ve figured out my ramp test issue, wanted to ask what you are doing for the 1-min and 5-15 second max efforts. Are you using a TR workout like the HA/AC Power Profile one, doing it outside, or your own workout on trainer?

Outside. I used to do the 1 minute efforts inside but I think I was actually coming up short relative to what I could actually put out (based on a few recent short power PRs outside). The best way do the 1 minute all out is to find a reasonably steep but not too steep hill (somewhere in the 5-7% range) and roll into it at around 10-15mph.

I have the lights on my Elemnt set to the power zones, so I’ll roll into the hill, find a gear and let the tension on the chain build, and as soon as I see Red on the Element (meaning I’m in zone 6), I hit the lap button and send it.


Thanks and same here, I can’t put down as much inside as outside. Flat as a pancake out my door, so personal best 1-min power is a nearby pedestrian bridge over the freeway (requires putting down power after cresting the top). I’ve been too conservative on climbing rides.

Going forward I’ll drive to the foothills for short power testing.

Really appreciate you posting this, it looks like a good protocol.

As mentioned above, I figured out that Dec and Jan ramp tests failed because of neglecting to work on vo2max. I did some vo2max work in February, and sure enough had a good ramp test yesterday.

Used WorkoutCreator and started with Davis, a 20-min warmup workout, and added the Baseline test described in the TP article:

My only dilemma - was planning on doing another crit on Saturday morning. Crit or Baseline Test, hmmm…

Race the crit. You are a 5 right? Getting your finishes is more valuable than another FTP test.



edit: registered. Based on previous race and last night’s ftp, have a good handle on my current threshold power. Another test not needed, and trying to push into Sunday evening on the back of Saturday Cat5 crit will just screw up my Monday evening workout.