Sprinter with low ramp test result?

I first started using a power meter this past August. I was not using TR at the time. Early 20 min attempts (in non-ideal settings) suggested an FTP of around 235-240.

I started TR with outdoor workouts only. Workouts at 240 FTP felt very easy, and by mid-November I had ratcheted up my FTP setting to 280.

I started using an indoor trainer in late Dec. My first ramp test put me at 244, my second (2 weeks later) was 255, and my third (3 weeks later) was 260. I manually bumped that up to 265. I attribute most of the improvement to having a better understanding of the test and my bike/trainer setup.

Strava estimates my FTP at 299, Xert at 300, and HRV4 at 297. Normalized power in a recent, VERY short (15 min) crit was 310.

I am in sweet spot medium volume base 2, and I am not quite sure how I should feel during workouts. I realize that I should not be riding myself to complete exhaustion every workout, but I do find that I have a bit left in the tank after many.

For what it’s worth, I have a sprinter profile: 17+ w/kg peak, falling to 4.35 for 5min.

I guess my question is: how do I know how much to increase my FTP (if at all)? Should I just trust the ramp test and accept that some workouts will feel “easy”? Should I jump to 300 and see how it feels? Should I increase in 5W increments, and if so, when do I know I’ve reached the right point?

The Ramp test by its nature tends to be determined by 5 minute power, so if yours is relatively low compared to say your 20 min (or 1 hour power) then your FTP result will trend low. Try one of the longer tests. Try and address the 5 minute power though, as you seem to have identified an area for improvement.

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Do the 20 minute test, or better yet: Kolie Moore's FTP test protocol

You’ve got a lot of apples and oranges and you’re trying to compare them to each other.

Follow this simple principle:

It doesn’t matter which test protocol you use, or whether it’s indoors or outdoors or whether you use a power meter or a turbo trainer, BUT BE CONSISTENT. If the bulk of your work is done on the turbo trainer, then do every FTP test under the same conditions.

Also note that the stress in each plan increases as time goes on. So, much like you would pace yourself in a long ride, pace yourself in your plan. If you make the early workouts too hard then you’ll struggle with the harder/later workouts.


That doesn’t always work, you also have to apply common sense. A year ago I was doing sweet spot workouts at roughly 230W FTP setting. Had a couple ramp tests give estimates below 200W. Did 3 week block of vo2max intervention and next ramp test gave reasonable results.

My point is that if a test protocol gives an unreasonable estimate, it’s usually easier to pick another test rather than trying to understand why and make adjustments.


As a new user, the most important thing the OP can do is be consistent. If he then finds ways of optimising his training then he can, of course, choose to do so. Most training plans incorporate a mixture of low and high intensity work so you may find yourself adjusting intensities for individual workouts anyway, regardless of what training protocol you used, and especially if your strength is heavily weighted to a particular duration/intensity.

The most beneficial part of structured training to any individual new to it is the consistency and gradual ramp in intensity. Sitting 1 or 2% outside of the “correct” zone will be not be hugely detrimental.

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Absolutely agree, but his 265 ramp estimate is 10% off from his other estimates.

I respectfully disagree.

@bspitz I’m very similar to you and have had the same experience. Colby Pierce postulates that one reason for this is if (sprinters) have a relative “forward” position on the bike pedaling is no longer tangential with respect to the pedal/crank coming over the top or beginning of power phase. On a trainer it’s very important due to lack of inertia to keep power, over the top, on the pedals. Out on the road guys like us can get away with a much shorter power phase especially on the flats. I suspect your climbing suffers as well.

Because of this I basically use one number inside and another outside. HR data seems to verify that physiologically I’m in the same zones using these two different numbers. Something to think about.


Some workouts are supposed to be easy, don’t get into the habit of increasing the intensity all of the time otherwise you’ll be working on areas you’re not supposed to be and chances are it will be followed by failed workouts.

I prefer longer tests to give a true reflection of FTP, so if you think your FTP is xxx then go out and hit that number and see if you can hold it. Or, as mentioned above Kolie Moore’s protocol is a good way to determine it.

Ignore the numbers from Strava, those are rubbish. Also, NP from such a short Crit isn’t much help either.

Are you using the same PM inside & outside?

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Happy to disagree but none of your reply seemed to disagree with what you quoted me as saying? Indoor and outdoor FTP is not the same subject as different testing protocols.

Personally I’ve not seen a mismatch between indoor and outdoor FTP, but others have as @Landis points out.

Without knowing the efforts being fed to Xert, its hard to comment on using that to triangulate without a long test. As someone else mentioned the crit is a poor datapoint for help with triangulating.

“not quite sure” to my eyes means you need to do a hard / long effort, like the 31-min effort I did yesterday (or longer). Given the apparent discrepancy between indoor and outdoor, if you want to set zones for FTP and below on the trainer then either do a 20-min test on the trainer or do a longer effort at threshold if you are good at pacing.

Over time if you pay attention to HR and feeling (RPE) then you can more confidently set FTP manually based on sweet spot and threshold work on the trainer. Or just settle on a more traditional protocol like (Hunter Allen) 20-min test or (Joe Friel) 30-min test, or try a newer/longer test like Kolie Moore’s protocol.

And to @onemanpeloton point, find one that works for you and stick with it. I prefer longer tests, but still use ramp test to set an upper bound on 5-min vo2max power.

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Are you using the same power meter to capture power both indoors and outdoors.

Thanks. I had come across those test protocols in the past but completely forgot about them. I’ll give them a shot.

Sweetspot will probably feel overly “hard” compared to someone with a slow twitch physiology (in highly generalising). At times it will probably feel like threshold compared to someone who is long distance oriented.

I’d say our numbers are similar (21w/kg sprint, 4w/kg 5min power) but I’m guessing I’ve got overall lower w/kg (I’m 97kg)

I dial my sweetspot down to my MAP heartrate cap of 149bpm, and I’m currently increasing the duration of intervals to 20mins. Aerobically, it’s already helping even after a relatively short time. 85%ftp is now under the cap for the 20min duration, 2nd and 3rd intervals I trim down slightly to compensate.

The anaerobic stuff I dial up as I can cope with suffering for 1-2mins at a time (love backbone+5 at 110%). Play to your strengths but don’t neglect your weakness’s. If you don’t have the metabolic conditioning and have already been spat out the back, you won’t be in a position to sprint at the line.

Understood, but let me give a couple of examples from last week. Taylor -2 (3 sets of 14 intervals at 120% over an hour) felt “easy”, and I ended up adding a 15 minute interval at 95% at the end. I finished the workout feeling like I had worked, but not exhausted.

The following day was Donner (3x 12.5 minute intervals at 95-99% over an hour), with a similar result. I added a fourth interval at around 92% for just under 10 minutes and again finished tired, but not exhausted.

Maybe there is a common factor that causes Strava, Xert, and HRV4 to be similarly inaccurate (I’m not familiar enough with their methodologies to have any opinion), but it was interesting to see that all 3 services converged at just under 300W. Also agreed that NP from a short Crit isn’t enough on its own, but I thought it was worth highlighting the results from a recent race-intensity effort (even if short).

In any case, I will try out Kolie Moore’s protocol to see how things compare.

No. I rely on my smart trainer inside. On one of my ramp tests I used my trainer on erg mode and also used the power meter for the sake of comparison. On each step, the power meter results were within 1% of the trainer.

That is some serious power!

Sweet spot at times feels easy and at times more challenging at my current FTP settings. V02max intervals at 120% or “sprints” at 150% feel way too easy and have me questioning their effectiveness. Yesterday I did Jepson in resistance mode instead of erg so that I could push the sprints more than the prescribed 150%, and it felt good.

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Adjust as you see fit, I’d be bumping up the sprint work and trimming down the sweetspot. It’s not a one size fits all solution, but a lot cheaper than hiring a coach!

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My good god, if you can keep that sprint power and lose some weight you will absolutely KILL in crits. 2037W sprint is insane

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This could be a case of you having a really good anaerobic engine so you find the shorter duration efforts easier.

Good luck with the longer effort, I’ll be interested to know how it goes.

Cheers, it was on a wattbike, I’m not sure I could do it out on the road with having to control direction etc! But it was calibrated and accurate, guess that’s the main thing. 2124w @158rpm was the peak, I’m almost certain I could get over 2500 at some point with some specificity